Travel

14 Great Reader Comments on Travel

Great Reader Comments on Travel

Do you have any trips planned this summer? Here, 14 readers share their best tips and tricks for making the most of those all-too-precious vacation days (including a funny packing necessity and a hack for sleeping on flights)…

On planning:

“Before a trip, I sit for a minute and determine exactly which type of vacation I need a particular trip to be: Sightseeing? Adventure? Relaxation? Then I can feel good about making it a ‘___’ trip and not worry that it coulda-shoulda-woulda.” — Jan

On beloved traditions:

“When I was nine and my sister was 12, my grandparents drove their motor home from Seattle to central Pennsylvania and picked us up. From there, we drove back across the U.S., stopping to see too many landmarks to name. It was one of the highlights of my childhood. My dad recently retired and purchased an RV, and two summers ago he took my son and my sister’s son up the East Coast of the U.S. He had always vowed to do for his grandkids what his parents did for theirs.” — Emily

“We vacation with friends near Lake Michigan every summer. While family vacations are fun, it feels like vacations with good friends are just lighter. Our kids play on the beach, we take turns making dinner, and we all just hang out. It’s my favorite time of year!” — Amanda

On hacks for long flights:

“I bring a sleeping bag liner (like a lighter sleeping bag) and crawl into it on long flights. It keeps me the right amount of warm, and this way, no blanket slips off and wakes me up mid-nap. The bag that holds the sleeping bag liner can be filled with your jacket and act as a pillow.” — Andrea

“I rip out all the articles I meant to read from old issues of The New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, etc. and pack them instead of bringing the WHOLE magazine, which gets heavy.” — Jessica

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

On making the best of it:

“We took a family trip to Ireland when our kids were four and six. We had lots of plans, but realized that with public transportation and a limited budget, we couldn’t see every site. My favorite memories are of my kids wanting to stop and enjoy Every. Little. Thing. Playing with a cat through a window. Riding on the top of the double decker bus. Asking what happened to a sculpture’s legs. Trying new kinds of cookies. I got a UTI while I was there and we spent the day at the ER. My kids spent the whole time playing on the ramp and splashing in puddles. We had only a few days left, but my kids didn’t care, they were having the time of their lives! My husband was like, ‘Hey, we got to experience Irish health care!’ Ha. Such a cool reminder that travel isn’t about seeing ‘everything,’ but about being in a new place so you can see yourself, your family, and the world from a new vantage point.” — Oneida

On favorite activities:

“My husband and I went to Amsterdam, and my favorite night was when we climbed in our Airbnb bed with a ‘brownie’ (!) and watched Zoolander. Ha!” — Bonnie

“I just got back from a vacation where I backpacked 110+ miles over a week. Sounds exhausting, right? It was actually the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever had. I came back with my head clear and feeling refreshed, because my only job every day was to hike. I didn’t have to worry about life or school or work or my friends or my failing relationship. I didn’t have to worry about a ‘must do/eat/see.’ It was wonderful.” — Selby

On capturing the moment:

“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 also always go into grocery stores and see what new flavors they have in potato chips, ice cream and soda.” — Andrea

“My mom gave my brother and me journals for our first international trip as kids. We ended up staying a night at a castle (!!!), which blew our little minds, but like a total creep, my entry for that evening was, ‘I bet someone died in this room. The walls are thick.'” — Amanda

On packing necessities:

“I like a good paper map, to take along everywhere. Phones are not always reliable, 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, especially if you mark the special spots you visit, like picnic spots and restaurants.” — Claire

“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. A couple of prunes first thing in the morning with a glass of water and you are good to go.” — Steph

On traveling with kids:

“We have four kids, and we live in Australia but are American. I used to pore over websites searching for the magical advice that makes children act like 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. There will be good moments where your baby happily sleeps in the airplane bassinet while you enjoy a glass of wine and watch an Oscar-nominated movie. And there will be bad moments when your child vomits all over you before takeoff and the flight attendant says you can’t go to the bathroom. My best advice to travelers traveling with babies or toddlers: IT’S TEMPORARY. YOU WILL GET THERE. Enjoy the flight!” — Maddie

Great Reader Comments on Travel

How about you? Do you have any trips planned this summer? Or any advice to add?

P.S. 15 tips for surviving a long flight and how to always look fresh on vacation.

(Top photo by Stan Wayman/The Life Picture Collection.)

  1. Jaime says...

    I know i’m late to this post and comments section but we just returned from a 10 day trip to Denmark visiting family. my 2.5 year old fell asleep 45 mins before we landed on the way there (of course!) but making her a little “house” by tucking her blanket into her headrest and then the headrest for the seat in front of us provided lots of entertainment while she watched Moana 234534523 times. Also, my dollar store pack of GLOW STICKS was her highlight of the flight! there are so many tips and tricks to flying with a toddler but i discovered that less is more but definitely bring glow sticks :)

  2. I just came back from a trip to Seoul and tried out two Airbnb “experiences”. One was a hike and dinner, and the other was a food tour in Gwangjung market. They were lovely, memorable experiences and the hosts were so engaging and passionate about sharing their culture with us.

  3. These are such great tips, especially about the prunes! :D And I love the photography tips on capturing those mundane but evocative details. It’s those kinds of shots that always bring back a vacation much more closer to the heart than snapshots at the famous tourist attractions.

  4. jrg says...

    i’m with Andrea, i love looking for local candy/snack/drink flavors especially outside the us!

  5. Joanna Hart says...

    Just posting to say that Maddie’s comment is The Truth.

  6. Ashley says...

    My non-negotiable items to pack when traveling with my 3.5 year old are hand sanitizer or wipes, band aids, dish soap and laundry detergent in travel bottles, a thermometer, fever/pain medication, and rehydration packets. I keep a small pouch with a change of clothes, a plastic bag, and mini packet of diaper wipes on us at all times. Downloading an emergency episode or two of her favorite cartoons has helped immensely in lines, long taxi rides from the airport, and buying carpets in Marrakech, among other things!

    • Young Directionless says...

      I also vow every time to bring baby proofing items for the hotel, and always forget!

  7. Alexis says...

    I love the RV trip!
    And we have our first vacation this year planned with friends and not family.. very much looking forward to it and hoping it will become a tradition of sorts.

    * Packing cubes! Our family each has a set. I’m blue, kiddo is red, partner is black. This is especially helpful if we have to share parts of our bags.
    * Also, as part of my travel journal, I include a list of clothes I’m packing. I include number of days and planned activities, then DRAW the outfits so I have a visual and don’t have to think too hard about coordinating, etc. It really helps to curb overpacking. You could also take photos of the outfits if you don’t want to draw! I also pack a lot of stuff that can be handwashed and will dry easily, like linen and silk crepe. I think you have featured Elizabeth Suzann on here before…they’re investment pieces but also super versatile and hardworking.
    * My toiletry bag is always ready because I have travel toothbrushes, dental floss, etc. already packed in there.
    * I try to make sure there’s food for an easy meal when we return home, whether it’s a freezer meal or some canned tomatoes and pasta. Or even PB & J!
    * Pre-mobile phones I used to check for Streetwise maps of the city I was traveling to. They’re laminated, foldable maps of the city centers and surrounding areas and include public transportation lines – super easy to use. https://streetwisemaps.com/

  8. Julie says...

    I love all of the travel advice. We have two small children (2 and 4) and live in Brooklyn and have already taken them to Europe, Abu Dhabi and Australia and later this year we are off to Argentina. This is not to say that small and local adventures aren’t just as exciting, but my husband and I always loved international travel before kids and were reluctant to give that up. Even though travel with small kids is much slower than before, it’s rewarding to be somewhere completely different. I go into each of these trips expecting THE WORST DAY EVER getting there. I get anxiety for a few days while in the packing and planning phase. But once we are in the car to the airport, we are off! When you expect the very worse on those long travel days, usually it ends up being slightly better than that. Under-promise yourself and life tends to over-deliver to you.

  9. Gabby says...

    Yes!! I have divorced parents and I used to pack every two weeks when we went from one home to the other and I just learned that as long as you have the stuffs that you cannot buy (passport, wallet, keys, phone, medication), everything else will be fine.

  10. Nancy says...

    The saying “attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal” helps to keep things in perspective. When things go sideways, and they will, instead of freaking out, ask yourself, (or the booking agent, check in desk clerk, etc.) “what are my options?” It helps to refocus and gets you from a wtf moment, to having a plan of action the quickest. Not to mention sometimes it opens up opportunities that you would otherwise never encounter.

    In addition to going to local grocery stores, I also love going to local hardware stores. Seeing what is unique to the area that the average local might use such as pans for panning for gold in Alaska or maple syrup buckets in Quebec provide insights into the local culture that you otherwise might not see, and since hardware stores aren’t hotspots for tourism, you know that it is more likely to be authentic.

  11. Lizzy in Minnesota says...

    I loved the comment on long-haul international flights with children. We’ve been flying from the midwest to Italy 1-2x/year since our oldest (now almost 5) was 6 months old. We’ve tried every trick in the book, but the realty of the situation, is that there are going to be difficult, painful moments. The best thing to do is to acknowledge that going in (like childbirth!); you know it’s going to be hard, but eventually it’s over. And soon enough you’ll be enjoying an aperitivo and a plate of pasta while your kids hang out with their extended family :)

  12. I am part of the BYOP community (Bring Your Own Prunes). One caveat to this is DON’T TAKE YOUR OWN PRUNES TO CHILE. They have Chilean Fruit Dogs in the airport who will sniff out your fruit!
    Even though mine were processed and in their original commercial ziplock bags, I was fined ~$68 for bringing them into the country. Chile has a large agricultural and horticultural industry, and they take great precaution to keep fruit flies and such away from their crops. I totally respect that. Plus, the airport Fruit Dogs were gorgeous.

    • Jackie says...

      Chilean Fruit Dogs sounds like an exotic menu item. Good tip!

    • Ali says...

      Oh my gosh we found this out the hard way. I’m from australia where there are also really strict rules about produce. I knew I had a banana in my backpack from the flight but could not for the life of me find it when I arrived in Chile.

      We went through the scanner and were accosted with questions in rapid fire Spanish… which we did not at all speak (we are those ignorant idiots). To put it in perspective when asked for our Nombres (names) I thought she was asking us to number ourselves so I made myself ‘uno’ and my husband ‘dos’ – what an idiot!

      In fairness it took the customs agent multiple scans to find the banana it had got caught in a nook of the backpack that was impossible to find!

      We were told we would need to see “the judge” which was terrifying and after a wait turned out to be her boss. He thankfully sussed our we were just idiots and let us go with a warning – but it was very stressful so do not recommend bringing any fruit to Chile! Buy your prunes when you arrive! 😂

  13. Virginia says...

    I love this, I just recently flew solo across the country with my 8 month old twins. Everyone sees you and asks how you do it, my answer is “by just doing it!”

  14. Rue says...

    Packing cubes! Before you have them you think, “how much of a difference could that really make?” And then once you have your go-to routine with your packing cubes you want to brag to everybody about it every time you travel.

    I travel frequently to remote locations for work. I recently spent a month in out of the way parts of South America and my colleagues bemoaned every time they had to repack for a new climate or a new lodging setup, and my cubes saved the day every time. I mean if you had the option to use a dresser with drawers or a weird mono-dresser where you just threw your underwear and wet bathing suits into the same dark cavern as your one pair of nice pants…

    • Lauren says...

      Yes! Amen to packing cubes! Total game changer! My family of 4 just got back from 8 days in London and Paris, and we each only had a small carryon. Packing cubes totally saved the day and kept everything compact and organized!

  15. alice says...

