5 ways to travel smarter this summer

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No matter where you’re going this summer, there are some easy things you can do before you leave to make your vacation less stressful.

Here’s a few to get you started:

1. Pack smarter

Bring an empty, collapsible bag (like a duffel bag) on your next trip to pack those souvenirs. Remember, if you’re flying, it’s cheaper to pay for an extra bag than a suitcase that’s over the airline’s weight limit.

No one likes brushing their teeth with their finger or spending $5 on a toothbrush so before you leave, pick up an extra set of toiletries and pre-pack them. That way you can get ready the morning before you leave without forgetting to pack those personal items. And you might want to put your essentials and a change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case your suitcase doesn’t make it to your destination on time.

2. Feel better faster

You may already have a simple first-aid kit in your car. If you’re going on a long trip where you might not be near a drugstore, make sure you’ve got it fully stocked with items such as bandages, hydrocortisone, Ibuprofen and a topical antibiotic.

Plane travelers, make sure your prescription medications are packed in your carry-on and read the Transportation Security Administration’s guidelines for bringing medications on your next flight.

3. Put safety first

No matter where you’re going, the Red Cross’ First Aid app can help you deal with emergency situations such as choking, diabetic emergency, burns or allergies with a few swipes of your mobile device’s screen. If you don’t know the emergency number in the country you’re in, just download the Travel Safe app and you can quickly reach police, fire or emergency in any country with the touch of your screen.

4. Eat healthier

Eating out on your next vacation isn’t always a choice between cheap, unhealthy food and overpriced, healthy cuisine. Here are a few tips to avoid packing on the pounds: First, skip the bread and butter or nacho chips that are brought to the table while you wait to order. Ask for your dressings and sauces on the side, and stay away from the fried foods. “Restaurants often use incredible quantities of butter,” health expert Dr. Andrew Weil points out.

And don’t feel like you have to finish the whole meal. Get a to-go box and — since most hotels have a small refrigerator and a microwave — you can enjoy your leftovers for lunch the next day.

5. Limit air travel hassles

It can be enough to make you consider driving next time. But knowing who to reach out to when you encounter problems during air travel can help you enjoy more of your well-deserved vacation time.

First, know your rights: The Department of Transportation explains what airlines are required to do if there’s a delay on the tarmac or if your flight is oversold. In addition to contacting your airline, you should also reach out to the DOT with any travel complaints that don’t have to do with safety and security (that’s the Federal Aviation Administration’s territory).

Also, things are bound to get lost or left behind so make sure you have insurance on all those hard-to-replace items before you take them on your next trip.