Travel

15 Great Reader Comments on Travel

12 Great Reader Comments on Travel

Do you have any trips or vacations coming up? Next up in our best reader comments series, we’re psyched to share 15 clever tips for making the most of the journey (plus, how to finally beat jet lag)…

On planning (or not):

“Whether I’m traveling with friends or family, we take turns having people be ‘in charge’ for the day — what we do, where we eat, how we get there, etc. It’s nice because it prevents the planner personalities from feeling like they’re running the whole trip and lets the more relaxed personalities have an unstructured day. (And for everyone to see the benefits of both styles!)” — Danielle

On packing like a pro:

“I love packing in a color scheme, so you can mix and match clothes. For a trip to Hawaii, I packed only navy and white, with bits of black and pink. I jokingly called it ‘nautical ballerina,’ and it worked amazingly well. First time I have ever gone on vacation and not gotten frustrated by my limited outfit choices.” — Tracy

“I like Clinique’s Chubby Sticks, since that way, you only have to bring one eyeshadow on a trip. The color lasts all day, plus it’s build-able, so you can make it as intense as you like. I rub the color on my ring finger and then apply it. Lots o’ Latte is a great neutral shade.” — Cynthia

On living like a local:

“One night, on the California coast, I was driving through a town and saw a stream of people heading into an innocuous looking place — just a door along a blank wall. There was sign outside. Inside, there was a swirling staircase with velvet floor-length curtains along the wall, and a room PACKED TO THE GILLS with people. When I edged my way to the bar, I realized they had a menu, so I ordered scallops and had one of the most delicious dinners of my entire trip. Love, love, love just wandering.” — Nina

“I always make a point of going into the local supermarket wherever I’m visiting. In Vietnam you can buy delicious beer for $1, in Venice you can buy a bottle of Bellini for a few Euro and in the U.S. there are AISLES and AISLES of frozen pizza.” — Kate

On airplane rituals:

“My biggest tip is on an international flight is to eat and sleep as if you’re already in the time zone of your destination – it’s best way to beat jet lag.” — Natalie

“Every time I fly international, I make my way to Duty Free. I make sure I have a clean face, and then I use all the free samples of the fancy creams I could never afford. La Mer before jetting off to Newark? Don’t mind if I do.” — Grace

“I used to be a devout anti-travel pillow person, but I bit the bullet and bought a super-soft INFLATABLE travel pillow. You can adjust the firmness, and it’s life-changing.” — Allison

On comforting rituals:

“I tend to get stressed when I travel — even if it’s for fun — so on my last few trips I’ve brought along some honey lavender tea bags. I’ll have a cup before bed, which creates a ritual amongst all the excitement. It also helps me sleep, even on a seven-day trip to three different cities.” — Julie

“My fiancé’s family has the sweetest tradition – they took an annual vacation to a beach house growing up, and the last morning before heading home, they always got a box of donuts and ate them on the beach. Now, when he and I go to the beach, our last stop is always a box of donuts on a blanket watching the waves.” — Lesley

On traveling with kids:

“Bring a waterproof camera. I gave my four-year-old challenges, like take one photo for every color in the rainbow, take a picture of the coolest/weirdest thing in this room, take photos of things we don’t see in Canada, etc.” — H.E.

“When we travel with our two kids, we pack minimally and just bring a foldable laundry bag. Most dry cleaners have a wash-and-fold service, and it helps to not weigh you down with all the other child gear!” — Kendra

On sticking to a budget:

“Pick one meal a day to eat at a restaurant, and grocery shop and eat on the cheap for the other two. It saves so much money and makes that one meal a little more special.” — Sasha

Or going for it:

“I flew to Paris alone four years ago. I was lonely at times, but was one of the most liberating things I’ve done. I met new friends and had an magical time! Even bumped into Bill Murray in a side street around midnight near the Seine. Totally recommend solo traveling.” — Anne

“My dad is a geography professor, and I’ve learned SO many things from him about traveling. His best advice was to just do it. It doesn’t have to be a big, expensive production. It should just speak to your sense of adventure. Annnnnd, for the love of all that’s holy, wear comfortable shoes!” — Erica

What are your travel tips and rituals? (Remember this hilarious guide?)

P.S. An ode to bad family vacations, and a genius packing tip.

(Photo by Hamilton Wright.)

  1. Colleen Leonard says...

    I love the waterproof camera idea! We decided to “just go for it” and are doing a road trip in Cuba for 3 weeks with our 4 yr old this summer. I am freaking out just a little bit : )

  2. Kathia says...

    I have two trips coming up. I am looking for some fun/different things to do in each city. Or things that you just can’t leave without doing. Thx in advance.

    I am taking a girls trip with my best friend next week to Chicago. We will be there the 5-9th of April. Any suggestions for cool spots to eat/what to pack for this time of year?

    My next trip is a 2 week trip to Puerto Vallarta in June with my fiancé for our anniversary. This is where I was born but I haven’t been back in 18 years so if anyone has anything they think I should for sure see or do pls let me know!

    xx.

    • Rebecca says...

      Kathia – I live in Chicago and you’ll have a fantastic time here! Its still a bit chilly – and always, but always windy – so pack in layers and don’t forget a warm scarf.
      Eater will help guide you to some of the “hot” spots but I like these restaurants/bars (in no particular order), many of which get you out of the greater downtown/Loop area and into neighborhoods: Bar Biscay, Income Tax Bar, Margeaux (in the Waldorf – sit at the bar, its gorgeous!), Quiote, Fat Rice, Monteverde, Maude’s Liquor Bar, S.K.Y. and Haisous in Pilsen (off the beaten path but an easy uber and both are worth the trip!), Pizzeria Bebu, and City Mouse . Now you’ll eat like a local. Have fun! :)

  3. Liz says...

    My personal favorite tip: If your trip involves multiple stops, stay at the nicest place first. I learned this on a solo road trip through Vermont & Maine, when the availability at my favorite splurge-y inn in Vermont dictated that it be my first stop rather than my last, like I had wanted. A cozy night in fluffy linens, with a big bathtub and gorgeous breakfast spreads made it feel like vacation had really started, even if all the other places I stayed were crummy roadside motels. Now I make a point to plan splurge/nicer accommodations at the beginning of the trip, rather than the end!

    • Laura says...

      That’s so funny, my advice is always the opposite! I can handle all the crummy hostels and camping and tiny beds in hotels knowing I’ll have that last hurrah of comfort and decadence to nuzzle me in at the end of my travels. It’s makes the sadness of going home a little easier to bare. I can see it working both ways :)

  4. Elizabeth says...

    When I was 18 I travelled around Europe with my parents which I was totally prepared to find irritating. To combat this, my parents let me plan a day in every location and i got to feel as if we were rocking now off the more ‘teen’ friendly things on my bucket list – modern art museums, trendy stores, TopShop. It took the tension out of the whole trip and we all enjoyed each other’s planning more. My mum even said she like my days the best.

  5. AC says...

    I never eat plane food. I always always pack snacks. Fresh fruit, veggie sticks, cheese, protein bars, sandwiches, hard boiled eggs.

    I also always buy a magazine at the airport kiosk because I don’t subscribe to any. My indulgences are usually Wired or GQ.

    And for souvenirs, I try to by a book about that city or country for my son. When I went to Barcelona I found a children’s book called A Walk with Gaudi, and when we went to Austin I bought a book called Good Night, Austin.

  6. Erin says...

    Regarding travel rituals… I went on a girl’s trip to Mexico a few years ago and one of the ladies I was traveling with told me that she always bought a book in the airport before jumping on a plane. I loved the idea of this tradition. I’m a big advocate for the public library (books, dvds, cds, all for free!!!), so buying a book is a “splurge” for me. I love the idea of buying myself a little present right there at the airport.

  7. Marcela says...

    Bangkok is one of the biggest hubs for flights everywhere, so it is very affordable and easy to take all kinds of trips.
    One thing I always tell my friends when they visit for longer periods (2+ weeks) is to wait til they arrive to book flights and hotels to other destinations. Many times people fall in love with certain places and want to stay more, in region flights with budget airlines like Air Asia dont usually have price surges, you can do it last minute and even buy flights and pay in the 7 Eleven with cash! Stay open to flexible plans because South East Asia is a very unpredictable place, being worried about controlling everything will just be unnecessary stress.

    I also do a lot of short travels for work and have lost many clothes and other items over the years, mostly left in hotel rooms. Now I have learned to always keep my things at the same places in every hotel, like all my bathroom items stay in the right side of the sink and suitcase right below the hangers in the closet, all shoes right by the door, etc. I am not a woman of habits but since I started doing this almost 0 things have been left behind!

  8. Tricia M says...

    Jo, your reply to Sandra is what makes me love your blog so much. You are willing to take the time to provide all of that useful information. You are such a lovely person ! Greetings from over the pond.

  9. Caitlin says...

    This is kind of a combination of a couple CoJ post topics, but I’d love to see a post done on women that travel for work—their packing strategies, what they wear to fly, etc. I always feel like I’m underprepared for the challenges of a work trip when traveling by itself can be such a demanding endeavor!

    Thanks as always for your thoughtful work.

    • Kate says...

      Try the Hitha On The Go blog. She has excellent travel/packing content (and a book as well!). One thing I LOVE is that she tends to focus on working women for her En Route With series. She also provides great packing tutorials on things like folding strategies.

      I used to travel for business a lot, and primarily owned black clothes. It made packing so much easier- everything matched, easier to create outfits, hid stains. I wore a lot of MM LeFleur pieces, especially the machine washable ones. Kind of expensive up front, but wear beautifully, can be washing in a hotel sink if needed, dry quickly, and don’t wrinkle. Also, I swear by my Lo and Sons bags- so many pockets, wear well, and slip over the handle of your roller bag.

      But seriously, check on Hitha On The Go. She’s a boss.

    • RachelB says...

      Yes please!!! I second that request. I’ve nailed the single color palette, travel for fun routine but traveling for work is what I find so difficult to predict (dinner out with colleagues, down time for yourself, heels? not heels? help!)

  10. When I was young and free-wheeling and traveling all over Asia, I made a point to learn ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in the languages of the places I traveled. It goes a long way. I can’t say anything else, but I can greet someone, smile and thank that person for helping me off a bus, find a hotel or bringing me a much-needed French press of coffee while I watch the sun rise behind Angkor Wat. :)

  11. Laura says...

    This one is for my fellow readers: If you were going to spend 48-72 hours in a European city, where would you go? I’m thinking of going on a *very* brief trip for my 30th birthday in July, but I can’t decide on the destination.

    • Ali says...

      My pick would be Rome. Have fun!

    • Andrea says...

      paris

    • Jess. says...

      Barcelona!

    • Shannon says...

      Florence (except in Summer) or Helsinki (summer)

    • Caitlin says...

      If you want a nightlife//foodie scene: Barcelona, Paris, or Rome
      If you love history and want to nerd out in the best way possible: Prague or Vienna
      If you want a combination of all of the above: Berlin!

      Happy early 30th!

    • E says...

      Reykjavik, Iceland!

    • Erin says...

      Paris! You can’t see it all in a weekend, but you’ll have time for some highlights and a banana-Nutella crepe or two.

    • Jessica says...

      Stockholm! Small enough to see most of the city in a quick trip, and absolutely wonderful in July :) Head off the main tourist island of Gamla Stan (the old town) and you’ll find a peaceful city with loads of lovely parks, and they close off a lot of the bigger roads during the summer to make pedestrian street filled with flowers and cafés.

    • ALISON VOYVODICH says...

      Dubrovnik Croatia. Off the beaten path. Mesmerizing, incredibly beautiful, friendly, excellent food and history and amazing churches.

    • paris!

  12. Kati says...

    I’m traveling to NYC next month and can’t wait!!! I haven’t been since I was a teenager. I’m most excited to rent bikes and bike across the Brooklyn Bridge.

  13. Be nice, respectful and try to be patient. No matter what language(s) you speak, being a jerk won’t get you anywhere. Being courteous and friendly are universally understood and appreciated.

  14. Kaela says...

    Bring back sunshine for your neighbors!

  15. Hannah says...

    After living in two very tourist-heavy areas (Alaska & Kauai), my biggest travel tip is to NOT do things that you WOULDN’T do in your own town in regards street behavior. E.g. don’t jaywalk; don’t step into the middle of a street to take photos; don’t drive slowly so you can take photos as you go, causing a long line cars stuck behind you. Be considerate to those who actually live in the location you are visiting. I’m always amazed at how many people tend to ignore rules of the road while on vacation, and I want to high-five every visitor I see being a good pedestrian or driver.

    • K says...

      As an Icelander, I second this!
      Also support small independent buisnesses by skipping the obvious touristy souvenirs (keychains and fridge magnets made in China). Get some locally produced candy, art, clothing or handicraft instead. It helps popular areas keep some of its authentic charm, and prevents them from becoming overrun with tacky souvenir shops.

    • L says...

      Yes—This is a great tip! We are facing this issue in Iceland. I always try to be nice and helpful to tourists here, but there is so much unthoughtful behavior that I am sure all these people don’t do back at home.

  16. Alexa says...

    These comments are so great! My husband and I are headed to Europe for 2 weeks this May – Munich, Lucerne, Lake Como, and Amsterdam. I’ve gotten lots of great tips for packing and handling the long flight from this post!

    • I just returned from a very similar itinerary. Let me know if you have any questions!

    • Alexa says...

      That would be great Julia! If you have any strong recommendations (for anything!) for any of those places I’d love to hear them.