    My advice is to plan less, or not at all.
    Pre-kids: all my best experiences were unplanned and led to some amazing stuff. With kids: all my pre-schoolers want to do is be outside and roam. We’re renting a cabin in the Sottish highlands for a week next week to do exactly that. No wifi, no restaurants: forging, sand, sea, stags, and wilderness. I like going on holiday in winter, but summer is a time to stay in Scotland. The days are long and the berries are amazing, and the light is glorious.
    I think travel is about enjoying a place, but also yourself, and anyone else you’re traveling with, if you’re not alone. Alain De Botton has a great book called The Art Of Travel.
    I also lived abroad with pre-schoolers and flew often. The final point is KEY. Babies be babies, flights be crap, a day be a day. Then move on :)

    • Joanna Hart says...

      I loved the Scottish highlands with our 2.5 year old. I have learned that we do better with relaxed, open, non-urban locations during travel with kids. We live in and love our city life, but on vacation my kids want to roam free!

    • Molly says...

      Can you give some tips of where to stay to have a vacation like this in the Scottish Highlands? I think this is a fabulous idea!

  16. Maddie says...

    Regarding babies on planes: my mom was a flight attendant for TWA for thirty (30!) years. She tells how it was like CLOCKWORK that a baby would fuss for the duration of the flight, and the parents would sweat and fret and freak out, and just when the captain hits the seatbelt sign to prepare the cabin for landing – the babies fall asleep. TIME AND TIME AGAIN. Her takeaway – the parents finally say “ugh, forget it, we’re almost there” and just relax, which makes the babies finally relax, and they’re out. Bottom line, parents of babies on flights: Chill the Heck Out. :)

    • Jessica says...

      Ha! We took my 15 month old to Vietnam and on the 14 hour flight to Tokyo she slept the last 20 minutes. I’m not exaggerating.

  17. Libbynan says...

    In 1984, when my kids were 15 and 10, the hubs and I took them to England for 16 days. In those pre-Internet days it took me the best part of six months to plan and book that trip. We did the whole Brit-Rail, Open-to-View, B&B, paying guests thing….and it was wonderful. We went to Canterbury from London by bus and my kids were enchanted because many passengers had their leashed dogs on the bus with them. In York our “family” room had a door to the garden which we liked to leave open and the owner’s Lab and four-year-old son came visiting. On our fourth day in London all the kids wanted to do was find a pizza place…they were suffering from withdrawal. There was not a single day when we got to everything I wanted to see, but there was also not a single day when something magical didn’t happen. We still tell stories from that trip and just laugh and laugh. Don’t even get me started about our numerous spring break trips to NOLA!

  18. Katie says...

    I’m definitely in the camp of “don’t worry to much about what you’re forgetting to pack.” Just make sure you have your wallet, passport, and medicine. But I’ll also add lube and viagra. You won’t want to track these things down… when you need them most…in a foreign country…where they might be behind the counter of a pharmacy…and you don’t speak the language or know how to successfully mime them.

    • Kate says...

      Yes! I always check passport, wallet, underwear, and second tier is skincare. If you’ve got that, the rest is easily negotiable.

    • Chantal says...

      Or if you’re prone to yeast infections, pack whatever you normally use for that. Travel can definitely help inflame them, and it’s not a fun thing to act out at the pharmacy (especially when the only two people behind the counter are two extremely handsome Parisien pharmacists and they keep referring to the infection as mushrooms (“ah, des champignons! Vouz avez des champignons?”)…)

    • Scarlett says...

      Just sitting here crying and laughing thinking about how one would mime lube and viagra in a foreign country!!!!

    • Mc says...

      Tampons…my husband and I were in Peru and I started a period from hell (first one after a miscarriage, which apparently can be notoriously heavy). I was stuck in a communal hostel bathroom in Peru, hand washing my undies and pants so I sent him down to the store for tampons and pads. They keep them behind the counter, not even on a shelf so the he could point. He successfully hand gestured “pads” and “tampons” and got me what I needed. He said the lady behind the counter had a good giggle.

    • Joanna Hart says...

      OMG this. We learned how limited our tourist Spanish was when we kept trying “como pan?” (Like bread) in a pharmacy when I got a terrible yeast infection on our honeymoon….

    • I’m seriously dying laughing at this and the comments 😂 Smart tip!

  19. Jamie says...

    As a working mom I love a good road trip with my family. I am usually gone during most of the week and often travel – so that concentrated time with my family is so wonderful. We pick a destination and then to figure out the cool stops on the way there and back so every day is an adventure. National Parks, hiking, museums, local food… just a few of our essentials. When we can, we are nomads for a full 2 weeks. When my son was little (~3) he asked if we were ever going back home b/c in kid time that 2 weeks felt like forever. My kids still talk about our trips and I know they are creating wonderful memories.

  20. I’m not going to be very popular but I would like to add something about traveling with children. First, yes I have traveled with my own children so I what it’s like. Second, there are other people on the plane too. Before you start replying please finish reading. I’m the first one to give parents the sympathy look when they have a crying baby or child. If I’m close enough I’ll even try to help if I can. I love children. I do not love parents who think that letting their kids scream to scream is okay. I was on a flight with just such a mom behind me from before we even took off. She was even making a game of it. The child was 2 or 3. It wasn’t anything gleeful, instead it was just screaming. It was so bad that after about ½ hour I ended up with a migraine that was so bad I was actually crying from pain–I don’t have visual issues with migraines, I have auditory when they get extreme. The flight attendant wasn’t allowed to say anything to the mom. A another very kind passenger, a few rows ahead and on the other side of the plane from me, offered to switch seats with me. The mom let the child scream almost the whole flight-thankfully it a relatively short flight. My husband and daughter said the looks she was getting from everyone around were death stares but she totally ignored them. I’m not the only person, while traveling, who has run into a parent who has felt such entitlement. Before anyone criticizes me for not being compassionate and not consider that there might be a reason (autism), all she had to do was say, ‘I’m sorry.’ No further explanation would have been necessary. Would have I still needed to move? Absolutely, but the people around her might have felt better.

    • C says...

      jeez this sounds totally awful. I am really sorry to read of your experience. It almost gives me a migraine just to imagine it. May it never happen this way again.

    • Holly says...

      Mom of two little ones here, and I totally get what you are saying! Most people need to be told it’s ok to relax, and some people need to tighten their ship a bit!

    • Lamah says...

      “The mom let the child scream”. I don’t believe any mother “lets” her child scream. I am a mother and find your comment very will written but extremely unempathetic.

    • C and Holly, thank you very much. Lamah, it is very hard to believe but she let her child scream, just scream. I know screaming, my youngest was the “worst case of colic” a colic specialist had ever seen. She cried/screamed for 20 out of 24 hours some days for months on end and a medicine that worked in 98% of the babies didn’t work for her. Empathy? As I said, if she just showed the least little bit of consideration for her fellow passengers, it would have gone a long way. She had him standing on her lap so that it went over everyone’s head, as if he had a megaphone. If you’ve never had a sever migraine, you wouldn’t understand the pain but the mother’s ignorance, or perhaps her feeling of denial, only made it worse. Thanks to that very kind passenger I got to move, the other passengers, had to suffer.

    • Bella says...

      I totally get what you’re saying. Once a 3 year-old kicked the back of my chair and screamed during a 4-hour flight. Not once did I hear the parents saying anything to him… or to me. He just kept screaming and kicking. They could have walked around the plane with him for a while, maybe?
      And another time, a tiny baby cried for the duration of an 8-hour flight. My heart was breaking more than the crying was bothering me. I have noise cancelling headphones, I could just block them out. But the father did not left his chair ONCE. So diapers weren’t changed, the baby wasn’t rocked… I mean, is it only the kids in my family that prefer to be held with the person standing up and walking around?
      I have kids and I know how hard it is to make them comfortable during long flights, but I always TRIED. And I always apologised to people around me when things didn’t really worked out. If I accidentally spilled something on someone, kicked someone’s chair because I moved too quickly… I’d apologise. Why wouldn’t I apologise for my kid’s behaviour? And sometimes is like “I know this is hard, but right now there’s no way for me to fix this and I’m sorry.”

    • Bella, thank you very much. I feel so bad about the child kicking your seat. Parents just don’t think about the other people around them. As for that poor baby; no diaper changes, no walking around. I just can’t imagine what those parents were thinking or maybe I should say how could they not think of that baby on that long fight.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Many parents do think about the people around them I promise! Xoxo

    • DD says...

      Commenting late, but how do you (or anyone with kids) feel about other people offering to hold your child, to try to comfort the child? Would you let a well-meaning male passenger hold your child? I don’t have kids, so I am genuinely curious?

  21. Lisa says...

    Maddie’s last bit of advice – so wise. My husband and I are from France and South Africa respectively, and we live in the UK so if we want to see family, we have to travel. Our son has done over 30 flights and he’s just three! The most horrific was when I was a complete idiot, and booked him for vaccinations the day before the flight AND it was the first flight since he had been weaned so no breastfeeding (my go to method for calming down babies on flights). He screamed the Whole Flight and passed out y the plane landed in France. It was hell but it was all worth it the moment we walked into arrivals and he saw his grandparents – he just lit up. I learned a few things from that flight – don’t be an idiot when booking flights / vaccinations, if a baby’s ears are blocked and you can’t get them to eat / drink at least try to get them to lift their chin (tip one of the other passengers gave me – its to hell clear the eustacian (?!) tube) and sometimes it’s all worth it. It’s only a few hours of your life

  22. This is incredible! What wonderful parents! I am filing this away for future grandparent days.

  23. Kelcey says...

    I worked on a cruise ship as a photographer right out of collage, and wanted to keep track of places I’d visit but was terrible about remembering to grab a journal to carry with me (plus I didn’t want the extra weight). I started buying a postcard most days and jotting down the date and a few notes about the day on the back. I’ve kept it up on travels ever since, and that box is the first thing I’d grab in a fire!

  24. Jenn says...

    I agree wholeheartedly with it’s the small things. One of our cherished memories is my 8 year old daughter, behind the counter in a French bakery, petting a cat. We don’t speak French, the owner didn’t speak English, but somehow my daughter was able to communicate her desire to pet the cat, and was given permission. Yes we remember the sightseeing, but it’s the day-to-day memories of travel that stick with us the best.

  25. Jan says...

    The very last entry mentioned sleeping babies on the plane, and it brought to mind one of the most memorable moments of our recent trip to Slovenia…we took an overnight flight from Chicago to Munich and I just retired from nursing, as a NICU nurse. Well I got up to walk around at midnight and there two rows ahead, was the sweetest sight. Two bassinets hooked to the wall of the plane with sleeping babes in each. My heart melted. I think that sight is engraved in my soul!

  26. Shannon says...

    Always spend some time alone! Traveling with my husband is the best, but the questions are exhausting!! “Should we go here? Should we go there? Should I buy this? Are you hungry? Where are we? How to we get back?” I need time to do whatever I want and not have to talk to anyone about it. I usually just explore side streets and take photos or check out grocery stores, but that is how I really become immersed in a new place. I always get lost, always discover something unexpected, and always find my way back.

  27. Jen says...

    My favorite travel trip is to bring your own pillowcase. You can even stuff your fresh clothes in it, or your dirty clothes on the way home. Nothing makes me feel more at home (and somehow more germ-free) than this. I just put it right on top of the hotel’s.

  28. Kate says...

    My best souvenir advice is to buy something that has a particular smell, like a perfume or soap or candle. It will give you a scent memory that lasts longer than any food stuffs you haul back. I first discovered Caudalie beauty elixir on a visit to Paris and now that everyday spritz holds some really big travel feelings for me.

    • amy says...

      I just got back from my honeymoon in France and bought the same beauty elixir for the first time. I am already so weepy over this scent memory.

  29. Suz says...

    My travel advice is plan as best/much as you can and then once you walk out your front door, Go With The Flow.
    Suz from Vancouver

  30. Emily says...

    Tickled to see that my cross-country grandparent trip comment made this list!

    I travel a ton for work and after years of packing and unpacking my toiletry bag I decided to buy a new bag that remains in my carry-on. I keep it stocked w/ all my skincare and makeup favorites and am a vigilant hoarder of high-end skincare samples. When I’m alone in hotel rooms on work trips, I treat myself to that special Aesop mask or some fancy face oil, etc. These little rituals make me feel less lonely and keeping my toiletry bag ready to go in my carry on saves me so much time on both sides of my trip!

