6 Time & Space-Saving Packing Tips for the Busy Traveler

The act of traveling is stressful. We all hate waiting in the security line, haggling with the rental car sales associate, and we definitely hate being on the plane with a screaming baby who is very vocal about not wanting to be there.  And the packing beforehand can be atrocious. It’s all about the stress of what to bring, how much, and if all the nonsense will fit in a 22 inch carry-on bag. So before you deal with strangers and with screaming infants, you need some peace of mind that your suitcase is precisely packed.

Needless to say, the clothing you pack in your suitcase definitely depends on what trip you are going on, and that list is just too long for a short blog post. But here are some great little tips to save space and time while packing for travel.

Roll It, Layer It

Everyone should know that rolling your clothes, especially thinner fabrics, is the way to go. It saves space and time. To create even more space, you can wrap those rolled items with rubber bands. This makes your rolls tighter and firmer. Put these items side to side on the bottom of your suitcase to create a flat layer. Your folded clothes will go on top of your rolled ones. Clothes that should be folded are of tougher fabrics while rolled items are usually cotton.

Packin’ Pills, Not Poppin’

Pill bottles are slender and long, making them easier to store inside a suitcase than other toiletry containers. What would you put in these empty drug canisters you may ask? You can put hair gel/product or lotions to keep that skin glowing and/or that hairstyle fresh on the go. You can also store Q-Tips inside empty pill bottles to keep those ears squeaky clean. And for the ladies, you can store hair ties and bobby pins inside the empty containers as well.

Extra T-P

It’s 3am at Aunt Suzi’s house, you have to use the bathroom but it’s pitch black because you can’t find the light switch, only to find that there’s no toilet paper. This is what we call helplessness. Pack like half a roll of toilet paper for emergencies like this or a bloody nose on the airplane or when you’re in the sticks and there’s literally nothing around. This is being self-sufficient.

Safely Store The Bling

For the ladies, packing jewelry can be rough on a trip. You don’t want that bling you have had for years stolen or lost. So, to combat those perils, you can put a pair of earrings through the holes of a button. The button keeps the pair safe and secure through your travels. Also, you can feed your necklaces through a bendy straw. This sounds strange, but it prevents the necklaces from being tangled and keeps them straight. You can easily spot those bad boys in your suitcase since there won’t be too many straws among your traveling items.

If It Doesn’t Fit, Wear It

Chances are your cool boots and mink coat will take up a little too much space in your suitcase if you decide to pack it. Wear your jacket and boots on the plane and open up your suitcase for more room for your 12 scarfs.

Business Fresh

If you are traveling for business, you want to be extra careful on how you pack. Roll your belts inside the collar of your folded dress shirt(s). This will save space and time and you will know exactly where your belts are. You don’t want to get those fresh business shoes scoffed. To save those wingtips, wrap your shoes in a plastic shower cap and pack them in the compartment along the wheelbase.

You also don’t want your dirty underwear sharing the same space as your suit shirts…like ewww, have you seen your underwear? Pack trash bag in the side of your bag. Instead of stuffing your dirty laundry back into your main suitcase pocket, separate it for God sakes and put it in the trash bag. That way, if you need to do laundry at the hotel, you already have a laundry bag ready.

Pro tip: You can put those pill bottles and/or chargers inside your shoes. This way, in case they slip out of your kicks, the shower cap will hold the items and keep them secure.

You Are Ready

With these tips, you should have enough room in your suitcase and have a moment to bask in the glory of your timely packing. It is time for your adventure! So when that newcomer starts wailing down the aisle, just remember that you conquered every inch of that carry on. And never forget that you my fellow travelers, are rockstars.