      I have mostly used travel blogs, pinterest, and trip advisor for figuring out what to do in each area. The one place that is maybe lacking a little is Lucerne. We definitely want to do a trip up a mountain – Mt. Pilatus or Mt. Rigi but other than that we don’t have plans. I’m considering a day trip to another city for the day since we are there for 3 nights.

      Also we are traveling via train everywhere except for when we take a short flight from Milan to Amsterdam. I am trying to figure out the best route to get from Lucerne to Varenna in Lake Como.

      I welcome any thoughts, ideas and suggestions! I hope you had a wonderful trip!

    • Andrea says...

      Rome2Rio.com gives you all the travel options, times and amounts between any two places. Love, love, love it! My family is from a small village next to Lake Lugano, so it works in Northern Italy!

  17. Sandra says...

    In May I will be coming to New York – YEAH! – with my eleven year old son and my eight year old daughter, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. We are all so excited! My husband will be there for work and I will take the kids to show them all my favorite New York places, back from the days when I was newly in love with their dad (I can already see my son rolling his eyes). And after reading your blog for years, there are now even more places on my list , thanks to you, Joanna! But I am wondering – how will we get around? I imagine, the elevators at the train stations will be non existent or non functioning, maybe by bus? Or we will just walk (and roll) – and rely on the kindness of strangers to get up the unpreventable stairs. Are there any parents of special needs kids reading this, who know some advice? Also: is there a museum in NYC, where kids are allowed to touch the exhibits? My daughter is blind, but she enjoys museums a lot (The smell! The tour guides! The gift shop!) And is there by any chance a playground in Central Park, that is wheelchair accessible?

  18. Abigail says...

    We just booked cheap flights to Portland, OR over Memorial Day weekend! Any Portlanders with must-see/do/eat/drink/stay recommendations?

    • Pittock Mansion is fun. Rose Gardens. Papa Hayden for dessert. Vista Spring Cafe for a quiet, tucked-away lunch. I grew up in Portland. It’s always fun. :)

    • Nina says...

      They did an article on here about Portland, search it – it has places to go.

    • Erin says...

      Powell’s Books, the Rose Garden (and the train from the Rose Garden to the zoo if you have kids with you), brunch at Besaws.

    • Nicole says...

      Mcmenamin’s Kennedy School. Fun restaurants and bars in an old elementary school. It’s a hotel too if you wanted to stay, but we just went for drinks at several of the bars one night and had so much fun wandering around the old hallways with an old fashioned in hand.

    • Sonya says...

      Portlander here!

      For dining, my favorites are Kachka (Russian restaurant with a great happy hour), Little Bird (Le Pigeon’s more affordable sister restaurant, another happy hour must), Grain and Gristle. Tasty & Sons or Pine State Biscuits for brunch, Lardo for delicious sandwiches, Grassa for amazing handmade pasta. Cocktail spots: Rum Club, Expatriate, Interurban, Solo Club, Tough Luck.

      The brewery scene is also great here, if you’re a beer lover. Great Notion, Upright, and Breakside are my go-tos.

      For shopping, Tender Loving Empire is A+. Record label & handmade goods store, and there are 4 in town (including the airport!).

      There’s so much to see and do; have a great time!

    • AC says...

      Portland is so bike friendly! There are a ton of bike rental spots who will also provide locks and helmets. We did a 3 day rental and it was very reasonable. If you have little ones in tow they have kid friendly rentals too (cargo bikes).

      For eats, we loved Olympia Provisions and Broder Nord. PDX does a really great breakfast.

      I did not get to eat at Ox. Or Departure. My nephew is a cook there.

      If you are going to go to Voodoo Donuts, go to the one on the east side. It is much less crowded, almost no lines at all.

      And if you’re a Goonies fan, consider driving out to Astoria to visit the beach from the last scene.

  19. Michele says...

    Our family is headed to the south of France (Aix en Provence, Villefranche sur Mer), and Cinque Terre this summer. The kids are 20, 17, 13, and 2. Any tips on what to do with such a range of ages? How to pack? Expectations for the kids that are old enough to understand that word? We are staying in Airbnb’s for a little more space and to not spend a fortune on eating out. Do I take a stroller and carseat, or just the Tula carrier? Would love to hear y’alls advice!

    • Michele says...

      Also, there are so many of us! Rent a van or take the train? It looks like they will cost about the same, sadly.

    • Peony says...

      We rented a van in Italy (for seven of us and luggage) and driving and parking were AWFUL. The country is built for teeny-tiny cars and it was so hard to find places we would fit.

    • A says...

      I would vote for train! My family (4 kids ages 10-15 at the time) rode the train through europe and it was great. Just make sure everyone packs light. If you think you will be in cars, you can buy a cheap ($35 Cosco Scenera? ) carseat and just leave it/give it away at the end of your trip. If the 2 year old is on the bigger side this might work for an occasional car ride? ridesafertravelvest.com

    • I’m going to totally advise against the train if you have a huge crowd or little ones. You’ll have a much easier time in a van. My in-laws live around there and so we visit often. The idea of being stuck in a train strike with a toddler makes me cringe.

      Depending on where you visit, the Tula carrier may get more use than the stroller, because accessibility is so much less of a thing there. You’ll of course need the car seat if you rent a van.

      Every time I pack for France, and we’ve been going for years, I only wind up wearing my comfiest shoes. I pack monochrome colors and some statement lipsticks, and always feel put together.

      Sunglasses for everybody! It is bright!!

    • AtTheBeach says...

      We spend the summer in a town near Villefranche and you might want to look into these cooking / market tour classes for your family – petitsfarcis.com. It’s our Go To when visitors come, everyone loves it, and the owner Rosa can also customize sometimes.

    • Mclean Ryan says...

      I LOVE Cinque Terrre! The gelato in Vernazza (middle of the 5 towns) is the best I’ve had in my 3 months in Italy. Such unique, well-made flavors. Went on a trip to Spain with my two younger brothers when we were about the ages of your oldest children. I would echo what many of the above commenters are saying about putting it on them to find something they want to do. Your older kids are probably on instagram etc, tell them to each do a little research and find 2-3 things they want to do/see in each place you go. One should be a place to eat (cafe, gelato, whatever), one should be a major attraction (a famous cathedral, a certain hike, etc), and suggest that they think of something they’d be down to do by themself. When we went, only my mom and I had any cell service at all (we did a minimal text and data international plan for that one month), so when anyone else needed to contact each other they hopped on wifi, but mostly we worked with meetup time and places. Google maps works with cellular data off! It can be great to, at the beginning of your trip, maybe first or second meal once abroad, remind everyone that staying hydrated and well-fed are key, and to have a sense of humor about when you WILL all get on each others nerves. My parents empowered us to do things on our own or with just each other, no parents, if we wanted, which made us feel grown up. Also, walking shoes are KEY! A month before your trip, make sure everyone has TWO pairs of shoes that are good for walking (to switch up between days), chacos are great for more casual summery places, converse with insoles added, and if someone has outgrown shoes or they’re too old, you have time to purchase new ones and have them be worn in by the time your trip rolls around, so no blisters. We had a lot of fun checking our health apps on our phones every night to see how far we had walked. Try doing one or two checked bags for the whole family, and have each kid with a carry-on and a backpack. Roll clothes before packing! Have each of them wear their warm layer on the plane. It’s summer, clothes are small and if you’re staying in airbnbs you can do laundry, so don’t need that much stuff. If they resist the light packing, tell them they’re being chic and european, packing in a color scheme and only bringing very favorite clothes helps too. Have so much fun! On the van/train front, in Cinque Terre at least train is the main option. Train stations are at the base of each town, $1,20 per ticket, and you can just hop on and off between towns super easily.

  20. Jess says...

    I am heading to Portugal in just under two months, so I love reading these travel-related posts. If anyone has any tips for Porto, Lisbon or the Algrave (what neighborhood to stay in, what and where to eat and drink, etc) I would love to hear them!

    • We stayed at the Carvi Hotel near Lagos for about a week at the beginning of September and it was wonderful! The water is extremely cold but the weather is wonderful and hot. The town is charming and not over-run with tourists. http://www.carvialgarve.com/

  21. Shannon says...

    Love reading these travel tips!
    My husband and I are heading to Sweden, Latvia and Lithuania this spring, and I have been looking for some good travel outfits (especially for the overnight flight). I want to be comfortable without looking sloppy… and really need tips on what outfits work well for men for my husband!!
    We like to go on a ‘big trip’ (2+ weeks) every couple years, and try to visit a few different places. We have found that, for us, 3 nights in each city/location is our magic number. We can still visit a few different places, but don’t feel like we are constantly traveling.
    We also identify a few (vegetarian friendly) restaurant options in each city before we go… there is nothing worse than wandering around a strange city looking for a place to eat when you are ‘hangry’.

    • Santa says...

      How unusual to see my country – Latvia – on people’s travel list! If you have any questions I would be happy to help.
      In Riga the most popular vegetarian/vegan places at the moment are “Terapija” https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274967-d12398573-Reviews-Terapija-Riga_Riga_Region.html and “Miit” https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g274967-d3538460-Reviews-MiiT_Coffee-Riga_Riga_Region.html and I would advise you to try eating outside eating Old Riga which is too expensive and not too tasty either (with a few exceptions).
      For souveniers a great and original place is “Riija” https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g274967-d7487413-Reviews-RIIJA-Riga_Riga_Region.html
      If you come in the summer, in Spikeri district (near the central market) and in Kalnciema kvartals, free concerts take place in the open air.
      Also important – this year we are celebrating 100 years of Latvia, and because of the song and dance festival many more wonderful things are happening all around – concerts, exhibitions, events, markets, etc…

      Hope you have a wonderful trip!

    • Shannon says...

      That is all great info, Santa! I really appreciate the recommendations :)

      I really don’t even know that much about Latvia, but I like traveling to new places. I have found that I actually enjoy visiting places that are less common… it feels like more of an adventure when you don’t know what to expect. We were in Finland and Estonia on our last trip, and I have been wanting to visit Riga ever since. It sounds great!

      Do you know of any fabric stores that might sell some unique fabric for quilting? I am also hoping to find some unique drawer pulls to use in our kitchen… will probably just look for hardware stores, but would love to hear any suggestions!

    • I usually wear Uniqlo Heattech leggings on the plane under a comfortable, wrinkle-free dress!

    • Jessica says...

      For Sweden, bring a rain jacket and something warm to wear! The weather is warming up now (i.e. the snow is slooowly melting in Stockholm, but it usually snows a little bit without sticking even in April), but there are still chilly days even in the summer. Almost all the restaurants I’ve been to in Sweden offer vegetarian options, but if you come to Stockholm there are loads of vegetarian and vegan restaurants :) Södermalm is one of the big inner-city islands and is known as the hipster island, with vegan cafés on every other corner! I’d recommend Herman’s, which is a vegan buffet with an AMAZING view over the sea and ships. Also, pro-tip for the hangry: there are kebab stalls everywhere which sell yummy vegetarian falafel wraps (falafel rulle in Swedish).

    • Leah says...

      Jessica – In mid-June, we’ll be headed to Copenhagen then driving up to Stockholm, any tips for that time of year? We’re driving so we can check out the small town on the coast where my family is from. Any great places in between Copenhagen and Stockholm we should check out?

  22. edie says...

    Hello! My friends are visiting Chicago in the summer and they’ve only ever been in the fall/winter, so they’re interested in going to a beach during their visit. But they’re not sure which one is best….or which one is going to be crazy crowded.

    Anyone have suggestions for a beach and maybe a cool rooftop bar? They’re looking at an early June trip. Thanks!

    • Elizabeth says...

      Lifelong Chicagoan here. There are really only two good options for beaches – North Ave. beach (very crowded, lots of beach v-ball, younger partying crowd) and Oak Street beach (similar to North Ave, but a little smaller). Rooftop bars are plentiful – my favorites are the J. Parker at the Lincoln Hotel (for view of the lake); Chicago Athletic Club (for view of millennium park); and Drumbar (no particular view, but feels like Paris).

    • They may want to see if they can make it to Montrose Beach. It’s further North of the loop and it isn’t nearly as crowded as the downtown beaches.

    • Annie says...

      Northsider here, Montrose Beach for less of a crowd and favorite rooftop bars are Apogee and Raised and dinner try Bavettes but make reservations in like early April. All in the River North Area. You can also Kayak and the Architectural Boat tour on the Chicago River is wonderful. But if your friends are older (30’s like me) I prefer going out for dinner in drinks in

      Lincoln Park – Try Summer House and Barrel House Flats
      Logan Square – Try Fat Rice and Lost Lake
      Fulton Market District – Try Mad Social and Lone Wolf
      Lakeview – Kit Kat Club (Drag bar with HUGE martini list and great fries!) and Home Bistro. Make Reservations in advance, even April. Things book up fast!

      Also the Koval Whiskey Tour in Ravenswood is very fun and you taste everything they make!

      I love my home city so sorry if that was more then you were looking for.

      Annie

    • Katie says...

      I’d recommend they head to the Chicago beaches further north. There are lovely beaches in Rogers Park that are not very crowded (Leone Park Beach, Loyola Beach or Hartigan). Or, if they don’t want to go that far north, they could try Montrose Beach. Also, a fun place to go for drinks and lunch/dinner (not a rooftop) is the Waterfront Cafe at Berger Park in Edgewater. It is right on the water!

    • edie says...

      thank you everyone! very helpful. xo.

    • Liz says...

      I second all of Annie’s comment, especially the Montrose beach recommendation! North Ave is a young, rowdy, drunk-on-the-beach crowd (also fun if that’s your thing!) but Montrose is a little less crowded, more chill, and near the dog beach!

      I would also suggest checking out Shore Club, which is the exception to my beach rule– it is closer to North Ave but has an amazing menu and the cutest cabanas!