    I also keep a lightweight cotton bathrobe in my carry on because many hotels don’t provide bathrobes anymore and it’s so much better getting ready in my bathrobe!

  31. Dree says...

    I love the tip about buying a paper map – we do something similar with guide books. My husband and I always buy a good guide book before we leave on a big trip. I spend hours picking one, and often visit my local library to check out what the different ones are like. (My favorite guides usually provide brief histories and budget tips.) While we travel we use the guide book as our journal. We write in the margins, slip ticket stubs and postcards in its pages, and write-in our own discovered hidden gems. Afterwards, it is so fun to pull down the book from our shelf and relive the trip.

  32. LBP says...

    Sanitize your plane seat, I bring sanitizing wipes and clean the tray and arm rest. I know it sounds crazy and slightly germaphobic, but ever since I started doing that I’ve never been sick after a flight.

    • Emily says...

      I second this! I also wipe down the seatbelt buckle, the seat pocket–anything you touch on or around your seat and never touch anything in an airplane bathroom unless my hand has a tissue over it that acts as a barrier. Wetwipes are your friend!

    • OMG I do this too! WIpe down the seat belt buckles, the armrests, the tv screen in front of you, anything you will touch that is attached to the airplane. I don’t care about germs anywhere else, but airplanes are disgusting. Most planes go through several flights before they are ‘cleaned’. A quick check in the seat pocket in front of you will confirm what you already know- there’s garbage in there from who knows how long ago. Because all they do is a quick garbage removal, clean anything obviously revolting, and get the next hundreds of passengers on ASAP.

  33. Michelle says...

    After lots of traveling, my top tips are:
    1. Pack the pillow for the plane. It’s always worth the extra effort to carry it.
    2. When on a boat or hiking, wear a long-sleeved UPF protection shirt and linen pants + hat so you just have to apply sunscreen to a few strategic places. It’s so much easier.
    3. Bring melatonin pills to combat jet lag, the Calm app and headphones, and possibly an eye mask.
    4. I normally jam pack the first few days with activities and stay at a cheap hotel since we’re never there, but I always do at least one night near the end of the trip at a nice hotel without much planned. Helps us go back relaxed and refreshed.
    5. Buy the “beach read” book and don’t feel ashamed about it. It’s vacation!

  34. Emily Cowden says...

    My favorite way to travel is to “rent an AirBnB and pretend I live there”. I love becoming a temporary ‘regular’ at the coffee shop on the corner, and imagining life as a local. My tip for traveling with kids (we have three) is to never stay too far from a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s (when in N.America). It saves tons of $ on dining out and it makes feeding the family so easy and flexible.

    • Y says...

      Emily, we feel the same way. We did this with and with out kids. Pretending you’re a local takes the experience to a whole new level. By the 3rd night in Paris, my 7 year old said “A tout a l’heur!” ( See you later!) to the grocery clerk we had seen 3 days in a row. I didn’t even know she had picked up any French!

  35. Annemarie and Sawatzky says...

    When I was 18, my family went to NYC for a big blowout holiday. I remember my sister and I whispering to each other how awful it was, there was so much walking, we were doing too many things, the Met was boring, the city was dirty, the whole holiday was terrible … and of course it’s one of my favourite trips of all time.

    Travelling always has crappy parts – missed flights, not enough sleep, that frustrating lull in the middle when you’re tired of unfamiliar things, your travelling companions, and missing the comforts of home – but getting through the tough stuff is what makes for the amazing memories.

  36. Fran says...

    My husband and I used to travel a lot, and always on a shoestring because he was a history grad student and I was a writer. My number one tip is to embrace the crappy parts of travel too, because 15-20 years later, you will remember all those things with fondness (and they make for better stories)! Like the weird hotel in Melaka with a hole in the bed that we kept falling through, or the 13+ hour hard sleeper train rides in China! Physically we just can’t put our bodies through a lot of that anymore, but oh, how I miss it…

  37. Amanda says...

    My biggest travel advice is to always book a place to stay that you want to come back to at the end of the day. Of course, this means different things for different people, but for me that place has to be beautiful and relaxing, even if it costs a bit more.

    For our recent trip to Morocco, my husband let me have free range over booking our accommodations. I pored over so many places, looking for properties that looked beautiful and restful – places I knew we could return to when the heat of the day kicked in or the hustle and bustle just got too overwhelming. I still managed to stay within our budget, and we ended up staying at some breathtaking places with great service, amazing and huge daily breakfasts, leafy courtyards, and gorgeous rooms. I definitely think we would have felt less comfortable just hanging around during the day if we had stayed in Airbnb rentals that were just rooms in someone’s house.

    If anyone is traveling to Morocco soon and needs accommodations, I highly recommend:
    In Tangier: http://latangerina.com/e/?view=featured (The rooftop terrace has beautiful views across the Mediterranean to Spain, and suite #8 is stunning)
    In Essaouira: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/6088113?source_impression_id=p3_1560957897_Mj18hnJz%2F28uOpVO (An enormous house that can easily fit a large group and rooftop views of the ocean and the beautiful Skala ramparts)
    In Marrakech: https://www.riadkbourchou.com/ (Nightly opera music in the courtyard, two friendly resident dogs, and a fabulous breakfast spread including homemade yogurt!)

    Recommended with disclaimer!:
    In Fes: https://www.booking.com/hotel/ma/riad-idrissy.html (Absolutely STUNNING property but staff is more dedicated to the attached restaurant, which means needs and requests from riad guests aren’t always met – everyone who works there is exceptionally kind, but follow-through is hit or miss!)

  38. Shannon says...

    I love trip planning and have become ‘famous’ with my friends and family for my travel charts. They look like a crazy type-A, rigid plan but it’s actually a handy guide. I group activities, restaurants, etc. that are in the same area of a city to save on time and frustration. Nothing is worse than being starving in a new vacation spot and eating at wherever is close only to find out the food is awful.

    • Ali says...

      Bless you Shannon, agree with everything you said and your travel companions are lucky to have you!

  39. Marisa says...

    A note to add to BYOP: My parents were recently traveling from Canada to the US and you have to declare fruit when crossing the border. My mom had packed prunes and so they were put in a separate line for customs because of their declared fruit. No one in the fruit line ahead of them, 30+ people in the other line. Prunes: helps the custom line AND #2 pass better ;)

  40. M says...

    I love summer and I do love summer holidays but with the actual knowledge about flying and climate change I can’t help but wonder why most of the good advice is for flights and vacations abroad…

    • LBP says...

      A good option for those that want to travel abroad but acknowledge the huge environmental repercussions is to offset their carbon footprint. My husband and I have been offsetting our travel with https://www.goldstandard.org/
      Just a thought that might help!

  41. Sasha L says...

    Because it’s the most beautiful time of year in the summer where we live (Montana) we almost never go on vacation in the summer. Instead, we treat every weekend like we’re on vacation here. We rent Forest Service cabins, go back packing, hiking, seek out the very best mountainside for wild flowers, and later for huckleberries!!, go out for breakfast or ice cream or to festivals, splash in rivers or go fishing or water skiing. We visit friends and family in other towns and do whatever the really fun thing is there (often involves the best fries and favorite ice cream shop). We sleep in, drink coffee in bed and putter. We enjoy twilight at past 10 pm. We make pies and homemade ice cream and so many s’mores. Summer here really is like a season long vacation. It’s the best! And January or March are for tropical beach vacations!

    • Madelief says...

      I love this. It makes me really want to visit Montana during summertime <3

    • Emily L says...

      Love love love this advice!!

    • Amy says...

      I love this.

    • Abbie says...

      Couldn’t agree more! I live in Utah, there is so much to do here all summer long. The time of year to “escape” is January when days are short, air quality is bad and some blue skies are needed.

    • Ashley says...

      I love this so much. We do the same living in Wisconsin right across the street from Lake Michigan. It’s so beautiful this time of year and I always feel a little silly whenever I say our “vacation” is staying in town or visiting other places nearby. It feels so special and magical to us–your comment reminded me that it is!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, montana in the summer sounds incredible!!! thank you for sharing your beautiful approach!

    • Amanda says...

      I feel this way about Colorado too! Summer is SO special here – high country hiking, riotous wildflowers, river tubing, camping, craft beer on patios. Why would you leave?!

    • Jessica says...

      Same here for us Vermonters! We wait all winter for our glorious summer days, why would we leave now?!

    • katie says...

      My parents took my sister and I on roadtrip through South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming when I was 20. There were some hiccups, like the first night we had to sleep in our van because this was before cell phones and we didn’t know there was a biker convention and all hotels off the highway were booked. We had hotels/cabins booked at all our destinations. But it’s hands down, the best trip I’ve ever taken with my family.

      I loved it so much, the next summer, I applied to and worked at Yellowstone. While working out there, I got to see so much more of Montana and Wyoming and I fell in love with Bozeman. I also fell in love with the “secrets” of those who live there, like one of the safe hot springs you could hike to near Yellowstone’s southern entrance. We had to walk across a knee deep, wide creek to get there, but it was so worth it!

      I would love to take my husband there sometime and show him everything that’s great there.

    • Sasha L says...

      Joanna and friends, come visit!

      You can visit our parks, Yellowstone in the South, Glacier in the North (I always recommend pick one or the other, but not both for one trip, they are very far apart). If you do YNP, you can stay at a dude ranch, or historic Chico which has hot springs, and go horseback riding. You can also whitewater raft, go fly fishing or rock climbing or zip lining. The Beartooth highway coming out of the park is absolutely astonishing. You can visit Butte, during their annual folk music festival, which is so much fun, and Butte is one of the most historic and fascinating places in all of America (birth of labor unions, robber barons, largest Superfund site (mining) ever.) You can take a tour that takes you down into the labyrinth under the city of old mining shafts. In my town, Bozeman, you can visit the best dinosaur museum in the whole world, which also happens to have the cutest homestead living history farm that is super popular with kids and grandparents too. We also have rivers to fish and so many trails to hike right outside town. If you want to visit Eastern Montana you can visit paleontology sites and dig Dino bones. Rodeos, especially on the 4th of July, all over the state are so fun.

      Best of all, Montanans are really friendly by nature and love to show visitors a fun time.

    • Bianca says...

      I so second this! We are not in Montana but Colorado and LOVE our summers here. We don’t go anywhere but pack in what we can to enjoy our weather and mountains. My husband and I call it the most magical time of the year.

    • Heather says...

      Yes! I live in Oregon (Portland) I travel quite a bit for work (and luckily also pleasure) but I make it a point to not schedule any personal travel and say no when I can to any work travel in the summer for all of these same reasons. A road trip to Montana is actually on my summer to-do list :) Happy Summer!!

    • Sasha L says...

      Joanna, your boys would put their cowboy hats and boots to such good use here!!!

      Katie, I wonder if you mean the boiling river, outside of Gardiner, just inside YNP? Such a cool place and hot springs experience!! So many fun hot springs, all over Montana (Wyoming and Idaho too!!! All fun reminders that there is a gigantic 700,000 years overdue human extinction prompting supervolcano bubbling away just beneath me right now – I’m always consoled by the thought that we are close enough that the initial blast will do for us, because who wants to starve in the nuclear winter to follow? 😉)

    • claire says...

      I really want to come visit Montana, and this description is like an extra magnetic pull of gravity – I just want to throw some stuff in a bag, jump in the car, and head northward!

    • Sasha L says...

      Today’s (June 20th) snow storm reminds me that I should have added: come in July. June weather can be not all that summer like. August and September have beautiful weather usually, but some years the whole West burns up like a fire-y apocalypse and the smoke and closures can ruin a vacation. July. July is good. But don’t come crying to me if you do get snowed on in July (I have).

  42. Alyssa says...

    Love this post!
    My mom, Nana and I always would start a trip by shaking hands and wishing each other a “Good Trip!” We did it as I grew up and my mom and I have continued this tradition whenever we travel together. The only time I really remember not doing it, we got into a car accident a town away. So it is slightly superstitious but also endearing.

