Common Mistakes Women Make When Traveling Alone

Traveling on your own has a host of benefits and can be a ton of fun! While there are many cities that are particularly safe for women to travel alone in, traveling solo differs quite a bit from traveling with a partner or group and so it’s easy to make mistakes when setting out solo for the first time.  While we aren’t suggesting that you become paranoid and don’t enjoy your solo travels, we are suggesting that you take reasonable steps to increase your safety. So to help you prepare for your trip, here are 24 common mistakes women make when traveling alone.

1. Posting On Social Media

Social media is a fun way to connect with friends and family and share your travels, but it’s generally safer to post afteyou’ve left the location you’re posting about or to post without tagging your location. It’s one thing to post about being in a specific large city, but don’t use specifics, which could be used maliciously to track you. If you have a private account, this is less of a concern, but the majority of people have public accounts allowing anyone to see the details you’re sharing online. It’s also important to not post about being on vacation as some insurance companies are refusing to honor tenants or home insurance if a break-in and theft occur while the homeowner (or renter) has posted about being away on a public forum, like social media.

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2. Partying Too Hard

We’re not trying to be party-poopers, but when you are traveling alone as a woman, it’s not generally a smart decision to go out and party hard. Even if you go out with people you’ve met while traveling and who seem nice, it remains that you don’t truly know them or their intentions. Being too inebriated with people you can’t trust can be a dangerous thing without another trusted friend to watch your back, so you’re better off to limit yourself to a drink or two. You should always be sober enough to have your own back. Being drunk can also get you lost in a city you don’t know your way around, which is never a great idea. Additionally, public intoxication can result in a huge variety of fines and punishments depending on where you’re traveling, with some consequences being far more serious than others!

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3. Looking Lost

The best defense when traveling alone is confidence. If you look overly confused or lost, you may become more of a target. That’s not to say that you can’t ask a local shopkeeper for directions if you don’t have your phone, but try to avoid looking naive, lost, or generally confused, as it may make you more vulnerable to someone with bad intentions. Be intentional and choose who you’re going to ask for directions or help, rather than letting the person choose you. Families tend to be the safest bet when looking for a little assistance!

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4. Being Out Of Touch With Loved Ones

Not checking in at least semi-regularly with a loved one is a common mistake that solo travelers make. It may seem like a drag – after all, you’re traveling alone for a reason! However, checking in via phone call, text, or even a quick email is an easy way to add a level of safety to your adventures. This can help reassure any loved ones who are nervous about you traveling alone, but also acts as a checkpoint in your travels. That way, if something does go horribly wrong, your loved ones know a little bit about where you were, when the last time they talked to you, and anything that was going on. Checking in is particularly important if you’re planning on taking part in any high risk or outdoors activities while you travel, such as hiking, bungee-jumping, or skydiving.

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5. Disclosing Personal Information

It’s great to strike up a conversation with locals or other travelers you meet at your hostel, but avoid oversharing personal details and your future itinerary when you’re traveling solo. Wait a week or so (or even longer – there’s no harm in waiting until you’ve left the city!) before adding or accepting new friends on Facebook until you have a decent sense of whether you can trust them and they’re someone you want to keep in contact with. Similarly, don’t tell people you’re traveling alone who won’t obviously know – it’s safer for people to assume that you’re just momentarily not with your travel partner. Telling people you’re alone can lead to unwanted attention and unwarranted opinions and questions.

6. Not Leaving Your Travel Plans With Someone

Many people don’t leave their travel plans with someone back home because they think it’s overkill, but when you’re traveling solo, it’s a definite must-do. This is even more important to do if you’re traveling somewhere with travel warnings, high rates of crime, or you will be spending time doing higher-risk activities or solo in the outdoors. In a worst-case scenario, someone will know where you were and what you were planning on doing and be able to relay that to the proper authorities. It also helps for someone to know where you are and how to contact you, should something serious happen at home while you’re abroad.

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7. Being Too Polite

As a woman, you may default to being overly polite when strangers strike up a conversation. While there is nothing inherently wrong with chit-chatting, it’s important to remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation or discussion, especially if they are making you feel uncomfortable in any way or the attention is unwelcome. When you travel solo, you have to be your own advocate, so don’t put up with any unwanted attention! Though you may be tempted to tell a person off, it can sometimes be safer to simply ignore them, be firm (but not angry) with your words, or simply walk away confidently. However, if you feel threatened, don’t be afraid to publically shame the person by loudly calling attention to what they’re doing. Your safety is more important than being perceived as “nice”.

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8. Telling People Where You’re Staying

This is a hard rule: Never disclose where you’re staying when you’re traveling solo as a woman, especially if you’re travelling in a foreign country. If you’re not staying in a “public” place such as a hostel, remain in public spaces with new friends you meet on your travels and opt for public transportation, walking (though not in the dark), or licensed cabs to get around together. Most importantly, don’t bring guests (male or female) back to your accommodations for any reason. The potential cons far outweigh the potential pros.

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9. Accepting Food and Drinks From Strangers

As a woman, this rule generally applies even if you’re just out at a bar in your hometown. While you may find it difficult to think the worst of people, not accepting food or drink from people you don’t know (and that includes people you’ve become friends with on your trip) and safeguarding anything you’ll consume is an important thing to do. It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of safety and trust with people you meet on your travels, especially if they’re friendly, charismatic, or good-looking. Avoid falling into that trap and keep an eye on your drink and only consume your own food or food you see coming out of the kitchen of a restaurant. You can still have a ton of fun with new friends without being naive.

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10. Arriving Late At Night

Sometimes arriving late at night is inevitable, but if you’re traveling to a place you’ve never been before, it’s best to avoid it. Both larger cities and smaller towns tend to be more difficult and intimidating to navigate in the dark with reduced transportation options, closed shops, and (though perhaps stereotypical) more high-risk behavior and people participating in those activities. It’s easier (and to some degree, safer) to get the “lay of the land” during the day as a solo traveler. If you’re going to be arriving at night, have a detailed plan ahead of time. You should know how you’re going to get from the airport/train station/bus depot to your accommodations, know your route if you’ll be driving a rental car or taking public transportation, have safe (and if you can afford it, private) accommodations for the first night, and have a plan in case something goes wrong.

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11. Ignoring Maps

It’s all too easy to show up at a new destination and have no idea where anything is, but that doesn’t mean it’s the smart thing to do. Ahead of your trip, take a look at a map to get a sense of where north versus south is, where your accommodations are relative to public transportation, and so on. If you’ll be using your phone, consider downloading an offline Google map to help you if you get turned around. A map is even more important if you’re someone who doesn’t have a great sense of direction or if you’re traveling somewhere there will be a language barrier, making asking for directions more challenging.

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12. Flashing Expensive Items

Wearing expensive items when you’re traveling solo as a woman is more likely to attract attention and make you a target for theft. Opt to leave those things at home unless they’re absolutely necessary. Expensive items like your phone or camera obviously need to come along on your travels but do your best not to flash them around or leave them out (like on your table at a restaurant) and keep them concealed in a day bag. If you’re someone who prefers to wear a fake wedding ring while traveling solo (or maybe you’re actually engaged or married!), only wear a simple band that is diamond and fake-diamond free. It comes down to this: Don’t flaunt any wealth.

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13. Assuming Men Are The Only Threat

This may sound scary, but depending on where you’re traveling to, there may be a greater risk of violence, sexual assault, kidnapping, and theft and traveling solo can make you more of a target.  It’s good to be vigilant – though not scared – about your safety and keep an eye out for people who may be targeting you. Most women think of men as the primary threat, but it’s important to keep a watchful eye out on women as well. Many cartels, human traffickers, and other dangerous groups use women to lure or entrap other women, so don’t assume you can trust someone just because of their gender.