  23. kerri says...

    I’d love to know how people go about choosing places to go on trips/vacations. Whenever I begin to think about our family vacations each summer, the sheer number of possibilities seems overwhelming – every place sounds amazing, full of opportunities! Then I start to overthink it – how far should we go? Should we drive? fly? What kind of experience do we want? My husband doesn’t like planning vacations, so it’s really up to me. I do enjoy doing it, but I have a hard time narrowing down options. I can’t be the only one with this problem, right??

    • We love to stick with some family favorites (like growing up we used to visit Tybee Island, GA a lot) and I love the familiarity of going to the same area each year. i’m instantly comfortable when I see some favorite landmarks, but there are always new things to try and explore each year.

    • Bunny says...

      We like to go on a big trip (to Europe or wherever else that is not easy to get to) every 5 years or so and every year in between stick to a domestic location.

    • Lana says...

      I’m running into this problem too. We tend to balance some city and some nature. So we usually pick a large city such as Seattle and then go to Olympic National Park, or San Francisco and Yosemite, Denver and Jackson Hole etc.

    • kerri says...

      Thanks for the different ideas. I’m thinking choices could be broken down into categories that could be used for long term planning. Family favorites, city/nature domestic and international, and planning for long term big investment trips. I like the idea of balance overall – balance of city and nature, kid and adult activities, familiar and new…

    • Shannon says...

      I agree! There are so many places that I would love to visit, and so little time. It seems like cost and logistics are often the deciding factors for me. I look for flight deals from my home city, alternate airports, exchange rates, and flexible travel dates. I also like to hit a couple destinations and take day trips whenever possible, and have a mix of city/nature and relaxing/exciting. The way I figure it, I can travel twice as much if I can keep the cost down a little!

    • Glenda says...

      Our go to vacation is Hawaii. So we’ve gone yearly and just visit a different island. Or if we’re invited to a wedding in a state we’ve never been, we make it a “getaway/ vacation” and go exploring there. Also depends if you’re traveling with friends, kids, etc. We just got back from a 7 day S. Caribbean cruise with friends.

  24. Danna says...

    I have luggage that nests, the smaller carry on bag goes in the bigger bag for storage when not in use. Usually I only take the smaller bag. But if I’m going somewhere that I know I’m going to want to shop a lot (Europe) I pack in the smaller bag and put in it in the empty bigger bag. Anything I buy goes in the bigger bag which is checked luggage for the flight home while the smaller bag is my carry on. I love to buy special one of a kind gifts, or things not available in the states, for birthday and Christmas gifts for family and friends. Years ago we were in Mikinos and I bought a dear friend a hand loomed shawl for her 50th birthday. The little shop was owned by a lovely older woman who had her loom set up right in the shop so you could see her working. I took a picture of her and gave my friend the shawl and photo for her birthday and she still talks about how it’s one of the best gifts she ever got.

    Plan your wardrobe in a limited color pallet. I usually do black and white or navy and cream and add a pop or two of color.

    Jewelry is minimal. Seriously, my wedding set, small gold hoops and a watch. Done.

    Makeup, skin care and hair products are minimal. Most days I do a swipe of under eye concealer, mascara and lipstick and I’m good to go.

    I have a packable down jacket that stuffs into a small pouch. Perfect for cold weather, can be layered for colder weather or throw a rain jacket on top if it’s cold, raining and miserable (hello San Francisco in January!) It also doubles as a pillow (in pouch) or blanket (opened up) on flights.

    I always pack a lightweight cashmere shawl, which is perfect for cool evenings, restaurants, or doubles as a scarf if it gets chilly.

    My black Timberland Earthkeeper boots have a one inch heel, are waterproof, comfy enough to wear all day, and can be worn with pants or jeans and even a casual dress.

    I carry a big ass purse on the plane that holds my wallet, passport case, sunglasses, phone, iPad, chargers, meds, book, and whatever else I need to have handy for the flight. I pack a small crossbody purse and switch to that for the duration of our stay, so much easier than toting the big one and it takes up hardly any room in my luggage.

    ITA about shopping in local stores and markets to find unusual products and food, so fun! Most of all relax, explore, be open to new experiences or a change in plans and have fun!

  25. laura-london says...

    I have an annual trip with a bunch of girlfriends. We each have a ‘thing’ we want to include on any trip: one is a foodie, I’m into walks/hiking, the other is into flea markets and history, another into being seen at the hippest bar. Instead of getting frustrated with our diverse wish list, we’re each responsible for factoring our ‘thing’ into the escape. The foodie has to book the meals out, I have to plan our hike, etc.
    It makes for a fun weekend because none of us has full insight into what the weekend will bring, and it allows all of us to include things that make us sing.

    • Glenda says...

      This sounds like fun!

  26. Catherine Keene says...

    I both love and am terrified of the idea of letting different people plan different days! I am the planner in the family, and while sometimes it is frustrating to feel like all the burden falls on me, I also like having the control! When I travel with my family, which we have been lucky enough to do quite a bit, we all have a general theme of things we like to do: my brother likes to go to a high point (climbing to the top of St Peter’s in Rome, or any church in Europe – it gives you a new vantage point); my partner likes to go underground (we did a Cold War bomb shelter tour in Berlin that was amazing!); my parents like museums which is always easy, and I like to eat (and eating is a necessary function of human life so this usually goes down well) and especially love wandering through grocery stores and markets. As long as everyone gets a piece of what they especially like, we usually have a pretty good time!
    And there is something to be said as well for splitting up. I live several thousand miles away from my family so sometimes it feels like we are there to be together, let’s stick together, but those family dynamics sometimes make it better to do your own thing for a little while.
    I have found traveling with my partner’s mother and her husband to be exhausting because they are too eager to please (“whatever you want is fine!”) and then I just worry they’re not enjoying themselves the whole time! But we are working on figuring out what they like, and when we do I think it will be less effort-ful.

  27. Fernanda says...

    I love all the advice, thank you!!
    We have a 7 and a 4 year old, and we take them everywhere around the world.
    We almost never bring them to “specially designed for kids activity” because we feel that that they need to be included in real world activity, like museums, zoos, restaurants, parks, walks, shops, and sometimes playgrounds, of course ;)
    They love learning, and we love that they learn so much about all that. They never ask for Disneyland while we’re planning vacation, which we already went with them. They’re favorites are National Parks, Museums of all kinds and Zoos and Aquariums.

  28. Carol says...

    I’m a huge fan of buying meals from supermarkets and just having one special meal at a restaurant. I have a set of plastic cutlery which I bought from a camping store that I take with me (I’ve never had any trouble getting them through security in my carry-on) which means I can cut a tomato for my sandwich and eat my yoghurt pot in the park.
    I also take a small portable battery charger and my phone cable so that when my phone battery inevitably starts running out after a day of taking photos and using google maps, I can give it a boost.

  29. Veronika says...

    We recently traveled to New Delhi and obviously we had a plan what we want to see. We had a “nothing fancy hotel” booked and on the 2nd night my husband recomemmended to book the next night to that really fancy hotel we saw during our city tour that day. It was a crazy idea, since we already had a hotel but we just did it! Next day we ended our city tour early, checked in around 3pm with one piece of small backpack and enjoyed the pool and drinks for the rest of the day. Some might think that it’s a waste of time to miss out on some important sights of Delhi…but after an exhousted travel and 2 days of city touring it was just perfect to chill and enjoy the moment. So lesson learned: listen to your gut and don’t be afraid to change plans last minute!

  30. Maddie says...

    We have four kids, live in Australia and are American. Yes, I deserve many medals in travel. I used to pour over websites searching for the magical advice that makes your littles act like sane adults on a forty hour door to door journey. Bring play-doh! Wrap little gifts and unwrap them one by one. All of this is complete crap advice. The last thing you want is pieces of play-doh all over you or even more rubbish in a tiny space. There will be good moments where your baby happily sleeps in the weird airplane bassinet while you enjoy a wine and watch a movie nominated for an Oscar. And there will be the bad moments when your child vomits all over you and your partner prior to takeoff and the flight attendant says you can’t go to the bathroom. My best advice to international travelers travelling with babies or toddlers: “IT’S TEMPORARY. YOU WILL GET THERE.” Enjoy the flight! And watch Peppa Pig. And pack a change of clothes in your carry on for yourself.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i agree! we’ve had highs and lows, and in the end, you always get there :)

    • Michele says...

      Thanks for this comment! We’re traveling this summer from America to Europe with our 2 year old and I’m so nervous about the flight! And nervous about long days, spotty naps, etc while visiting.

    • Abby says...

      OMG, yes, the vomit moment. Apparently my younger child gets motion sick, which I found out when she threw up all over me when I had her in the Ergo facing in (of course!), at the ticket counter of the airport after we had already checked our bags in (of course!), and after having had a full cup of milk (of course!). Though we at least could commandeer a family bathroom at the airport to try to clean ourselves up, rather than have to do it in a tiny airplane bathroom. I’m so sorry that happened to you!

      There is really nothing that can prepare you for the glamour of parenting.

    • I love this comment. Somehow on our way there we always get the “wow he slept and I actually watched a movie” and on the way back we ALWAYS ALWAYS get the “he puked all over me and got diarrhea in both of the extra sets of pants we packed before we even took off”…and then we vow to never travel again…. Then you totally forget a few weeks later and book your next holiday abroad and so they cycle continues!!!! But i have never regretted taking one of our trips, its always worth it, pukey flights and all :)

  31. I decided to travel Europe by myself, and it was the best thing I ever did for my confidence. I also started my trip in Paris and what a luxury to wander the streets and go to every gallery I ever wanted to with no one else to worry about. I was forced to make conversations with strangers and met some amazing people (staying in hostels was key). It was lonely at times, and I often required a stiff drink or two to build myself up to going out on my own. But I also ended up meeting my now husband, who was my windsurfing instructor in Greece. So you never know! Just go for it!

  32. Hannah says...

    I have an 18 month old and I’m leaving her for the first time next month to go to New York for four days. I’ve never been to New York (I live in Hertfordshire in the Uk) She’ll be in nursery for 3 out of the 4 days as normal so I hope she’ll be distracted a lot of the time. I’m just worried that I’ll miss her so much I’ll just weep for the whole trip. I’m trying to distract myself too by planning our itinery and all the amazing places to eat. There’s so many amazing places to eat and cultural things to do that the planning is overwhelming, in a good way. X

  33. Maiz says...

    Here’s a tip for traveling with kids – have them pack for themselves! I started doing this with them years ago, and now they are total pros:
    http://thebroodinghen.blogspot.com/2012/09/packing.html
    They still use the same chico bags for overnights or weekend trips, so I can tell you that they are nice and durable.

    • Michelle Kilkenny says...

      I did this and my son will never forget socks again. Ever. Best way to have kids participate and enjoy travel.

    • Glenda says...

      I did this with my kids as young as 6 yrs old and whatever they forget, you’ll just have to buy it there lol. Pro’s at packing and traveling nowadays!

  34. Kathleen says...

    I always always get fried chicken from a local restaurant to pack for my flight (or train or Greyhound) from home! Its great cold, no need for utensils, way better than anything the airline is going to serve! Also: if the flight is delayed, I’m not stuck waiting on an in-flight meal or terrible/expensive airport offerings. Hot sauce packets in my 1 litre ziplock makes the security staff laugh, and the leftover wet wipes that come with my order always come in handy later. I almost never eat fried chicken otherwise so it’s another part of the trip I look forward to!

    • Paula says...

      sorry but I hate when people eat cold food on airplanes, even though fresh fried chicken might smell amazing, in a tiny cabin, pulled out of its container, yuck – the smells are nauseating!

    • I love this!!

    • Julie says...

      Cold fried chicken sounds 500% more delicious than literally any food you can buy in an airport. Haha. What a great idea!

  35. Katie says...

    All these comments are making my heart yearn to travel!! It’s been a few years since I’ve taken a big trip to a new place, and I’m aching to explore again!

  36. Bec says...

    In Australia most of the budget airlines weigh your carry on bag to make sure it’s under 7kg (15 pounds), it’s the worst. Given a bag already weighs 1-2kg it’s impossible to fit a long weekend’s worth of stuff in there and still comply :(

  37. Matilda says...

    My two sisters, my mom, and I are going to Galway, Ireland in a few weeks to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday! This is the first time in a very long time that it’ll be just us together. We’re so excited!

    Any recommendations for restaurants or shopping in Galway? Also, what’s a great Ireland-specific gift to bring home to three little boys and an awesome husband?

    • Andrea says...

      The Meyrick Hotel on Eyre Square has a lovely bar and restaurant to grab a bite. Galway is lovely to see, but also really accessible to most of Connemara. I’d grab a car and drive through the Bens mountain range, and up the Wild Atlantic Way. Leenane is a beautiful small town on a fjord! Croagh St. Patrick, Kylemore Abbey.

    • Michelle Kilkenny says...

      Take a quick trip to the Aran Islands. My MIL absolutely loved it there.

  38. Elise says...

    My husband and I have discovered the best way (for us) to travel: book an AirBNB for an entire week in a central/relaxing location. Some AirBNBs will give you a discount if you book an entire week. That way you can have a home base to travel from, taking daily road trips to interesting places. And you have a kitchen to make meals in (saving money), you become familiar with the town (daily grocery store trips, like someone mentioned), have interesting conversations with locals that start to recognize you, and it is incredibly relaxing! We did this in the Netherlands last year and it was the most perfect vacation.

    • Elise says...

      Another great tip: rent bikes if possible. Obviously this is an excellent experience in the Netherlands, but I’ve done it in many cities across Europe and it is a great way to see the city!

