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My husband and I spend a lot of time pontificating the difference between being “frugal” and being “cheap.” One word describes a person who doesn’t tip, and the other describes the person who does tip, but only orders the appetizer. One describes the person who doesn’t chip in for a pizza and the other describes the person who doesn’t partake in the pizza.

You get the idea.

But I’ve recently decided that neither of these words quite fits my husband: the person who can’t bring himself to compromise what he’s decided is the “best use” of a currency. To clarify, I’m talking about the currencies involved in the budget travel strategy of “travel hacking.” (If you haven’t already, now is a good time to read the travel hacking basics.)

The best term I’ve come up with for this kind of frugality is “best-use addiction.”

Luckily, this best-use addiction has allowed my husband to stretch our miles and points to unimaginable limits. We’re talking Guam, Singapore, Sydney, New Zealand, and Rarotonga, all for 40,000 miles in business class. While that ticket was a bit more complicated than the material we’ll talk about here, I’ll do my best to share some of the best-uses and strategies that will help you get the most from your rewards.

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Checked bag fees are expensive, a 75 L backpack is surprisingly heavy, and sifting through a behemoth top-loading backpack for your toothbrush after lights out at the hostel is super fun. Seriously, that’s how you get cavities, guys.

The shift to carry on packing is scary for a lot of people, but the secret to traveling with a smaller lighter bag is simple:

Bring less stuff and wash it once in a while.

Dirty Laundry is Dead Weight

I can hear you rolling your eyes, and I know it’s unfair to boil carry on packing down to one element, but limiting how much clothing you pack is kind of the foundation of good carry on packing. Three or four extra items of clothing in your rolling suitcase might be all that’s separating you from cheap, easy, stress-free travel with a carry on bag. Seriously.

What truly blows my mind about over-packing is that the extra clothing you pack is unlike everything else in your bag. We all bring a few things we don’t really need, but odds are you’ll use your laptop or phone charger or deck of cards multiple times in lots of situations. You might even use that sweet frisbee you brought. Who knows? Moscow is a weird place. But clothing is different. Clothing is mutually exclusive, meaning simply, the clothes that you aren’t wearing are the clothes you have to lug around all day.

It’s a silly thought, but you can’t wear four socks at once (unless you’re into that), or all your t-shirts at the same time (unless you’re in Iceland). Once you wear a pair of underwear (*cough* a few times) they’re essentially useless until you clean them. That means that you won’t be using most of the clothing you packed, MOST OF THE TIME. So bring less and wear what you want more often.

Even clean clothing isn’t really useful until you get to each item. That button-down shirt you wore to the club on night six is actually just, “the shirt you carried around for five days then only wore once.” When you travel clothing is a liability, not an asset.

So, to lighten the load let’s tackle a few travel clothing do’s and don’ts, and take a good hard look at the best ways to do laundry while you travel, including the time, cost, and pros and cons of each option. Roll up your sleeves because it’s time to get your hands dirty. Click to continue…

“Be prepared for the mosquitos,” she said.

A month before my trip to Sweden and Norway — as luck would have it — I had just stumbled into a conversation at a bar with a gregarious Swedish intern in San Francisco.

“Actually, the summer’s aren’t too different from here. They’re pretty cool, but much more humid and full of mosquitos. Definitely pack bug spray for your trip to Sweden.”

Having grown up on the muggy, buggy, converted swamp-lands of Washington D.C. I couldn’t quite process humid and mosquito-filled weather sans 90-degree heat. But once in Stockholm, it would all make sense.

After spending much of June and July biking around Sweden and Norway, chatting with more than a few friendly Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians, here’s what to pack for Scandinavia in the summer.

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