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14. Being Sleep Deprived

When you travel alone as a woman, you have to be on alert more than when you’ve got a travel partner. This becomes more difficult if you’re sleep-deprived! Schedule enough downtime and rest days, even if you’re spending them at the beach. Don’t plan too many or back-to-back late nights out or partying either, as these will contribute significantly to being tired and generally less aware of what’s going on around you. Being too tired can lead to poor judgment and making bad or lazy (read: unsafe) calls, so rest up! The longer your trip, the more important this is. It’s easier to go hard for a week or less, but for longer travels, make sure you’re practicing self-care!

15. Using Public Wifi

Using public Wifi is something we’ve all done, but it comes with significant risks, as it’s largely unmonitored. When you’re traveling, avoid using public Wifi, especially for anything requiring sensitive or personal information such as banking, online shopping, or a login. Many people don’t know that it’s extremely easy for someone to steal your information on the free unsecured networks at coffee shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Try to plan ahead to avoid needing to access your banking information or stick to your accommodation’s secure network if you absolutely need to.

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16. Not Copying Your Passport

This is a good tip regardless of whether you’re traveling solo or with others, but many people don’t take this precaution. Before you leave, scan your passport. Leave a physical copy with whoever you’ve left your travel plans with and email yourself a digital copy. This will be a lifesaver if you lose or have your passport stolen while traveling! Do the same with any other important travel documents including proof of vaccination (if applicable) and Travel Visas!

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17. Not Budgeting Well

This applies to everyone who is traveling, not just solo female travelers. However, it’s worth noting because when you travel solo, there’s no one to hold you accountable for how much money you spend. Figure out how much you’re wanting to spend on the trip ahead of planning and departing and then determine how much of that is for each category: accommodations, food and drink, attractions, discretionary spending, and any other categories you can identify. Do some online research or talk to people who have traveled to your location recently to try to get an understanding of what things cost in the area so you can accurately budget. Then head out on your adventure and stick to your budget! There is nothing glamorous about being broke when you get home from your trip.

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18. Not Spending Extra Money on Safety

This may seem confusing on the heels of our advice to watch your budget, but many solo female travelers state that this is one of the most important tips when traveling alone. Don’t scrimp when it comes to your personal safety! Avoid walking late at night and shell out for a licensed cab ride. Pay for slightly nicer accommodations located in bustling parts of the city that have great reviews, instead of opting for a cheaper seedy hostel or motel. Choose the outfitter or guide company that has excellent safety ratings, even if they cost a bit more. Build a financial buffer into your budget so that you don’t have to choose between your safety and your wallet.

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19. Not Trusting Your Gut

Whatever you call it – your instinct, gut, intuition – listen to and follow it when you’re traveling solo. As a solo female traveler, you’ll need to be on alert most of the time and your gut can provide the best warning when it comes to your safety. Many female solo travelers report that listening to their gut has kept them safe on many occasions. When you are unsure of what to do, take a moment to quiet yourself and listen. Then trust yourself and move forward.

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20. Ignoring Local Norms

Local norms can encompass many different things, from tipping to appropriate dress, and they’re important to know and observe while you’re traveling solo. Do some research ahead of traveling to get a sense of local customs and traditions and then plan to follow them while you’re visiting. This is particularly important if you’re traveling abroad somewhere where the culture is quite different from your home or where a particular religion (which may dictate what to wear, how to address members of the opposite sex, and so on) is common. Not only is it respectful, but it’s also a way to avoid drawing attention to yourself – something you don’t want to do as a solo female traveler.

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21. Flying By The Seat of Your Pants

A certain level of spontaneity while your traveling solo can be fun, but flying by the seat of your pants can be risky as it’s easier to overlook important things when you’re on your own. When you don’t have at least a general idea of where you’ll be and what you’ll do, your more likely to let things like Visa limitations, documentation requirements, and budgeting slip. It’s okay to reject the idea of planning every second of your trip, but creating a bit of structure when you’re in the planning stages will hopefully help keep a logistical nightmare at bay!

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22. Not Bringing Backup Finances

This is an incredibly common mistake solo travelers make and an easy one to avoid! When you’re on your own, you’re limited to the payment types you have on you. There’s no using your travel partner’s credit card if yours is declined. Always travel with two credit cards, a debit card, and cash in the local currency – both some on hand for regular use and some emergency bills in an inconspicuous place that you don’t foresee having to pull out in public (like rolled up in an empty lip chap tube or a money belt). Having extra cash on you can also help you avoid being charged the withdrawal fee that many banks charge foreign debit cards.

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23. Overpacking

Overpacking is an easy mistake to make regardless of whether you’re traveling solo or with someone else, but when you’re alone the consequences are magnified. Solo travelers tend to overpack more frequently because they pack every possible provision they might need while they’re away from the creature comforts of home. If you overpack, you may end up paying overage charges on your flights (and you don’t have a partner who can take some of your items in their luggage to even it out), which is a huge blow to your budget. Overpacking also tends to limit mobility, especially on days where you’re checking out of one accommodation and heading to another. As much as you can, pack lightly.

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24. Not Having an Emergency Plan

Having a plan in case of emergency is extremely important as a solo female traveler and generally quite easy to prepare! Jot down the numbers of your country’s consulate and the local police. Keep your bag or suitcase in the back seat of every cab with you in case you need to hop out quickly. Grab a business card at your accommodations so that you’ve always got the address and phone number on you (in case you get lost). Have a plan and insurance in case something goes wrong medically while you’re outside of your coverage area. After all, the saying goes “hope for the best, plan for the worst”.

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Airport Travel Hacks To Make Your Trip Easier

Are you ready for your next vacation? While air travel means jetting off to a new and perhaps exotic place where you can rest, relax, and adventure, it also means airports and all the other not-as-enjoyable aspects of travel. So to help you prepare for the time before, during, and after your flight, we’ve compiled this list of travel hacks to make your trip easier, cheaper, and more comfortable.

1. Pre-Booking: Incognito Mode

When you’re ready to start looking for flights, always use your browser’s incognito mode. When you do this, the airline websites aren’t able to track your searches using cookies, ultimately resulting in lower flight prices being shown to you. Yes, that means that the more frequently you look up a flight, the more the cost of the flight will go up because the airlines know you’re interested. It’s the law of supply and demand, people!

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2. Pre-Booking: Fly Direct

Whenever you’re able, fly direct. By flying directly to your final destination, you avoid the risks that come with a layover – missing your connecting flight or having it canceled, losing your luggage or having it end up at the wrong destination, and so on. It may cost a little bit more but, it’s always worth it and makes travel less stressful. If you aren’t able to fly direct, look for a flight that has a longer layover. This way if your first flight gets delayed you won’t have to run frantically through the airport trying to catch your next flight.

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3. Pre-Booking: Red-Eye Flight

If you’re someone who can sleep on a plane, consider flying red-eye for your next trip. You’ll be able to skip the crowds and lines because you’ll be taking off and landing during off-peak hours. Red-eye flights are often cheaper as well, making your trip more affordable overall. If you can’t handle a red-eye, try to take the earliest flight out, even if that means you’ll be getting up super early. Early morning flights are often less likely to get delayed or canceled, making your airport experience more enjoyable. They also tend to be slightly cheaper than flights leaving at more convenient times.

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4. Before You Fly: Switch to Solids

There is nothing worse than opening up your suitcase and realizing that one or more of your liquids has leaked or exploded. There are a couple of ways to try to prevent this from happening, but the best way is actually to avoid liquids all together! Before you travel, pick up a shampoo bar, conditioning bar, and bar of soap from a store like LUSH. They’re just so good that you might actually find yourself making the switch permanently! You can also get items like facial cleanser, facial oil, body lotion, and toothpaste as a solid. It simplifies travel without sacrificing the quality of your skin and hair care!