  39. Taylor says...

    With three kids, I try to pack really light, making sure the clothes mix and match. Especially if we’re traveling somewhere warm, they live in their swimsuits (well the 4 & 2yo). I cannon praise the Lo & Sons Catalina + packing cubes 🙌🏽 enough. All three kids, plus myself.

    We tried something new on our last trip and it worked great- we did a week trial of a meal delivery (hello fresh, blue apron). It was great!!! We only had to grab groceries for breakfast and snacks. Then we did a few lunch/dinners out.
    As an aside- breakfast out with kids, the worst, by the time everyone’s ready, you get there, order, eat etc, it’s time for one of them to nap.

    • bridget l. says...

      A trial of meal delivery!! Genius. Love this tip so much!

  40. Carrington says...

    Ahhhh! Perfect timing. We just booked a trip for Paris – Geneva – Zurich for later this spring :) I love showing our little person the world. Tips for things to do in Switzerland with a toddler welcome!

    • karen says...

      Hi Carrington
      When exactely will you be in Geneva and Zurich? We live in Zurich, my parents and brother with his family live in geneva and I can give you many tips. Maybe you will be in Zurich in time for Sechseläuten on 16. April? It’s a traditional spring festival with a parade of people in costumes and the symbolic burning of a snowman called the Böög to predict how much longer winter will go on. Google it for some images. Everything in town will be closed and kids love to roast sausages in the embers after the Böög has burned down. Depending on your interests I could write a list for you and your family. Best daytrips, best places for hot chocolate etc. If your kid likes animals be sure to visit the great zoo in Zurich. The kids can even take a small tour on camels and the playgrounds are amazing. Let me know what you are looking for!

    • Carrington says...

      Karen, thank you so much! We will spend the majority of our trip in Geneva. Will be there at the end of May :) we can’t wait.

  41. M says...

    Yes to lots of these, plus a lot of thoughts on packing:

    1. Pack one outfit you do not wear until you fly home. I don’t know about you, but in the past I always ended up wearing my “least dirty outfit” on the plane home and it was not a good feeling. I know it feels like a waste of space, but trust me–it’s not. (only applies if you don’t have a w/d on your trip obviously)

    2. Always bring a hair scarf/bandana. It’s a good eye mask for the plane AND will solve your inevitable”why doesn’t my hair look good?” conundrum (probably bc you didn’t pack any of your hair products in an effort to a minimalist) (but now it doesn’t matter bc scarf!).

    3. Pack one casual-nice pair of shoes (my everlane heels are perfect for this bc they get so flat and are day/night) and wear your sneakers. You won’t regret it.

    4. Never check a suitcase (no waiting, no lost luggage), and roll your clothes. This video changed my view on packing: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/05/06/business/businessspecial/20100506-pack-ss/s/20100506-pack-ss-slide-JFLF.html?action=click&contentCollection=Business+Day&entrySlide=1&module=RestartSlideShow&pgtype=imageslideshow&region=Slideshow+Promo&slideshowTitle=10+Days+in+a+Carry-On&version=EndSlate. If the link doesn’t work, it’s called “10 Days in a Carry On” from the NY Times. And yes–even roll your dirty clothes before you fly home. We did a three week, multi-city trip with ONE carry-on between the two of us on the way there, and then slowly filled a (previously empty, packed) duffle bag with clothes we bought along the way. It’s possible.

    5. Remember, no one will know you’ve worn it the day before. (but see #1)

    6. Okay, and never buy books when you travel. Sorry, but NO.

  42. Jessica says...

    When I was a little kid growing up in Los Angeles, we used to drive up to meet cousins in Mammoth for a week of hiking and canoeing. (They drove down from southern Oregon.) Now that we’ve grown up, the ritual has been rekindled, including grandparents and kids. With so many personalities involved, we feel the need to root somewhere. We rent a house (or two, if our group is that big) so that people can have a room, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a place to nest.

    We can often stay at a really nice house together, much nicer than any hotel we could each afford individually. And with several under-sixers, it makes meals and mornings and evenings so much more relaxing! We might eat a meal or two out during a week-long trip, but we rely on our grillers and our cooks and the many hands around to pass babies and pitch in with dishes! If we’re all too tired to cook, we’ll often send an emissary for takeout; it’s just so much less stressful to not have to manage kiddos in a restaurant, and everything is just more leisurely and chill at the house.

    I think another key to our successful vacations is the opt-out; if you’re not feeling the group activity that day, you can stay at the house or do something else and there’s no drama. I have an extrovert family and an introvert husband, and I’m sure it’s the only way he survives! :D

  43. Hilary says...

    I love these tips, and especially agree with the person who recommended taking random street shots – they are often some of my favourites. My tip is to get up early and wander round, it’s amazing what you see! We have been alone on the Spanish Steps, seen the Trevi Fountain being emptied of its coins (and talked to the policeman guarding this), and had really nice light for photos. It’s also really cool to see a city waking up for the day.

    • Charlotte says...

      Hillary, I love this idea. What time do you usually get out to experience these things?

    • Hilary says...

      Hi Charlotte – it depends, but probably around 7am. We are early risers anyway, and always go for a morning walk at home, so it’s pretty easy to maintain the habit on holiday – despite (when in Europe) the 11-13 hour time difference (we are from New Zealand)!

  44. Courtney says...

    I got the TRTL travel pillow on my last trip thanks to CoJ’s rave review of it and I can now officially call myself a TRTL disciple. I slept for NINE (almost) straight hours on the flight from LA to Melbourne which is unheard of for me – I’m usually lucky to get three or four fitful hours of sleep on a plane. I even bonded with the woman next to me, who also had a TRTL pillow!

    My favourite travel time-saver is to get my eyebrows and lashes tinted before I leave. Especially if I’m on a trip where I need to look put-together, like in a chic city or at a wedding, this saves me time on makeup in the morning and makes me look more polished.

  45. Ro says...

    This has probably been said, but my biggest travel tip is to carry a small backpack instead of a purse or tote. Purses are often heavy and awkward, and they keep you from being spontaneous because “where do I put my bag?” But with a backpack, you can throw it on and forget it. Plus, you can carry more without feeling as weighed down, so if you feel the need to bring a camera and snacks and water and a coat, you can!

    • Paige says...

      I just bought a Fjallraven Kanken for my travels this spring and summer. Chic and practical!

    • Anita says...

      Yes to backpacks! So practical.

  46. Sara D says...

    I went on a cross country road trip last year, and one of my favorite memories is a roadside food stop. My friend and I were driving in California with the windows down since my AC broke (poor timing), and while we were driving we drove past the most incredible smell. My friend looked at me and said “turn the car around” and so I did, and we hunted down the smell. It ended up being a little roadside taco joint with the freshest salsa, and a menu we had to google since most of it was in Spanish.

    The best part of traveling to me is the spontaneity. You just gotta trust your senses, and not plan so much so you can enjoy the ride.

  47. M says...

    My tip for avoiding jet lag is to arrive at your destination in the afternoon. So many times I’d arrive in the morning, and after an international flight and transit I was always so exhausted that I’d end up napping for hours. This always resulted in being unable to fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning & I would be exhausted the next day….and the cycle would continue. Thank goodness on a one week trip to Paris (no time for jet lag!) we arrived in the afternoon, settled in to our hotel, ate a wonderful dinner, and slept restfully that night. Boom – on local time!

  48. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where traveling was never a big deal (at one point both of my parents were in the travel industry, and my dad still is). Not making travel a big production was one of the best gifts my parents gave me. It allowed me to live abroad on two separate occasions, go on weekend trips at the drop of a hat, and keep my cool in transit. My biggest advice for travel is this: Don’t overthink it. Simplicity should be the undercurrent of everything you do, even if you’re making a bunch of stops or using multiple modes of transportation: Pack light, don’t over-schedule your days, eat as fresh as you can, and follow your gut. You don’t remember everything you do or wear at home, and the same goes for travel. So simplify it as best you can to make the memories count.

  49. Julie says...

    I’m heading to Japan next week–> Kyoto>Hiroshima> Tokyo – so this post was perfect timing!

    Recommendations welcome!

    • Robin says...

      Omg so jealous. It’s such a perfect time to be there. My biggest tip is comfortable shoes you can slip on and off. You need to take your shoes off not just in people’s housrs but at temples, and often restaurants too. In Kyoto go to arashiyama if you have time and do a long walk, through tenryuji and the bamboo forest. So lovely. In Kyoto proper, try to make it to one of the big antique markets if you can. 7-11 is full of fresh foods, not the slurpee filled disappointment it is here. Go, by a fresh salad or noodle dish, and picnic by the river at least once. I could go on for ages – it’s one of my favourite cities in the world, especially in the spring. Have a great time!

    • Riley says...

      We went to Japan last spring and stumbled upon the sweetest little bar in Tokyo called Bar Falloir — it’s on the 5th floor of one of the many many buildings in Shinjuku. Dark and moody, excellent drinks… we felt like we’d walked into a secret.

    • Elizabeth says...

      If you have time, take the train from Hiroshima down to Miyajima – it’s a beautiful island with hiking trails and a gorgeous shrine. Or a daytrip to some of the sake breweries in the mountain towns surrounding Hiroshima. Try to stay in a ryokan (traditional inn) and visit an onsen (hot springs) or sento (communal bath) at least once. We stayed at Ryokan Uemura in Kyoto, and it was fantastically peaceful.

    • Julie says...

      Robin, Riley, and Elizabeth,

      Thank you SO much for the recommendations. Excellent tips and suggestions – I am writing them all down and can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!

    • Coleen says...

      Go on to your next city at night, this saves time and you can spend your days in full and ride the Shinkansen for the bullet-train experience……Buy Japanese skin care, most especially the very affordable and best-seller Shisheido’s Senka Perfect facial washes (Whip, Double Wash and White Clay), just a pea-size will wash away oil and make-up, look for buy 3 take 1 or buy 1 take 1 specials…….Cheap but good make-up from Shiseido’s Integrate, Naturactor, Chifure, etc….http://www.tsunagujapan.com/15-must-buy-japanese-cosmetic-brands/…………..Bring insulated water bottles, you can fill them up before leaving your hotel and free distilled water refills at train stations, this saves up money…….Visit Don Quijote stores for take home gifts such as snacks, Kit Kat chocolates in different flavors and top-seller Shu Uemura’s eye lash curler at a fraction of a price compared to their stores……..Be quiet while in buses and trains, it is frowned upon when tourists are loud……Make time for one Saturday/Sunday markets, Kyoto has some……Eat at local markets for authentic and fresh Japanese food…….

    • Julie says...

      Thanks Coleen! I will definitely look for the products. Especially Shisheido’s Senka Perfect facial washes and Shu Uemura’s eye lash curler. I loved all your suggestions and will definitely be adding them to my “things to do”. I really appreciate it!

    • Nubian says...

      Japan is amazing! My recommendations and tips are
      1. If you want to save money, the local 7/11 & Family Mart always have cheap and delicious Japanese food options like onigiri.
      2. My favourite place is Kyoto was the Daitoku-ji temple complex, which has many zen-buddhist temples inside. Keep some time aside for this, because you will want to spend a lot of time here.
      3. The “Kabukiza” Kabuki theatre in Ginza, Tokyo is a must. They sell limited tickets early morning for tourists, you just have to go and line up. You can buy a ticket for a single act if you don’t want to spend most of your day there.
      4. The Google translate app is a lifesaver. It can even translate texts in photos that you take.
      5. Go to an onsen. It is the most relaxing experience ever.

      That’s it! Hope you have an amazing time there

    • Janice says...

      Take a look at this book, Cool Japan, for background, maps, etc. You should be able to scroll through a few pages at the bottom of the page. I think it’s also available for Kindle. http://www.museyon.com/shop/cool-japan/

    • Julie says...

      Nubian,
      Great suggestions – I am going to write all of these down “to do” and I have already downloaded the Google Translate app. Thank you, I REALLY appreciate it!

      Janice,
      Great book – I looked through the pages and especially like the maps. Thank you!

  50. t says...

    this seems like a no-brainer but after years of toting around whatever my purse was at the time i started traveling with a cross body purse. what a difference!

  51. When my husband and I went to Germany, we were exhausted by the time we got to our hotel in Munich. Instead of crashing in the hotel, we picked up some sandwiches (actually, just a brat for him after seeing me pantomime ingredients, good gawd) and hung out in the park. We were able to enjoy a cheap, relaxing meal and just lay about for a couple of hours, while still absorbing some of the local scene.

    I also like to pack my running gear with me so I check out some of the local scene. Yes, the sneakers take up a bit of room in the suitcase but I’ve never regretted bringing them. You can ask folks nearby about good running routes and it’s a great way to see a new place.

    • Elise says...

      Yes! Running in a new place is the best. Some of my best vacation memories are solo runs in a foreign country.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I’m also a vacation runner! Some of my best memories are of running in new places with my all time favorite being a night time run around Kyoto. I started along the Katsura River and then went up the banks and started running through the winding streets of old Kyoto. It was all lit up at night and just breathtaking.

  52. My travel tip would be:

    Use whatever shampoo and conditioner you get at the hotel. That way you don’t have to carry a big shampoo & conditioner bottle and you can find out about new brands that you may like. Like I did recently: Maison Margiela by Replica. “Heady Cocktails and Cigars” what a scent!! It’s for men but I wear it like there’s no tomorrow!

    Sorry to shamelessly self promote but you can see the moment I found out about these in my latest “The Alpes vlog” ha! Thank you!

    Alina

    P.S. I absolutely love these posts! Your readers are so smart and cool (just like you). Love from Buenos Aires.

