10 Important Airport Hacks You Need To Know For Busy Travel Days

If you are flying during any busy time, from the holiday season to regular busy days/hours the key to avoiding stress and making it to the other end unscathed is to utilize these professional traveler, tried and tested airport travel hacks.

1. Always Check In Online

Checking in online 24 hours prior to your flight gives you several advantages. You are less likely to be bumped from your flight and you will already have your boarding pass. When you arrive at the airport unless you are checking a full sized suitcase you can move straight to the TSA checkpoint.

Airlines will let you gate check oversized bags for free, so you can save yourself $30 checked luggage fee by doing it at the gate.

2. Arrive Early

You may be able to get away with arriving later for flights during non-busy times, but during high traffic periods plan on arriving at the airport 2-3 hours early. The most stressful parts of flying on busy travel days are getting stuck in long lines either at check in or at the TSA check point. It doesn’t hurt to have some extra time up your sleeve – worst case scenario you have a coffee or something to eat once you have gone through the TSA check point.

3. Use The TSA App

Use the TSA app to see how long the wait times are. If they are looking excessive you can leave home earlier than planned.

4. Pack Your Carry-On Properly

One of the reasons that TSA gets so backed up is that travelers don’t think ahead when packing their carry-on luggage.

image via Smartertravel.com

If you don’t have TSA pre check you know up front that your liquids and laptops will have to be taken out of your bag before going through the x-ray machine. Save yourself (and everyone else) time and aggravation by having your liquids/skin care/makeup products packed together in see through bags packed at the top of your carry on.


5. Be Ready For TSA

Another reason that lines get so backed up at the TSA checkpoint is travelers arriving not ready to proceed through.

*If you don’t have TSA Pre Check be sure to wear shoes that slip on and off easily.

* Remove all jewelry, belts, small change from your pockets, jackets, hats, scarves prior to entering the TSA line. Ideally do this before you leave home, and put on belts and jewelry after passing through the xray machines.

*Have your bags and coats ready to go through the xray prior to getting to the front of the line.

If you watch frequent flyers/professional travelers you will see that they have all of this thought out and prepared prior to arriving at the checkpoint.

6. Turn Left

Most people are right handed, so after having their I.D and boarding pass checked they turn right to the x-ray machines. The lines are always quicker to the left.

7. Bring Snacks

On busy travel days and busy flight times the lines at the terminal snack bars can get long. It is much easier and less stressful to bring your own snacks and just proceed to the gate.


8. Bring A Phone Charger

Always arrive at the airport with a fully charged phone and a fully charged phone charger. You can’t rely on their being power socket/charging stations available, and even if there are phone charging ports at your seat on the plane there is no guarantee they will be working.

9. Bring A Refillable Water Bottle

Bring an empty water bottle and fill it at a filling station once you have cleared TSA. Should you encounter delays you will be glad you did!


10. Gate Check Bags

Most domestic flights now are fully booked which means they run out of overhead bin space. Save yourself the hassle of wandering up and down the aisle trying to find space for your carry-on bag by checking it at the gate.

There is no fee for gate checked bags and they get walked directly down to your plane, so unless you have a connecting flight you can be relatively certain your bag will arrive when you do.

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How To Stay Warm (and Chic!) In Europe This Winter

The key to traveling light and looking chic while staying warm this winter in Europe comes down to 2 things: fabrics and layers.

Instinctively we reach for thick, bulky clothes to keep us warm when the mercury drops. That worked in the old days, but now winter warmth comes with surprisingly thin layers of remarkable fabrics.

This means you can travel to really cold places with minimal luggage, and not be weighed down by heavy sweaters and coats.

what to pack for winter in Europe

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The Fabrics

The best fabrics to keep you warm are merino (the very best), silk, cashmere and the new “warmth technology synthetics. Each of these trap warmth against the skin.


When it comes to the best fabrics for travel, merino is the champion. Although it is a wool, merino is the very softest wool, and doesn’t itch or scratch. New technologies spin it to a thin thread that is also incredibly lofty. What this means is that air gets trapped against the skin, warms up and then keeps you warm. Merino is temperature regulating too, so as the day warms up it cools you down. From sub zero temperatures to 70 degrees, merino keeps you totally comfortable.

It is super sheer, wicks moisture away from the skin (so if you perspire it lifts it away) is antibacterial and super important for travel – it takes away odors. This means it can be worn multiple times between laundering and won’t get smelly. Perfect for travel!


Terramar Women’s Thermasilk base layer

Silk has the best warmth to weight ratio. Not only does it feel wonderful against your skin, but it keeps you really warm too. Unlike merino silk can’t regulate temperature, so if the afternoon warms up, you will too. It does however, wear well under jeans, so if it is cold enough to need a base layer on your legs you will have an easier time sliding jeans up over silk. See Terramar Thermasilk base layers here and here

Warmth Technology Synthetics

Synthetics are now pretty high tech. The warmth technology polyesters are super sheer, wick away moisture from the skin ad trap air, making you nice and toasty when it’s cold. Some of them regulate temperature, so can cool you back down too. My only problem with the polyesters is that they trap smells, so can be pretty stinky by the end of the day.