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5. Before You Fly: Layer Your Clothing

When you’re packing for your trip and choosing what you’ll wear for the flight, consider layering your clothing. The temperature often varies quite a bit as you travel to the airport, on the plane, and to your final destination. Rather than sweating it out or freezing when your seatmate blasts their air vent, you can simply remove or add layers as needed, making for a much more comfortable experience. Plus you can avoid paying for one of those overpriced thin blankets they offer you on the plane!

6. Before You Fly: Wear Bulky or Heavy Clothing and Footwear

If you’re only planning on taking a carry-on suitcase or you’re jam-packing your checked baggage, you’re going to need to pack smart! If space or weight is a concern, wear your bulky or heavier clothing items and footwear (like winter boots) through security. If you want, you can always change into more comfortable clothing before boarding your plane. Since airlines don’t count what you’re wearing towards your maximum weight allotment, this is a great way to squeeze in some extra weight without overloading your suitcase.

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7. Before You Fly: Wear Comfortable Clothing

While we understand that some people need to wear suits and ties on their flight, most of us don’t have to. It’s pretty obvious – wearing comfortable clothes will help keep you comfortable during your trip. This becomes even more important when you experience a flight delay or it’s an overnight flight! Ditch the suit or skirt and opt for comfy jeans or leggings and a cozy sweater layered over top of your fav t-shirt. No one is judging you!

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8. Before You Fly: Pack a Reusable Empty Water Bottle

The liquid limitations that you can bring on a plane are strict and that causes many people to think they have to buy water once they’re through security! To reduce plastic waste and keep yourself from spending money on water, bring an empty reusable water bottle through security and fill it up at one of the many water fountains throughout the airport. This will help keep you hydrated, which is incredibly important because the high altitudes (drier air) when flying dehydrates you. Fight the temptation to not drink water to avoid using the onboard toilets and drink up. You’ll feel better post-flight if you keep chugging back that water (especially if you’re planning on a glass or two of wine)!

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9. Before You Fly: Pack Dry Snacks From Home

Airports are notorious for overpriced and often bland-tasting foods and snacks. But did you know that you can bring dry snacks like trail mix, chocolate bars, or protein bites through security and onto the airplane? However, as always, be sure to check your specific airline and call ahead if you aren’t sure. Generally speaking, you don’t need to buy food in the airport if you plan ahead, which is great for your wallet and for those with dietary restrictions.

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10. Before You Fly: Pack Earplugs and a Sleep Mask

Earplugs and a sleep mask come in handy whether you’re planning on trying to take a little snooze in the airport or on the plane and can help block out the constant noise and fluorescent lighting. They’re also good to have on hand in case your flight gets delayed or you get stranded in the airport and need to catch some shut-eye. You may be able to buy them from an airport kiosk or from a flight attendant, but you’ll pay a pretty penny, so why not just bring them from home?

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11. Before You Fly: Know Where You’re Going

Before you fly, do a quick Google search of the airports you’re flying into to get a sense of what they’re like. This is important if you’ve got a layover that you could miss or that could be canceled, leaving you stranded in the airport longer than anticipated. It’s important to know if the terminal stays open overnight, and if your connecting flight departure gate is close by (or even in the same building!) as well as what kind of food and shops are available. This may seem like a lot, but it’s better to be prepared and have a backup plan in case you find yourself stranded.

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12. At The Airport: Download Your Airline App

You might feel like you’ve got enough apps on your phone already, but having the free airline app downloaded and your flight information entered is helpful to stay up to date with gate changes, delays, and heaven forbid cancellations. You generally get the updates before they make the announcement and you don’t have to worry about missing them – crucial if you tend to have headphones in at the airport. Some airlines have also started using their apps for in-flight entertainment, so if you want to watch a free movie while you’re up in the air, be sure to download it while you’re still on the ground and on Wifi.

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13. At The Airport: Airline Lounge

Did you know that most airlines have VIP lounges in every airport? Did you know that they’re absolutely wonderful to stay in? Some people get access to them because they are airline VIPs from flying so much (many business people have this status), but you can actually purchase a day pass for many of them! They offer comfortable seating, peace and quiet, free high-speed Wifi, and in many, snacks and buffet-style meals and alcoholic drinks are included! While you may not choose to pay for this if your layover is only an hour, these lounges are totally worth it if you’ve got a longer layover or you get stranded in the airport.

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14. At The Airport: Get a Seat Close To The Gate

More people are choosing to only bring a carry-on suitcase and a backpack or purse – a common luggage allowance. This can lead to overpacked overhead bins and requests for people to volunteer to check their hand luggage for free. If that’s okay with you, then go right ahead and sacrifice your bag, but many people pack a carry-on so that they don’t have to wait at the luggage carousel upon landing. If you want your carry-on to stay a carry-on, grab a seat close to the boarding desk and hop in line as soon as your zone is called. More frequently, the last group of people to board end up having to check their baggage, which adds hassle and time upon landing if you didn’t check another bag.

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15. At The Airport: Load Leftover Currency Onto a Gift Card

If you’ve got a small amount of foreign currency left at the end of your trip and there’s a store in the airport that you also have at home, load the change onto a gift card. This works especially well if there’s a Starbucks, David’s Tea, Booster Juice, or Tim Hortons – all shops commonly found in big airports. If you’ve got big bills leftover, take them back to your bank, but most currency exchanges and banks won’t accept small amounts of foreign currency back, so this is a great way to not waste leftover change!

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16. On Flight: Snacks and Drinks

Most airlines thankfully still offer complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and small snacks while you are aboard. When they come around and ask what you’d like, don’t hesitate to ask for the full can of whatever you’re ordering and one of each snack. Most of the time, the flight attendant doesn’t care and will happily hand it over, especially if you’re polite.

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17. On Flight: Moisturize

Flights tend to leave our skin dehydrated and more prone to breakouts. The longer the flight, the worse your skin will be upon landing. Since you can’t bring big bottles of cleanser or cream on the plane, use an empty contact lens container and put a little bit of cleanser and cream in each divet. Part of the way through your flight, head to the bathroom and wash and moisturize your face. Bringing a small airplane-sized facial mist onboard and spraying a little bit on every hour can also help keep skin moisturized and may help you feel more alert! Also, bring a face sheet mask to do once you get to your destination to rehydrate even more.

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18. On Flight: Peppermint Essential Oil

Another great item to bring on board is a small roll-on of peppermint essential oil (like this one from Saje!). You can roll it onto your temples and neck if you get a headache or have tension, roll some onto your hands and breathe the oil in to clear your sinuses, feel more alert, or help with nausea, and generally just to help with odors. It’s a great multi-purpose oil that’s perfect for some of the negative health effects of flights. Plus, you’ll smell great!

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19. When You Arrive: Break a Sweat

Most people are a little bit tired upon landing, even if there hasn’t been a time change. You might be tempted to take a nap, but that will most likely just mess up your sleep that night. Getting active and breaking a sweat can combat those sluggish feelings and help you wake up and enjoy the rest of your day at your destination. It can be as simple as a short yoga session in your room, some weight lifting at the hotel gym, or a quick jog or brisk walk outdoors, which doubles as a way to see what’s in the area!

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20. Before You Head Home: Online Grocery Shop

Does anybody else try to empty out their fridge before they go on a trip? You never want food to rot while you’re away, but this also means you come home to a very empty fridge. A couple of days before you get on your flight to come home, order some grocery staples online from whatever local grocery store offers the service and choose delivery for the day you’re arriving back home. That way there’s something to eat when you get home sleep-deprived and jet-lagged and you don’t need to worry about breakfast, lunch, or dinner the day after.

