5. Get a good meal. Yelp isn’t as sexy as some of the newer apps, but I use it on every single trip I take. There’s nothing more depressing than coming into a new city, being ravenously hungry and not having a clue where to eat (except for the decrepit hotel lounge). Use Yelp’s advanced search functionality to determine what’s “open now,” and within either a quick walk or a short drive. You can sort by type of cuisine and also by ratings, so you can ensure you’re looking at the best. This has led me to fantastic spots I never would have found, from a Thai/Vietnamese place in Akron to small gems on the side streets of Paris. (Note that Yelp is particularly strong in the U.S.; TripAdvisor may be worth consulting as an alternative if you’re traveling abroad and don’t see a lot of Yelp listings for the region you’re in.)
"Packing in a soft-sided weekender or duffel gives you the flexibility (literally!) to shape your bag to what you're packing instead of the other way around. My canvas overnighter takes on a different shape depending on what I need it to hold and will squish, even when packed almost beyond its means, into spaces a hard-sided roller bag just won't go. I hope my current bag will last forever but I'm eyeing this simple weekender from Makr as its eventual replacement." — Skye Senterfeit, Photo Editor
Now, over the years, I’ve accumulated my fair share of packing wisdom, from the basic ‘no duhs’ to some unconventional gems of genius. Today, I’d like to share all of my best tips with you! While I’m still the world master of ‘panic packing’ (aka throwing all my stuff in a suitcase while sobbing), having these tips in mind often helps me hold things together. Without further ado, here are my golden essential tips for smart packing.
No real reason, Gabbi! I’m just one person and I only have a limited amount of time in which to visit different places — if it wasn’t Latin America, it’d be somewhere else. There’s no real reason why I haven’t made it there yet — I actually planned a trip there a couple of years ago, but got my book deal and had to cancel it to work on that — and I definitely hope to see the region soon! :-)
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
Another thing! as good as it is to take earplugs (plus most airlines charge for those) it´s good to take a sleep mask for those who can´t sleep without total darkness, and in planes there´s always subtle lights left during the flight, they are also very helpful at hostels or dorms where there´s always somebody turning on the light while you´re sleeping…
Figuring out the airlines' tricky and befuddling baggage-fee policies is key to any budget-minded packing strategy. While most airlines permit travelers to check at least one bag on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for bags checked on domestic flights. Spirit Airlines—that notoriously customer-unfriendly discounter—even charges as much as $100 for carry-on bags.
I cite leaving my comfort zone as the number one way in which travel has helped me. It was leaving my comfort zone that gave me confidence in my abilities as a traveller. It helped me to overcome my anxiety disorder by showing me the things I was panicking about rarely happened — and if they did, they were never as bad as they thought they would be. And it introduced me to new experiences — most of which I unexpectedly loved!
I do a lot of back-to-back business travel. To save time, I keep my suitcase partially packed - with a full toiletries kit, basic jewelry, makeup bag, snacks, heels, notebook, pens and business cards always. When I get back from one trip, I repack the basics - pajamas, under-things. Then, I just have to top it off with some business clothes and I'm out the door every time.
Also, some airports have their terminals connected, other’s do not. Some have less obvious security checkpoints or “hidden ones” that are just around the corner. Figure those out if you can. I’ve went through a United Terminal checkpoint because it was less busy than the Southwest Terminal checkpoint before because I knew the Terminals were connected. Make sure they are though, or you will be making a trip out and then back through security! Ugh!
So many people will tell you not to travel with jeans, but if you wear jeans all the time at home, you’ll want to wear them while travelling, too. I didn’t start travelling with jeans until my second year of travel, and man, I missed them so much! They’re not *that* bulky so you really don’t need to worry about the extra space and weight. And in many cities in Europe, you’ll want to wear jeans to fit in with the locals — you don’t want to look like a grubby backpacker in Paris!
Our best example of this was whilst in Siem Reap in Cambodia. We were desperate to see the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, but couldn’t find any tour companies who would take us there for less than $120. After joining the local Facebook group, I asked the question, and within an hour had received a dozen private messages. It took a bit of time to sort them all out, but all seemed legitimate, and after some more research we ended up getting a private driver for $80 from a small company who wouldn’t have shown up in many Google search results.
They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource! This is probably one of the most underused travel tips in the world. Use the tourism board! Save money!
But more than this, I love building a rapport with a person, and then getting to ask them big questions about their countries. With the car doors closed, and no-one else listening, it’s amazing how much people open up to what life is really like. One of my biggest aims when travelling is to learn, and it is in these conversations I learn more than at any other time.