    My other favorite thing to do when I travel is experience grocery stores and farm markets!

    • Sasha L says...

      This is so cute Alyssa!! Adopting it asap.

      My husband and I high five every town we pass through, as if we’ve just accomplished something BIG. 😂

  43. Kate says...

    On our second to last day of a 2 week Europe trip last year, I was exhausted and hungry and finally broke down in the most gorgeous, ancient beer hall in Austria and tearfully begged my husband to stop taking pictures of me because I was just so done. Well, two beers and a giant meal later I was in a much better mood and we had a great last day, and I made a note to not let myself get hangry the next time we’re on vacation!

    • Courtney says...

      Also, beer (or an aperitivo) solves just about every travel woe! ;)

  44. I live in Toronto and my parents live in Indonesia. That’s a 12-hour time difference and a 20-hour flight journey. To avoid jet lag, I ALWAYS set my watch to Indonesia’s time as soon as I’m buckled up on the plane. Not sure what it is about this trick, but it works every time. It’s like my brain is being primed on the flight and is ready to accept its new reality as soon as I land. I also equate flight time to number of movies I can watch. For example, a 15 hour journey from Toronto to Hong Kong equals to a 4-hour nap + 4 2-hour movies + 3 hour reading time. It shortens the journey and makes it more bite-sized :)

    • I always download a google map of wherever I’ll be so I can access it offline. Before the trip I’ll also look for places I want to see, eat at, or sketch and save those locations in the map. It makes it easy to do things on the fly once I’m there!

  45. Andrea says...

    Today feels like my own personal Oscars–COJ quoted TWO of my travel tips!!!!

    I was so excited to see a travel post and then laughed when I read my own tips, nodding along before I realized that I was the one being quoted!

    Go me!

    • Laura says...

      I love travelling and by July will have made my total this year 4 countries (so far ;).
      Best tip? Pack extra underwear and always always always make a plane picnic. The best ♥️

  46. Julia says...

    Write down your computer’s password and put it somewhere safe. If your trip is truly effective, it’s likely you might forget it. Nothing spoils the first day bliss of being back from vacation and being locked out of your computer.

    • Elly says...

      This happened to me! I changed my computer password shortly before I went and got married in Europe last year. When I came back to the States, I couldn’t remember it and had to reset every. single. password to every account I’d ever had, basically. It was a total nightmare.

  47. Lisa says...

    We are lucky enough to live in the same town with my parents. They are big travelers and always think of the little stressors that come along with trip planning and returning and go out of their way to ease those for us. So, when we went to Europe, my dad gave us a coin purse full of euros, his extra phone chargers, and plug adapters. They insisted on keeping our kids the night before our Europe trip so we could pack and sleep. They got the kids up at 4 a.m., fed and dressed them, then drove us all to the airport. And, as if this weren’t enough, when we arrive home for a long day of travel, my dad picks us up at the airport while my mom makes a fresh dinner at our house and fills the fridge with basic groceries.

    Just thinking of it makes me teary. It’s the nicest gift each time it happens. They get the perk of hearing first hand from our children how our trip went while the excitement of the adventure is fresh!

    • Julie S says...

      Oh em gee- I love this so much. When I grow up I want to do this for my kids.

    • Eliza says...

      Remind me to be this trip-thoughtful for someone!

    • Emma says...

      Wow! Awesome parents! Mine live in another country and have never forgiven me for moving. My mum especially hates hearing about our trips, unless we’re going to visit them.

  48. Lauren E. says...

    I’ve learned so much from traveling. But I’ll second the suggestion to go into grocery stores. The French cheese and wine! The Italian packaged cookies! The Irish chocolate! The Scottish biscuits! I’ve come home with bags stuffed with things that Europeans are probably so bored with but were so delicious to me.

    • Ali says...

      I’ll third that! I love foreign grocery stores and always come back with something amazing or weird. Last year in Rwanda I came back with dried Cassava leaves which made the most amazing addition to soups and stews, and the best chilli oil in a little bottle that looked like eye drops. One drop is enough!

  49. Ksm says...

    Long flights are exhausting and can mess with our health and head if one is prone to headaches. My tips for fellow sufferers would be, load up on vitamin C few days before flight. But while in the flight avoid all citric drinks especially orange juice or tea or coffee or alcohol. Sip on water through out the flight. And you will be enjoy your journey the best.

  50. This is a slightly weird one, but dried cherries supposedly help with jet lag and are anyway a great airport/plane snack (trader joe’s has nice ones and I portion them into individual snack-sizes) – I always travel with them, and I never seem to have bad jet lag, so…

    • Zoe says...

      I can second that. Even if I’m feeling nauseous, just a little pack of cherries/raisins will do.

  51. Julie says...

    My husband and I just came back from an 11-day trip to Venice, Florence, and Rome. My biggest advice for long international trips is not to overextend yourself doing everything you think you’re supposed to do. After a long day of seeing the Colosseum, Parthenon, and other big ticket places my husband and I were sipping spritzes and hyping ourselves up for a dinner reservation on the other side of town at a nice restaurant. I couldn’t handle the idea of one more long walk, one more trip on the metro, so I suggested that we cancel dinner and grab a bottle of wine and some takeout pizza from the place our AirBnb host recommended (Pizzeria Bonci, AMAZING), and sit on our beautiful rooftop terrace that overlooked all of Rome and the Vatican. We may have been eating pizza and reading outside, but we weren’t doing it in Philly and that made it special.

    • Julie says...

      PANTHEON, my brain, it is broken.

    • Courtney says...

      Bonci and the Pantheon are my two FAVOURITE places in Rome (my partner is Roman). You really did Rome right!!

    • Julie says...

      Bless our wonderful host Roberto, whose recommendations were the best meals we had in Rome and who was so handsome it was like staring into the sun.

  52. Nikki says...

    Always. Rent. Bikes. Every time I travel, I try to rent a bike and it never fails to be 1. the best way to see a lot of whatever area I’m in without having to walk 10+ miles a day and 2. a pure delight. My husband and I just got back from Japan and our hotel in Kyoto had electric bikes for guests. Sometimes, it can be a little intimidating to ride around a big/new city (especially when they drive/ride on the other side of the road!) but once you get going, you realize, oh yeah. I know how to do this. It is TRULY the best.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh YES!!!!!!!! i couldn’t agree more. my favorite travel memories are biking home from dinner in past the beautiful lit-up notre dame (heartbreak) and biking in the rain in berlin and ducking into a lovely little cafe for apple cake. it makes the whole city feel so much smaller and makes you feel like a local. xoxo

    • Rosalie says...

      Aaaah I so agree! I did this in Bangkok & Berlin and both times it was amazing. We also had Dutch tour guides each time (I’m Dutch), who had been living in that city for a long time, which was so nice. I love cycling a lot (here in The Netherlands everyone cycles every day – we really have a ‘cycling culture’) and it’s such a nice way to exploring a new city, without getting tired (like you said)! Japan sounds like a dream😍 I hope you had a fabulous time.

    • Kate says...

      Totally – one of my all-time favorite trips is a Danish cycling holiday with a girlfriend. Experiencing the country at the pace of a bike (instead of, say, whizzing past on a train) was totally magical. We kept our daily travel distances short so we’d have flexibility to sight see and still be unhurried in our moves from place to place. We were sore, we got stronger, we ate as much as we wanted, and we splurged on nice hotel rooms along the way so we could clean our weary bodies. I think about that trip all the time.

    • Eliza says...

      I did a bike tour of Soweto (through a backpacker’s hostel) with my brother, sister-in-law, and their three kids age 7, 5, and 8 months (one tour guide rode a tandem bike with the 5 yo because his legs were tired – classic) and it was the BEST experience. My brakes didn’t work properly and it felt like I was riding uphill the entire time, lagging way behind the rest of the group, and it was still amazing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i LOVE that!!! also, so cute: “one tour guide rode a tandem bike with the 5 yo because his legs were tired – classic”

  53. Jenna Brown says...

    We went to Italy and i found a tour group that catered to kids so we hired our 6 year old a personal tour operator for a morning. It was so fun. She had designed a scavenger hunt and took us all around Florence to explore and showed us things we never would have discovered on our own. It was through a group called withlocals. They had tons of locals that gave custom tours at really affordable prices. They were all over Europe too. I highly recommend it!

    • Tracy says...

      This sounds amazing! What is the name of the tour company?

  54. Maggie says...

    I SO TOTALLY agree with Maddie! We just got back from a trip to Europe with our 2 and 5 year old, and on the way out I did every possible thing I could think of/had read about/crowd-sourced to get them to sleep on the red eye on our way there – and they only slept about 2 hours! (But they recovered after that first day.) On the other hand, we took a 6-hr flight to California once where we had to drag them out of bed at 3:30am to get to the airport for our early flight and they were angels on the plane! I also love Oneida’s comment. In Prague without kids, I would notice the buildings and people and beer, but would I have noticed every single dog, pigeon, ice cream place, or the fact that so many of the statues are of people clubbing other people/mythical creatures? I would not!

  55. Kate says...

    The last comment (“IT’S TEMPORARY!”) made me laugh out loud. I take my baby on international work trips (breastfeeding, or as I call it, “boobie tether”), and frequently recite that mantra. I think once you accept that you’re stuck on that plane with a limited locus of control (fave CoJ quote: babies be babies), you relax and everyone else relaxes too. That, or you slowly unravel–and sweat through whatever you’re wearing (I’ve done both!). But always, always, change diapers and/or make your potty trained kids pee before take off and landing. I remember my older daughter seemed to sense whenever the seatbelt sign was on and DEMAND to pee at just that moment.

    Related travel advice, whether in the air or on the streets: never turn down water, never turn down a bathroom. Follow it and you avoid a surprising spectrum of common travel trappings.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “never turn down water, never turn down a bathroom.” = love that!

    • Maggie says...

      Kate! I totally agree with you. My friends and I call it “toddler rules” – if you see a bathroom, use a bathroom. We learned the hard way sitting in Beijing traffic – an agonizing 2 hours of pee pee dancing we’ll never forget :) We’ve also extended it to include drinking water and charging phones.

    • Lola says...

      I totally agree – a wise man goes when he can, not when he has to. I live my life by those words!

    • caitlin says...

      omg lola i’m going to embroider that on a pillow ;)

    • Kate says...

      Haha Lola! Yes.

  56. Molly says...

    I’ve got little ones (2.5, 4.5) and last weekend I had my best short-term, travel win ever: we took the Amtrack Downeaster one stop north to the University of New Hampshire dairy bar for ice cream and then rode it home. They got to finally ride the train, it was so quick that we were only slightly disruptive to the people around us, the dairy bar and the train station are the same thing so no need for strollers, etc, and ICE CREAM. Two hours round trip. Oh, and kids ride free on Sundays! We all loved it.

    • Hannah says...

      Oh, one of my favorite things to do with my son (even now that he’s almost seven) is walk down to the commuter train station and take the train two or three stops and visit the local library/bakery/ice cream shop/park. Nothing like the glamour of a ten-minute train ride. :)

  57. Amanda says...

    Just a friendly reminder to check the passport laws in the places you’re visiting. Two years ago my partner and I had a dream nine day vacation planned to Vienna (for a conference) followed by Paris. We’d been planning and saving for months and were SO EXCITED because it was our first time in Europe in ten years / as adults. Well, when we got to the airport we were told at check-in that France required passports to be valid for at least the coming six months and therefore my partner would not be allowed to travel that day. We were lucky to live in a city with same-day passport issuance, so in solidarity I moved my ticket with plans for him to get a passport the next day and us to fly out the following night. Wellll turns out we were traveling the Sunday before Columbus day, a federal holiday, so my partner now had to wait another few days to get his passport! I ended up flying out (sad and alone) the second night because the airline would not push my ticket again, and he met up with me three days later in Vienna. In the end we had a good time but we did not do any of the things we planned to in Vienna and the trips memory has a cloud over it. Why don’t airline websites tell you about these laws when you put in your passport number and expiration for international travel?! Anyways, lesson learned.