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Vacationing 101: How to Pack Smart and Pack Small

When booking a vacation – and the subsequent packing that follows – there are plenty of things to get ready for. Depending on where you’re headed, there might be more or less prep work that needs to be done, for instance, places with extreme climates or where an intense hobby is going to be performed. Which means more items will need to be packed … especially when traveling far away or for a long period of time.

But what if, instead of packing in bulk, you could pack items that were far more versatile? Where clothing was good for multiple temperatures and types of weather? And shoes could handle long bouts of walking, but also served as a stylish accessory to your outfit? And, of course, toiletries were efficient and easily reached. Jewelry avoided becoming tangled, hair products tamed and de-frizzed while keeping everything securely in place and so on. Thankfully, these products not only exist, but they’ve been perfected over the years. Brought down to an art where travelers can pack with minimal items, but without being inconvenience. In order to get the most out of your travel wardrobe, consider packing:

1. Quality Items

Yes they’re expensive – some of them are very expensive – but their price tag often comes at a value worth having. These are the clothes that will last through multiple wears without losing shape or fit. They’re also specialty made to withstand the weather. Look at sites like Merrell, UnderArmour, Nike, Columbia, etc. and check out their weather sections. Each clothing description should come with an overview as to what temperatures and types of precipitation they’re meant to keep in/out. (Don’t forget wind either!) With these items, you can pack light without sacrificing practicality. Then once you’ve decided on quality you can look toward specifics.

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2. A Hoodie or Sweatshirt

Stay cozy and warm through all types of weather. With one quality hoodie, you can mix and match for all types of outfits. (Even better if you stick with a neutral color for maxiumu matching abilities.) Go hiking, get warm with your pajamas, or just have a casual day around town. Or, if you can find a type that has a removable hood, you can adjust for even further outfits. Take it a step further and layer under a jacket for added warmth. Which brings us to our next item…

hoodie sweatshirt

3. A Light Jacket

By choosing “light” you can wear the outer layer in all types of weather. Layer up when it’s cold, or simply provide a light cover to shield yourself from the breeze or drizzle. You can also choose versions that can be stacked or striped down – oftentimes with pieces that zip right in so they won’t bunch or lose their place. When choosing a jacket, it’s also best to pick a material that’s waterproof or will block out other significant weather in order to get the most possible use out of a single item.

Photo by: Bike Packing
Photo by: Bike Packing

4. Wick-Away Materials

If you’re planning on movement, layers that dry quickly or keep you from feeling damp are the way to go. They will allow you to feel more comfortable for long days of travel – whether you’re out hiking, shopping, or taking in the sights. Wick-away materials are also more likely to breathe, meaning they won’t collect smells as quickly. Which is even more perfect for travelers who have minimal access to laundry services. Better still, is the fact that these types of materials can be crammed into the smallest of packing shapes and still won’t wrinkle – they come out unscathed and ready to wear.

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5. Versatile Outfits

It might take a little extra planning, but choosing outfits that will last all day is well worth the effort. It will ensure you’re not left uncomfortable, nor forced to change midway though the day (also forcing more clothes to be packed).  Avoid materials that don’t breathe, are too tight, or can’t be easily accessorized and changed for a versatile look. For example, adding a necklace to dress things up, tucking in a shirt or wrapping a belt for a dinner out. While those same outfits can be “dressed down” and made comfortable for daily activities. Then with a few changes (and freshening up, if you prefer) it’s made completely new. Without the need to take up more suitcase room. By packing smarter, you can work toward a much more efficient trip. Consider this path the next time you’re traveling.

Photo by: Une Femme
Photo by: Une Femme

10 Great Reasons to Travel Using AirBnB

Did you know that AirBnB started when some college students rented out air mattresses in the apartment because all rooms in their city were completely booked for a festival? Hence the name AirBnB. Well, the company has come so far since then. It’s fast becoming a popular way to travel just about anywhere. Despite being a completely different experience than booking a hotel, most travelers love it. It’s true that, AirBnB isn’t for everyone, but there are some great reasons to at least try it out, and isn’t trying new things what traveling is all about anyway?

10. Convenient Booking Process

The booking system on AirBnB is designed to be fast, convenient, and intuitive. To get started, you fill out your profile, add a photo, and go through the verification process. All of this helps your host get a good idea of who you are, so be sure to tell them about what you love about traveling. This process can take some time, but you only have to do it once. To check out listings in your destination, put in your travel dates and the number of people in your group. You’ll get a list of available spaces, complete with photos, info, and availability. You can sort through these by price or look at the map to see where they’re located. Once you find a space that looks good, open a conversation with the host, ask any questions, and request a reservation. The best hosts will respond quickly!

Airbnb booking

9. Low Prices

Travel can be expensive. Even with discount sites, all-inclusive resorts, and vacation packages, you can still pay thousands of dollars in accommodations alone for a couple of weeks’ stay at your favorite destination, and if you want to move around each night, like on a road trip, it’s even worse. The good news is, many AirBnB hosts offer economical listings. You should know that wherever you stay using AirBnB, it probably won’t be very hotel-like. In most cases, you’re staying in someone’s actual home, but if you’re willing to forego many traditional amenities like a private bathroom, check-in at all hours, and last-minute bookings (although some hosts do offer these things), AirBnB can be an economical alternative. Listings might be as low as $15 for a spot on the sofa, or $30 for a private room all to yourself. Much better than $80-$100 or more for a hotel room, huh?

sofa bed

8. The Road Less Traveled

If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to blaze your own trail instead of following in the cookie-cutter footprints of those who went before you, check out AirBnB listings for your trip. AirBnB offers some of the most unique accommodations in the world, and hosts do indeed live all over the world. Check out glamping in Australia’s outback, a refurbished school bus in Sweden, a haunted house in New Orleans, and more. AirBnB listings are hosted by your fellow travelers and others who simply want to meet you and hear about your adventures. While some accommodations are literally in actual hotels, most are completely unique. Learn a little history when you stay in a period home, renew your spirit when you enjoy an outdoor living room, or get a taste of the luxurious life when you stay in a European castle. You literally choose your own adventure.

Photo by: Airbnb/Brand New Studio Earthship
Photo by: Airbnb/Brand New Studio Earthship

7. Meet a Local

What’s the best way to experience a destination like a local? Get to know one, of course! When you scroll through the listings at your destination, check out the profiles of potential hosts. Sometimes listings are hosted by transplants who fell in love with the place on their travels, and they can be fun to get to know. Usually, however, your host will be a local. Locals have a way of knowing a place’s secrets. They’ve been there most of their lives and can tell you the best places to eat, sights to see, and pitfalls to avoid, but even better, they themselves embody the essence of your destination. Their speech patterns, habits, quirks, and attitudes all reflect where they live. Even if you don’t get to actually meet your host (which sometimes happens) you’ll learn much about local culture simply by being in a local’s home.