Cashmere is a fabulous middle layer fabric. You can get base layers in cashmere but if you are prone to itching it isn’t always your best friend.

Base Layers

A base layer’s job is to regulate temperature, not only keeping you warm but also wicking moisture away from the skin. This is your next-to-skin layer, think of it as a foundation garment over which you can layer your mid and outer layers as needed.

Think of camisoles like this one and very lightweight, long sleeved T’s like this one from Icebreaker in the new wonder fabrics. You can also get base layer bottoms like these silk ones from Terramar that are a similar thickness to a pair of tights.

Terramar Thermasilk base layer bottoms

A good base layer will be really sheer. Forget about the bulky long johns and cotton thermals of old – the new base layers are really thin.

Instead of a heavy sweater you can wear a thin base layer and stay every bit as warm.

The perfect winter travel wardrobe is made up of layers of these fabrics.

What To Pack For Winter


Starting with your base layer, pack one or two long sleeved and one or two cami’s, ideally merino. I pack one silk cami and one merino cami as well as two merino long sleeves.

If you will need an extra layer for your legs look for a silk base layer that you can wash out at night or a couple of merino bottoms.

Merino Socks. Not only are thin, they keep your feet extra warm and don’t bunch up. They also don’t get stinky. See women’s merino socks here

Tights are essential if you will be wearing dresses or skirts.

Middle Layer

Leggings: If you will be wearing leggings look for a good merino pair like these from Icebreaker. They will keep you warm, cool you down if the afternoon gets warm and sunny, wick away perspiration, and also hold their shape nicely.

Jeans and Pants: The easiest way to travel is with separates. For every two bottoms pack 4 or 5 tops. So a pair of jeans, a pair of black pants (or leggings) and 5 tops to mix and match.

Long Sleeved Tops: From long sleeved T-shirts to cashmere sweaters like this one from Nordstrom, plan 2 to 3 tops per pair of jeans/pants/leggings.

A Merino Dress: The best winter travel piece I have ever owned is a black merino dress from Ibex. Unfortunately Ibex went out of business but you can find other merino dresses here and here.

Freezing day in Monserrat, Spain, December 2017

My merino dress is only slightly thicker than t-shirt fabric yet is incredibly warm. I wore it here in Barcelona 2 Decembers ago. On this day it was mildly cold in Barcelona, warm when you were in the sun, then up here in Monserrat it was absolutely freezing cold I the wind. Freezing.

A merino dress with tights and boots and a leather jacket will keep you warm when it’s glacial out, but also keep you comfortable when it is warmer.

The Outer Layer


The very best footwear for winter travelers is a good pair of boots. Boots need to be waterproof and able to hold up in snow. (Even if you are not expecting snow.)

I prefer boots that aren’t too rigid. Your boots need to flex with your feet, especially on long sightseeing days. I have been wearing shoes and boots from Sofft on all my travels over the last few years. They typically don’t need breaking in and have been extremely comfortable even on days I have had to walk more than 10 miles on cobblestoned surfaces.

A short pair of booties can be great for fall and winter travel. They don’t take up space in your suitcase, are easy to slip on and off at the airport, and look good with everything. I have the Bellis II from Sofft

If you are likely to have rain or if you want a higher boot, my current favorite winter boots are the Sharnell II from Sofft. They are waterproof, the width is adjustable if your legs swell of if you need a little extra calf room through wearing layers. Sofft’s Aqua Sofft line of boots are all waterproof.

A Puffer Jacket or Coat

A warm coat that packs down to nothing is essential for a winter traveler. Puffer coats are ideal as they both keep you warm and can fold down into a small pouch. Check to see that your puffer jacket or coat is waterproof before purchase.

I particularly like the slightly longer puffer coats. Puffer coats that reach mid-thigh will keep you much warmer on cold days. Look for a puffer coat that also has a hood, both for rain protection but also for the extra warmth they give your neck. This women’s puffer coat from Columbia is both warm and has excellent reviews. Also check out this one from Bernardo at Nordstrom if you want amore slimming line.

This one from Benia Valuker is the top selling women’s puffer coat on Amazon, with 2400 reviews – it must be good! Check out how gorgeous it is in beige!

My favorite clothing item in my closet is my red leather jacket from Jimmy’s in Florence. I only wear it when I know it’s not going to rain – I know leather is fine in the rain but I don’t want to risk ruining it in a downpour.