  53. Maria says...

    – taking carry-on only has changed the way i travel. for me it works to make vertical rolls, so that i can see everything. it does take planning ahead, but it is so worth it, i promise!
    – the bag i travel with (either carry-on suitcase or handbag or both) must have external pockets for easy access for passport, plane tickets and cellphone. alternatively the jacket i’m wearing must have deep enough pockets for these items to be securely placed into
    – speaking of bag, when exploring a new city, don’t carry a heavy bag around with you. i usually don’t carry any at all (credit card, money and id go in a pocket, lipbalm and cellphone in the other, that’s it), but if i feel i need one (e.g. it’s summer and my dress doesn’t have pockets) i’ll take the smallest and lightest one i can find so that i don’t feel (literally) weighted down by it
    – travel trousers must have room to accommodate my expanding body. same goes for my shoes (and bra)
    – i cannot praise travel socks enough. it took me years to get into them, but now i just can’t do traveling without removing my shoes and putting cozy socks on
    – try to enjoy the whole process: booking, planning, getting there, getting around and coming back home. each part is special in its own way :)

    • Charlotte says...

      Maria,
      By “travel socks” do you mean compression socks?

      Thanks.

      Charlotte

    • Maria says...

      hi charlotte, no, i mean fuzzy, bed socks, or thinner ones (like the ones you’d get in premium economy/business class) in warmer flights. i find compression socks really uncomfortable at best, and once had a very painful 12-hour flight due to putting them on after having walked all day, which traumatised me enough to forego them altogether. they’re proven to reduce the risk of dvt though, so if you can tolerate them go for it!

  54. kristin says...

    Making time for alone adventures even when traveling with others has never steered me wrong. I notice different things when I’m on my own, can take as much time wandering as I want, and it gives me something to share with whoever I’m with when we reunite. I think of it as a little spritz of something fresh and fun so the trip vibe doesn’t get stale. Works like a charm!

  55. My tip is that when I am with my son and we are going on a plan to always make sure he has something that will keep him entertained the whole way. There is nothing worse than a child or a 4 plus hour flight, that is bored out of their mind.

  56. Carrie says...

    I’m not going to lie, this post makes me a little sad. My job is so demanding that I feel like I can never get away. I know this is just a season in life, but I’m in my early 30’s with no kids yet! I feel like now is the time. Maybe you should do a post with fun weekend trip ideas for those of us who can’t get the time off.

    • t says...

      carrie that is such a bummer. what do you do where you can’t get time off?

    • Jen says...

      Girl, I totally feel you, that was me in my early thirties as well. But I realized I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and that having some healthy boundaries (both in and out of work) allowed me more flex time. And the truth is that when I’m doing something I love — be it working on an interesting work project, traveling to a new place, or just finding a local adventure — it’s an investment that pays off in all areas of my life.

    • Amanda G says...

      Carrie, I know the feeling! For years, I worked in a job where I couldn’t take paid time off or take long stretches off, and then another job where it was so demanding I was working pretty much seven days a week. During that roughly five-year span of my life, I learned two things!

      1. Short weekend trips are your friend. Whether they’re spontaneous or thoughtfully planned, close to home or a plane ride away, some of my most favorite trips have been quick 36-48 hour trips. Sometimes, I almost feel they’re more immersive! If the quick trip is to a city, I’ll pick maybe one BIG thing I want/need to see, and then spend the rest of my time ferreting out local coffee shops and ice cream/gelato, wandering through parks, and trying to live like a local. Otherwise, my BF and I are know to throw our pups in the car, grab a cooler of food, drive Friday night until we’re exhausted, and find a place to sleep in the back of the truck. We almost always wake up to a beautiful view (we do live in Colorado, though, so it is easy to find a National Forest road to pull off and camp where no one will bother you!).

      2. It’s okay to say no to working weekends, and it’s okay to use your PTO! I went through a period where I was petrified to use my PTO because I was worried of what my employer would think, but they give it to you for a reason! Sometimes I worried about falling irreparably behind once I returned, so I’d make sure worked diligently (and sometimes even long hours) beforehand to get as caught up as possible and/or ahead.

      If these things still aren’t possible, just hang in there girl! I hung on to my last demanding job because it paid the bills and gave me time to determine what my priorities really were. My current job still isn’t perfect, but it ticks a lot more boxes :) You’ll get there!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      fun weekend trips is a great idea. hang in there, carrie xoxoxoxo

    • Tracy says...

      Carrie, the work will never go away and there will never be a better time. I’m 20 years older than you and I take vacations now because of my child, but I regret not traveling more – really. The vacations I’ve taken are bright points in my life. When my son no longer wants to go with me I’ll keep going. You are only going to get one shot at doing your thirties – a few weeks a year are not going to be the thing that permanently wrecks anything. Sorry to be so bossy, but GO!

    • Neens says...

      I feel you so hard Carrie, I spent the last few years working 70-85 hour weeks and just never felt like i could get away. One thing I started doing to give myself a sense of change and escape was taking staycations, and I really mean a staycation. Leave work at 5 on Friday, check in to a hotel (preferably with a spa or pool), treat myself to some room service and a treatment, go to new coffee shops, stores, restaurants I’ve been meaning to check out, etc. Sometimes I’d meet up with friends for dinner but a lot of times it was just so nice to have alone time.

      Sometimes we get so bogged down with our routine/work in the city we live in we forget there are so many ways to escape nearby. and no travel time required :)

      Also, I have not tried this service myself but I’m in a travel group and people rave about it. If you can clear a weekend and want someone to plan all the details, this seems like a great idea: https://www.packupgo.com/

      Hope you can find a little escape amidst the chaos – hang in there xo

  57. Amanda G says...

    I just love travel food rituals, like the donuts on the beach! For the past nine years, I’ve gone with my fiancee’s family to spend a week on a houseboat in Lake Powell. And for the past nine years, after a week full of sunbathing, water skiing, sleeping under the stars, and the occasional breakfast beer, we always stop for burgers and shakes at the same restaurant before we begin our drive home, and eat them outside in the baking Utah sun. No trip would be complete without them!

    I don’t travel as much as I’d like, but I always make sure that when going through an airport in the US, I wear slip-on shoes! And I have an irrational fear of being searched by TSA, so I spend any time waiting in the security line to secure any jewelry, etc. I think might trip the system in my purse, get my laptop ready and waiting to go in its own separate tray, and hold on tight to my passport and boarding pass. All the advanced prep, as well as the slip-on shoes, helps me get through security in a breeze once I get to the front of the line!

    • Amanda G: Travel traditions are the best! I’m guessing that you left the above comment about making weekend trips count and I couldn’t agree more. My husband and I spent years taking every weekend trip within driving distance of San Francisco- almost always camping or sleeping in the back of our Honda Element. We just moved to Colorado a few months ago so your National Forest truck campout sounds exactly like what we’ll be doing this summer. Excited to hit Utah again very soon. So many new things even done on the cheap with limited time.
      I also second all of your comments on Santa Fe! Love stumbling on a kindred spirit in the comments section.

    • Amanda G says...

      Danielle, sounds like we are soul sisters! Where are you living in Colorado? There is so much to see and do here :) I’ve lived here for over twenty years, and my fiancee is a native, but we are always stumbling on places we want to go, as well as rotating through our favorites. We lived in Durango for a while and miss being able to access NM, AZ, and UT so easily, but there is still a lot to access from the Front Range – let me know if you want some suggestions on weekend trips!

    • Amanda G: We are living in Boulder right now. There is so much access to the outdoors it’s crazy. We knew that-it was a big reason why when my husband’s company wanted to open an office here we volunteered but it still amazes me where we can be within a short drive or even walk from our front door. I would love suggestions! We love to get out and away but we are not big planners ( we are probably never going to reserve an in demand camp site months in advance). We go backpacking pretty often, In CA we were obsessed with swimming holes and hot springs. We usually camp at first come first serve spots or BLM dispersed camping. we still sometimes sleep in our Element (with our 70 lb pound dog, ha). My email is danielle (at)schroederkraft.com.

  58. Maggie says...

    I’m headed to Albuquerque and Santa Fe next week for the first time. Anyone ever been and have tips to share? I’m excited to see some good southwest art, shop some local arts and crafts markets, eat New Mexican cuisine, and see some unique architecture.

    • If you are into art definitely check this place out https://meowwolf.com/
      Went there a couple of weeks ago and it’s amazing!

    • Laura says...

      All the art galleries you could ever want are on Canyon Road. Prices vary widely – there’s something for every budget. The food is awesome. If you haven’t had a sopapilla before (a sweet fried pastry), try it! You didn’t mention going to Taos, but if you have time, it’s a great walkable town with lots of shopping for the arts and crafts lover.

    • Amanda G says...

      Santa Fe is one of my absolute favorite places in the whole world! It’s changed a lot since I first started going there with my family over 20 years ago, but it will always be a second home of sorts for me.

      The art is relatively easy to find, all you have to do is wander! Santa Fe is absolutely teeming with art galleries so just walk into whichever suit your fancy! The highest concentration is on Canyon Road, which is also just a lovely road to walk. There are also some great import shops owned by Seret and Sons that are basically art galleries as well, and so fun to walk through!

      Food wise, the Pink Adobe is great for a night out. I also love Upper Crust pizza if you’re looking for an awesome meal that isn’t so Southwestern! Tomasita’s in the Railyard is a great New Mexican institution, and the best breakfasts can be found at Cafe Pasqual’s. There is also a new donut place called Whoo’s Donuts that looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try it out next time I’m there.

      Architecture can be a little boring to some, since city ordinance makes sure almost all building are built in an adobe style. However, I love the smooth curves and warm hues of adobe! Look for little entrance gates to houses framed by towering gladiolus and holly-hock (although maybe not this early in the season!) and pops of color from the brilliant teals and blues that people paint their wood trims.

      Other awesome places:
      The Palace of the Governors is known for the native jewelry-makers that sell their wares out front, but they also have a fantastic museum!
      The Loretto Chapel has a magnificent spiral staircase built with absolutely zero support! It’s a true wonder.
      The Meow Wolf art installation on Cerrillos Road (opened with help from George RR Martin!) has an awesome immersive art experience that looks otherworldy. It’s also on the list for my next visit :)

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions…I’m not as familiar with ABQ but they do have an awesome brewery named La Cumbre!

    • Katie says...

      Santa Fe is the best! I really love New Mexico. Eat at Cafe Pasqual’s (my favorite) and I really enjoyed my visits to Bandelier National Monument and Kakawa Chocolate house.

    • Liz says...

      I recently saw lots of recommendations for these two cities at hither & thither (another blog)

    • Lilly says...

      Hi Maggie, I was just in Albuquerque a couple of weekends ago. It was a quick trip but would highly recommend going to Tent Rocks (National Park) which is in between ABQ and Santa Fe. I was lucky to catch the first Friday of the month which has a ton of art openings, would look into that as well. There is also a cool farm/restaurant/hotel called Los Polbanos, it’s higher end and requires a reservation but I went just for the farm store and it was worth it for the smells and beautiful lavender goods. I didn’t have time to go to Santa Fe but I hear great things! Have fun!

    • Claire says...

      I love visiting New Mexico. I know Santa Fe better than ABQ. In Santa Fe – Cafe Pasquale’s! Outstanding for any meal, but I find it especially enjoyable for breakfast. Shidoni Gallery and Sculpture Garden makes for a fun hour or two. It’s also fun to walk and wander the streets and see the churches and galleries (art is everywhere) (bring comfortable shoes). Ten Thousand Waves is a good place for a massage or spa services if that is in your budget. If the Farmer’s Market is happening then it is a very nice local vibe, and there is also a mercado that happens around the Plaza, although I’m not sure if it happens in the cooler, non-tourist-y months. And honestly- the NM capitol building is beautiful and like an art museum- you can’t walk 10 feet without seeing another beautiful painting or sculpture.

    • Hey, Maggie!

      I’m a photographer and I’ve lived in Santa Fe for the past 2 1/2 years! I definitely have a few insider spots that I love sharing with both friends & strangers alike!

      In Town:
      Shopping: Shiprock Gallery (Native American art, rugs, & jewelry. The best collection in town), Double Take (Southwestern style vintage store, think fringe jackets, original turquoise jewelry, big hats). Be careful with many of the shops around the Plaza (aside from Shiprock), many stores are overpriced and not authentic. It’s best to support the local Indigenous population and buy directly from them or stores that cater to them.

      Food: The Shed for the best authentic New Mexican food in town (and margaritas). Cowgirl for bbq/burgers/drinks/karaoke (it’s where the locals go). Tune Up Cafe for brunch or their fish tacos. Opuntia cafe for tea/coffee/healthy fare & the best succulents/cacti in town. Secreto Lounge for cocktails (in the most beautiful/dreamy candle-lit hotel in downtown). The Saturday morning farmer’s market at The Railyard is a great way to experience local produce, farms, and vendors (like the lavender farm, and lots of green chile themed eats).

      Art: Georgia O’Keeffe gallery is a must. So is the Folk Art Museum, and a walk down Canyon Road for the best of local artists. Zohi Gallery is a native-owned gallery that represents contemporary Native artists and is a great place to support the Native population in New Mexico. Meow Wolf…just go. You’ll see why when you get there.

      Hiking: Aspen Vista near the ski basin is the most beautiful drive through the Santa Fe National forest. Worth it for the views/drive alone!

      Out of town:
      Abiquiu: A short drive from Ojo Cliente is Georgia O’Keeffe country with the most beautiful rock colors in New Mexico. Abiquiu lake is a great place for a picnic (and you can swim in it if the weather permits). Also in Abiquiu just past the lake is Ghost Ranch, which was where O’Keeffe lived and you can tour her property. There are also some INCREDIBLE day hikes here, and you can even go on a guided horseback ride during sunset.