Locals Cuba

6. Feel at Home

When you stay at a hotel, does it ever feel like an impersonal experience to you? Some high-end resorts and luxury hotels make an effort to address all of their guests by name, but at many hotels, you’re just the guest in 208. When you stay with an AirBnB host, however, you’re Jill, a horse-loving accountant who grew up in Vancouver, but moved to Banff to be closer to nature. Or Raymond from Montreal, a digital nomad whose life long goal is to eat one local dish from every country in the world. Your host only has so many guests, so he or she usually has plenty of time to get to know you. Hosts are known for creating individualized experiences by brewing up your favorite coffee, creating a tailored list of sights to see, or clipping your favorite flowers from the garden for your bedside table.

people chatting

5. Learn a Language

If you’re traveling to a place where people speak a foreign language, AirBnB is your opportunity to learn it! Brush up on your Spanish, French, Tagalog, Japanese, Swahili, or whatever tongue you’re working on. Many hotels make it a point to speak to you in your own language, but hosts don’t always have the resources to learn the language of each of their guests. That means you’ll be in situations where you’ll need to learn a few words in the local language. If you’ve already been introduced to the local language, or have been studying it, speaking with your host is a great opportunity to practice your accent and learn some turns of phrases that they don’t teach in school. There’s no better way to master a language than to speak with a native, so dive right on in over a cup of coffee with your host!

learning a new language

4. Support a Shared Economy

Did you know that when the housing market crashed in the United States, AirBnB helped save people’s homes? When thousands lost their jobs, hosting for AirBnB was the only way many of them met their mortgage payments each month. In a nutshell, that’s one of the greatest benefits of a shared economy. A shared economy makes it easier for people just like you to make money. Whether they are AirBnB hosts or Uber drivers, you’re helping them make ends meet. The best part is that your AirBnB host gets to keep nearly all of the profits of your stay. AirBnB only takes a small percentage of your booking, so that money goes right back into the local economy, not to some international chain whose headquarters are located on a different continent. It’s like giving back to the community that’s made your trip special in the first place.

welcome

3. Safe Transactions

When you book through AirBnB, those booking fees you pay go toward supporting the AirBnB infrastructure. AirBnB is constantly updating and improving their systems to make both hosting and traveling safer. For starters, your host never sees any of your financial information. In fact, they don’t even get a phone number or email address unless you want them to. Payment is made through a sort of “Escrow” system. When you book a space, AirBnB holds onto your money until the morning after your first night in the space you booked. Then they deliver these funds to your host – that is, unless you call AirBnB with a legitimate complaint – you can’t get into your room, the room was unlivable, or your host makes you feel uncomfortable. While few travelers have a problem with their hosts, it’s always good to know that there are systems in place for your safety.

secure payment

2. Meet Fellow Travelers

Much like a hostel-type atmosphere, many AirBnB hosts are the cultivators of friendly travel culture in their homes, whether intentional or not. People who enjoy traveling this way are often friendly, outgoing, and experienced travelers who can’t wait to get to know fellow wander lusters. If you’re of the same ilk, give AirBnB a try. It’s common to meet lifelong friends and travel partners on the road, and your host can be the perfect conduit for that. Even if you’re staying in a private room, your host may rent out more than one room to travelers. Enjoy conversation over morning coffee, ridesharing, and getting to know people from (other) far off places. Who knows? You might learn about a new place you’d like to visit someday, and if that place is one your fellow guest calls home, you’ll already have a connection there. How cool is that?

meeting people coffee shop

1. Personal Safety

For people who have never used AirBnB, staying in a stranger’s home might seem unsafe, especially in a place you’ve never been. You’ve probably seen horror stories about listings on the internet. These stories do not represent the norm, though. Most hosts want you to have a great time, and AirBnB is set up to provide you with a great, safe experience. Ah, the review system. When you stay at a listing, you and your host give each other reviews. Just as the reviews on your profile tell other hosts what kind of guest you are, the reviews on host profiles tell you about the kind of person and kind of place you’ll be staying with. If you’re concerned about your safety, only book with hosts who have 20 or more positive reviews. See what other guests like you have to say about them, and avoid anything that makes you feel uneasy.

arriving home

10 Great Jobs to Travel While You Work

Quitting your job and traveling the world is one of the most common daydreams. Sadly, the business of earning a living often gets in the way of prolonged vacationing. But what if you could do both? There are a number of jobs (both temporary and longer term- even career-oriented) that will not only support you with a decent income, but allow you to do so in exotic locales, seeing the world and giving whole new meaning to work/life balance. So put your skill set to work- the world over with one of these great travel jobs.

1. Flight Attendant

Being a Flight attendants has always been one of the more glamorous travel jobs; imagine boarding a plane every time you go to work and touching down somewhere else. Some of the perks of being a flight attendant are not only travel discounts and the ability to hop on board to international destinations, but also having a very flexible (often condensed) schedule, which is perfect if traveling is what you aim to do in your downtime. Stopovers will give you chance to explore your destinations of choice as well.

Flight attendant

2. Truck Driver

Ahhh.. the open road. Is there anything more full of opportunity than miles of asphalt laid out before you? Being a truck driver is the ultimate road trip-with pay. This will require you to have a commercial trucking license, but it also lets you experience miles of scenic road and the chance to stop at points of interests, big towns and small when you deliver your cargo.

Truck Driver

3. Nurse

Skilled health care is always in need. And if people in exotic destinations require help, why shouldn’t you be the one to provide it? There are number of agencies available that will post you in short and long term assignments, which will give you clinical experience, and give you the opportunity to live and experience different parts of the world. Many Travel Nurse placement agencies also cover costs of transportation (or subsidize) as well as offer benefits.

nurse and doctor

4. Au Pair

Do you like kids? Do you speak more than English? Do you dream of visiting distant lands? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, that is the first step to filling out an application to be an Au Pair. There are placement agencies, although you can certainly find a family through private channels as well. Essentially, you select a country (or countries) that are of interest and go from there. Pay for Au Pair work as well as duties, living arrangements and weekly work commitment will vary from family to family and country to country.

Au pair

5. Cruise Line Worker

Living on-board a ship. How cool is that? Add to the cool factor the idea of waking up in a different port every morning. It’s this kind of nomadic experience that really appeals to those seriously bitten by the travel bug and working on board a cruise ship allows that unique opportunity. Expect to work long hours, but most cruise lines have lots of organized activities for crew members in their down time. The other draw for cruise ship work is the huge long list of job description and requirements, making this appealing to people with a huge spectrum of skill sets.

Cruise Line Worker

6. ESL Teacher

Teaching English abroad has always been a popular travel job for North Americans; not only is there a unique opportunity to really immerse yourself in a culture of interest to you, but you gain valuable working experience which could pad your resume in the future. Also, the training, for the most part is accessible compared to some other designations for travel jobs (A TESL Certificate doesn’t take long to get, and is not hugely expensive). This is a great job for someone who seeks a “home-base” travel location. The hours are conducive to travel in nearby areas, expanding your live/work arrangement.

teaching english overseas

7. Tour Guide

If you are a people person, enjoy sharing knowledge and are passionate about a destination or experience, then consider working as a tour guide. One of the real benefits of being a tour guide (in addition to getting to see the sites) is that you get to share your enthusiasm with other travelers and to explore alongside them (even if you’ve experienced the tour dozens of times). There is always a need for personable, knowledgeable people who are inclined to lead a group. The scheduling is usually condensed (depending on the length of the tour), meaning lots of time to pursue your own personal travel goals.

tour guide

8. Yacht Crew

Think of cruising, but on a smaller scale. For the vast amount of the population who will never actually own a yacht, there is still a way to enjoy life on one- by signing on as yacht crew. These opulent floating mansions need staff (similar to their land equivalent) to tend to the needs of the owners, as well as drive, clean and maintain the ship. Who knows, you could even end up working for a high profile celebrity.

Yacht Crew

9. Virtual Job

If you’ve got access to a secure internet connection and reliable WiFi, there are “traditional” jobs that will let you work anywhere in the world, like IT and customer service. Maybe even your current job is portable? Somehow the daily 9-5 grind doesn’t seem too tedious when you’ve got a place with a view of turquoise water, or plans to hit the local pubs after work- with the actual locals in your exotic locale. The advent of the internet has not only shaped the way that we communicate with each other, it has changed what an “office” actually looks like.

working on beach

10. Freelancer

Do you write, code or design? Consider taking on work as a Freelance Writer, Editor, Developer or Designer. You can document your travels and share that story, or you can focus on another area of expertise. Again, all you really need is access to the internet. Freelance Photographers and Videographers are in demand as well, either to sell photos and video to publications or for other work (i.e. Wedding photos and videos in popular wedding destinations).

