Your flight is booked, your bags are packed, and you’ve hired a sitter…now what? You won’t find the answers you need by ooh-ing and aah-ing over thousands of breathtaking travel photos on Pinterest. We turned to the seasoned pros to get the tips and tricks you’ll need on the road.
Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, Momaboard
“Before you leave, plan activities that will take up no more than 50% of your time at your destination. Fill in the rest with recommendations from the locals – talk to your concierge, chat up the barista at a neighborhood cafe, or get suggestions from your online network. Getting to know a new place from the insider’s perspective and discovering new things yourself is always more fulfilling than following a Lonely Planet itinerary.”
Eileen P. Gunn, FamiliesGo!
“When you first begin traveling with kids, you have to adjust your expectations, be realistic and be flexible. Accept that vacations won’t be like they used to, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never relax again. Sure, it will be a few years before you can sit on the beach and read for an hour at a time (it will happen), but you can sit on the hotel room balcony and read while your child is napping. You can definitely enjoy eating one meal a day in a reasonably nice sit-down restaurant and expect your kids to behave for that. You’ll all relax more if you find something more casual for at least one meal. You also need to know your limitations. If you hate the beach or mountains or lakes or cities or cruises, don’t feel like you have to do those things now because you have kids. Any vacation can be kid-friendly if you slow your pace, set your kids’ and your own expectations accordingly and remember to always be flexible. And always book a hotel with a pool.”
Carol Margolis, Smart Women Travelers
“Set a goal for every trip: to meet a new person, try a new local food, and/or experience the city you’re in, even if you can only squeeze in a couple of hours. And don’t forget to collect a memento from every trip, whether it be photos, a postcard, magnet or other small item to remember your travels.”
Lauren Juliff, Never Ending Footsteps
“Expect things to go wrong. Travel isn’t always easy and plans don’t fall together perfectly. Figure out contingency plans in case buses are delayed, guesthouses are horrible or the food makes you unwell. While it’ll rarely happen, you’ll find that you’ll panic less and know what to do if there’s a problem. Plan for the worst so you don’t get caught out if things do fall to pieces.”
Greg Goodman, Adventures of a GoodMan
“Always give every situation the benefit of the doubt and be open to all possibilities. Even if things seem a bit scary at first, everything usually works out if you just give it a chance. More often than not, that person offering you a ride or coffee or place to stay is doing it with the best of intentions. Of course, even the benefit of the doubt should not override common sense.”
Jeremy Jones, Living the Dream
“Our best piece of advice is to force yourself to visit destinations that are off the mainstream tourist path. It is all too common when researching to find the top three to five destinations in a country and feel obligated to visit them just because everyone else does. You will enjoy a destination far more when you find a new spot that truly speaks to your interests more than having to go ‘because it is popular.’ We’ve had this happen to us many times while planning for our travels and always have to take a step back and question whether or not we’re going because we want to or because everyone else does. When you shift from the latter to the former, you’ll enjoy your trip that much more.
Want a few of our favorite lesser-visited spots? We recommend Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland; Mayrhofen, Austria; Chania, Greece; Munnar, India; Yangshuo, China; and the countries of Bulgaria, Jordan, Nepal, and Mauritius!”
Charli Moore, Wanderlusters
“If there’s one travel tool that every traveller should utilize it’s House Sitting. Choosing to opt out of hotel stays and instead live like a local, we find our assignments immerse us in local culture and community and offer a more intimate view of the destinations we visit. Our experience of travel has been enriched by the people we meet when house sitting and as an additional bonus we have lived rent free for almost 80% of our time abroad over the last three years.”
Can’t get enough? Click HERE for Part One in our pro tips series.