Thursday, September 12, 2013

Going Places? My Travel Tips

As you know (if you scroll down), I've just returned from a week in Europe and every time I go, I think I get a little better at packing.  Although I'm no jet setter, I've learned a lot from past mistakes and wanted to share some tips that you can totally ignore, but I hope they'll be helpful.

On blending in...
The way I see it, the person spending 10 hours on her feet going to museums and exploring a city with a map and camera can only blend in so much.  Locals go to and from work, meet up with friends at cafes, and run errands - their outfits and footwear are serving a different purpose.  I think a lot of people get so caught up in looking like a local that they wear something they'd never consider for an active day stateside.  I've had to make the shameful trip back to the hotel for different shoes and clothes, and now I follow a few guidelines:
  • Consider how casual the local culture is, and let it be a guide but not a mandate.  By avoiding uber American styles like khaki pants, athletic clothes, and t-shirts with college or sports team logos, you'll automatically look less obvious than most of the other tourists.  So wear your comfortable shoes with some cropped slim pants or jeans and a fashionable tee, and enjoy your day!  Then, if you need to dress up a little, swap out the tennis shoes for some foldable ballet flats when you go to dinner.

On luggage...
Judging from the way my bag is manhandled by airports, I will never spend big money on luggage.  However, I highly recommend a visit to your local Ross or TJ Maxx, where I spent $32 on a Samsonite suitcase with 4 spinning wheels that's currently selling for about $150 at Macy's.  The ability to roll your suitcase through the airport without supporting the weight is totally worth it.  
On packing light...
Furthermore, you should do everything you can to avoid bringing more than one bag in addition to your suitcase.  Walking through train stations and airports trying to juggle a tote, carry-on, and suitcase is just crazy, and it gets worse when you encounter the spiral stairs to your fourth floor walk-up in Amsterdam.  Pack light!!

The best way to do that is to plan to wear your clothes more than once (admit it, you do it anyway) and rely on fun scarves and necklaces to add style to basic dark jeans, black pants, and tees.  I swear, it works!  You will get no funny looks, and if your tops get smelly you can hand wash them in the tub.

On saving money...
Even if you stay in a hotel, you don't need to eat out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Upon arrival, make a trip to a grocery store for some granola bars, fruit, nuts, and other snacks that you can enjoy for breakfast and keep in your purse during the day.  

This past trip, we rented apartments in both cities, and were able to pick up some steam and serve meals for dinner and limit pricey restaurant meals where a glass of water is 2 Euro.  Had we been in Paris, it would have been fresh baguettes and cheese!  In addition to the amenities, we saved lots of money compared to local hotels without scary reviews. 

our flat in London (courtesy of Google)

Do you have any travel tips to share?  How do you navigate a different city/country without going overboard on packing  and spending?


  1. Agree 100% on the outfits. My husband and I never ever wear logo clothing when we travel abroad. I get asked for directions in Paris, which always amuses me.

    For breakfast, we never spend too much money, but look for the bakery or like place near our hotel. A croissant in the morning for a couple of Euro is perfect.

    1. I should also say - losing a wheel on my carry-on suitcase halfway through a trip to China was enough for me to stop buying cheap suitcases. I'm always after a deal though, so we shop for new suitcases on Black Friday. Usually at Kohl's or other similar stores we can get a Samsonite for cheap.

  2. i never wear logos, limit my luggage to one carry-on suitcase (got it on overstock so cheap!) and a larger purse, and almost always go to the grocery store for snacks. i really love the idea of renting apartments instead of staying in hotels.



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