I normally wear some form of beanie or woolen hat for winter travel. One of my friends always looks so chic in fedora style hats, so this year I am getting one of these Lisianthus fedoras from Amazon. With more than 2000 5 star reviews I’m thinking it has to be a winner!

A Big Scarf

A warm scarf is a must for winter travel. I like to use a slightly oversized scarf or pashmina that can double as a blanket if needed on a flight. Look for something soft and gentle against the skin that is large enough to give you extra coverage over your chest and upper back when wrapped.

Download my Free Resources PDFs to help you plan your trip. Included in the package are my pre-travel checklists helping you with everything you need to do from 3 months prior to the day of your trip. Get Your Free Resources HERE

Subscription Gift Ideas You Need To Know About

If you are like me and either travel a lot or are trying to Marie Kondo streamline and minimalize your life, subscriptions can be a great gift both to give and to receive.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Should you purchase something through a link in this post we may receive a small commission, which is used to help offset the cost of hosting this blog.

With Cyber Monday just around the corner I am not only making my own list of gifts to order but also am compiling lists to put into a blog post. Along with the season of gift giving basically being on top of us I also have my son at college on the other side of the country and am finding the various subscription services available to be enormously helpful!

Subscriptions and mini subscriptions can make ideal gifts both for business and work gifts, and also as stocking stuffers or gifts for family members.

Kindle Paperwhite

This year I am giving Kindle Paperwhites:Kindle Paperwhite – Now Waterproof with 2x the Storage – Includes Special Offers I was the diehard hold out on physical books for the longest time, but the past few years I have been reading everything on the Kindle App on my iPad.

Kindle Paperwhite

Some of the authors I have been loving don’t even offer paperbacks anymore. Personally I don’t see the point in spending $20 on a paperback when I can get the same thing on Kindle for $3.99. So much cost is absorbed in the printing of physical books – my own books Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) and Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome: Beyond the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps make me the same amount of money regardless of whether the reader buys them as an eBook or a paperback. If readers get my books via Kindle Unlimited I still get paid by Amazon based on pages read.

This year on my Glam Italia tours I noticed so many of my travelers had Kindles with them. They were so sleek and chic and made my iPad look clunky and cumbersome. I do all computing on my smart phone now, so have no need to drag my iPad around anymore. As such it is being replaced with kindle Paperwhite this Christmas!

Regardless of whether you or the person you are gifting reads on a Kindle or on the Kindle App, a Kindle Unlimited subscription is the perfect gift. For the duration of their subscription they can download books for free. If they cancel at the end of the subscription they still get to keep their downloaded books. It’s brilliant! There are several options for subscriptions so you can purchase and gift the one that works best for you. Check out theKindle Unlimited Membership Plans

An Audible subscription gives a free audio book just for signing up

Before we had books story telling happened by voice. As children we learned stories as they were read to us. Now as adults many of us just don’t have time to sit down with a book anymore, our lives are just too busy.

That’s where Audible comes in. With an Audible subscription you can listen to books everywhere you go. On your phone, your tablet, your kindle – there are multiple ways to listen in. Whether you want to engage your mind while you commute to and from work, or like me while walking the dog, or maybe just while your hands are busy doing chores at home, audio books are just fantastic.

Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the book market so a subscription to an audio book service is a brilliant gift! Audible subscriptions come in 1,3,6 and 12 month options. Check out Audible Subscriptions here

Try Audible Romance Free here

If you are a consumer of romance novels you might enjoy the new Audible Romance offering. You can use this link for a free trial of Audible Romance.

I don’t know how I ever got by without Amazon Prime! I don’t use a fraction of the services that come with it, but I love getting free 2 day shipping. I take advantage of Amazon First Reads each month – as a Prime member you get to borrow books for free, and a new list arrives in your inbox at the beginning of each month.

I watch shows on Amazon Prime Video. There are many more service that come with the subscription tho (including ad free streaming of more than a million songs) and I’m sure that those more savvy than me are taking advantage of them!

Not sure if you would like Prime Video? You can get a free trial month of Amazon prime Video with this link

You can gift an Amazon Prime Subscription for 3 months or 12 months, and there maybe other options too. Check out how to gift an Amazon prime Subscription here

amazon prime student
Free trial link

Amazon Prime Student comes with a six month free trial. It has the benefit of a regular Prime membership but also has discounts on everything from books to computers and much more. Use this link to get your 6 month free trial.

I especially appreciate this one with a child at school in the other end of the country!

Not sure if you want an Amazon Prime Subscription yourself? Use this link to get a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime. There is also a discounted Prime membership for people on Government Assistance Programs such as EBT cards. You can check it out here

Amazon also offers a free trial of the Amazon Unlimited Free Music service. Tens of millions of songs available to listen to on any device, anywhere. This one is open both to Prime members and also non-Prime members. Check it out here.

gift ideas for travelers
Gift Ideas For Travelers
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