When I travel I don't like to be extremely strict about anything. I don't like tight itineraries or having every moment of every day planned out. However, there are a few "rules" I always try to stick to on every trip. Some of which I adhere to in order to make sure I get the most out of each place without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted by trying to fit in every.single.tourist.spot. while others are to help make sure my trip goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Only take a carry-on unless it's absolutely necessary to check a bag. There are waaaaay too many horror stories out there about people losing their luggage and spending most of their trip trying to locate it instead of actually enjoying vacation. In an effort to avoid that disaster I'll just pack a small piece of rolling luggage that airlines deem appropriate for the overhead bin along with my favorite leather Madewell bag. So far, I haven't had a problem doing this, but realize some lengthy trips require packing a lot more than a quick weekend trip or week in the islands where you basically only need a few bathing suits and cover-ups — in this case I suggest booking direct flights, if possible, because your bags are a lot less likely to get lost or misplaced than they would be being transferred from one plane to another. Here are a few of my other favorite rolling carry-ons and over-the-shoulder bags.
2. Take a guided ghost tour. Okay I realize, not everyone is into hearing about the local hauntings and lore of places like I am, but I've found that none of these guided tours are actually scary — and they go into a lot more depth about the area's history than you'd typically find or hear anywhere else. You'll also get to see hidden parts of the city that you would have missed otherwise. (I highly suggest taking haunted history tours in older cities that are full of interesting stories like Boston, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, and Salem, Mass.)
3. Eat something the place you're visiting is known for — whether it's a weird local delicacy or specialty dessert. Trying different local dishes while traveling has introduced me to some of my favorite foods like Dutch stroopwaffles, and, it's also taken me down some pretty weird paths that include eating fried alligator in The Keys, turtle soup in New Orleans, conch meat in Grand Cayman, and drinking cactus wine in Arizona. And, although I don't always like the dishes I have never regretted at least trying them just to say that I have.
4. Buy something. Whether it's an interesting piece of art by a local artist or a unique piece of jewelry I won't find anywhere else, because I love having something special to remember each trip. Plus, any time someone compliments the item or asks where I got it from I'm flooded with nostalgic memories and can't wait to tell them the story behind the item. I ALWAYS try to avoid buying cheap touristy items — though, I will admit I once bought a pen shaped like an Armadillo in Texas. But, I'm a writer and I still use it ten years later, so give me a break! If there's ever a time where I don't find something I want to purchase, no big deal, instead I'll typically frame one of my photos from the trip and hang it around the house.
For more travel tips that range from what to pack in your carry-on to how to pick the perfect AirBnb, click here.
Beauty & skincare products perfect for traveling.
The most helpful item to have while flying.