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    My 18 Best Travel Tips After Three Decades of Traveling the World

    By Jill Cruse–

    Let me start out by saying that I have never been one of those who could just pack a carry-on to travel for two weeks. My hat is off to anyone who can do this. I average 1½ –3 weeks of travel each month to every continent, multiple times, so I am a creature of comfort, and enjoy having some things around me that normalize my surroundings. I travel with a roll-on, large shoulder bag and two large pieces of luggage that I check in.

    Here are my top 18 travel tips:

    Make lists.

    One week before the trip, write down the things that you need to pack, and the things that you need to do before leaving. Keep the list handy and add to it if you think of something new. I will forget if I don’t write it! At Olivia Travel, we include helpful hints in each Olivia Departure Booklet that we send for every trip as it gives good packing tips specific to the trip as well.

    Invest in good luggage, which is key to effortless travel.


    For years I bought the sets at Costco or one-offs on sale, and they always broke after a few trips. It’s more difficult to maneuver luggage around airports if the pieces are not matching because the handle heights differ as do the way the wheels roll. I prefer hard-sided so that I can bring home a bottle of wine without it breaking. Seriously, it protects your contents against breakage and getting wet from rain. I finally invested in good quality luggage, “Rimowa.” Twenty-seven trips later, it still functions, and the luggage is guaranteed for 5 years against breakage. If you buy from a reputable luggage shop, they will usually work with the manufacturers to fix or replace as needed long after the 5-year warranty is up. The investment is well worth it.

    Personalize your luggage with safety in mind.

    Put your name and cell phone number on your luggage tags and keep your address and trip itinerary “inside” the luggage. You don’t want someone seeing your address to know that you are away.

     Stock up on packing cubes and dry-cleaner bags.

    I have a cube for just about everything. But before you pack these, lay everything out and ask yourself, “What can be laundered and/or worn more than once?” Can you wear those black pants 2 or 3 times, and leave one pair behind? This may help you to scale down.

    Pack half of your items in your partner’s luggage if you are traveling as a couple.

    If you are traveling as a couple, put half of your things in each other’s luggage. This way, if one of your bags is delayed, each of you will still have something! To help keep clothes from wrinkling, put dressy clothes in a hanging bag, with each one covered and separated with reusable dry-cleaner bags.

    Know what to expect weather-wise for the destination.

    Are you going to the Arctic, Africa or the Caribbean? For hot destinations, bring things made of cotton and linen. Pack shorts, short sleeved clothing and lighter weight attire. For cold weather, I often wear the heavy jacket on the plane. If you are not sure, plan to dress in layers. While on an Olivia Amsterdam to Switzerland Riverboat last April, the weather ranged from 50–80 degrees, when usually it averages much cooler weather.

    Plan for enough time to get to the airport.

    Did you know that if you check in when it is less than 1 hour before your flight, they will not check your luggage? I have had several close calls. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport in case of bad traffic so that you will arrive a full 2 hours before your flight departs.

    Sign up for Clear, Global Entry and/or TSA.

    Be sure you are signed up for one or all of these.  I recently added “Clear” ( ) to my TSA      ( ) and Global Entry status ( ). With Clear, you can be escorted to jump the TSA line to the front! Delta offers a discounted plan with Clear. It’s well worth it to have all of these if you travel frequently. At the bare minimum, get TSA approved so that you can keep your shoes on and not have to take your laptop or liquids out. This is particularly helpful when traveling to/from destinations outside of the U.S.

    Black is beautiful … and smart.

    Wear black pants and a black top when traveling. The color helps to cover any spills or messes! I especially prefer quick drying pants. My neighbor sitting next to me spilled her red wine all over my leg on one trip, but with these pants, you couldn’t see any spills and they dried quickly.

    Bring supplies for the plane ride.

    Whether in first, business or economy, I always travel with the following:

    • compression socks that will stop the swelling of your ankles; (ATN makes a “Pride” edition in rainbow colors too! And just for you, ATN is offering a 30% discount using discount code TRAVEL30 ( )
    • hand lotion;
    • vitamin C and zinc; (Take with food; they help to ward off colds and a sore throat.)
    • ear plugs and ear buds;
    • bandana;
    • aspirin;
    • water bottle; (Fill it inside the terminal or ask the airline attendant if they could fill it for you.)
    • sanitary wipes to wash off everything that you touch on the plane, such as your arm rest, your light and air controls, tray and seat belt clip; (Planes and hotels can be a cesspool of germs. Your neighbor will wish they had one, so offer one to them too! These are great for hotels as well—for remote controls and doorknobs. I do all that I can to avoid getting sick.)
    • neck pillow and snacks, especially when you’re in economy;
    • a jacket that can double as a blanket.