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Flying with Spirit

I flew Spirit Airlines recently for a trip home to visit my family. From door to door, the trip from my apartment in LA to my sister’s house in north Dallas is about 5.5 hours. So discounting the trip times to and from the airport, Spirit Airlines was in charge of my hospitality for about 4.5 hours. 4.5 hours is not a long time, yet, somehow, Spirit Airlines makes this small chunk of your day feel like a constant internal scream-fest. Even when things are going well—you’re on time, lines aren’t long, etc.—you feel like you’ve made a horrible mistake and your internal self will not shut up about it.the office animated GIF

Spirit Airlines is the public bus of air travel. Not that all public transportation is miserable, but when you’re paying one hundred dollars or more and it feels like you’re taking the local bus-route, if you bothered to fill out an online survey or comment card, it would not say nice things about the experience. It might say thinks like, “what a rip-off it is that your airline charges for carry on bags and tries to pass it off as a ‘time-saver’ during boarding” or “how come the option of a free drink isn’t built into my fare? They must cost less than 30 cents when you buy in bulk.”

When the plane pulled away from the skybridge, the attendants presented the most unenthusiastic safety briefing mankind has ever witnessed. “Use a seatbelt, or don’t, we don’t give a fuck to be honest. Either way, live or die, you’ve already paid to be here. Suck our balls. Or don’t. Again, we don’t care.” That’s the Spirit Airlines way.

The seats are very tight, even if you’re not big. They aren’t well-padded at all, so be prepared for a numb ass. Oh and your elbows are gonna hurt too, because the stainless-steel, stubby arm rests (which you will have to rock-paper-scissors for anyway) feel like the type of accommodation someone threw together and said, “yeah, that’ll do fine.” They do not do fine. Not even a little bit.

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The plane is set up in an obvious attempt to jam as many customers on to one plane at a time. You will be charged extra to carry on a bag, not that there’s much overhead storage anyway. The staff won’t care about you either though it’s not their fault. Everyone is so seemingly miserable from the moment the step on the plane, that the staff is merely trying to survive the day. They probably catch a lot of harsh attitude from pissed of first time Spirit customers.

There’s no denying I flew round trip to Dallas for $130. That’s a great price. If I had it to do over though, I would spend the extra money on another airline that values customers more. Spirit is the fastest growing airline in America. People love the price points they push, but once you fly Spirit, your mind will probably change about “what’s really worth the money.”

Plus, the sheer amount of promo emails that flood your inbox to become a member of their frequent flyer program after you handover your email during ticket purchasing will make you regret everything just a little bit more. No—I don’t want to ever fly with you again, let alone with frequency. What would be my loyalty reward? A free soda, probably.

No thank you, Spirit. You had your chance. Discount airline or not, you make me want to hitchhike.

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Witnessing a Drug Smuggle & Other Asian Bus Blunders

Our travel time from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, was posted at twelve hours. For anyone who has bumped down National Highway 6, the ditch-filled, partially dirt highway connecting Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, you know this travel time is simply impossible. By day, it takes at least seven hours to get to Phnom Penh, and it definitely would take more than four additional hours to get to Vietnam. As it was my friend’s first time bussing around Southeast Asia, I told her to prepare for a fourteen-hour ride.

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What the bus ride might have felt like

Mental preparation is a key part of sitting on a bus for endless hours in Asia. Inevitably everyone loses touch with sanity at some point, but by expecting to be on the bus for an extended time staves off the delirium for at least a short while.

So down Road 6 we jostled until we pulled in to the Phnom Penh bus station. We had approximately fifteen minutes to switch buses for the remainder of the journey, so we grabbed our bags, ran to the bathroom, bought some creepy fried chicken, and tried to get on the next bus. However, they had taken our tickets in Siem Reap and not given them back. This meant that we didn’t actually have tickets for the bus we were trying to get on, even though we had paid for them. Luckily they called the Siem Reap bus station and sorted this out.

We were given the last two seats in the back row of the bus. They didn’t recline, like all of the other seats did, nor did they have footrests. But we were heading to Vietnam, we had air-con, and at least we weren’t in the literal lawn chairs they pulled out for the next two people boarding the bus.

We stopped too many times for us to keep track of, and, by the time we had crossed the boarder (where they let Aly retrieve my passport for me—sketch), we just wanted to get to Ho Chi Minh. We were nearing hour fourteen, certainly nowhere near the city, and rapidly sinking into a restless craze. But we figured that we probably wouldn’t be stopping anymore—next stop, Ho Chi Minh! Thank god.