      Taos: If you get a chance to go up to Taos (Ojo is between Taos & Santa Fe) there are a few places you must stop. The Earthship biotecture is one of them. You can take a tour of the visitor’s center and see how they build Earthships (sustainable eco-housing movement that started in the 70’s). Also stop at the Taos Gorge and walk to the center of the bridge to look down on the Rio Grande (this is the second highest bridge in the Western US). There are also secret hot springs along the gorge, called Manby Hot Springs. The Taos Mesa Brewery is a great place for beer/food with a fire pit and a beautiful outdoor area (and really nice people who work there). In town, there’s an excellent restaurant called The Love Apple with locally sourced meat/veggies in an old church that’s really beautiful and charming (great wine list too). Best thrift store in Taos is called “pieces.”

      A few other interesting areas worth checking out are Tent Rocks, Madrid (a weird historic artist town about 20 minutes south of Santa Fe with good green chile cheeseburgers/outsider art) along HWY 14 which is a GORGEOUS drive. Jemez Mountains are also a beautiful area to visit and about 30 mins drive from Santa Fe.

      I hope this list inspires you! I know it’s insane and long, but I see SO many people from out of town get stuck in tourist traps that are easy to fall into here, and locals are the absolute best people to ask where to go. I hope you have the most amazing, beautiful time in my city!

    • Midge says...

      It’s cheesy but get a mid afternoon margarita at the Thunderbird on the second floor balcony overlooking the Plaza and people watch. I love playing who’s a local? And I have always thought the little shopping courtyard on Palace was magical, especially while eating a chocolate from Todos Santos. Oh! and Doodlet’s for little goofy souvenirs.

    • Maggie says...

      If you have the time, go to Taos, too!

      A few years ago, a friend and I made a pit-stop there between her hometown on the NM/Mexico border and my sweetheart in CO. We were so happy to stumble upon Taos! I still daydream about packing up and living there.

      We stayed at the El Pueblo Lodge – as affordable as any decent chain hotel, but with funky Southwestern design inside. Walking distance to all the cool stuff in town.

      Taos Ale House is a great brewpub with excellent burgers and fries, and plenty of tasty vegetarian offerings too. Several small-but-impressive art museums featuring works of local artists past and present. The Taos Clay Studio is a really wonderful working studio where you can join in any day of the week. There are some lovely hikes within a short drive of town, and I always like to stretch my legs and see the natural sights (like the Rio Grande in a deep gorge). I think Taos Pueblo is closed at this time of year, but if not, it’s worth a visit to learn about the indigenous community there – who have lived there for more than 1000 years! The Coffee Spot has good coffee/espresso, local art all over the walls, and a pay-what-you-can menu, which is rad. Heads Up and Ennui Gallery are cool record stores if vinyl is one of your things (it’s one of mine).

      So hoping Taos is not entirely out of your way! Enjoy your trip, regardless!

      – Another Maggie

    • Maggie says...

      Thank you A Martin, Maria, Laura, Amanda G, Katie, Liz, Lilly, Claire, Wendy, Midge, other Maggie :) for these amazing recommendations! I loved reading every word and will take your recommendations with me. Can’t wait!

  59. We are in a phase of our career when we have to make the most of long weekends if we want to get our schedules to align for vacation. Whenever we plan a trip, alone or with friends, we make a combined priority list where each person gets a turn to pick their top destination/activity. Then we map them out to make sure we have time to get to at least a few of those big wishes in equal measure. We budget in extra time for travel mishaps and meandering too, but by making the list before we go it seems like it cuts down on travel stress and ensures that each traveler finds the trip to be more fulfilling and fun during our short stay. Often it actually ends up coming together in the most perfect, leisurely way, like one person is dying to try a special restaurant that turns out to be walk-able to a site someone else is wishing to see and you find yourself exploring cool neighborhoods along the way. On our flight home we always review our original itinerary together and are surprised to find what places we loved the most, what new finds we stumbled upon, what we want to revisit, or recommend to friends. The entire process has ultimately led us to be much more self-aware about booking getaways to destinations that fit our personalities better.

  60. Aimee says...

    Pouches, man.

    I pack my carry-on with a variety of pouches, organized by need: phone chargers & tech (things I can’t live without should my checked bag get lost); “the drugstore:” (toothbrush, paste, moisturizer, face wipes, tampons, ibuprofen, dramamine, etc); “the hair salon” (elastics, pins, a comb—for layover touch-ups); “the snackbar” (bars, gum, my favorite tea bags—ask for hot water on the plane— sweetener packets); and make-up: (just the bare essentials). And my passport, phone, and wallet go in a small cross-body bag, so they’re right at my fingertips when I need them and they’re held close to me at all times.

    Keeping everything contained in organized pouches cuts WAY down on the panicked rummaging in the dark depths of a bag to try and find something. Much easier to grab the single pouch that you know contains what you’re looking for!

    • Erica says...

      I do this too! I subscribe to Ipsy (monthly makeup samples) and they send everything in cute little pouches, which as it turns out are perfect for travel organization.

  61. Becky says...

    When my husband and I arrive at our destination late in the day or evening we always go out. We don’t want to feel like we wasted time. We may just walk around to build a mental map of our surroundings. Sometimes we grab a drink or something small to eat. We realized this when we arrived in Paris from an over night flight then needed to wait until our Airbnb check in. All we wanted to do was sleep. But we went out and had a great start to a memorable trip!

  62. Chrissy Shea says...

    This is likely the most ridiculous travel ritual, but I LOVE going to Target stores in new cities.

    • Becky says...

      Haha that’s awesome! I like going to book and grocery stores especially in other countries.

    • TJ says...

      Target is never ridiculous.

    • Lizeth says...

      I went to a Target in Portland, OR and fell in love haha. So different than my regular Target.

  63. eg says...

    Ack! Flying to Paris tonight for a solo trip – maybe I’ll run into Bill Murray too, fingers crossed!!!

    • Oh my goodness, have fun! My tip: just keep walking! Paris is super walkable and you’ll come across some really cool things on foot if you turn onto pretty looking streets!

    • Carrie says...

      I’m so jealous! Paris was incredible and Claire is right, it’s super walkable! I can’t wait to go back some day!

    • Andrea says...

      Try the open-faced apricot pastries in the bakeries. Paris makes the best!

  64. Andrea says...

    -Take some mundane shots, like the streetscape around you at a given time. I realized that I loved seeing the detail of a place, often not captured in the “big” shots of a vacation. Seeing the street where you stayed or the door to a good restaurant is so, so evocative!
    -I pack light and love shopping for incidentals, such as Kleenex or bandaids in a foreign country. You take the rest home and remember the trip the next time you cut yourself.
    -Do everyday stuff. We went to a mall in Istanbul and realized that it’s a hotspot for socializing–families there until 10 PM eating ice cream and playing on the jungle gym. Go to a movie. Look at bulletin boards and see what is up (bingo in Ireland, a children’s play in Salta, Argentina).
    -Walk through residential neighborhoods in cities and see where the locals are stopping for a coffee or a beer.
    -I always go into grocery stores and see what new flavors they have in potato chips, ice cream, pop, alcohol. Same-same, only difference, as a billboard in India put it.
    -IMMERSE!

    • Sasha says...

      These are such fun tips!! Thank you

  65. Megan says...

    Always leave time for spontaneity! So many times I feel like I’ve overbooked myself and then feel guilty bailing on a certain dinner reservation. Some of the best travel moments come from recommendations from people you meet once you arrive, or like others have said, from wandering! Also, if you’re fair like me consider getting a super small travel size sunblock to throw in your purse (supergoop makes great products like sprays and powders that go over makeup) so you can totally sit at that gorgeous outside table that isn’t exactly in the shade.

  66. Maria says...

    This isn’t really a tip but I read the CoJ guide to NYC before I went with my younger sister and took her on a “mystery tour” to Ample Hills Creamery. It was basically deserted and she was so impressed with my insider knowledge! It was one of my favourite bits of the holiday, strolling along the river with our cones :) Thank you for the great advice!

  67. Maria says...

    Great comments form people who genuinely know how to live a full life :)

  68. Lisa says...

    I concur about making meals, especially if traveling with kids. Taking my 4 and 6 year olds to restaurants often leaves me frustrated with the amount of food not eaten and the pricey bill. We opt to stop into WF or other local grocery stores and pick up the little prepared snacks and sandwiches for a quick, healthy lunch that doesn’t break the bank, and an at home dinner where we can control what they eat, splurging where they care – dessert :-).

    • Sasha says...

      Yep! Dessert is made for vacationing kiddos. And adults too.

  69. Claire says...

    I like a good, detailed, paper map, to take along everywhere. Phones are not always reliable or accurate, or the batteries run down, etc… Plus it’s nice to be able to see the big picture when navigating, rather than pushing a little tiny screen around with your fingers. Paper maps can also make great souvenirs for a scrapbook or to have framed on a wall, especially if you mark the special spots you visit, the routes taken, and picnic spots or restaurants, etc.

  70. Oh, and BEST travel advice I’ve ever received came from a random older guy from whom I bought a hiking backpack for my first trip to Europe, at the tender age of 21.

    He said you need three things to travel: money, health, and someone to go with. Any time you have all three, go for it! (And I know a lot of people will say you don’t even need the third one). I repeat that wisdom to the college students I work with all the time.

  71. Oh, I love the donut ritual one! It doesn’t have to be fancy to be a memorable tradition. :)

    My biggest jet lag advice is don’t think about what time it is at home! I will seriously give you the dirtiest look and we’re traveling together, enjoying a nice lunch, and you say, “Can you believe it’s the middle of the night at home?” Ugh!

    Also, on packing anxiety: I double/triple check that I have my glasses and contacts, and other than that, I think, “I can just buy anything I need there.” It’s helped me not freak out about forgetting something.

    • Aimee says...

      Me too! Glasses, passport, and a credit card, and with those, the rest can mostly be replaced or done without. As I learned last November when our luggage got lost en route to Germany, and last month when I left on a cruise with ALL of my toiletries & makeup (and contacts!) at home on my bathroom counter.

  72. Kit says...

    I visit a public library every time I’m in a new place (usually when I’m peopled-out and need a quiet hour to myself). I remember losing my purse in Tofino, BC and getting directions to the tiny library to calm down with a book.

    As a bonus for history nerds, most cities have cool local history sections you can’t find elsewhere.

    • AnneK says...

      I do this too! My recent trip to BC was basically a library tour haha. The one on Salt Spring Island was amazing.

  73. Brittany says...

    This is all really awesome advice, and since this is such a thoughtful, articulate, and kind community, I’d love to make a suggestion for a future post that might relate to some of your readers (or maybe I’m just insane!) How to travel without your kids. (ie- how to do it, how to make it less stressful for everyone involved, etc.) After an extended NICU stay when my girls were born, I still haven’t left them for longer than a night, and they’re almost 4. I’d love to hear how parents take trips for themselves and are able to fully enjoy themselves and relax… I fear my children will be in college before I’m ready!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love this, brittany! would love to work on a post like this.

    • Britta says...

      Agree! This was TERRIFYING for me at first (I’m just a worrier and love my little guy to pieces – who doesn’t), but now I am SO much better at it 3 years later. At first I’m not even sure I had a good time when my husband and I went away. For what it’s worth, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that the lead up/worrying is a million times harder than when you finally walk on that airplane and sit in silence and are only responsible for yourself. :) I had to learn – NO FaceTime (we both end up crying) and I really only want to hear the “good” updates unless someone is on fire or loosing a limb. Ha! It makes my heart so free to have fun knowing he’s having a great time with Grandma (“He’s great! I was calling for your dad around the house “Randy where ARE you?” and now that is his favorite thing to yell.”) and then I’m laughing and ready for a second drink!;)

    • margaux says...

      GREAT IDEA.

    • Claire says...

      I totally get this, and my son is 16 now.

    • t says...

      I feel like I am an expert at this. My twins were in the NICU for a month at birth but right after their first birthday my wife and I went to croatia for 10 days without them and have gone on many extended trips. Here are my tips:
      – leave them with someone you trust and if you are gone for a while (like a week or more) set up a babysitter for a night off for the caretakers.
      – ask the neighbors or siblings to pop by and offer support to the caretakers (if available)
      – set up inconspicuous facetime calls. i NEEDED to see the kids (proof they are OK) but didn’t want them to remember to miss me and get upset. Or request at least pics each day.
      – set up fun activities for the kids. It is their vacation too! a special outing or making cupcakes, etc.
      – DONT stress about leaving before you go. Just get organized. Lists, doctors notes, schedules, instructions, maps, etc. Keeps you busy and makes you feel like the kids will be OK.
      – If you do start to stress use techniques to redirect your thoughts. Don’t think about the trip or your kids. think about a book you are reading or a podcast or your friend or anything else.
      – don’t draw out the goodbye. Just leave
      – know that it is good for your marriage, yourself and your kids. They need to learn independence too.
      – sleep a lot on your trip even if you are worried you are missing out on seeing/doing something. you need to catch up. same with sex.
      – since your girls are almost 4 you need to set expectations with a countdown. Like “in 20 days you get to go stay at grandma’s! let’s make a list of all the fun things you want to do…” each day talk about it and their behavior and get them excited.

      That’s all I can think of. hope it helps and hope you do it. it’s hard to go but worth it. like exercising- hard to start but once you do you feel good about it.

    • valeria says...

