The Best Travel Advice I've Stumbled Upon in 2018
Not too long ago, I was telling you all about a handful of travel websites that I often turn to when looking for inspiration, advice, travel deals, or all of the above. We were focusing on the forest then, but right here, right now, I want to hone in on some of the trees in that proverbial forest and deliver to you some of the best travel advice I've found on the Great Wide Web during this calendar year.
As with almost everything in the history of ever, travel tips and advice come in all shapes and sizes — some of it will be useful to you, some of it you will swat away like a mildly-pesky fly. To save you the trouble of having to distinguish which of the following bits of advice pertain to you, I've divided them up into cute little categories.
And now, because I am out of introductory things to say, I present these contemporary tidbits of advice to you, may they guide you on your way.
If you're the "everything must be perfectly planned" traveler...
You probably already have a good idea of what I'm about to say. Just stop. Knock it off already. One of the greatest components of travel is its propensity for allowing you to be spontaneous and live in the moment. But don't take it from me — this is a mantra pushed by none other than Anthony Bourdain, who sat down with Money Magazine's Megan Leonhardt in March.
It is "punishing" to create a checklist of must-see tourist stops, Bourdain told Leonhardt. "The sort of frenzied compression of time needed to take the tour, to see the sights, keeps you in a bubble that prevents you from having magic happen to you. Nothing unexpected or wonderful is likely to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower."
I confess that I typically cook up half-baked plans when preparing for a trip, such as jotting down a few mainstream destinations or attractions I'd like to see, but my attitude when I actually get to wherever I'm going is to keep an open mind. You've got to allow yourself to be surprised.
If you're heading out on vacation with your significant other (and don't want to be single by the time you get back)...
Going on vacation with your significant other can be a dream or a Nightmare on Elm Street, depending on how you handle yourself while in parts unknown. Thrillist's Jonathan Melmoth has just the thing for couples looking to take an Instagram-worthy trip that isn't a total disaster behind the scenes: a list called "Mistakes Every Couple Makes When They Travel Together" that was published in February.
Among Mr. Melmoth's words of wisdom are tips aplenty, including booking a decently-sized hotel room so that you have a little space to breathe, keeping snacks handy to avoid The Hangriness, and refraining from purchasing sudden big ticket items (such as on-the-spot upgrades to rental cars, hotel rooms, etc.) for the sole purpose of impressing your travel companion.
On the topic of spending every single waking moment together, Melmoth says: "No matter how much you wuv your partner, don’t spend 24 hours in their face — you’ll get sick of it eventually, probably about 23 hours after your partner does." The remedy to this situation? Shocker, I know, but it's spending small amounts of time apart. You're on vacation together, I get that, but a solo hike might just save your relationship.
If you're the "I don't want to pack too much but I also want to look dapper" traveler...
This is a topic that pertains to me especially. Even when in transit, I like to look good. Why? Because, as I like to say, when you look good, you feel good. This is the reason I will still wear jeans when I have nothing planned other than sitting on the couch at home. But I digress...
Whilst reading through The New York Times' morning briefing — a list of prominent news stories and many other ditties sent to my cellular device before 7 a.m. each morning — the other day, I could not help but notice an article entitled "5 Tips to Travel Light and Dress Well at the Same Time." Its author, Shivani Vora, and the New York-based stylist she spoke with to distill those five tips, Kate Young, obviously get me (and all of you out there who are trying to travel in style).
Bringing only two or three pairs of shoes and traveling wearing exercise gear — the newer, trendier, slim-fitting exercise gear that could properly be labeled "athleisure," I might add — were already plans of attack I could count among my arsenal, but a focus on accessories (bracelets, rings, necklaces, colorful socks), which can alter an outfit entirely, and packing clothes in three coordinating colors were new arrows in the quiver.
Looking to travel with only a carry-on while still dressing to the nines? Read Ms. Vora's article.
If you're the "I only visit places that are well-reviewed on TripAdvisor" traveler...
We dive into the world, or at least the mind, of Anthony Bourdain again with this bit of advice concerning how to select the restaurants and cafes and natural areas and art galleries and museums that you might visit while traveling. In that same article from Money Magazine mentioned earlier, Mr. Bourdain pulls out a truly novel idea for figuring out whether or not a restaurant or some other attraction is worth your going to.
This idea he calls "provoking nerd fury." The gist, as best I can explain, is to visit a website or blog devoted to a certain topic (Eat Your World is one of the examples given by the article's author, Ms. Leonhardt) and to create a post that claims you have just visited the best vineyard in all of France or ate the best Italian food you've ever tasted at some restaurant or another. After posting this piece in which you randomly mention an establishment you haven't actually been to, the idea is to wait for the comment brigade — all those opinionated internet "experts" — to do their thing and chime in.
"The torrent of informative abuse that will come your way from people who want to tell you how stupid, witless, and uninformed you are will be very instructive," Bourdain told Leonhardt. And out of that torrent will come a consensus of which establishment(s) or attraction(s) you should actually visit when you take your trip.
And finally, if you're the "this 9-hour flight will be the death of me" traveler...
There are these revolutionary things out there these days known as podcasts. Maybe you've heard of them? The truly amazing thing about podcasts is that they can actually make you look forward to spending time in transit, because you know you'll have time to listen to all of Making Obama or to dive into Netflix versus Blockbuster on Business Wars.
Matthew Karsten, better known as the Expert Vagabond, included listening to podcasts among his "30 Best Travel Tips After 7 Years Traveling The World," a list of, you guessed it, 30 tips that he published on his site in February. "Podcasts are awesome," Karsten wrote. "It’s like creating your own personal radio station and filling it with shows and music you always want to listen to. I never thought I’d actually look forward to a 10-hour bus ride. But with podcasts, it’s possible (well, as long as the seats are comfortable)."
And he's oh-so-right! This American Life and The Moth are among his recommendations, and along with the ones I already mentioned, I'd throw in Modern Love and The Onion's "A Very Fatal Murder," as well. (A great place to find these and many other podcasts, by the way, is to download the NPR One app on your device of choice.)