But just minutes after loading back onto the bus on the Vietnam side of the boarder, we stopped again.

Jesus Christ we both let out exasperated sighs, Why the fu*k are we stopping again?! We literally just stopped. The bus attendant ushered everyone off the bus for a “tea break.”

In some declining mental state between fed up, pissed off, and delirious, we told the attendant we would not be getting off the bus. We stayed in the back row with the two Indonesian ladies who had suffered through this entire journey with us.

We watched as he began unloading very suspicious brown packages from the bottom of the bus.

The lights in the bus went out, and we saw the form of the bus attendant approaching us. Somewhere a few feet in front of us, he pulled up a compartment in the floor and descended into it. This was not the first bout of strange behavior we had witnessed from this bus attendant; he had nearly forced us to abandon our phones at customs in order to get us back on the bus, physically ushering us along as we scrambled to grab all our cords.

We watched as he began unloading very suspicious brown packages from the bottom of the bus. Since we were in the last row of seats, only us and our Indonesian friends could see the packages as he lined them up next to the nearest window.

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This was too much for us to handle in our current state. The two of us burst out laughing, incredulously shining our phone lights around and taking pictures.

Soon after he emerged from the floor, he came over to the giggling pair of us, grabbed my arm and started shrieking “DELETE DELETE DELETE!!!” reaching for my phone.

Trying to push him away with one hand, I quickly deleted the pictures off my phone and irritatedly showed him they were gone. And for the rest of the ride, Aly and I exchanged theories about why he had reacted so strangely. The answer we came up with was that our bus was involved in some drug smuggling scheme. We agreed to watch the packages, and decided that if we made a random stop and he passed them out the window to someone then it was definitely a drug drop.

This is exactly what happened. Just inside Ho Chi Minh, around hour sixteen of this seemingly endless journey, the bus pulled over to the side of the road, all the lights went on, but the door did not open. The bus attendant handed the three brown parcels out the window to a man on a motorbike below. The drop was complete, the lights turned off, and we continued on our way.

How to Not Get Snatched in India While Traveling

Disclaimer: This story takes place in India, a country often portrayed as dangerous, unruly, and in a generally negative light. This was just one experience I had during my five months there, and the only time I really felt I could be in danger. I know it feeds into the stereotype, but overall that stereotype was not at all my experience.

John Legend’s “Number One” chorused from my phone alarm, my eyes opening to my dark room in the small hostel we stayed at barely overnight in New Delhi, India. We had gotten in around midnight, just five hours ago; our train to Jaipur left in an hour from the Old Delhi station down the road. My friend, Emma, and I sleepily shoved our things back into our backpacks, brushed our teeth, and headed out the door.

The nine of us traveling around the North together met in the cramped lobby to make our way to the station. Two of my friends and I, feeling lazy, opted to jump in a rickshaw to go down the road—it only cost 60 rupees (1 USD) so we didn’t mind paying the cost of indulging in this small bit of luxury.

We paused as we entered the station, looking around for our six companions and trying to get our bearings. We figured our group would be fairly easy to find—we were pretty much the only white people we ever saw, even in our relatively busy city of Hyderabad, the split capitol of the Southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, India’s up-and-coming silicon valley.

A man approached the three of us and asked to see our tickets. We half-skeptically showed them to him, and he informed us that our sheets of paper were merely reservations, and that we would have to go upstairs to the international office to get our tickets printed out. Because this is how the airports worked in India, we let him lead us to the staircase in the back of the station.

My eye caught a sign right before we were about to walk upstairs that put me on guard. It said something to the effect of “Beware tourists, this office is only open from the hours of 8AM to 8PM. Do not be fooled by people saying it’s open outside of these hours.” So I knew the office was closed as we followed this man up.

A second man was standing on the landing outside the office. As we approached him he informed us that the office was currently closed. Good sign. After looking at our tickets for a moment he then told us that our train was actually canceled, but there was another train to Jaipur leaving from the New Delhi station at 7AM, and that it was about 8km to that station and a taxi could easily take us. We thanked him, our first thought being that we had to tell the rest of our group about our canceled train.