    Load your smart pad/iPad before your trip.

    Download your airline app before you leave the house. Many airlines offer free movies on flights, but you must have their app to watch. Most airlines have an electric outlet at all seats, so load your iPad or smart pad with your favorite movies and shows that you can also watch during the flight. These are also great to transfer your trip photos to as you go. (See photo equipment below.)

     Pack quick-drying underwear.

    The only item that I have learned to pack less of is underwear. Patagonia and Exofficio make great quick-drying panties.

    Don’t skimp on your photo equipment.

    On all of the Olivia Adventure trips, especially those with animal sightings or beautiful landscapes (like Olivia’s Riverboat trips, Alaska and all adventure trips), I carry my camera and 2 lenses: 28mm-280 lens and a 200mm-400 lens. Always put these in your carry-on, preferably a hard-sided roll-on. Yes, these all make your carry-on a little heavier, but the memories that they will capture are priceless! Bring enough memory cards, an extra battery and access to your owner’s manual in case of any issues. There are small hard drives that you can bring to transfer photos and to back up your cards (iPad too); and it’s so important to do this in case any problems occur with your cards.

    Learn some of the local language.

    “Google translate audio,” as well as “Google translate image” for your iPhone or smart phone’s camera, work great. Remember that we are visitors to these different countries. Don’t expect everyone to speak English. Do visitors in the U.S. from France expect us to speak French? Try to speak a few words of the language of the country you visit. “Please,” “Thank you,” … a little effort goes a long way.

    Bring needed power cord(s) and adapters.

    In the world of technology, there is a lot to charge! For me it’s my iPhone, iPad, computer, camera batteries, iWatch and the list could go on. I bought a 220-240V power cord on Amazon for my travels to Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, and I have a 110V power cord for Mexico, Central and South America, Canada and the U.S. Check Amazon for adapters needed for specific countries.

    Pack a travel-size coffee/tea maker for certain trips.

    I must have a cup of strong coffee in the morning before I greet the world. Not all hotels have coffee makers, and most resorts and cruise ships don’t. I bring a travel-size dual voltage hot water maker (also found on Amazon) with a retractable rubber cone, and also pack good coffee. If space is limited, Starbucks “Via” coffee does the trick. It’s hard to find artificial sweeteners in other countries, so if you use them, bring your own.

    Place essentials in your carry-on luggage.

    What happens if your luggage gets delayed? Are you one who will let it ruin your whole vacation, or can you brush the matter off? On a trip to the Galapagos, flights delayed many people and their luggage due to a volcanic eruption. This affected about 10 people who had no luggage for the first few days. One person was so upset that she stayed in her cabin. Everyone else just borrowed from guests and did not let the situation ruin the trip. When we got word that the luggage was being sent, she was the only person whose luggage was not found! There is something important in the universe about “letting go.” The destination and the experience should not be compromised because of lost luggage. However, if there is anything in your checked luggage that you just can’t live without, put it into your carry-on. Here are my essentials:

    • photocopy of passport;
    • camera and lenses;
    • favorite hair brush;
    • 2 extra pairs of underwear;
    • an extra pair of glasses;
    • sunglasses;
    • a change of clothes;
    • t-shirt that you can sleep in;
    • flip flops;
    • prescription snorkel mask;
    • bathing suit;
    • and last but not least, medications.

    Except for that last item, almost everything else can be purchased of borrowed when on the road.

    Be flexible when things don’t go as planned.

    Stay in the present moment and release that which you have no control over. See the commonality of all people all over the world in their smiles by sharing your own smile as often as possible.

    Jill is Olivia’s Vice President of Guest Experience and has been with Olivia for 30 years! She has led and traveled on over 300 Olivia trips on all seven continents in the capacity of Cruise/Resort Director.

     Photography is her hobby and passion. Jill has won several major awards for her photographs and has been published with “National Geographic,” “Travel Weekly Magazine,” “Churchill Wild” and “Canadian Geographic.” She received an editor’s picks award from the “National Geographic” and had her photo experience (of a sea-lion hugging her in Baja) documented and published with “National Geographic.”

     Since 2012, Jill has been doing social media projects with Oprah Winfrey for her network and about “living your best life,” the “Life Classes” series, “Belief” series, “Greenleaf,” “Have and Have Nots” and “Queen Sugar” programs. She has also appeared as a guest speaker on OWN TV’s “Super Soul Sunday” episode with Oprah and the author of the “Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz.