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I don’t know if you’ve heard, but checking luggage is a pain in the ass. Granted, sometimes it’s necessary, and that’s a bridge you can cross should you need to. However, for the most part, checking in your luggage adds time and effort to your trip which ends up being more of a headache than anything. That’s why the sweet spot is traveling with a carry-on. But it’s never that simple, is it? There is a particular art that you need to finesse when traveling light. For all your efficient travel needs and so much more, here is your ultimate planning, shopping, and packing list for every travel need. 

Shopping List


Check-in online

This one should be obvious, but the number of people who go to the airport without having checked in is surprising. If you’ve checked in online and downloaded your boarding pass to Apple Wallet, you will likely not have to check in again. Always allocate time if you need to do a bag drop-off, but if not, you can head straight to the security line.

Consider Applying for NEXUS

If you plan to travel to the States as often as we have in recent times, consider applying for NEXUS. NEXUS is designed to expedite the border clearance process for low-risk, approved travelers into Canada and the United States. NEXUS members have crossing privileges at air, land, and marine ports of entry that support the program. In addition to offering the same benefits as Global Entry, the NEXUS card is less expensive (a $50 USD one-time fee),  and can be used for both air and vehicle travel between the two countries.

Download the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) App

NEXUS is always the best option, but a wonderful hack that we have recently discovered is the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app. It is a free application that can be downloaded from the Apple App store and Google Play and is currently available for eligible travelers to use upon arrival at MPC-approved sites and allows eligible travelers to submit their passport and customs declaration information through a free, secure app on their smartphone or other mobile devices. Neat, huh? 

Take Photos of Your Children

There’s a lot of commotion when traveling, especially with kids, and in the event that one goes missing, taking photos of them at the beginning of the day, in the clothes they’re wearing in the airport will be super useful should you need to alert authorities. 

Create a list

Yes, for everything! A list of clothes, an itinerary, of things you need to get done before you travel (like checking if you need a travel visa, getting foreign cash, immunization, making sure your pets – or kids – are taken care of while you’re away, etc) and check the list off as you go along. Trust me, it works!

Check the weather!

The weather is a great way for you to assess what you’ll need to pack in terms of clothing (e.x., will I need rain boots or an umbrella? Jeans or shorts? etc.) so you can plan your outfits, but will also inform your travel times between venues or locations, the probability for changes with flights, or anything that might be out of your control but that you can mitigate becoming a potential misadventure.

Roll your stuff

Instead of packing your clothes the same way you fold them in your closet, roll them! It saves space when you pack and creates more room for all the goodies you may purchase while you’re away. And for the items that don’t fit in your suitcase…

Ship stuff home

Remember the lightsaber I had shipped back to Canada from my last Disney trip? Not only was that a relief but also saved me the additional baggage weight for the plane. Many stores would happily ship their items to you either for free or at an additional cost, and if they don’t, head over to the local post office or courier to do it yourself.

Don’t forget your charger!

That’s it; that’s the hack.

Always buy travel insurance, even if you’ve never had to use it before

Travel pre-pandemic was dicey, but in this post-pandemic world, while things are exponentially smoother, there is always the risk of canceled flights because of weather, capacity, or otherwise. Being the optimist that I am, it’s unlikely you’ll need to use your travel insurance, but always always always err on the side of caution when it comes to travel. 

Scan and photograph all travel documents

I know this sounds excessive, but depending on your destination, why not just be precautious just in case? One quick photograph in a photo album on your phone, or a quick scan of the documents slipped into a plastic folder in your suitcase and you never have to do it again. 

Save plastic bags from shopping trips for your dirty shoes

Do you keep a plastic bag full of other plastic bags under your sink *just* in case? Well, here’s your time to shine; use those bags to wrap up your dirty shoes so they don’t get into your other stuff. Consider this one a health hack. 

Pack snacks

Yes! Put some in your hand luggage for the flight itself, but pack some extra in your suitcase for all the other times that you may get a little peckish while away that you can put in your purse or buggy instead.

Safe Travels!