Writing

The 7 Dirtiest Things on an Airplane

Breaking news: airplanes are dirty, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to many who watch thousands of people load into these metal tubes and fly hours from one destination to another. But just how dirty are these airplanes, and which parts are the grossest? Travelmath website recently sent out a microbiologist to swap the insides of airplanes and discover the dirtiest things are. The results are not pretty and after reading you may just be tempted to step inside a Hazmat suit the next time you board an aircraft (or at the very least, bring some antibacterial wipes).

7. The Floor

EllenMoran / Getty Images

Watch an airline staff’s reaction next time they see someone walking in the aisle of an aircraft in bare feet, we bet they are cringing. That is because the floor of an airplane is absolutely filthy. Stop and think about what touches the floor of an airplane; dirty diapers, luggage that has been rolled through mud, vomit, dirt off people’s shoes, food, and who knows what else. Watch the people come onto the plane wearing flip flops and understand that these shoes are an avenue to dump dead skin cells, or how about the woman cutting her toenails at her seat and letting them fall to the floor? The absolute worst thing you can do though is going barefoot into the washrooms, where who knows what awaits you on those floors. Don’t use the “5-second rule” when you drop food, keep your shoes on and pack some hand sanitizer if you feel the need to touch the floor.

6. Pillows and Blankets

izusek / Getty Images

For any airline that recycles their pillows and blankets, we suggest not using them, for obvious hygiene reasons. Yet despite these reasons passengers from all over the world still continue to take the complimentary blankets and pillows. Unless it is sealed in a wrap, stay away, because once you touch that pillow you are at risk for contracting anything contagious the previous person may have had. Lice, herpes, a cold, the flu, these are just a few things that can live on solid objects. Many airlines re-fold the blankets and stuff them up into the overhead compartments between flights, and skip the washing stage. As well, pillows and blankets often end up on the floor, and as you have already read, the floor is not a clean place to come into contact with.

5. Window Shades

fanjianhua / Getty Images

There are two kinds of passengers on an airplane; aisle people and window people. If you are a window seat person you most likely want to see outside or use the window as a headrest while trying to catch some zzzz’s. The hard truth is though these window shades rarely get cleaned and when your face is pressed up against it, you should remember that someone else’s face was pressed up against it a couple of hours earlier. Like the tray table, the plastic window shades are potential germ farms and bacteria can live up to 120 hours on a single shade. Think about the unwashed hands that push down and pull up that shade, and think about the runny noses and drool from people’s mouths. Unlike the bathrooms which are wiped down multiple times a day, it’s not likely you will see a flight attendant come through the cabin wiping down the window coverings after every flight.

4. Seat Back Pocket

Nicholas Eveleigh / Getty Images

Have you ever stuck your book into the seat pocket in front of you, or how about the food wrapper? Did you ever stop to wonder how in the world those get cleaned? The most simple answer is they don’t get cleaned very often and therefore become a breeding ground for bacteria. Next time you are flying stick your hand way down into the bottom and feel how much dirt and crumbs are in there (and then wash your hands immediately) and we guarantee you won’t want to store anything in there. From dirty diapers to food to spilled drinks to used Kleenex’s, everything goes in these seat pockets. It should come as no surprise then that when you see the aircraft cleaners they are all using gloves to reach in the pockets to clean them out. Our best recommendation; avoid the seat pockets like the plague.

3. Seat Belts

Marija Jovovic / Getty Images

This is one thing that you have to touch, for your own safety but may we suggest using some hand sanitizer after you do so. That is because seat belts are one of the dirtiest things on the plane, and not just the buckles which collect food and dirt but the actual fabric seat belts themselves. The fabric creates the perfect setting for bacteria, which is collected from people’s clothing and skin. Seat belts rarely get cleaned, let’s be honest, and don’t get replaced until they need to be. Think about the toddler who is eating crackers and mashing them up in their hands, and then touching the seat belt in numerous spots. Think about the person who has the seat belt against their skin, or the one who blew their nose, didn’t wash their hands, and then buckled up. It is then perhaps the best strategy to buckle up once, sanitize those hands, and refrain from touching them.

2. Bathrooms

Image Source / Getty Images

It is a shock to many that bathrooms are not actually the dirtiest thing on the plane, but they do come in at number two with a variety of disgusting discoveries. So what is the dirtiest part of the bathroom? The toilet flush button is actually the dirtiest part, no surprise seeing as how people touch it without first washing their hands. The bathroom’s locks also happen to be pretty disgusting and often get overlooked by cleaning staff. The reason the bathrooms don’t make number one in terms of dirtiness is that they are cleaned multiple times throughout the day. Unlike tray tables or seats; bathrooms are a priority in cleaning. That being said we still recommended washing your hands, a lot, before and after being in an airplane washroom.

1. Tray Tables

Cherdchanok Treevanchai / Getty Images

Meet the dirtiest thing on an airplane, and you just happen to eat off it, place your things on it, and not think twice about the bacteria it may hold. Interestingly enough the microbiologists were not surprised by this finding as next to human skin, bacteria loves to attach itself to plastic. Think about the sugary drinks spilled on the tray tables, the dirty diapers that parents place on them, the grubby hands of children who haven’t washed them in hours and it all of a sudden doesn’t seem that shocking how dirty these tables really are. Combine that with the fact that tray tables often get overlooked by airline staff when they are cleaning and you’ve got the number one dirtiest thing on a plane. Next time you think about placing your apple on the tray before biting into it, remember what else may have been on the tray before your apple.

How to Travel with Carry-On Baggage Only

There is not a traveler around who hasn’t lost their luggage, especially when moving through flight connections. Considering the number of potential hurdles that lurk behind every flight (i.e. weather and other delays) sometimes it is a travel miracle if your luggage arrives at your destination with you. One way to streamline your travel (and to avoid those extra wait times at the baggage carousel) is to travel with carry-on baggage only. But how will you fit all that you need for your trip into that teeny bag? Read on!

7. Carry-On Pros

While you might be stressing at the thought of ditching your fleet of luggage in favor of that compact carry-on, traveling with a carry-on only is your best bet towards stress-free travel. Not only will you have everything you need at your fingertips, you’ll save on baggage fees. You won’t have to wrestle with baggage in the airport- or try to find transportation suitable for you and your bags. Traveling simplicity = a pack and go lifestyle.

Checked Baggage

6. The Bag

Obviously, the bag itself is your most crucial tool to have carry-on travel success. First, double check the size requirements for bags on your airline. Make sure that your bag is sturdy, expandable and has loads of pockets both on the inside and outside). Not the most glam accessory, but ensure that you are well stocked with Ziploc bags- which can help organize items- and save space. A good carry-on bag should have wheels as well. If you are living a life of travel simplicity, then make your movement as simple as possible!

Travel - Luggage

5. Packing Tips

It’s all about maximizing your space — so the way you put your clothes in your case really matters. Consider rolling clothes; not only does it save space and let you pack more things, it can prevent clothing from getting wrinkled more effectively.  Try layering clothes and then folding them together. Another good packing tool is compression bags which help eliminate air and increase space.

Packing (2)

4. The Business Trip

Your clothing requirements will be different, given the purpose of your trip, of course. Fellas, go for a neutral colored suit that can be changed up with different colored shirts and ties. Ladies, go for a base garment (brown or black dress pants or skirt) and concentrate your mix-and-match options on the top. You can completely change an outfit with a scarf, sweater or blazer. And don’t forget accessories! They take up no room and can re-invent yesterday’s outfit. Also choose a versatile pair of shoes (consider whether you’ll be standing for long periods). Do you need to pack your bulky laptop, or can you get away with bringing your tablet instead? One takes up a lot more space than the other!