However, just as we were about to head back downstairs, a shriveled old woman passed us on the stairs, and, once she was behind the two men who were assisting us, she turned around and urgently, but silently, wagged a cautionary finger at us. Her message was simple: do not believe what these men are telling you. In our CIEE program orientation the directors had told us not to take directions from men, and to only ask women and families for help. The lesson from our program staff combined with the ominous warning from this stranger put us on guard, and we quickly thanked the men, grabbed our tickets from their hands, and rushed back down to the main lobby.

“Yo fuck that,” I said as we got out of earshot of the men, “did you see that lady? Let’s ask someone who works here, or a police officer or something. We shouldn’t believe what they just told us. And let’s find our friends.”

Assuming our friends were already inside the loading areas, we headed toward the platform entrance. A man who appeared to be checking tickets stopped us as we headed past him, and, surprisingly, relayed to us the same information the man outside of the office had: our train was canceled, but there was another one leaving from the New Delhi station, about 8km away, at 7AM. He ushered us over to the taxi stand to help us get a ride to the other station.

At this point we were extremely wary of what was going on around us. As we approached the group of cabbies, each of us pulled our little Nokia brick phones.

“Wait,” Emma said as the cab drivers attempted to load our bags into the trunk, “we have to call our friends.”

Here another red flag was raised. The cabby started rushing to try to get our luggage off our backs and us into the car as soon as he heard we were part of a group, and not just three white girls traveling alone.

Seconds later, my roommate walked over to us and asked what we were doing. We explained the situation to her, starting to move away from the swarm of cabbies and the second ticket man, but still amongst them.

“Our train isn’t cancelled,” my roommate said. “It just went up on the board, it’s leaving from platform two. I think everyone else is already over there.”

We turned to the cabby and told him we were just going to get our friends, and rushed off. Needless to say, we didn’t come back, but instead headed to platform two, found our friends, and were on our way to Jaipur within fifteen minutes.

As our train pulled away from the station, the three of us speculated over what could’ve happened if we went with those guys. We were delirious from a combination of sleep-deprivation and adrenaline. At best, we surmised, we would’ve missed our train and been ripped off by these cab drivers; we probably would’ve had to pay them a lot of money for transportation. At worst, we could’ve been mugged, kidnapped, countless other horrible things. But, as it turned out, we were totally fine, and because we trusted our instincts, and kept in mind the warnings and advice we were given early on, nothing bad happened to us.

Even so, I didn’t tell my parents this story until I was sitting with them in the car on the way back from the airport in America. I think they were grateful for that.

It’s Way Too Easy to Get Drugs in Asia

Even though they’re super illegal, it’s no secret that it’s incredibly easy to get drugs, or things passed off as drugs, in Southeast Asia. That’s because the police presence is virtually nonexistent.


Ask any tuktuk driver on the street for anything he will either sell it himself or take you to a friend who does. Actually, you don’t even have to ask them for drugs, they will probably just approach you themselves. Just walking down the street, I have been offered everything: MDMA, cocaine, LSD, weed, shrooms, and opium. I was literally offered opium the first night I was in Siem Reap. And I swear I don’t look like some drug lord backpacker, just a white girl roaming around. But tuktuk drivers will offer this wide array of substances to any tourist walking by.

Happy pizza is also a tourist favorite, and there are numerous stores that sell happy pizza and happy shakes in most cities. And that shit is strong. In general, weed is pretty easy to come by around these parts, but with most other drugs I would be wary. At least with weed you can tell what it is by looking at it or smelling it. The happy pizza places all sell it and their stash is pretty reliable, and some bars will sell pre-rolled joints or spliffs, as well as space cakes.

A friend of mine bought coke recently from a tuktuk driver, which, simply put, definitely was not coke. The sus-white substance we surmised was probably a random powder you can buy at the pharmacy, stuff in an appropriately sketchy looking dime bag and offered up as coke. It had no effect. Same friend was offered shrooms when we got into a tuktuk, and they gave him a test one. He said that it was just a mushroom you could probably buy at the local market.

On the other hand, I know people who have had insane nights on LSD or MDMA they bought off tuktuk drivers, and who have been whisked off into cities’ secret opium dens.