    • Anna says...

      I think airlines would say that visa rules are so many and varied that they can’t provide advice to passengers about their eligibility to enter particular countries. The six month thing is pretty standard I think – I’ve never been anyway that didn’t require you to have at least six months left on your passport when you enter.

  58. Emma says...

    When my now-husband and I first started dating, he had casually mentioned to me that he had never traveled and really had no interest in traveling, as if it was not a big deal. Not a big deal?! I was devastated and almost thought it was a deal-breaker.
    Down the drain were my daydreams of exploring foreign cities together or having deep, heartfelt conversations while watching the sun set on an island beach, haha. Fortunately, I stuck with him, and persuaded him to go on a little 3-day trip to D.C. with me, which he loved. And then a chill week in Cape May with my family, which he also loved and where we ended up getting married.
    He’s still a homebody and doesn’t necessarily get the draw of traveling (who wants to willingly leave their bed and couch and dog??) but he’s never opposed when I want to go on a trip. It works out great for me! I love to plan trips and it’s fun to have free reign over the planning. I also love the extra challenge of picking activities and restaurants that I know he’ll truly enjoy. I always try to make sure there’s some unscheduled time on our trips, and lately he’s been coming out of his travel-shell and making little suggestions or plans of his own, which are always a hit. I’m glad I stuck with him. He’s turned out to be the perfect travel buddy after all. :)

    • Amanda says...

      This is so helpful to hear because I love travelling and want to do more of it, but my husband is just not much of a traveller.

  59. Lynn Scott says...

    One of my friends let me rent her house on Martha’s Vineyard for a week at an incredibly low price. I was newly separated, emotionally drained, and was adjusting to life as a single parent with two young daughters.
    I took a last minute vacation from work and got my mother to join me. We had more dinners in than out but so relaxing to order whatever we wanted and not worry about kids being too tired at a restaurant after a day of swimming; biking and exploring .
    Sometimes unplanned vacations are the best too. One of my best vacations!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that! sounds like a beautiful week.

  60. L says...

    When I was a kid in England, we’d pack up the family van and spend our summer holidays driving around Europe. My Dad always brought our bikes along (gangly and strapped to the back) and they were wonderful — we could be camping at the base of a mountain in Bavaria, or filling up on frites at a truck stop in France, and we’d be happy to just ride around.

  61. Traveling with kids can be stressful. I have four six and under and we don’t all fly together very often, but when we do, it’s exhausting! One thing I’ve learned to look forward to when traveling with the kids is that I’m always reminded of how kind and empathetic strangers can be. I still remember an older couple watching us struggle on a plane (when we were sitting next to not-so-sympathetic fellow passengers) and just giving us these looks that said everything – He’s a baby! It’s not your fault. The flight is almost over – when we FINALLY exited the plane they told us that they had been through the same exact thing with their now-grown son, about 20 years before. Another time, we were waiting to board the plane and I was nervous, coralling the kids, hoping they would be on their best behavior and not make everyone hate us. The girl next to me turned and said “You’re doing great Mom!” How did she know EXACTLY what I needed to hear in that moment? I still tear up when I think about it. Strangers can be SO kind. It’s nice to be reminded.

  62. Madame says...

    I always pull an all nighter before leaving on holiday! Hahaha! My husband dreams of me coming to bed at 11:30 and getting a little rest, but after 13 years, I think he has come to terms with it. I do a huge organizational clean up in the week leading up to our big annual holiday( complete with clearing out closets). My cleaning lady comes on her regularly scheduled days while we are gone, and has time to do tasks she doesn’t get to the rest of the year! I leave a list of my priorities, and she even tries to squeeze in extra hours. Our home is at its absolute cleanest when we come home, and I ADORE it! It takes that sad edge of returning to real life off. All the windows cleaned, no laundry or ironing in a pile to finish up, perfectly made beds with fresh sheets, make the return to normal so lovely.
    I would hire someone to do it even if I didn’t have one normally… so so nice.

    • Lisa says...

      I totally agree! One time we went away (I can’t remember why) the cleaner came, whereas normally we would have cancelled. I now try to make sure she comes every tome when we go away. It’s so nice to come home to a calm, clean flat (particularly when you have luggage filled with dirty laundry)

  63. Ser says...

    I always take a crappy bag on the plane for my handbag and throw it when I arrive, that way I get to choose a gorgeous vintage handbag at my destination city. Have eyelash extensions before you go so you always look good ( after a long flight, at the beach, when you wake up) . Carry a mini pack of wet wipes for hands and your butt if the public bathrooms have not got TP. Buy the mini lonely planet books, so much fun to browse as you eat lunch. Buy novels set in your destination , so evocative to read while there. Pack a pretty Turkish towel , you can use them as scarves too. Bracelets and jewelry are the best souvenirs, easy to transport home . If I’m going to a cold place I don’t being a jacket, I buy a cool vintage one there .

  64. LS says...

    My best advice, especially when traveling overseas, is to take a “free” walking tour on your first day. Lots of reasons: they give you a great introduction to the city and help you develop a sense of where things are pretty quickly. They give you some laidback exercise and help you get over jet lag. The “free” tours are usually run by young people working for tips and, in my experience, way more entertaining than a prepaid your with a historian. They also usually include things like where to eat and tips for seeing popular sites, not just history. And last but not least, they aren’t “free” – you pay what you think the tour is worth and the young tour guide gets to keep all of the profit. It literally fits any budget. I took them while I was on college and could only afford a few Euro and sincere thanks. Now that my husband and I are comfortable, I love being able to pay what a “normal” tour would have cost (40-50 Euro, or the equivalent) and seeing the tour guide’s face light up. In Europe, the best/original company to offer these sorts of tours is called SANDEMANs, I believe, but there are lots of good competitors and even some in major US cities now.

    Oh and a food walking tour later in the trip. Again some exercise, but also you get to learn a little about the food/drink traditions while enjoying almost always great food, which to me is an essential part of getting to know a new place. And if you happen to get a lively tour group/personable guide, those nights can be pure magic.

    • Mari says...

      Yep. Free walking tours are the best thing.

  65. Genevieve Martin says...

    I love that story about the grandparent camper-van tradition!!
    Great tip on the paper maps. Love to pick up tourist maps from the airport at the beginning and then by the end I feel I know the layout better than some places I’ve lived for years! Definitely gives you the big picture way more than a phone. Also as a poor navigator I love it when tourist maps have little pictures of landmarks like bridges etc, somehow makes it so much easier! :)

  66. Genevieve Martin says...

    When I lived with a friend there was sort of an unspoken rule that if someone had the flat to themselves for a few days or more they would do a big clean before the other came back, and it was always SO amazing to come back to that now I always make sure to clean before I go!!

  67. Bonnie says...

    You picked the perfect place– Italians love babies and kids and you will feel so comfortable when your 1 year old is acting like a 1 year old. Have fun!

  68. Coleen says...

    Research on where to find the big local supermarkets for some gifts to bring back home. Prices are cheaper compared to souvenir shops…..When traveling with a group, set rules, agree on the budget and itinerary and as much as possible, avoid visiting family and friends. Time is wasted when meeting people instead of discovering and exploring new places. And set shopping days and have a list of important things you want to buy. These will prevent conflict and over expenditures……Create a list of places, restaurants / food and shopping choices by browsing blogs, online travel magazines and newspapers, recommendation from friends, etc…..Print one and send also to your personal email……Photocopy your passports and visas……Subscribe to mileage loyalty programs of airlines……On limited budget, stay in hotels and home stays where you can cook and prepare meals because it is very expensive to eat all the time in restaurants. Maybe eat a fine meal once a day outside or order a few items from the menu and split with everyone. This is a way to save up…..Buy train / bus unlimited ride passes for 3-5-7 days….Carry an insulated water bottle…..If planning to stay with relatives and friends for a few days, get their permission and commitment 6-12 months in advance. So they will be prepared. Some may have previously invited you enthusiastically but be prepared when the time comes you will inform them of your visit, they are not welcoming anymore or not available for many reasons. Do not take offense when they cannot accommodate or see you. Ask hosts if they would like something you can bring for them that is customs friendly…….And do not put packs of 2-lb chocolates or a lot of chocolate bars in your hand carry. In some countries, this will cause a delay in your flight when customs and security will hold you for 30 minutes to 1 hour to check the items. It will be a source of stress……..If shopping is included in your itinerary, mid year sales start during 2nd week of June until 2nd week of August in the US especially in New York, LA or Chicago, good prices at this time…..Personally I limit and only post some pictures after I have come back from a vacation……This is for security and to avoid unsolicited and negative comments……And coming from a vacation, try to leave one day for rest and household chores / errands before returning to work.

  69. Saba says...

    Amen to the comment by Maddie! That the most brilliantly astute wisdom about traveling with kids that I’ve ever read.

    • Saba says...

      *is the

      (Ugh for typos)

  70. Jesse says...

    Last December after a tough year teaching and broken friendships I booked a three week solo trip to Paris and Barcelona to heal my introverted spirit. In a bookstore in Paris I picked up collection of short stories. It was so powerful to read a single story in each park or cafe I found myself in. I’ll never forget the passionate story I read in the garden of Versailles when I felt my whole body and heart unwind and return home to me. I’ll always travel with a collection of short stories now in lieu of a holiday novel.

    • Nicole says...

      Jesse, That sounds so lovely and healing! Would you mind sharing what that short story was?

    • lindsay says...

      Isn’t that the best?? I also got short stories(Salinger) when we were in Paris a few years ago and my favorite part of the whole trip was reading them in the different parks! It was so perfect. I love short stories for travel so much.
      I can still remember the Fitzgerald short stories I was immersed in while traveling alone in Italy when I was 22. The stories were so ideal for hot and humid seaside days in a place that felt so timeless….

  71. Bonnie says...

    I completely agree with Maddie’s advice. I too poured over all the travel with kids blogs and their advice. Total crap. The kid won’t like what you packed to surprise them or your flight will be delayed and you’ll have to come up with a creative way to entertain them for hours when they are exhausted. My best advice for travel with kids is relax, screen time limits go out the window, always have snacks or snack money, and be open to slowing down to their rhythms.

  72. Jen says...

    I love these tips! I am going on a trip to New York this October with my parents, who are in their mid-70s. While I love hanging out with them and adore the idea of taking this trip with them in particular, as we plan it, I can already tell that I am going to have to be keeping this in mind: that “septuagenarians be septuagenarians”. ; ) I know we will have a marvelous, memorable time together though, and I am really looking forward to it.

  73. Lindsay says...

    1. Drink as much water as you can on the plane. My husband finally learned, after seeing me feeling fine and him feeling like crap the first day or two.
    2. Plan “soak it up” time. This is designated hours where you just relax, people watch, read at park, stroll aimlessly, sit at cafe, etc. you don’t want to go go go non stop! Again, husband learning still….
    3. Always make an effort to speak a little of the language to locals, they will be so much nicer and helpful!
    4. Take or find a new perfume so that it always reminds u of that place.
    5. Don’t post tons of pictures on social media, or people will hate u
    6. Don’t do any bus tours. Ever. Except for the sound of music one in Austria. That one is good.

    • Coleen says...

      Lindsay, I agree on #5. I also included that on my comment. Some evidence-based researches on social media posts (even photos sent in emails) particularly on travels, shopping or eating in restaurants elicit negative feelings of envy and competition. Some social media users tend to over share and humble brag. Better to post sceneries and vistas without you included in the photos. It pays to be be prudent, grounded and tactful.

    • Angela says...

      I second the bus tour. My husband and I took one from San Francisco to Muir Woods and Catalina. I had my head between my knees for most of the way back from Muir. Still considering myself lucky not to have barfed in front of strangers in a packed bus.

  74. Amy says...

    I love the very wide range of tips on here haha! Everything from BYOP to remember to take the “mundane” photos (which often end up being very important to me 10 years later, especially if I was smart enough to caption them!)