      Dear Brittany, maybe you’re talking about going on a vacation without kids, but I recently experienced this separation for a work trip to Peru. I left my two kids for the very first time, they are 5yo and 1 and 1/2. It was a very big opportunity for my job but it has been a very hard decision to make, expecially thinking of my little one. A whole week! With a collegue friend! In Peru! With the ocean and a continent and 5 hours between me and my family! That sounded scary, of course… but also, as a work-from-home mum (translated: always-on-duty mum), it kind of sounded like a siren’s singing voice: come, come! So many things I could say about how it went before, during and after, for me (from finding a sense of concentration that I thought it was lost forever, to crying for half an hour one morning missing them so much), for them (my big one with stomach flu for almost the whole week, my little sulking for an entire evening when I came back and his first smile after he was sure I was staying) and for my husband (who managed everything brilliantly and lived for a week as if he was in my life zone so he can telephone me when I was in hotel at night). But what is now still having a positive consequence in my everyday life is the experience of not being able to control and supervise everything in my kids life and to survive that (and them surviving too!) and the feeling of reconnection with a few parts of me I was not dealing with often. So… for work, for holiday, for love: do it!

    • Erica says...

      I travel quite a bit for work and I have a 2-year-old. At first being away from her for any amount of time was TORTURE, but it has gotten much easier as she gets older and I get more used to it. I just got back from a 10 day international trip for work that I went on voluntarily, and it ended up being a total blast, as well as professionally very fulfilling. Weirdly I think being on a completely opposite time zone helped – I had to absolve myself of any responsibility and trust that my husband and other caretakers had things under control. And they did!

    • gfy says...

      I remember when my parents left me and my sister (ages 4 and 1) with friends who lived on a farm in Vermont while they went to Hawaii for 10 days. I don’t remember being stressed out as a child at all because the farm was so lovely and they experience so novel. I played in a field with a horse under an apple tree. All I remember to this day was that sunny field in the Vermont countryside with that horse next to an apple tree – it’s one of my favorite memories.

    • Jenna says...

      I booked a 3-day trip with my girlfriends while I was pregnant thinking I would be ready for a break when the baby was 7 months. And now that the trip is almost here, I will add that thought to the growing pile of oblivious thoughts I had about having a baby before I actually had a baby. I feel guilty and sad and strangely resentful of my friends. And she is just going to be home with my husband!

      Not to mention storing breastmilk has been a part-time job. I swear I used to be chill.

  74. Ramona says...

    I love the idea of giving your child a camera and photography challenges. What a great way to help your child notice details and create memories of the trip.

  75. margaux says...

    when renting an airbnb or homeaway, i ask the hosts well in advance if the sheets are polyblend or cotton (many use polyblend b/c they’re less likely to stain). if they’re a blend, we pack our own. no way could my husband and i sleep on polyester sheets for a week! i admit that this sounds kinda obnoxious, but we’re on “vacation” with toddlers, we need the best sleep we can get!

  76. Hilary says...

    My favorite travel tip is just to go and enjoy the city and not get too wrapped up in seeing the sites. When in Europe, we did a Segway tour one morning to visit all the “must see” places. We figured we could always go back and see it again if we wanted more time. 1. Our guides were all amazing locals who told us so much history that you couldn’t get in a brochure and 2. We didn’t want to go back to any of the sites! Instead, we went to coffee shops, people watched, read in parks, wandered the streets, shopped at the local market, etc.

    • Kathryn says...

      I love this idea of doing a big tour of a city when you first arrive so you can not only get an idea of the sights but also hopefully of the different neighborhoods and layout of the city.

    • Yes we do this too! Also there are often free walking tours in a ton of major cities…I’ve done them in Munich and Buenos Aires, they’re a great way to hear from locals and also to meet other travelers! We also did a bicycle tour in Buenos Aires and our guides were amazing…it was one of the highlights of our trip!

  77. Meg says...

    I travel a lot (both personally and professionally), and here are some of my lifesavers:
    -Before my flight (sometimes on the taxi on my way to the airport), I’ll look up dining options at the airport and on my layovers. This gives me something to find/do while waiting and ensures I get a decent meal to forestall any hangriness on the flight.
    -If you are susceptible to hangriness (as I am), nuts and dried fruit in your purse are lifesavers. I also always order the special meal on flights (vegetarian) as you get your meal before everyone else (and who wants to eat airplane meat options anyway?).
    -I absolutely second the visiting the grocery store wherever you go. It’s a fascinating little window into culinary habits of the country, what people value, etc. Also a good place to restock your supply of nuts for your purse. I’ve also gotten some of my best souvenirs/gifts there (funny local cards, unique food items, products with hilarious brand names, etc.).
    -By far the best international airport is Schiphol. Route through there if you can. Eat in a tea cup at the Dutch classics restaurant (the cheese sandwich with honey and mustard is great) and visit the tiny but impressive museum.
    -On longish layovers (but not so long I want to risk leaving the airport), I give myself a challenge to discover everything in the airport. I might go to a chocolate store and eat one truffle, stop in each store and find the most ridiculously overpriced item, smell every perfume in duty free, etc.
    -On short flights, window seat. On long flights, aisle seat.
    -On long flights, compression socks really are a lifesaver. Embrace your inner old woman.
    -Put your passport in a little holder of some kind with pockets. Use that to keep tickets, stubs, receipts, etc. so they’re not floating around in your purse somewhere.
    -My mother and sister and I travel together every Christmas as our gift to each other. Each year we make a list of destinations we’re all interested in, and then decide on a place that works for everyone. In planning the trip, each person is responsible to research, select, and plan one major activity (and usually one meal at a restaurant) that everyone has to participate in without complaint. The rest of the schedule is fluid and we can participate or not based on individual interest.
    -Staying at an Airbnb that has laundry services is the best. Even better if everyone can have their own room; the ability to retreat alone on group travel makes it infinitely more pleasurable when everyone is together.
    -If single, log in to Tinder and ask thirsty men questions about their best local recommendations and then decline to meet up with them because you don’t need a man (just his recommendations of what is hip and non-touristy).

    • Barbara says...

      Your Tinder comment is seriously the best thing I’ve seen in a long while! And “hell yeah” to not needing a man!

    • edie says...

      ahahaha that Tinder comment.

    • Lydia Williams says...

      I LOVE the Christmas travel present plans and the Tinder (bumbleBFF, perhaps for a female perspective?) idea!
      Compression socks are a must…Despite knowing that I will swell on long flights and prepping by going low sodium, hydrating…I still think the best solution is compression!

    • Faith says...

      This is an excellent list, Meg!

    • Wendy says...

      Compression socks are the best thing ever for trips. I find I can walk a city much longer, with much less whining when wearing them. The Smartwool ones are my favorite and they come in some subtle patterns, not just black.

    • I find this really difficult as well (and therefore very rarely do it). I did go away for 72 hours with my bestie when my kids were 4.5, 3 and 18 months old. And I agree that going somewhere with a proper time difference actually helps. We went to NYC from Stockholm, Sweden (much too far for such a short trip), and I think the fact that we flew for like 8 hours and then were in a completely different time zone helped us to just let go and enjoy our time off. Of course my husband was home with the children so they were fine. Now to find the nerve to go away together!

  78. Gaby says...

    I love Nina’s comment. One weekend in 2013 my friends and I visited Portland, OR and were wandering downtown without any real plans. We saw that their big venue had a long line and we decided to check it out since the cover was only $10. It turned out to be a MASSIVE 90s dance party with the music videos being projected and the dance floor bounced with the music because of the ballroom flooring. It was magical.

    • Jeanine says...

      small clubs of various kinds of music (jazz, house, techno, etc.) are usually full of locals and other tourists who share a love of a certain kind of music, so tend to be super friendly. Also worth checking out the local venues like theaters or stadiums to see if the local orchestra/opera/ballet/baseball team is in town – tickets can often be pretty affordable.

  79. Jillian says...

    Whenever I travel, right before I leave I like to buy something new that I’ve never used before with a special fragrance – a perfume, soap, lotion, etc – to use on the trip. Scent is such a great trigger for memory, so afterward that scent is forever tied to the memories of that place.

    Before I went to France for the first time I bought a creamy bar of soap from Lush and used it every time I showered while I was there. Now, whenever I’m in Lush, if I smell that bar I am IMMEDIATELY transported to Paris. It’s magical.

    • Heather says...

      This is perfect! I did this and bought a roll-on perfume for my recent trip to Vietnam (hello, sweat), now anytime I use it I have a movie of memories playing in my mind of that enchanting place :) Never thought to make it a tradition but you’re so right; will definitely do this going forward!

    • Faith says...

      I love this idea!

  80. Bethany says...

    Love these comments. One of the most fun things we’ve done while traveling is splitting our trips into two different moods. In Norway, we did one week in Oslo (museums and parks) and another week in the Arctic Circle (outdoor adventures). In Quebec, we spent half the week in Montreal (hockey games, nightlife, big city) and the other half in Quebec City (snowy streets, tourist shops, small city). In Utah, we explored SLC part of our trip and then stayed in a cabin in the mountains the rest of the trip. A lot of times, we pack the first part with the higher energy activities or full days , and then we relax in nature or the spa. Even if you don’t cover a lot of ground or different time zones, it gives variety and makes me feel like I milked my vacation days for all they are worth.

    Listening to the radio on vacation can make fun memories, too, because inevitably, there will be one overplayed song that at home, I would hate, but I will attach nostalgic traveling memories to. I will always think of driving around Iceland when I hear Kesha because it was on their local radio every time we got in the car.

    • Katy says...

      Hahahah so true!! For me it was “Breathe” by Faith Hill in 2000 that was on the radio CONSTANTLY in Turkey!

    • Marcella says...

      My boyfriend and I have been doing this the past 2 trips we have been on, we go to a national park first and then end the trip in the city and it’s a nice change of pace when we get itchy after being not really in civilization for 3 days. We’ve been to Yosemite National Park then San Francisco, and Banff National Park then Vancouver!

  81. Heather says...

    The grocery store comment makes me laugh. We went to Santa Cruz for a wedding a few years ago, and went to the nearby grocery store to get stuff for breakfasts. From the outside, the grocery store looked to be the equivalent of a Safeway or Giant in our part of SE DC. My husband and I were astonished to walk inside and find something more akin to a Whole Foods, only affordable. Piles of beautiful produce! Every aisle had local and organic products! At the time, our nearby Safeway had one section of the store – like one half of one aisle – devoted to organic options – and I’m pretty sure it shared that space with Kosher items. There may also have been one little cardboard shelf at the end of an aisle with local BBQ sauce for sale. I’m so jealous of California grocery stores.

    • Aimee says...

      Ha! I love going to “The Harris Teeter” when I visit my sister in Virginia. She rolls her eyes but humors me.

  82. Alisa says...

    My parents have convinced me to travel with them to NYC in September… I have never been, so I’m excited but on the other hand, they are relying on me to plan and navigate around the city….
    My mom is in her mid-60’s and really up for anything, so that’s not the challenge. The challenge will be my Dad; he is 6 months removed from having a stroke and while he’s about 80% recovered, he still gets really tired.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for NYC newbies?? Thanks so much!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how wonderful, alisa!!!! sounds like a magical trip.

      for lodgings, i’d suggest getting an airbnb or one fine stay rental apartment in a central location (UWS, if you want to see lots of museums and the park; the west village or downtown somewhere, if you’re into shopping, restaurants, etc.) so you don’t have to walk too much or take cabs too far. there are so many nice places!

      my mom’s husband is older and doesn’t have as much energy, and when we’re all together, somethings we plan the day so that my mom and i (and the kids) go out for adventures in the morning while he relaxes at home. then we hang out at home in the late afternoon and then we all go to dinner together. maybe you could do something similar, where your dad joins you for half the day, and enjoys relaxing solo time for the other half? just a thought.

      the met and the natural history museum and central park are all so beautiful uptown, and the park has lots of benches where you can just relax and enjoy the sights and sounds without walking too far.

      email me if you have any specific questions, and i’m sure other readers will have awesome tips! hope you have the best trip!!! xoxo

    • edie says...

      Hi Alisa!

      I really enjoy spending time in Washington Square Park whenever I visit the city. Bonus: in the warmer months, there’s always a musician or two playing there.

      Brooklyn Bridge Park is beautiful, too. Great views and you can just sit/stroll and take it all in. As Jo said, Central Park is splendid. I like to grab a cookie at Levain and then walk around.

      Also, if you’re interested, Daily Provisions (next door to Union Square Cafe) is wonderful, delicious, and full of gracious workers who will make you feel right at home. xo.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! brooklyn bridge park — the carousel is so beautiful (even if you don’t ride it:) and there are little cafes along the water.

    • t says...

      super touristy but when my parents came to visit in NYC we did the hop on, hop off bus tour. great way to see the city without walking too much but you can jump on and off whenever you want.

  83. P.S. I like buying my travel prunes from Trader Joe’s because they are in a resealable bag.

    • Clara says...

      I like that you have travel prunes. I also have travel prunes.

    • Sasha says...

      you can also get a giant resealable bag of them from Costco! they have an excellent selection of dried fruits, that are excellent snacks for travelling.

    • Heather says...

      I cannot believe I have not thought to have travel prunes! This is genius!

  84. Heather says...

    Is there anything better than donuts in a beach town?

    • margaux says...

      me too! stealing this!

  85. Nina says...

    Hey, that’s me! :) I was reading this thinking “Oh I did the same thing.” haha then I realized it was me.

    I still love my find of some random hole in the wall along the way…snapshots in my memory of following a crowd of unknown people, into a room of unknown people and enjoying a delicious dinner at a bar people watching. sigh…such a good memory.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yay, nina!