The shroom shakes in Bali on the Gili islands are a totally different story.


Wandering around the pedestrian island my friend and I talked about splitting one; we agreed we wouldn’t seek out the shakes, but if they came to us we wouldn’t say no. We weren’t fiends.

Basically the first deli we walked into had a sign next to the register “Happy magic mushroom shake send you 2D moon.” Guess we didn’t have to look very hard.

We drank the shroom shakes around midnight, and after we decided to go to a nearby bar, watch the world cup, and wait to see what would happen. We didn’t get any visual off the shakes, which made us think we didn’t feel anything at all. It actually wasn’t until we reflected on our night the next morning that we realized how weird we had been.

After the shake, we left our other two friends with these Aussie guys we’d met earlier that day- we thought we were perfect wingmen. We created a reality for them in our heads, where they went back to the boys’ hostel and had a romantic night together; we even texted the two of them when we got back to our hostel around 5AM telling them to hit us up in the morning, We kept coming back to how excited we were that they were hooking up, and praised each other for our excellent implementation skills.

The two of us wandered around the island thinking we were being totally normal. Actually we were being incredibly weird and antisocial. I don’t think we talked to anyone but each other. We would sit in bars without drinks and talk, get up and wander on. We bought a joint from someone on the beach, but other than that our only human contact was with the security guards at a hostel that had a pool. Still, we didn’t realize this at the time, and didn’t think we felt anything because of that.

It was probably around 3:30 or 4 in the morning, when passed the hostel we had originally tried to stay at, which had a swim up bar in the pool. There was a light on near the path by the pool area, but otherwise it was completely dark. It was Ramadan, so most things were shutting around midnight or 1AM since many would wake up early to eat before the sun rose. We must’ve been some of the only people awake on the island.

We wandered up to the security guards and asked—no, begged them to let us dangle our feet in the pool. No we weren’t staying there. No we weren’t going in the pool, we just wanted to put our feet in. We promised we wouldn’t jump in. We promised to only stay five minutes. Seriously, I think we went back and forth with them for like ten minutes before we convinced them to let us in. And then we sat, kicking our feet back and forth in the warm blue pool water, looking up at the stars and chatting, for nearly an hour.


When we got back to our hostel we sat on the couches outside our bunkroom until we were about to fall asleep. Once again, we praised each other on successfully setting up our friends. It was around this time that we realized that, as much as we “weren’t really feeling anything,” it was 5AM, and we had been super weird to pretty much everyone all night.

We awoke the next morning to find our friends, who we thought were with the Aus guys, in our bunkroom. They read our texts to us and laughed—what were we talking about? And did we really stay up until 5AM? What were we doing? This caused us to reflect on our night, and recounting what we had done made it obvious how weird we were being. We had just been in our own shroomy world, but didn’t realize it.

Why You’ve Gotta Get to GHENT, BELGIUM

There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of this city, but you should book your next trip here, ASAP. It’s a walkable city with Medieval roots that’s full of charm, friendly people, delicious food, and perhaps most importantly, Belgian beer. It’s a perfect destination for young travelers as the city has a huge student population, meaning there are deals for young people everywhere! Seek these out while exploring the many bars, museums, castles, and churches in this lovely city. Ghent isn’t quite a touristic city (yet), and its proximity to other major cities, reasonable prices, and cultural and historical richness made Ghent one of my favorite European cities I’ve visited so far.

Where to Stay:

Hostel Uppelink- I can’t recommend this hostel enough. Through the hostel’s stained glass windows, you can look out on the best view of Ghent’s city center: a winding, cobblestone street with impressive cathedrals, the busy Sint-Michielsplein Bridge, and a river-side platform that serves as a perfect location to pack a picnic and chill out on a sunny day. The hostel is clean, the WIFI and hot water works well, and there are tons of activities offered by the hostel, such as a free walking city tour, kayak rentals, and a weekly beer tasting. I easily made friends from all over the world in the cozy common room, which holds a bar stocked with plenty of Belgian beer (and a discount for hostel guests).