  75. Quyen Nguyen says...

    I recently completed a 10 month trip to Europe with my husband and two boys (3 and 1 when we started). Here is what I learned on the trip regarding travel with kids:
    1) No matter how hard it is, traveling with your kids is always worth it.
    2) Don’t be shy to ask anyone around you for help.
    3) Travel early and often and you and your kids will be great travelers!
    4) Be the last one on the plane – why stay in an airplane for more time than you need to?
    5) Pack verrrry light and stay in an apartment with washer/dryer. We did our laundry almost every day.
    6) When you are stressed with the travel, try to put yourself in your kids’ shoes. My boys loved travel days. Taking the train to the airport and then the train to the next city was the best day for them. It is hard to stay in a sour mood when your kids are having the best day ever.
    7) Enjoy it and be present because today is the “good ol’ days” when they are grown.

    • Mari says...

      Oh, that’s so nice! I’m not a mom, nor a kid hahaha But I traveled so much growing up, that it did become second nature for me. I don’t mind weird beds, different food, smells, time, places… I love it all.
      And as for asking for help, really! Specially moms and families. I never mind helping a mom eat or pee in a plane. All I have to do is look over a cute kid for a few minutes? Deal. I always try to be aware of the moms surrounding me… Are they carrying too much stuff? Is the kid sleeping soundly for the past hour and the mom won’t move? Maybe she’s hungry and can’t go buy something for herself… I always go ahead and ask them if they need help. But I’m always a bit afraid of them thinking I’m a freak or whatever. hahaha It never happened and most women just gives me blinding smiles. But who knows? I’d be so happy if they just asked to be helped sometimes, too. :)

    • Amy says...

      Yes to your number three. We travel international every year and have since my oldest was 6 months. We now have three littles. They are excellent travelers! Better behaved than some adults we’ve seen 😂 We do bring snacks and cheap wrapped up presents, let them watch all the movies they want…..and they are brilliant! I’m not trying to say it’s as easy as traveling without children…but they are seriously great and LOVE the adventure! And we love having adventures as a family!

  76. Jessica says...

    Regarding Maddie and traveling with kids, I’ve been in both those situations too 😂 I’ve had people tell me my children are so well behaved on one flight and people audibility voice their annoyance for my children on another. My best advice is if you can’t take the stares or rude comments from passengers, go hide out in the lavatory or air steward area for a bit.

  77. Liz says...

    Prunes and long trips between the USA and Australia. Both true. I always pack a bag of prunes for holidays and hand them out before dinner. And yes more than 24hrs from first airport to the last airport on 3hrs sleep, or coming down with food poisoning on a 17hr flight. You just have to live in the moment. You get to the other end somehow. And now we have stories to tell.

  78. Mari says...

    I travel a lot… I’ve been to over 50 countries and I’m not even 30. My main advice: there are people living wherever you’re going, so you will be fine. There will be food and oxygen. Anything else you have at home and do not need when you’re away. Best bed? Mine. Best shower? Mine. Best memories? Camping in Namibia on top of a car. I know it seems silly, but what people ask me the most is “but what would you do if…?”, “how do you do without…?”, etc. I’m a prepared person. To the point of taking my own food to airplanes because… well, I’m a chef and airplane food is horrible. So yeah, take with you whatever medicine you might need, appropriate clothing, your favorite book and an empty bottle of water. But keep in mind that the most important thing is you. And going. Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from experiencing this amazing world… because we only have one life (that I know of).

    • Amy says...

      Love this Mari!

  79. Erin says...

    Unrelated to this post, but I would love to see more articles on aging parents and grandparents and navigating relations that look up generations, in addition to your coverage on wee ones!

  80. Ariana says...

    My husband and I planned a trip to Japan a couple of years ago and he was worried about navigating the cities as we didn’t speak the language and Japan has a very complex addressing system. As a native New Yorker, I kept reassuring him we would be fine (big city hubris). Unbeknownst to me, he spent weeks watching and re-watching YouTube videos of people traversing transit hubs, scoping out the exits and how to use the system. Also, the former Eagle Scout bought a compass and wrote directions from metro stops to our hotel and places we were going to visit, etc. (“two blocks north, four blocks west, eight blocks north”). When we arrived, I was bewildered and had no idea how to buy tickets, which tickets to buy, where to go, but he was so prepared and we got everywhere we wanted to be so seamlessly. I was so appreciative that he put that much hard work into helping us find our way.

    • Lydia says...

      This is so sweet. I recently went on a big backpacking trip with my husband and was saved so many times by his quiet research during downtime while I’d been unknowingly reading my book or browsing Cup of Jo! His want to keep us safe and on-track was true travelling romance to me.

    • When my husband and I went to Japan for the first time last year, he did ALL of the planning – to the point where we were on a ferry going to Miyajima Island and I turned to him and asked, “where are we? Where are we going?” I had LITERALLY NO IDEA where we were going (or what Miyajima Island even was? I am the worst).

  81. Sera says...

    Growing up, our family of four would make a biannual, 21 hour drive from our home in Iowa to my grandmother’s house in South Carolina. Without fail, before each trip, my dad would get in the car and calmly state, “We are only stopping THREE TIMES. Plan accordingly.”

    Oh, dad. Lol.

    • Paula says...

      That is so funny and sweet!

  82. Amy says...

    On the point about jet lag, I also swear by entering your destination time zone AS SOON AS YOU ENTER THE PLANE. This means sleeping when they’re serving food and being awake when they dim the lights, but wouldn’t you rather acclimate while you’ve got nothing better to do than sit on a plane than to lose a day of vacation? Trust me, it works. Pack your own snacks and eyemask though.

    • Kate says...

      100%! It takes a lot of discipline and I often fail but totally works when you follow through!

    • Ksm says...

      Yes! I travel to South east Asia every two years and this has been my go to trick also it is nice to have some peace while you children are asleep and you can binge watch all the shows or movies you want without a whine.

  83. My advice is, while you are away, get up early!! (at least some days) – you get to see the city/town waking up, see the monuments without all the tourists, wander quiet streets, and get to enjoy the early morning light. Plus you get so much more out of your day – it always amazes me how many tourists are late getting going. Do it – you will be pleased you did!

  84. Kim says...

    Maddie, you speak the truth.

  85. rachel simmons says...

    my husband and i just got back from San Jose Del Cabo, Mex (near Cabo San Lucas) and we had 5 wonderful days to ourselves! My favorite part of the trip was throwing some caution to the wind and wandering around on our own, in San Jose, and stumbling upon the most beautiful down town…. cobble stone streets, lined with bright colored flags and string bulb lights, art galleries and darling little restaurants and hotels, with the most beautiful courtyard gardens, an outdoor market, with art for sale … we had never been in this town before and we took a chance on finding all the little hidden treasures it had to offer…. and it was seriously dreamy, idyllic. ill never forget it.

    • Paula says...

      Awesome! I was there 10 years ago on my honeymoon and I vividly remember the little town square, ice cream tracks, art markets-where I bought bunch of wall hangings that still hang on my walls. We even strolled through the lovely cemetery!

  86. Nelly says...

    I recommend keeping her in the window seat, but then you and your husband switch seats every hour or so. That way you each get some down time, rather than both being bugged all of the time!

    • Nelly says...

      This was meant to be in reply to Becca :)

  87. AJ says...

    Beyond excited that we are leaving in a week to go to France and see the Women’s World Cup! We are going to the semi and final games and hoping the U.S. team makes it. It’s the farthest we have traveled together as a family (from Los Angeles). Just SO worried about my horribly picky 10 year old with food and the major sleep deprivation that’s coming. Any tips for jet lag with kids as well as tips for Lyon and Nice would be SO welcome!

    • Liz says...

      Have traveled abroad with my kids several times (at ages 5, 7, and 8) and the jet lag has been a remarkable non issue. They just kind of adapt and do well and it works out okay.
      There’s so much walking and activity with travel that it’s easy to get tired and adapt to the new time right away (I, on the other hand, usually don’t sleep the first night). Your kids will most likely surprise you! Also they are the worst picky eaters but manage to survive. Enjoy the world cup!!! What a trip!!!

    • Lindsay says...

      Nice: Matisse museum. Swim and eat Nicoise. Old town: get beautifully packaged amazing chocolates. There’s a tourist train car thing down by the promenade you can take, bet the kids would love it. It goes around town and up the hill where you can get ice cream and enjoy the view. A souvenir I got there was a pale pink la coste polo ;) FYI this was 15 years ago lol. The beach is rocky there, if you take a few train stops to Monaco, you can walk to a nice beach with great white sand and little fish swimming along the shore. Gosh I can’t wait to go back!

    • agnes says...

      Hi AJ, Agnès from France here ;) I would say don’t worry about the food, any restaurant will have a kid’s menu that involves french fries (frites) and ice-cream. Any boulangerie will make your child happy. You’re going to have such an amazing time!! Bravo to the amazing teams!! (about the jet lag, lots of water)

    • Rosalie says...

      That sounds so cool! Have fun at the world cup :) I’m rooting for The Netherlands, so now I hope it’ll be a NL-US final. I don’t have any tips for Lyon or Nice especially, but France is a beautiful country so I’m sure you’ll have an amazing trip.

    • Sara says...

      For Nice, pack swimsuits and go for a dip on the rocky beach (round rocks) by the Cours Saleya, old marketplace, pls, pardon my spelling, first thing in the morning before the beach gets too crowded and the day, too hot. The sea is blue and the light is beautiful. 5 yrs ago, my husband & 11 yr old went every morning. Oliviera, is very cute eatery w/great olive oils and both the Cours Saleya & Monoprix (rue Garabaldi is just groceries & the one closer to the main train station also has clothes) are great for picnic items. LAC Chocolatier & Patisserie, sorry again for the sp, has SUPER pastry-try baba au rhum & a chocolate mousse cake…I think you can’t go wrong w/any dessert from that shop. Hope you have a great time :)

    • SB says...

      SO fun that you’re going to see the World Cup! The vibe in France is going to be unreal!

      I know you just said that you have a picky eater, but Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France, so get ready to have your tastebuds’ minds blown! Try to make reservations in advance if you have your heart set on a location – many restaurants have very limited seating and it’s going to be busy while you’re there! Try to eat at a traditional Lyonnais bouchon – this is not haute cuisine, but big portions of hearty fare at good prices. There are also something like 22 Michelin star restaurants there if you really want to spoil yourself! Another fun thing to do, and might work well for a picky eater, is to browse through a market and pick up pieces of things as you go for a kind of picnic. This way, your little particular one can see everything and choose bits and bobs that they would like and you and the rest of the fam get to pick out what you want, too! Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is an indoor market that also has lots of prepared foods and small restaurants, but everyday farmers’ markets will be scattered throughout the city, too.

      Wandering through the old town (Vieux Lyon) is always a treat, tons of little shops to poke in and samples to try! And if you want a bit of activity, you can walk up the hill to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière – it overlooks the city/region so you get spectacular views and the building is quite beautiful itself. Also! Keep an eye out for ornate paintings/murals on the sides of buildings depicting scenes from everyday life, important figures in Lyon history, etc. A good “eye spy” task to give to kids to keep them engaged while you’re trekking through the streets!

      https://travelfrance.tips/lyon-the-amazing-mural-paintings/

      Otherwise – I’ve never been to Nice, but I heard the promenade is gorgeous and eat lots of seafood!

    • Laura says...

      I think the trick with both adults and kids and jet lag is the first day even when you’re all exhausted and disoriented, spend as much time as possible outside. Once your body feels the sunshine and outside air it’ll keep you wide awake until it’s actually bedtime. My sister has 3 young kids and they live in Cambodia- they recently came to the US for my wedding and my mom put them to work all day every day in her garden! Keeping busy and being out in the sun really helped them adjust faster.

    • claudia says...