Business Trip Packing

3. Pleasure Travel

Pleasure travel seems to require more clothing than business travel (perhaps because of the likelihood of multiple activities) but it doesn’t have to. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes, one dress and one casual (fun tip- fancy flip flops can count as dressy and take up little space).  Think about including multipurpose clothing, like cargo pants that have lots of pockets and can zip off or roll up into shorts or capris. If more formal evenings are part of your journey, then don’t forget that quintessential little black dress is a must-have (think sundress which can do double duty during the day). Pack a light weight coat and an umbrella as well. You may be counting on sunny skies, but will be glad to be dry (especially if you’ve only got a few outfits to work with).

Packing 1

2. Luggage Work Arounds

Doing chores on your holiday may not be your cup of tea, but throwing in a load of laundry while traveling is generally far more convenient than trying to track down lost checked luggage. Check out laundry facilities (you can even send it out at your hotel, if that is more convenient). Depending on the length of your trip, you may even want to consider shipping a box or two of clothes to your destination. It might end up being cheaper (and more convenient) then checking extra baggage.

Mail a Box

1. What Not to Pack

Use a minimalist approach. Leave your toiletries at home and use those supplied by your hotel (you won’t be able to bring large amounts of liquid in your carry-on on board the plane anyways). Don’t pack more clothes than are absolutely essential. We are all guilty of throwing clothing in a suitcase “just-in-case” and leaving them hanging in the cupboard. Leave jewelry and valuables at home. Not only does this take up room in your suitcase, you run the risk of having them get lost or stolen.  Have a think about some items that you can buy there (i.e. sunscreen, guidebooks, etc.). Streamline your gadgetry. Load up your tablet or phone with apps and leave everything else at home.

Packing (3)

7 Best Road Trip Movies

The call of the open road carries with it a certain cinematic quality, which is probably why there is such an abundance of road trip movies. Whether it’s a Buddy movie, some sort of Rom Com that shows a fated couple sharing a car for days or some sort of fugitives hitting the highway, the road trip movie is one of the best movie sub-genres there is for a reason: because of there is always a story to tell, no matter where you are going and who is with you.

7. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

When you’ve got John Candy and Steve Martin as headliners, you know you’ve got a funny show on your hands. Throw in inclement weather, the deadline of an approaching holiday and the combination of a bumbling, good-hearted fool coupled with an exasperated traveler stranded against his will, you get this classic travel flick. One of the most memorable scenes from this movie involves Martin and Candy driving (in the “automobile” portion of the film) the wrong way on an airplane runway. As passersby try to alert the duo that they are going the wrong way on a collision course, Candy famously says, “How do they know which way I’m going?”

Courtesy Everett Collection
Courtesy Everett Collection

6. National Lampoon’s Vacation

This iconic flick features the ultra-family vacation, led by the fearless (if not clueless) Clark Griswald (Chevy Chase) who takes his family cross country to visit Wally World (aka Disney World). It is a great parody on those family road trips (are we there yet) that we’ve all been on, complete with colorful stops along the way: visits with weird, distant relatives, staying at grungy motels and driving off the road. One of the most classic series of scenes in this movie feature Chevy Chase’s character having several flirty, but goofy encounters with the super-glam Christie Brinkley.

(c) Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection
(c) Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

5. Dumb and Dumber

The original Dumb and Dumber pairs together dimwitted buddies Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) on a cross-country romp inspired by the greatest motivator of all- true love (albeit one-sided). Jim Carrey’s character is a limo driver and develops a crush on a lovely lady (Lauren Holly). She “forgets” a briefcase behind (actually part of a kidnapping/ransom scheme) and Lloyd and Harry embark on a hilarious journey full of top notch physical comedy.

(c) New Line/courtesy Everett Collection
(c) New Line/courtesy Everett Collection

4. Due Date

One of the most important ingredients of a solid road trip movie is at least a pair of mismatched goofballs- and Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. certainly meet those criteria. Robert Downey Jr. plays a wound up business man, bound home on a plane to be with his wife for the impending birth of their child (hence the name of the movie). Galifianakis’ mouthy character ends up causing them both to be ejected from the flight. With limited transportation, this unlikely duo depart on a screwball trip across the country with misadventures, including a wrong turn across the Mexican border, skirmishes with the police and one of them accidentally shooting the other (we won’t say who).

Photo by: Macleans
Photo by: Macleans

3. Tommy Boy

Yet another Buddy Road trip movie, where opposites learn to tolerate- and then eventually respect each other. In this fun flick, the hilarious Chris Farley plays a perpetual frat guy, tasked with the rather grown up job of trying to save his family’s business after the sudden death of his father. He embarks on a road trip with his father’s tightly wound assistant (David Spade). A highlight: during a stop for gas, Chris Farley’s character does one of the best solo dances to the song from Flashdance “Maniac,” ever.

(c) Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.
(c) Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

2. Wizard of Oz

There’s no place like home! But there is also no place like the road- especially when it’s made of yellow bricks. This classic could be considered one of the original road trip movies. Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion bond quickly and tackle their fair share of adversity in short order. And when your roadside stops include an orchard with talking trees, a castle inhabited with flying monkeys and the Emerald City, this is a trip worth taking.

PREMIUM --
PREMIUM —

1. Rat Race (2001)

This classic remake features an all-star cast (Rowan Atkinson, Jon Lovitz, John Cleese, Seth Green and others). John Cleese stars as the off-the-wall owner of the Venetian Hotel and Casino. In order to entice his high-rolling gamblers, he comes up with a betting game surrounding a group of unsuspecting regular Joes sent out on a madcap treasure hunt, which they watch and bet upon. The results are hilarious, as this group races against each other from locale to locale.

Photo by: Fan Pop
Photo by: Fan Pop

6 Pizza Toppings You Only Find On Vacation

It’s one of America’s favorite foods. It comes straight to your door, can be ordered from thousands of vendors, and can even be kept frozen and waiting – for whenever a pizza mood may strike. It’s a staple that we’ve grown to know and love as a culture. Whether we eat it every week, or choose to admire it from afar. But one of the main factors raising pizza to this highly worthy stature is its versatility. From toppings, to sauces, to flavor and thickness of crust, it can be changed tremendously. Transforming it into a completely different dish, but by only changing a few things. Winning, right? In honor of this incredible dish, we’ve searched high and low in order to find the quirkiest, and most unusual toppings. Ones that can only be found in the midst of your travels. The next time you’re hankering for a slice of pie, consider trying these local versions.

6. Smoked Reindeer Pizza

Yup, that’s right. And it’s far tastier than it sounds. Hailing from Finland, this unique dish is served at Kotipizza. (Consider it the Finland equivalent of America’s Pizza Hut.) Their smoked reindeer pizza is known as Pizza Berlusconi, and hosts (in addition to its crowd-bringing meat), tomato, cheese, red onion, and chanterelle, a yellow mushroom. It might sound strange, but locals agree it’s worth trying…and then trying again. In fact, it’s a best seller among the popular chain. In 2008, they won America’s Plate International pizza contest, which was hosted in New York City. Still not convinced? The restaurant’s motto is “Pizza, Love, & Understanding” – they could really use some American understanding of just how delicious reindeer can be. Those who try it are universally repeat eaters!

 Photo By: JIP
Photo By: JIP

5. Greek Food Pizza

This might not be its technical name, but considering how many Greek foods it actually holds, we’re lumping it into a single title. This concoction, which can be found in Milwaukee, hosts gyro (the g is silent), onion, tomato, and tzatziki, a popular cucumber dip piled on top of Greek dishes. Ian’s Pizza founded this recipe as a way to cater to its more eclectic customer taste buds. You can also order a Chili Frito pie, BBQ ribs, sweet potato and kale, and mac and cheese – yep, there’s a such thing as a macaroni and cheese pizza. Going by popular demand, however, Greek food pizza is the way to go. And considering it combines to types of favorite cuisines, we’re guessing there’s very little that could go wrong, and pretty much everything that could go right.