What to Do:

Go On a Free Walking Tour- It departs daily from Hostel Uppelink’s front door at 1 pm. Walk on your first day for an interesting intro to Ghent and its history!


Eat Lots of Waffles– I suggest heading to ‘Koffie, 3.14, Thee’ in the Groetenmarkt, grabbing a warm take-away waffle, and eating it along the river. Side note: The Belgians prefer plain waffles, and think tourists ruin them with toppings! However, I can’t resist whipped cream or melted drizzled Nutella…

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While you’re in the Groetenmarkt, also Try Cuberdons (‘Purple Nose’ candy) from the two competing vending carts. Expect a hard gummy outside with a syrupy inside. Expect to feel a sugar high after eating just one.

Taste Belgian Beer- I recommend the beer tasting event offered by Hostel Uppelink. It’s great if you’re on a budget and want to learn about what you’ll be drinking for the next few days.

Hop on a Boat Tour- Can board at many locations along the river at almost any time of day for a quick, enjoyable tour. Student discount!


’t Dreupelkot Jenever Bar- Jenever is the traditional liquor of Belgium, and it’s what gin evolved from. This bar has literally HUNDREDS of flavors of jenever to try, and you can enjoy them on the outdoor patio if its warm out. Small shots are about 2-3 euros, 3-4 euros for a large. Good deal, good alcohol.


Climb the Belfry Tower- Provides an amazing view of Ghent from above, and is very cheap with a student discount.


Go to St. Bavo’s Cathedral- and learn about the Stolen ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ painting- an art history mystery. Notice that you can choose to either see a copy of the painting in the church (for free), or pay to see the real painting.

What Next?

Most travelers in Ghent are also traveling to the romantic city of Brugges, as it is only a cheap, 30 minute train ride away. Others are taking trains or busses to the bigger Belgian metropolises of Antwerp or Brussels, and some are traveling internationally to Holland. If you are taking a train, use the Gent-Sint-Pieters Train station, and expect to take a tram to connect you to the city center.


Men’s Dopp Kit Essentials

A friend probably gave me the greatest single piece of advice when it comes to traveling. You need to be ready to pick up and leave at the drop of a hat.

Think about it. Someone could get hurt, there could be a disaster, maybe you find a briefcase of cash that belongs to the mafia. Who knows?

Traveling is a mindset. You need to prepare for anything. That means being self-sufficient at all times. A robust and resourceful dopp kit is the travelers tool box.

Make sure you have what you need to survive


People are known to put all types of things in their mouths when they’re traveling. By the end of the day your gonna smell like ass. Do this, every time you go back to the room to reenergize, brush your teeth.


See above.

Hair gel

Because after you wake up on the train with the gross-seat-slimy-window head, you’re going to be happy you packed it. Substitute for maple syrup when you’re having a hard week.


Oh who are you kidding? What makes you think you’re going to floss on a trip when you’ve neglected it for 20 years?


Walking all day has it’s drawbacks. You get smelly.


For when you go out.

Hand sanitizer

The world is fu*kin dirty. You should carry this with you wherever you go. After a museum visit, in transit and before lunch. Just lather that sh*t on.


You never know…..Rather be safe than sorry.

Ear plugs

Amazing! These are a must have to drown out the world. Noise on a plane, snoring friend, or loud hostel/hotel. I actually sleep with them every night. It’s another layer of comfort.


Keep these on you. Going out straight from dinner? No want wants to socialize smelling like Chinese food.

Baby powder

Swamp butt. Must I say more?


Because because.

Lint roller

If you’re headed somewhere right off the plane, a lint roller will keep you looking fresh.

Electric razor

I hate shaving in general, but when I’ve been traveling for a few weeks, sometimes I end up looking like Forrest Gump. The electric razor is an amazing tool to keep you and that jaw line looking sharp.


For the guys who are all about that life.

Joint papers

You never know…..Rather be safe than sorry.


For when your headphones or camera run out. Also, batteries are life.


When you go out drinking all night in vegas or Thailand, you are not going to want to forget Advil.


When that Indian food won’t stay down and your chest feels like your about to burst.


Sometimes you might need to walk home in the dark. It can also be used as a weapon.