      Hi AJ, I can only agree with the comments about food and how Lyon is the capital of gastronomy! There is a big park in Lyon “le parc de la tête d’or” where you can relax and have a family picnic. Also I have a picky eater too! But I never saw a child resist a crêpe (sweet or savoury)! I know they are not from Lyon nor Nice but it can be a good option for adults and kids! One comment mentionned the Monoprix stores : you’ll find really good food there ! And also go to a local Boulangerie (you’ll find the traditionnal pastries but also sandwichs and snacks for lunch!) !Anyway enjoy your trip!!

    • Gabby T says...

      I have done Paris with a picky 13 yr old and then 15 yr old. Like super picky. We just acquiesced and ate every dinner at terrible Americanized restaurants where she could happily eat pizza and pasta. Breakfast and lunch she had to make due with baguettes /crepes/ french fries so that we could eat better food. Not healthy but with picky eaters they aren’t eating healthy back here state-side are they? Choose your battles on the food and plan to go back one days sans children;)

  88. My best travel advice is for when you return home. Stock your fridge/pantry with food that will last while you’re away and will be easy to prepare once you’re home. It is the absolute WORST when you get home late and you’re exhausted from a day of travel, only to realize there is nothing to eat. The last thing you want to do is go out, spend more money, or go to bed hangry.

    Also, wash your sheets before you leave for your trip. Your future self will thank you!

    • Lauren says...

      I totally agree about sheets! I usually attempt to leave the house clean but if nothing else, clean sheets are such a perfect welcome home!!

    • Kamaile says...

      YES to both of these!

      Invest in a good travel pillow. I had a cheap inflatable one for a 16 hour flight (Tanzania) and it was awful. My travel partner had a memory foam one and I was wishing I had spent just a little more.

    • Christina says...

      yes to both of these!! I do frozen pizza. turn on the oven as you drag your bags inside, throw it in the oven while you take a shower, and then it’s ready just in time to be scarfed – mayyybeeee in bed in those nice clean sheets.

    • Sarah says...

      +1 on the fresh sheets. You’ll have plenty of other laundry to do when you get home and there’s nothing like a clean bed after a long travel day.

  89. Carla says...

    Really it’s about perspective. I usually travel abroad with friends, but last May I traveled with my son (6), my friend and her sons (5 &8) to Hong Kong. Usually our itinerary would always involve trains as they’re faster and I’m very sure of their stops, no need to look for landmarks. But on our way to the city from the airport, we rode the double decker bus, we took the seats on the upper deck and the kids really enjoyed it. So everyday for 5 days they will ask us excitedly in the morning if we’re taking the bus and if we say that we’re taking the train, they get really sad. And so every night I did my research and changed our itinerary so we could take the bus instead.

  90. This is such a timely post. I got back from Jackson Hole this morning. Our flight was cancelled yesterday, so we had an extra evening. Normally my family spends our vacations exploring national parks, but we took the time to check out the town of Jackson Hole. We had a delicious vegan pizza dinner, stumbled upon an adorable bookshop, and moseyed around the art galleries. Our cancelled flight turned into a wonderful evening exploring the town.

  91. Karin says...

    Always plan some downtime in every day. Don’t try to max out your energy and go 18 hours a day. No matter how much you want to see everything, you need some “do nothing” time to just putter around, relax, and enjoy. This is especially true when traveling with children.

  92. Karen says...

    Don’t wait for others, just go! You’ll never go anywhere if you wait around for the sun/moon/stars/friends schedules and budgets to align with yours. Adventure is out there, especially if traveling solo.

    • Helen says...

      LOVE this advice! I’ve been waiting for a friend to have money/vacation time or hoping that a significant other will magically appear to travel with me to Patagonia but I’m not going to wait. I’ll go on my own and said friend/future BF can go with me elsewhere!

    • gwendolyn says...

      YES!! I love this advice. Traveling solo is something that, even though the thought kinda scares me, I really really want to do. It’s 100% on my bucket list.

  93. Becca says...

    I’m traveling from California to New Orleans with a three and a half year old this summer, so this is good timing! I have no idea how she’ll be on a flight that long (she’s only done two hour flights before) but the thing I’ll be changing this time is that I’m putting her BETWEEN my husband and I so she can bug him as much as she bugged me last time! I gave her the window seat so she could see the view but she couldn’t have possibly cared less. She just spent two hours squirming around. Wish me luck this time around!

  94. Cynthia says...

    My husband and I have a camper in a campground on the Chesapeake Bay. Sometimes the traffic is heavy on the way in an area where they’re widening road, and I remind my husband that we will be there when we get there and there’s no hurry since we’re retired. You will always encounter things beyond your control, so relax and go with the flow. Explore the area. We bought the best sweet corn ever last summer at a farmstand near the campground.

    • Maria says...

      “there’s no hurry since we’re retired”

      I absolutely love this comment. Going with the flow is such great advice.

  95. Hilary says...

    Haha as someone with IBS-C, forget the prunes. Bring Natural Calm (or another brand of magnesium). There are now Natural Calm gummies, so I just pop a few a day. Not an ad, just a big fan.

    100% agree on the pictures. My gallery wall is covered in photos of a Berlin train station, a bicycle outside of a coffee shop we stopped at, a pretty staircase at a restaurant we had lunch in, etc.

    Always pack snacks in your bag. You never know when your plane will be delayed, you will get lost on your way to lunch, it takes longer to get somewhere, etc. I turn into a hangry monster quickly, so I always have dried fruit, trail mix, and some dark chocolate for a quick blood sugar boost.

    AND I have to mention my husband’s genius travel idea. Take a Segway tour. Yep, totally touristy. However, when we went to Europe we were overwhelmed with all the things we “should” see. We did a 2 hour Segway tour, saw the sites, decided we didn’t want to revisit any of them, and spent the rest of our trip relaxing, visiting coffee shops, etc. We also met people from all over the world on the tours and our guides were locals who sent us to the best lunch spots.

    • Jacque says...

      100% agree on the natural calm gummies! Game changer!

  96. Yael says...

    Maddie’s advice of IT’S TEMPORARY. YOU WILL GET THERE.” is actually really excellent life advice as well. I struggle with anxiety (especially as a mom, thinking of the thousand things that can go wrong in a day with kids, anywhere) and I think this might be my new motto. I feel more relaxed already just thinking about it, ha! Not to hold on so tightly to trying to make things go right and leaning into the fact that things will go wrong, and it’s ok, and we will still get there (even if there is just bedtime :)). So thank you Maddie!

    • BB says...

      I agree! I have 4 kids and we used to live in the Middle East so regularly had a 16 hour flight and then a 12 hour time change. Once I started to embrace the perspective of “we have to do something today, so today’s activity is ” it somehow gave me the strength to endure those less than ideal blocks of time. I used to pack all sorts of things for the kids to do on the flights and at the airport, but now esp on shorter flights I let them take in whatever’s going on around them (and then binge watch on the actual flight). Side note: I flew yesterday and noticed so many kids glued to their devices at all points of the journey. It honestly made me so sad. Kids aren’t being given the space to either take in what’s going on around them (luggage going up the conveyor into the belly of the plane!) or develop health coping skills that humans need (this line is taking a long time and I need to wait patiently instead of crying – this skill takes years of practice to get down – I’m still working on it ). Ok getting off my soapbox now

  97. anon says...

    The best *advice* I ever got when traveling was from my (then) 8 year old autistic daughter. We were flying home, cross country. Our flight had been delayed to start. Then at our layover, it got delayed again. Grumbling about it, my daughter remarks loud enough for everyone around us to hear “Yippeee! We enjoy our vacation longer!”

    It’s all about perspective. Some things you have zero control over, so might as well enjoy it as best as you can.

  98. Hilary says...

    So excited for a month in Italy with my husband and pasta-loving one-year-old! This travel advice soothes my soul— flights *are* just temporary. Also and always, babies be babies :-)

    • Allison says...

      Also you can reframe just about everything travelling with kids as a hilarious adventure and/or a funny story for later.

  99. j.d. says...

    I took my kids on their first flight to the west coast just a couple of months ago to visit my great aunt. I booked a hotel that included breakfast – b/c really so many hotels don’t include complimentary breakfast and having one that does is a pretty big deal when traveling with kids and saving money . I rented a car and other than visiting my great aunt daily for a bit, we had no plans. We just explored and drove to different towns and beaches and really it was the best trip just letting the days unfold naturally. I also kind of felt like a superhero afterwards since being a single mom this was pretty monumental to make happen on my own. PS…i didn’t worry about all the “stuff” you should bring for your kids when traveling – just an ipad with headphones and a book each and they were good.

  100. Claire says...

    This post has wonderful timing! I have a question:

    Next month, my (fairly new) boyfriend and I are going to Italy, England, and France together for four weeks. I’m really excited and have enjoyed the planning process with him, but I’m kind of nervous, too… I’ve noticed that on the two weekend trips we’ve taken together, although there were some lovely moments, we ended up getting into more disagreements than usual (likely because we were out of our normal routine).

    Does anyone have tips on traveling while also exploring a relatively new relationship? Travel is arguably my favorite thing and I’ve often done it alone, with close friends, or family. Any advice on traveling with someone new?

    • Jeanne says...

      For each day, each of you pick out one place to visit and a meal within manageable traveling distance from each point. That person will arrange their half-day itinerary including how to get there, admission, and all the little details. The other person’s job is to just go with the flow, check out the point of interest and enjoy the fact that they didn’t have to do all the legwork. And definitely set days where the only thing to do is rest and wander the area around you. Some of the best experiences are found by accident.

    • Gemma says...

      I TOTALLY know what you’re talking about. Everytime I take a vacation with my husband we get in weird arguments that never would’ve happened at home. I don’t know if it’s lack of sleep, lack of routine, but it’s a thing. I feel like our arguments have always stemmed from lack of communication which sometimes leads to not planning a day well enough because we are trying to meet in the middle. I think my favorite memories were when we split up days of the vacation. So for example, I’ll make a schedule for a day doing the things I want to do in the city and book meals at places I want to eat at, and the next day I do what my husband wants to do. Neither of us can complain because we both get what we want and it’s a win win, plus, your vacation is full of surprises 😊.

    • Allison says...

      Possibly I read this here from Joanna, but I love the idea where you have a day where you each do your own thing (a chance to be at your pace or see something the other isn’t interested in) and then meet for dinner to share your stories.

    • Amanda says...

      Good luck! When my relatively new bf and I weren’t getting along on a trip, I tried to get alone time where I could. An early morning walk in Berlin while he slept, getting a head start at the Monoprix or some other market in Paris, and wandering off in a museum to have a moment with a moving piece of art. I found those moments helped to collect myself (and enjoy myself). Also, I identified what caused him the most anxiety when traveling and let him take the reins for that stuff. His was getting to the airport and train station in time to catch a flight or train. Mine was checking every 15 minutes that I had my passport.

    • Sara says...

      Build in some alone/”me” time! Even on our honeymoon I made sure to spend 30 minutes taking a walk on the beach alone, sipping coffee and reading a book before my husband woke up, or taking an afternoon to go shopping while he snorkeled for the fifth day in a row. (I think I even called my mom once or twice to catch up and gossip!). It is not only ok to be apart, but it makes coming back a fun little reunion – and gives you more conversation points (what you saw/found/ate, etc.) after you’ve run out of things to discuss.

    • Katharine says...

      For new or old travel companions, I like alternating “decision-making” power. I.e., on one day, you plan the itinerary, lunch stops, etc, and the next day it’s the other person’s turn. Over a few days, everyone gets to see/do what they want, nobody is overburdened with organizing, and it really helps reduce those awkward moments where a decision is clearly required (usually involving hanger or sore feet and where to stop for lunch) but nobody takes the lead in making it . When you know you’re responsible for the day’s agenda, you take planning a bit more seriously…and when you’re not, you can relax and enjoy seeing the world through your travel companion’s eyes.

    • C says...

      What a fun trip! Don’t feel pressure to spend every waking minute together. That’s a long time to travel with someone, new or not. Give each other the space to do your own thing some days. Maybe one of you wants to sleep in while the other goes exploring for a few hours. (A few mornings to yourself is a wonderful thing on a long vacation.) Hope it goes well!