Photo by: Ian's Pizza/Facebook
Photo by: Ian’s Pizza/Facebook

4. Banana Curry

These two toppings might sound like a breakfast food mixed with a dinner spice. Or a dessert ingredient mixed in with a savory flavor addition. But in Sweden, it’s called dinner. Banana Curry pizza is a long-time favorite, and is even known as a “classic” dish among swedes. The dish can be found at virtually every pizza joint in the entire country. And for those who are still having a hard time picturing (or tasting) this version, think of a version of Hawaiian pizza, just with curry on top. Locals say it’s worth trying (a few times), and once savored, you’ll never go back to “plain” versions again.

Photo by: FLICKR / OLA WAAGEN
Photo by: FLICKR / OLA WAAGEN

3. Pastrami

Imagine the best pastrami sandwich you’ve ever had. It’s caked with mustard (the good, tangy kind), pickles, cheese, and the bread is absolutely amazing. Crisp on the outside, yet soft in the middle. Oh and it’s piping hot. Now imagine that instead of a sandwich, you’re eating a piece of pizza. It sounds delicious, right? Well you’re in luck, because this exact pizza exists. And you can sink your teeth into it the next time you visit NYC, the Bronx, to be exact. Think of it as a less calorie-filled pastrami sammmy, and without half of the mess. Pastrami on the go! Just like you’ve always hoped for!

Photo by: ChildofMidnight at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: ChildofMidnight at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons

2. Emu and Kangaroo

The folks in Australia have no qualms about cooking up the local wildlife, and their pizza toppings are a strong reflection of those natural hunting ways. Visitors of Sydney’s Australian Hotel can order a pie that is half emu, half kangaroo in order to get their taste buds on all types of game. The dish also gets piled with bush tomato, capsicum, and cranberries – an unexpected twist – to top it off. And of course, each pizza is complete with a thick, bready crust. After all, with toppings like those, they’re in need of something incredibly sturdy to hold it all in. This pizza might sound strange, but we’re ready to book a trip down under just to give it a try!

Photo by: Whats New?
Photo by: Whats New?

1. Full English Breakfast

We’ve saved the most impressive for last. It’s likely that you’ve heard of breakfast pizza, as well as an English breakfast (in its entirety). But we’re also guessing you haven’t heard of the two being combined until now. A practice that readily takes place in the UK. Where folks eat this incredibly filling dish for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack – or really whenever the mood strikes. Its ingredients include pretty much every meat possible (bacon, ham, ground sausage, black pudding (it’s actually sausage, not pudding), etc. though many are likely to nix pepperoni for a “breakfast dish.”), mushrooms, baked beans, plenty of cheese. And of course, the whole thing is topped with an egg. The kicker? It’s called American Pizza. Be sure and try in the next time you’re in London … just don’t be fooled by its misleading name.

Photo by: Just Eat: The Mini Feed
Photo by: Just Eat: The Mini Feed

9 Tips for Visiting Alaska

As the largest state in the U.S., Alaska offers some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet. With vast open ice fields, snow capped mountains, miles of green forest and fresh spring lakes, it’s unspoiled wilderness is not just for outdoor enthusiasts, but is appealing to anyone who appreciates being surrounded by natural beauty. The vast size of the state can be a bit daunting for the average traveler, but here are a few tips on where to start and on how to best experience this beautiful part of the world.

9. When Should I Go?

While each of the seasons offer unique experiences, when you should visit really depends on what you want to see and do.  Seasons to observe wildlife vary on the species. Peak tourist season runs from mid-June to August, with more mild temperatures (60-80 F) and extended hours of daylight, because of its northern location. Summer solstice (June 21) offers 19 hours of daylight (which is really an alternating between twilight and sunlight). For those who love outdoor winter recreation, December through March will give you lots of options. Better bundle up though; average temps range from 5 to 30 F.

alaska

8. How Do I Get There?

Again access to Alaska really depends on where you want to visit and what type of vacation you’re after. Southcentral Alaska and the Inside Passage are the most accessible point in Alaska if arriving by plane or cruise ship. It’s also important to note that much of Alaska is only accessible by plane or boat, particularly the remote Far North.

alaska cruise

7. Inside Passage

Accessible by plane to Juneau (Alaska’s capital), but most often visited by cruise ship travelers,  the Inside Passage is a stunning interlock of islands, beaches, waterfalls and Fjords. Not only does this stretch offer incredible natural beauty, it is also is a great spot to observe a lot of Alaska’s native wildlife, like sea lions, bald eagles and humpback whales.

humpback alaska

6. Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley is the tallest peak in North America, towering at 20,237 ft. above sea level, jetting  18,000 ft. up from its base. On a clear day, this mountain is something to behold, with its snow-covered peaks and jagged, rugged faces, ridges and crevices. Mount McKinley is located in Denali National Park. The mountain was first scaled in the early 1900’s and has a success rate of just over 50 percent of climbers reaching the summit. Conditions are prime for climbing typically from May through mid- July. Through the end of July and August, temperatures are more pleasant, but conditions are less stable, with avalanche risk and other dangers increasing.

Mount McKinley

5. Anchorage

Although small by other urban standards, Anchorage claims the title as Alaska’s biggest city with a population of just over 300,000. Many travelers use Anchorage as a home base to tour Alaska, in part because it is where most of the flights to Alaska land, and in part because it is conveniently located to Denali National Park, Prince William Sound and Kenai Fjords National Park. Within the boundaries of Anchorage itself is Chugach State Park, the third largest in the U.S., with plenty of outdoor recreation options, both in winter and summer. For those staying put in Anchorage, there are plenty of tourist attractions, including the Anchorage Museum, which celebrates local culture and history, and the Alaska Zoo, which is open year-round.

Anchorage

4. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Located in the Inside Passage, the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is majestic, spreading out over an amazing 3.3 million acres, with snow-capped mountains, vast forests and glaciers. It is also a biosphere reserve and a designated world heritage site. The hearty outdoors enthusiast will jump at the chance to go hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting or mountaineering in this ruggedly beautiful terrain. Most of the park has no trails or roads, so it promises the chance to immerse yourself in nature. It’s popular with campers as well, with a number of walk-in campsites available.

Glacier Bay National Park

3. Fairbanks

Fairbanks is the second largest city in Alaska and is located in the Interior region. It’s an especially popular spot to take in the night light show of the Northern Lights, that cause the sky to glow in brilliant colors. The colors are most intense from late August through April and are best viewed in the late evening through to the early morning. There are lots of different ways in Fairbanks to see the Northern Lights. You can sit inside a heated aurorium cabin, on a dogsled trip or in a horse drawn sleigh. In fact, Fairbanks is so confident in their nightly light show, that they claim if you stay there for three nights, you’ll have an 80 percent chance of experiencing the Aurora Borealis.

Fairbanks

2. Kenai Fjords National Park

Yet another spectacular national park in Alaska, the Kenai Fjords National Park encompasses nearly 40 glaciers that source from the Harding Icefield. The park was created as a means to protect area wildlife, and the ability to observe a number of different species in their natural habitat is a major tourist draw; the park is nearly 60 per cent covered in ice and snow.  Visitors can cruise their way through the Fjords and be amazed by the sheer size and beauty of the ice walls that mark their journey. Guided tours on cruise boats depart from nearby Seward.

Kenai Fjords National Park

1. Nome

Located on the coast of the Bering Sea, Nome is famous for its place in the Gold Rush in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that figures heavily into Alaska’s history. Nome’s gold rush was characterized by the ease with which gold could be acquired, with much of it lying visibly in beach sands. Gold prospectors flooded the town in the early 1900s to get their share of the abundant metal. Today, Nome is best known as the finish line for the famous Iditarod Trail Dog Sled race, which goes for 1049 miles through icy wilderness and extreme conditions.

Iditarod Trail Dog Sled race