Welcome to Part 2 of How to Travel Like a Boss. If you missed part 1 check it out here.
Whether you are in the World Race or your own backyard, we all want more out of our travel experience. More fun, more new experiences and more money to do more! So use these tips to stretch your fun and your budget.
The tips in this post will all seem like an oxymoron and will contradict each other. But real traveling and adventure finding is about going with your gut, getting lost and trying new things. So here we go!
6. Have a plan. There are 2 kinds of people in this world: those that throw away the map and find great adventure and those that can’t read the map, get lost, sit down and cry. Honestly, sometimes I am the later. On our trip this summer we found that we were the most happy when we had a semi-planned plan. When you only have a limited time or are in a HUGE city, it is so easy to waste all your time looking for something great. So have at least an idea of where you want to end up, where you want to go, what you want to do, what to eat, etc. Know where the big attractions are, where the center of all your activities are, what is in walking distance of each other, what time things open and close. With things like this in mind you will leave feeling like you saw and did everything you wanted.
(photo taken from our plane as we landed in Miami)
7. Be flexible. Now that you have your plan, throw it away! Just kidding! Having a plan is great, it leaves you feeling satisfied, but, unless you have a group of 30 teenagers on a tour, your plan shouldnt be set in stone. If you are walking past the cutest coffee shop you’ve ever seen, stop! Have a cup of joe, ask the local barista her favorite park, attraction or restaurant. Then go there! The best days you can have are the days that take you by surprise. If the attraction you most wanted to see is closed, don’t go back to your hotel defeated, find something else to do and in the end, it could be better than your original plan. In your quest to be flexible look out for things like tourist maps, interesting little side streets with quirky stores, recommendations from locals, street fairs, etc. Go with your gut, follow the crowd, follow a local (kinda stalkerish), change your plans, let your plans change you.
8. Quality vs Quantity. When on a trip, especially one like ours, you have to decide if your goal is quality or quantity. This summer we chose quantity, we wanted to see as many cities as possible. Which meant that we could only pick 1 or 2 things to do in each city. But, there were some cities that we chose quality over and we would spend a whole day or 2 focusing on one area or attraction. You have to choose what is right for you. If you need to spend 4 whole days in the MET, do it. We spent 1 hour. If you want to see everything there is to see, then you don’t stop and ponder, you gaze upon it, snap a picture and move on.
Some people like to know something about everything and others want to know everything about something. Know which one you are and make sure your travel buddies know. This is what will kill a group trip, one person holding up the sight-seeing or one person sounding the fire alarm behind everyone. Divide and conquer if you need to, that way everyone is happy. And remember, be flexible! You never know what will strike you and make you want to sit and stare for hours (Ellis Island gets me every time) or what you could actually care less about after you hiked 15 miles to see…
9. Move on. With that last tip in mind, move on. Our entire trip this summer was built around the Grand Canyon. It was our ultimate destination, anywhere else we went was icing on the cake. We planned 2 weeks to get there, 2 weeks to be there and 2 weeks to get home. We had a quality over quantity mindset. About day 2 of our trip we switched from quality to quantity. We decided we wanted to see everything, go everywhere and do it all! So we sped all our stops up and added a ton more. When we got the Grand Canyon we literally said, “Wow! It’s so big! It all looks the same. Lets go look at something else! ” So we left. Our 2 week trek of exploring the Grand Canyon turned into 1 day. Dont get me wrong, it was awesome and I want to go back and raft the Arizona River for sure, but well there wasnt much more to do without going wayyyyy out of our way and we had other really big plans. So, we packed up early and moved on to our next destination. If you find yourself not enjoying or tired of where you are, move on. Dont be afraid to change your plans, just because the Grand Canyon was the whole reason for your trip doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other places to. And sometimes moving on just means going a level deeper than the general tourist. Find out what the locals do, go for a hike, volunteer at a local event, do something more than just taking pictures of the tourist attraction. These are the kinds of things that make lasting impressions.
10. Pack it in. One of the biggest issues people have when traveling is what to pack for their daily outing. Weve all gone on trips where we took everything but the kitchen sink, but packing your bag for the day is a whole other issue. There are the moms who will carry everything for their little ones including a rocking chair (kidding, but I have no experience in packing for babies, so go ahead, pack it), but as young adults or families with older children you have to be smart about what you pack. When we take on a city in a day, where there is no returning to our hotel, Terrell and I will carry 1 book bag between us. In it we carry our camera, batteries, tripod (must have), snacks + lunch, maps, raincoat/light jacket (depending on the weather), phones, water and anything else that we may need that day (tickets, itinerary, etc). We try to keep our bag as light as possible and take turns carrying it. In our earlier tips about food we said to bring your lunch/snacks, so this means bringing one of those small old school lunch boxes and an icepack that will fit inside your backpack and, once empty, fold up nice and flat. We usually pack things like individually wrapped snacks, can sodas and non-soggy sandwiches and always include our utensils and napkins, this way we are ready for a picnic at the most beautiful spot possible or when the Hangries happen. Just remember, DONT OVERPACK, you have to carry this bag around all day!
Bonus tip: Be Adventurous! The trips that make the biggest impact are the ones where you surprise yourself. Dont be afraid to try new things! You are only in this new, beautiful place once. Do something that scares you. Do something that none of your family or coworkers would believe you did. When we were in California we thought we would be laying on the beach and walking around being a tourist all day. But! Our friends offered to teach us to surf. I was terrified. But, I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we did it. It was so hard, but probably my favorite memory from the whole summer. So look for the things that aren’t your norm and when the opportunity pops up unexpectedly, do it! And as always, take a picture!
Got any other great travel tips? Let me know in the comments and be on the lookout for our new travel tip series: How to Pack like a boss. If you don’t want to miss it, sign up on the right to receive our posts delivered easily and painlessly to your inbox!