    • Courtney says...

      Spend the trip creating your ‘Travel Manifesto’ together (ours has 24 bullet points after 7 years!). That way, even during the difficult parts you’ll be looking for solutions and essential truths rather than focusing on little tiffs or stresses.

      To give you an example, my partner’s and my Travel Manifesto includes…
      #3. Sunset drinks whenever possible.
      #7. Balance budget days with splurge days.
      #12. When something goes wrong, find something good to balance it out.
      #20. We always drive each other crazy on any mode of transportation.

    • Dawn says...

      When traveling with a partner it’s so much easier when you embrace your roles. By this I mean to really lean into the thing you are respectively best at. For my husband and I this means that I find the best restaurants, coffee shops, cultural sights, and bookstores while he navigates and handles plane tickets, transportation, and accommodations. We spent several trips arguing about the best way to get around cities and where to eat until we naturally split up responsibilities somewhere along the way. Giving up control of how to get around gives me more time to focus on what I actually love about traveling . It’s not a flawless system—sometimes he takes a wrong turn or I choose a bad restaurant—but it’s easier to have grace for each other in those moments because we didn’t argue the whole way there.

  101. MKW says...

    Consider your first night/day/weekend home part of your vacation. Allow yourself time to transition and enjoy home: take a bath, savor vacation pics, order take-out, and get a good night of rest (after another round of vacation sex!) In other words… don’t hit the road running. You’ll be exhausted and that’s not why you went on vacation.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      This is really good advice!

    • Amanda says...

      Yes! I love, when possible, to build in one full day at home before I need to go back to work. I have one more day to sleep in, buy groceries, snuggle the cat, unpack, and take a bath before having to get up early and commute.

    • SUPER ADVICE!

      My fiancé hits the ground running and this is our new motto.

    • SR says...

      This is so true! I am take an extra day off from work after I return from vacation. It gives me enough time can ease in to the routine without having to worry about ironing the kid’s school uniform (I live in India!) as soon as I get back home.. :D

  102. meg says...

    A few weeks ago, when you were writing about maybe getting a puppy, someone in the comments advised you to “choose the bigger life.” That struck such a cord with me, as my 19 year-old daughter overthinks everything and is constantly stressed about money, college, exercise – you name it. I started using this on her, and it’s totally working! She has since decided to take a gap year this fall, to stay with friends in New Zealand (BIGGER LIFE) and figure out what’s next for her. And, today, during a very boring conference call while thinking about how much I will miss her, I looked at tickets for flights from Portland to NYC (her favorite place). I found an awesome deal and texted her “do you want to go to NY with me?” She gave me all her usuals about money. I checked her on it and she wrote back “ok then, I’m choosing the bigger life.” Thank you reader commenter for helping me get my beautiful girl to let go and allow herself to go for it and live in the moment. We are going to have the best time. xxxx

    • j.d. says...

      oh i LOVE this!!! yes, Choose the Bigger LIFE! thank you for the reminder!!! :) and enjoy your trip together!

    • Thuy says...

      I love this so much! Thank you for sharing.

    • Ann says...

      Choose the bigger life struck a cord with me too! I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read it. I find myself using it in both my personal and professional realms and also on my youngest daughter whose anxiety can get in the way of her taking chances and going for it. My thanks to the reader commenter who wrote that too – it was life changing for me!

    • Kate says...

      I love this sentiment, and I think I tend to choose the bigger life instinctively — but be warned: boy, can it get big! I have no time to rest and haven’t really been idle for the better part of a decade. My husband and I often debate whether we should slow down and make our lives (travel radius, work demand/income, etc.) smaller, and it’s terrifying to imagine (it feels like once you go smaller you can’t go back). Honestly, I haven’t figured it out, but I choose to be grateful that I have the BURDEN OF CHOICE, which so many do not.

    • KC says...

      I think this is a phrase, perhaps, to be used with caution – but that’s as someone who has literally done physical damage to her body via overdoing it (and not leaving adequate margins). It turns out that the bigger life is not the one that sounds more adventurous, necessarily – if, say, getting a puppy means that you’ll be continually over the edge of crankiness and yelling at your family all the time, that is not a bigger life; it has a puppy in it; it has more things in it; but it is not bigger than not yelling at your family. (if you can grow enough to not go over the edge in increasingly-complex situations, that’s great, and that is maybe bigger! But trashing your health and mental health and relationships: probably not bigger, even if something otherwise “more”-ish is the cause?)

      But this is from a very pro-adventure standpoint, so it’s possible that different people need different course-correction (“spend more money on enjoying things now!” vs. “spend less money on enjoying things now!” – I’ve got friends who tend towards fear-based retirement saving and friends who tend towards really unnecessary consumer debt). Just, when deciding which would be the bigger life, be aware of where your limits are and respect them while having your adventures. :-)

  103. Anya says...

    Yes to paper maps!

    A few years ago, I worked on an international team, and during our office Secret Santa exchange one of our Parisian colleagues who knew I was likely to be visiting on a trip in the next few months gifted me a little map book of Paris with those little sticky note flags on her favourite places to visit/eat/etc. and notes in the margins, along with a couple of metro tickets. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift, and a real help when I did make that trip. I ended up adding notes of my own, and tucking in postcards/museum leaflets/business cards from the places I visited since I had the map book with me as I walked around in the evenings and on the weekend while I was there. Now it’s its own little scrapbook of that trip, and a reminder of what a good colleagues I had in that job.

    • Marie says...

      That sounds like the perfect gift! Before I studied abroad, I had a friend send me a little package with euros inside for my first drink on him. Would you mind sharing the map book name? If you don’t mind me using your idea :)

    • Anya says...

      It was the Michelin Arrondissements pocket atlas. It’s about $10 on Amazon!

  104. Sarah M says...

    I really needed to read that last comment from Maddie. My husband and I are preparing for our first cross-country flight with our two year old and I have to admit I’m kind of nervous. Pretty certain I’ll be repeating “toddlers be toddlers” and “he’s such a two year old!” to help me get through any difficult moments.

  105. Shena Baruch Hays says...

    My favorite advice is the, “this is temporary you will get there” advice.

  106. Janey says...

    I love all of these tips! I am taking my 3 boys aged 18, 15, 12 to New York this summer for their first USA trip!! Excited is an understatement!! I just hope we can all agree on what to visit and there’s not too much complaining about walking/being too hot/general brother squabbles! Holidays with teenagers can be so tricky!

    • How exciting is THAT. :) Have a lovely trip, and I am sure your boys will love it too.

    • Rosalie says...

      Hi! I’m a teenager myself (17) and I have 3 siblings, so I know what you’re talking about with complaining and stuff (I do it myself too haha). Two years ago, I went to Berlin with my family and we couldn’t really agree on what to do. So, my parents decided each member of the family could decide one thing we were going to do. It ended up being really fun, because we did many different activities: visiting a museum, doing a cycle tour, going to a zoo… And whenever one of us would start complaining my mom would just say: “Well, yesterday we did your activity, which you enjoyed a lot, right? So now we are doing this for [add family member’s name]”

  107. Jenn says...

    I grew up on Lake Michigan and take my kids back for a week during the 4th of July every year (we live in Georgia). This year we are adding a couple days in Chicago. It is always so great. We are renting a house with my friend and her girls. I can’t wait. Just hanging out at the beach and eating all my favorite foods. Nights are spent playing games, seeing old friends, chatting and gossiping while the kids run rampant. I love that my kids get a real feel for where I grew up.
    I’ll take that over Disney any day (I’m terrified of doing Disney).

  108. Suzyn says...

    The prunes tip is for real, but if you’re headed to France – BUY FRENCH PRUNES once you get there. They are so so so much better than American prunes – like a whole different thing!

    • Anna says...

      Could you give any additional detail… my mom and dad are in France right now and I’m just emailing her this info. Can they be any old prunes or are they are certain varietal? Are they pitted or with pits? (If you know.) Haha – thanks! I actually like prunes… I hope she’ll bring me some back.

    • Sunflower says...

      Tell your parents who’re in France to look for prunes from Agen at the local farmers’ markets. They’re so delicious! I evem mail-order them.

    • Sunflower says...

      *even

    • Maïa says...

      Anna, your parents can find prunes at the supermarket too, if they cant go to a farmer’s market. (I’m French)
      – We call it “pruneaux” :)
      – You can choose them pitted or with pitts.
      – My grand-mother makes a delicious pork with prunes. It can be a classic recipe here in France. :)

    • Anna says...

      Thank you so much. I think my mom will be laughing that I sent her two emails about prunes… or rather, *pruneaux*!

    • Suzyn says...

      Looks like other commentators took care of your questions. We usually just head for a grocery store when we get to France. And St. Dalfour distributes “Giant French Prunes” in American grocery stores, if you want a taste.

    • Anna says...

      Update: my mom just sent the message that she picked some up “in the little village of Les Andelys along the Seine.” And the unexpected and gracious news is that… they’re for me! Awww, Mama.

    • Verona says...

      Love all this prune chat! Lol

  109. Becca says...

    I’m sitting here with my studded back pack at the airport ready to embark on a six week adventure through Central Europe, this is perfect timing! I’m freshly single and will be traveling alone – cheers to travel as a means for internal exploration as much as external adventure!

    • Becca says...

      Omg *stuffed lol

    • Nicole says...

      I just thought you were very stylish. ;)

    • Savannah says...

      I am dying! I was picturing you as a teen with a decorated studded bag and loving it!

    • Amanda says...

      And here i thought you were just fancy!

    • I thought a studded backpack sounds so cool. :)

    • Patricia says...

      Have so much fun!!! (But also, if you need to do a melodramatic cry in Central Europe, do that too.) Sounds like such a treat to make every decision according to your own whims. Hope your trip is fantastic!

    • Jeanne says...

      I totally went with the “studded” haha! I thought…hey this Becca is extra. Have fun on your amazing adventure!

    • Megan says...

      Becca, you are a badass. Cheers to you and to a wonderful trip of discovery!

    • Abbey says...

      YES! I love this. I’m going on a multi-week solo European vacation next month and I started thinking of it as MY honeymoon. I don’t have a partner, I don’t ever want to get married, I’ll never register anywhere… I love myself so much I just want to celebrate my own happiness.
      That internal exploration is such a beautiful gift to yourself. Becca, and all other brave and bold solo travellers, ENJOY!

  110. Brittney says...

    I love this! I just got back from a two week trip to Ireland and Norway and I wish I could have read this before I left.

    The best travel advice I have ever gotten is to stay calm when things go wrong – because things are GOING to go wrong. And when they do, take a deep breath and tell yourself you’ve got this. I’ve dealt with lost passports, broken down rental cars, and lost hotel reservations – and it would be so easy to freak out in those situations. But no matter how grim they seem, it always seems to work out, and often times, I’m amazed at the kindness I experience from others when working through those tough situations.

  111. My best travel advice is to always clean your home and make your bed before you go. Nothing will take the wind out of your sails after a lovely trip (or make an awful vacation worse) like walking into a disaster zone. If you’re really with it, stock a meal or two in the freezer or arrange to have groceries delivered a few hours after you get back home. Your future self will thank you.

    • Olivia says...

      Yes, Rebeccah, I’m 100% with you! It drives my husband crazy that right before we leave, he has to wait while I clean the house, but it ruins the post-vacation buzz to come home to a house that smells weird and is chaotic. If nothing else, put fresh sheets on the bed before you go. Then at least you can get in the door, ignore everything else, and soak up a few final minutes of vacation victory in a clean bed.

    • cg says...

      this ^^^

    • MM says...

      Yes to this!!

    • Cynthia says...

      It’s important to come home after any trip to a clean house and a made bed.

    • Julie says...

      Agreed! My next trip will be for 2 weeks in Italy on our honeymoon, immediately following all of our weekend wedding festivities. My main concern is WHEN will I find the time that week to make sure the house is ready for our return??
      But I hadn’t ever thought about having our groceries delivered! That is a fantastic idea that can be done on a layover I’m sure!