  86. Neen says...

    Love this wise community of readers. Erica’s dad is wise – – I finally just decided to stop *wishing* I would travel more and start *doing* it! Booked tickets last night for a trip around Spain with my toddler. I might be crazy, especially when people say “you’re brave! that’s not a vacation!”…but I want her to experience the world too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s going to be amazing, neen!

    • Julie says...

      yay!! Spain is very family friendly….even the airport. They have a special lane for families to help them ease through security. Oh, how i wish this was the case in the US! My friend even went to the vineyard Pares Balta for a wine tasting where they had a basket of toys for the kids! Have fun!

    • Kendall says...

      I hate it when people say that! I love traveling with my kids! Sure, it’s exhausting and a different kind of fun than grown-up travel, but I like my kids! I want to hang out with them, and show them the world, and have experiences through their eyes! I hope you have a great trip!

    • Neen says...

      Thank you, all! Your encouragement made me even more excited!! (And agreed, Kendall…I love my daughter and love hanging out with her, so I can’t imagine leaving her at home.)

    • Marti says...

      Good for you! there are so many naysayers when it comes to traveling with kids, but you know what? To hell with it! You are giving your child amazing memories and you will NEVER look back and think “wow I wish I hadn’t done that” when it comes to traveling. Especially so with your kids.

  87. Emilie says...

    Yesss I love Erica’s dad’s advice!! I too am a fan of just going for it and soaking up new experiences. Of course I love to travel new places, but I also try to create small adventures in my everyday life. Simple things like taking a detour home from work, trying a new class at the gym or checking out a cafe in a new neighborhood/town can do absolute wonders if you’re looking to shake up your routine a bit :).

  88. Heather says...

    I carry those exact honey lavender stress relief tea bags in my briefcase. The other week I was at a hearing and before it started I took out some sachets and offered them to my clients. There was a little kitchenette so I was able to make them some hot tea. Part of my job as a lawyer is to help my clients stay calm in scary situations, and those tea bags have become one of my favorite props.

    • Caroline says...

      That is so lovely Heather!

  89. Emma says...

    If staying in a city we always try to stay near a Whole Foods (or the like). Easy to find something for everyone and, though not cheap, easier than a restaurant-table-for-five.

  90. Sam says...

    I love the camera challenge idea for kids!

    My tip is to eat at the bar in restaurants. That way, you can talk to locals or the bartender in a relaxed, non-confrontational setting and get your questions answered or make a new friend. On my honeymoon in Ireland, my husband and I were shooting the breeze with the bartender, and he asked if we were “seeing the show.” We had no idea what he was referring to, but thought we should check it out. We were pointed to the back door of the pub, which looked like an exit, and entered a lovely ballroom with a stage. There was a pretty good crowd seated at big tables having snacks and pitchers of beer, and we saw what I suppose was an Irish variety show: dancers, musicians, storytellers, and comedians performed. There was a quartet of older Irish men telling off-color jokes and playing fiddles–it was just what we wanted to participate in during our time in Ireland. We had so much fun doing something spontaneous, and it was an evening I’ll always treasure!

    • Completely agree. During my travels, I have received some amazing recommendations sitting at the bar and chatting with bartenders.

    • Sophia says...

      My fiancé and I always sit at the bar, and we ask the bartender for recommendations on where to go next. It’s the best way to see a new city like a local!

    • Laura says...

      Oh my gosh this reminds me of when we asked a waiter in Reykjavik what he was doing that evening after work, and he told us going to the local bar for the sheep head-eating contest. So of course we went to that after dinner because…yeah. It was gross but amazing, and something we obviously would not have discovered on our own.

    • Barbara says...

      I also recommend sitting at the bar and chatting with other patrons and the bartender, if you’re single and travelling. They always have great recommendations.

  91. Sarah says...

    I love this Best Reader Comment series! Such a great idea and such good tips. Keep them coming!

  92. wendy says...

    My two pieces of advice for any kind of travel (road trips, international travel, camping, weekend getaways, etc): Though I’m not a Starbucks fan, I always pack a box of their VIA instant coffee packets (you can even throw a packet in cold water, stir it up, and you have instant cold brew!), you never know when you will need to be caffeinated. Also, always pack extra socks.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      extra socks, yes!

    • Kara says...

      I am sadly addicted to a good cup of coffee and even sadder I can’t really get myself going in the morning with out coffee. I always have those VIA’s in my luggage. I buy the 2 packs when they go on sale at Costco!

  93. kash says...

    This is great :)

    My best travel tip is to bring a tupperware container that fits in your bag! I fill mine with socks or toiletries or whatever so that it doesn’t take up too much space in my suitcase. Then I can bring snacks with me when I’m out and about, which helps me eat more nutritious food and also save money. It also can create nice little picnic moments, finding a quiet bench to snack and people watch when I am tired.

    A small tupperware with carrot sticks and nuts, or with a bun and some cheese and cherry tomatoes is a great holiday lunch–and then I’m not stuck buying a $15 sandwich to avoid hanger, and can instead use that money towards an extra cocktail at dinner ;)

    • Chloe says...

      Yes! I love that you used the word hanger. Totally with you, Kash.

    • Ramona says...

      I always keep the front pocket of my suitcase stocked with ziplock bags, hair ties, and bandaids/special blister bandaids. Every few years I buy a new package at the drugstore and just empty the whole thing into that front pocket. Such a lifesaver! There’s also a makeup bag full of OTC medications for every conceivable ailment that never leaves my suitcase.

      I also bring my own tea bags with me everywhere (tea is my caffeine source, and the world’s ideas about what constitutes a good tea selection are sometimes woefully inadequate).

      Also, when flying I pack my own lunch/snacks in disposable Tupperware containers (I use the ones our sushi place delivers in). More often than not, I wind up reusing them to bring snacks with me when touring around, or to help protect breakable or bendable souvenirs in the suitcase on the way home.

    • Julie says...

      This is so genius! Can’t wait to try!

  94. This is totally unrelated — well maybe related because sometimes listening to podcasts is like traveling BUT I heard Lucy + her boyfriend on this week’s episode of Modern Love and they were a total delight, especially given the beautiful but heart wrenching essay. Sending them both a huge high five/hug combo!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s wonderful to hear, alex! thank you!

  95. Christina says...

    love these reader sourced posts! such a community of brilliant women :)

  96. I second Sasha’s comment about eating meals in on vacation. It’s the main reason I like Airbnb, because I don’t *want* to have to get out to eat breakfast! I’m on vacation!

    Plus, buying groceries on a trip means you get to explore unknown / foreign supermarkets and challenge yourself to cook in not your own space. And I second Steph that it helps keep you regular!

    • Neen says...

      Yes! When I was in Paris with my boyfriend/now husband as poor grad students, we discovered the French markets had AMAZING wine and cheese for so little money! I still don’t know if it actually was amazing product or just our cheap tastes, but eating a grocery door dinner on a picnic blanket remains our favorite part of the trip.

  97. Moo says...

    I love the idea of bringing your own tea for the flight and will def remember this for next time, esp since drinking Lady Grey reminds me of home. Last trip I took was to Rome and packing my suitcase the Konmari way totally helped! I loved seeing everything at a glance and whatever I couldn’t pack that way, went into packing squares. Having a tidy suitcase was so nice, lol. Safe travels, everyone!

  98. Ellen says...

    This makes me so happy. My husband and I keep talking about needing more space in our house for our growing family, but we always resolve that we can forgo the bigger mortgage for more (and more and more) travel. This year, we’re planning on taking our toddler to Mexico City and a trip just the two of us to the Netherlands and Belgium.

  99. Jenna says...

    My heart just swelled three sizes at Anne’s story of running into Bill Murray at midnight in Paris. Could not think of anything more magical to happen to me!

    • Heather says...

      YES! Me too. Does Bill Murray realize the little Lost in Translation magic he offers the world when he makes midnight appearances in foreign cities? Could only possibly be topped if Anne had accidentally traveled back in time in Paris at midnight.

  100. Bella says...

    Oh, please. There is not a single American grocery store with aisles and aisles of frozen pizza. That is a gross exaggeration. We collectively eat a lot of garbage. We can’t get our shit together when it comes to racism, bigotry, and gun violence. Our president is an asshat. We’ve got problems, okay, but we don’t have aisles and aisles of frozen pizza.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      some stores do! fairway in new york has two aisles.

    • Anna says...

      Agreed. I read that and thought, come on. I’m American and have lived abroad for the past five years. Every country has its problems. And America is not alone in the frozen pizza love. Let’s not idealize Italy, after all, they’re the home of the original DT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvio_Berlusconi

    • K says...

      Haha here in good old Ohio, I can definitely say I shop at a grocery store with 2 aisles of frozen pizza.

    • Sarah says...

      i live in northern california, and we definitely have aisles of frozen pizza! it’s a good thing! they’re all different makers and even by local restaurants etc.

    • Katherine says...

      I read “AISLES and AISLES of frozen pizza” and thought “hell yeah, we do!” ;)

    • jen says...

      I live i Phoenix; there is part of an isle.

    • jen says...

      I live in Phoenix; there is part of an isle.

    • Heather says...

      The variety in frozen pizza in America might actually be a sign of our increasing health consciousness and ingenuity! There are now more gluten-free varieties, organic varieties, local options, vegetarian and vegan options, flatbreads…

    • Nikki B says...

      Exactly my thought too “HELL YAS” we have all that frozen pizza. I will try all of them and wave my American flag all the merrier. And most of that pizza is delicious.

    • Andrea says...

      In my home state of WA, there is enough room in grocery stores for basically chips and salsa.

      USA! USA! USA!

    • Olivia says...

      My husband owns a pizza restaurant, so I just don’t get the appeal! Go for the real thing!! No comparison 😊

    • Elizabeth says...

      My local Meijer has two aisles of it and at least a dozen gluten free/vegan/organic options for sale, too.

    • Anne says...

      I actually fell in love with British frozen pizza when I lived in London! I’m not sure why I loved it so much – maybe they use fewer preservatives, so it tasted fresher? Either way, Chicago Town pizza, you’ll always have a special place in my heart <3

    • Jeanne says...

      Where I am in SoCal we only have a section of an aisle for pizza. But when visiting my best friend in Des Moines, she lost me in the supermarket. I was wandering the aisles and aisles of ICE CREAM! **insert heart eyes**

    • RBC says...

      Hahaha after growing up in NY (most of 20 years) and then spending the last 15 years in Canada and the UK, what I notice when shop at American grocery stores now is actually the insane variety of cereals and cookies! But really, there is 5-10x the selection in pretty much every category in the states compared to Canada (except maybe maple syrup… I kid you not). It’s wild! And also so. Much. Cheaper!

  101. Jo says...

    Currently in the midst of constant meltdowns with my preschooler over here. Tack that onto being SO OVER this winter… So the idea of Anne’s solo trip to Paris made tears spring to my eyes! Sounds like a dream!!!

    • Katie says...

      Hang in there mama, it’s so hard with preschoolers because they are bigger and smarter and harder to manipulate!!! I hope for warm days soon for you to set them free in a yard or park ;)

    • Ashley says...

      Everything with my four-year-old feels like a constant battle right now and the constant side-stepping of meltdown triggers has me really worn down. I feel ya. Solo travel in Paris sounds like an absolute dream. Heck, a quiet room where no one talks to me sounds like a vacation at this point.

    • gfy says...

      Can’t you treat yourself to a babysitter for an entire day? Then you can give yourself that time at least to do whatever you like – tour your own city, get a massage, have lunch on your own, go to the library and read for 6 hours straight or a cafe and same, a movie or three, whatever you like! Cheaper than flying out but still really good for YOU.

  102. cynthia says...

    Thanks for that last link- kind of liberating to be reminded that as a mom, it isn’t really a vacation for me. That’s helped me change my expectations in the past couple of trips- very helpful when I was anchored to my sister’s house all Christmas “vacation” with a sick 6-y-o while everyone else went to the beach and the movies.

  103. Hillary F. says...

    I just got back from Paris last night. I used two tips from COJ readers. I wore my neck pillow in the front AND I used fancy moisturizer in duty free. Thanks ladies.

    We also basically stayed on east coast time, stayed up super late and slept in and I don’t feel jet lagged at all!

    P.S. I also went to the Sezane store and it was CRAZY busy.

  104. On staying, erm… regular (because nothing ruins a trip more than bathroom troubles): BYOP – Bring Your Own Prunes. You’d be surprised how hard it can be to find prunes when you need them. It’s worth the extra TSA hassle.

    A couple of prunes first thing in the morning with a glass of water and you are good to go :)

    • cynthia says...

      Good advice!

    • Ever since we had kids, we never leave town without travel packs of miralax. The only predictable thing in all our travelling is that as soon as we get in the car or airplane, one kid will start complaining of tummy pain.

      Also, we put prunes in our goody-bags for out-of-town guests at my wedding. I got sooo many thank-yous. (is it obvious yet that I’m married to a gastroenterologist?)

    • Katie says...

      This is maybe the best travel advice I have encountered haha

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “Also, we put prunes in our goody-bags for out-of-town guests at my wedding. I got sooo many thank-yous. (is it obvious yet that I’m married to a gastroenterologist?)” == hahahahah love this!

    • Kate says...

      oh yeah! Try telling a non-english speaking pharmacist that you’re looking for “stool softeners”…
      “J’ai besoin de quelque chose qui ressemble un laxatif mais pas un laxatif…”
      Prunes sound like they would have solved all my problems!

    • Metamucil makes cookies, as well. They are individually wrapped and perfect for travel. I remember seeing my mother eat one and asking her what it was on the first morning of our mother-daughter trip to southern France years ago. She said “I leave nothing to chance, honey!”