I was never into the idea of traveling for much of my life. The idea of packing, unpacking, navigating around a destination, and staying in a new place always deterred me from it. While most of my friends spent semesters abroad in college I stuck around Chicago, a place I was determined to never leave (like EVER). Even when my best friend spent a summer in Germany and I cried because I had nobody to hang out with, the idea of traveling still seemed like an awful task (like running).
And then I met my travel partner.
Here I was, dating a person whose personal goal was to travel as much as they could while in grad school and I hadn’t stepped out of the midwest in 5 years, a combination set up for failure surely. But the best thing about dating Chad was that he was constantly challenging me to step out of my comfort zone (and still is). Suddenly, traveling didn’t seem so awful, I was just missing my perfect traveling partner this whole time. I knew I was in love with Chad long before we started traveling together, but after a trip to Portland (that also involved my best friend and her love) I knew I was in it for the long run.
So, after 5 years, and one semi-failed vacation, Chad and I have obsessed over the art of successful travel. These things tend to make our trips a bit easier and more enjoyable.
1. Have a schedule, but not so rigid that you’re going to freak if you don’t stick to it. It’s just nice to have an idea (in some sort of documentation) of what you want to do.
2. Use the app, HotelTonight, for really awesome discounted hotels. The app curates a small group of specialty and regular hotels and puts them up for booking at noon the day of. We have had great success with them and stayed in some hotels that we would never be able to afford normally. This route may not be the best for the overly anxious. In the past we have booked a room for most of our trip beforehand and then used the app the last day, to make the trip extra special. Also, HotelTonight, has definitely saved our butts during unpredictable road trips.
3. Try to figure out what you’re doing by neighborhood. Planning geographically allows for you to really enjoy a neighborhood and feel a bit like a local. Walk as much as you can, otherwise you can miss some really awesome hidden gems.
4. Do not let Yelp rule where you eat. Yelp is an awful thing to base an experience off of. Rather, go to a cafe and ask a barista where you should eat/drink/experience. Also, tip kindly.
5. Before your trip, ask your trustworthy friends if they have been to your destination and see if they have any recommendations.
6. Go on some sort of public transportation if the destination has it. Seriously.
7. If you jam pack your trip with things you want to experience, you might miss out on being present. So, don’t worry about getting the best instagram shot or seeing everything at once. Just be present.
8. Lastly, try to get to a photo booth. It’s a great takeaway that you’ll have to always remember the trip (even if it’s a bust).