packed suitcase on the floor

Learn to pack smarter and save on baggage fees. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

11 Travel Tips Our Experts Swear By

When you need advice, you ask an expert, right? Well, here at Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, we’re not only travel experts ourselves, but we’re also surrounded by a strong network of experts who travel alone, in groups, with their kids, for work and just for fun. Here are some of their — and our — best tips for making your next trip go more smoothly.

Pack Smarter — and Save on Baggage Fares

Julia Coney, Wine Journalist

I believe baggage fares are going up, so it’s important to learn how to pack efficiently. What you need for your everyday life may not work for travel — and trust me, you do not need to bring those extra shoes.

Aim to create a “capsule travel wardrobe” that fits into a few packing cubes, which then go into a single carry-on. The black-mesh Eagle Creek cubes are a standby and come in several sizes, but I also like to use the CALPAK cubes because they have a wide variety of colors, which helps me stay visually organized when I finally get to unpack.

Use Your Points Wisely

Eric Rosen, Director of Content, The Points Guy

One of my favorite features of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program — and one that has saved me a lot of points over the years — is the fact that you get the fifth night free on award stays of five nights or more. So on a five-night stay, you only need to redeem points for four nights, which can be a huge discount and saves you some points to use on your next stay.

woman holding camera in front of face
Always be photo ready! (Photo: Getty Images)

Be Prepped to Capture the Perfect Photo

Chelo Keys, Photo Editor, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler

I take a lot of photographs on my travels, so I like to be prepared with extra memory cards and fully charged batteries so I never have to worry about missing a shot while I’m out and about. I also like to bring a card reader that attaches to my phone so that I can upload and back up my favorite shots to a cloud service, just in case something happens to my camera.

Think Sustainably

Jessica Blotter, CEO and Co-Founder, Kind Traveler

To find travel-oriented companies committed to efforts that advance kindness to the community and environment, travelers should look for transparent sustainability policies and commitments to social responsibility and philanthropic efforts. Search for their listings on the CSRHub, which evaluates corporations’ and companies’ sustainability based all these things and more.

Get a Taste of ‘Drink Tourism’ to Learn More About a Destination

Spencer Spellman, Tourism Content and Social Media Manager

Drink tourism is now a bona fide thing, and taking a cocktail tour is a really fun way to learn about a destination.

By diving into the history of the cocktails and flavors unique to a region, you can find fascinating clues as to how and why a place became a place — what the major industry was, where residents came from and the recipes, produce and folklore they contributed to local culture. And bonus: You get to drink cocktails while you learn.

tourist holding a map
A paper map can make a great travel keepsake. (Photo: Getty Images)

Meet the Locals — and Get a Travel Keepsake in the Process

Jess Moss, Sr. Manager of Editorial Strategy, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler

I grab a free tourist map when I arrive in a new city and carry it around with a pen. I ask the bartenders, hotel staff, shop managers, etc., I meet to mark their favorite places on the map, which gives me a good roundup of local spots to check out, plus a fun keepsake from the trip!

Be Prepared If You Get Sick on the Road

Valerie Conners, Managing Editor, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler

I have a woefully long history of getting sick on the road and always pack a small bag of medical go-to’s.

In addition to items that can help prevent catching or spreading illnesses, like face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, I always pack travel-size containers of the following: ibuprofen (or any anti-inflammatory/fever reducer), over-the-counter sinus and cold medicine, vitamin C, anti-diarrhea medicine, antibiotic ointment and antihistamines (for allergies, but also in case of allergic reactions to insect bites, jellyfish stings, etc.).

One other pro tip: If you do find yourself seriously sick on your travels, ask the staff at your hotel to help you find a local doctor or medical clinic.

Pack a Laundry Bag for Post-Trip Ease

Joshua Bush, CEO & Luxury Travel Advisor, Avenue Two Travel

For long trips with multiple, nonrepeat outfits, I pack a larger duffel bag in my outbound suitcase, and this then turns into my laundry basket throughout the stay. I check both bags on the return, allowing for purchasing of new souvenirs; then I drop the duffel straight at the cleaners. This saves me time folding, repacking and having to sort laundry after I get home.

group of friends hiking
Don’t discount the merits of group travel. (Photo: Getty Images)

Consider the Merits of Group Travel

Jessica Parker, Founder of Travel Planning & PR Agency, Trip Whisperer

The pandemic has reminded us that time is precious — so travel when you’re ready. Waiting for your friends and travel partners could leave you waiting forever for dates, budgets, specific travel interests to align.

Happily, there’s been a boom in group travel for solo and single women seeking a safer way to visit destinations that may feel intimidating or complex to tackle alone. Not only can this type of group travel be budget-conscious, but you’ll end your trip with a whole new set of friends and future travel buddies.

Stock Up on Toiletries in Advance

Annie Granatstein, VP of Content Marketing, Marriott International

I have doubles of all my toiletries waiting in my toiletry bag for the next trip, so I don’t need to add much to it when I’m packing. Next time you’re at the drugstore, just buy doubles of everything you use the most because it’s a given that you’re always going to have another trip. It’s an optimistic way to live your life — and you’ll thank yourself later.

Get Kid-Friendly Travel Gear

Jade Broadus, VP and Creative Director, Travel Mindset

Before you fly with a child, purchase a backpack car seat carrier. This allows you to be hands free while you’re checking in, plus there is extra space for anything big or bulky you’re bringing with you — for example, extra diapers or a life jacket for the beach. Throw them inside the backpack carrier, zip it up and you’re done!