Best Travel Tips of 2016

Best Travel Tips of 2016

Do you ever feel like you make a travel breakthrough? Like, you discover this one little thing that suddenly makes you shameful for all the years you spent without knowing it?

The past few years I’ve traveled a lot by myself, and a lot with family. I’ve gone on road trips with friends, with each member of my immediate family, and with my entire family. I’ve traveled for debate competitions, for school, for fun, and to move across the country. There have been a lot of learning experiences and a lot of adventures. Here are some of the things that stuck out to me the most this year as “YES, THE INTERNET MUST KNOW!” sort of things.

  1. Always bring fuzzy socks on the plane. It almost makes economy feel like first class. Almost.
  2. Keep your body and your skin hydrated. Bring lotion and chapstick on the plane! Carry a water bottle everywhere you go! Especially if you live somewhere hot, you can’t afford to get stuck without water.

3. If you bring your own mug and tea bag, the coffee shops in the airport will give you free water. You get a lot more tea than you would on a plane AND it’s made with much cleaner water than airplane water.

4. Book the hotel room beforehand. I always book hotels and hostels ahead of time, even if it’s just the morning before I need the room. My mom and dad don’t, and let me tell you – after two separate road trips that involved frustrated room searching, they’ve converted to the “book before hand” mindset!


5. Seek out the weird. Atlas Obscura and Roadside America are essential tools for planning a trip that’s a little bit colorful. Eat something weird! See something quirky! Adventure a little!

6. Be the first in the airport. Not in a pushy way, but in a “plan ahead and know what you’re doing” sort of way. Be the first to volunteer to take a later flight. Volunteer to switch seats with someone. Keep a close watch on flight updates so you’re first in the customer service line when your flight gets canceled.

7. See stuff close by. You know how long we’d lived in New Hampshire for before we went to explore NYC? Eighteen years. Yep, nearly two decades living four hours away from one of the greatest cities on the planet before we ventured in. Hop on your favorite travel website or Atlas Obscura and see what’s near you.

8. Always bring boots. Once I left my boots behind and we got stuck in a blizzard. I had to wade through snow in my dress shoes. Once I had to borrow my mother’s shoes to go on a challenge course. (This was uncomfortable for everyone involved, since she’s a 6 and I’m an 8.) Bring boots everywhere! (If you’re not a boots person, I would plead with you to change your ways – if you absolutely refuse, bring sneakers instead.)

9. Educational travel can be awesome. I went on a trip with my school this summer to study the geology, history, and culture of Montana, with a special focus on Lewis and Clark. You know what we did that we couldn’t have done if we weren’t university affiliated? Go to one of the most famous and scientifically important paleontology sites in the world. It was AWESOME, and I learned a lot, too!

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10. Be a force of calm. We broke down three times in Montana and ended up returning home early. I can’t tell you how many times we got terribly lost or couldn’t find a hotel room when driving between New Hampshire and New Mexico. Asking “what can I do?”, keeping a positive mindset, and being willing to compromise are such important skills for frequent travelers that I can’t over emphasize them. Learn to spread a sense of calm and you will leave a positive impression with everyone you meet on the road.

11. Modular packing is awesome. Whether you use compression bags or modular bags, this style of packing will improve your trip one hundred fold. Promise.

12. Get a good sunscreen. Ideally, you should have two: one for your body, one for your face. They should be good for your skin, not a pain to wear, and easy to apply. I had no idea how much of difference a good sunscreen could make until I got one. My favs are Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer SPF 100 Spray (body) and Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunscreen SPF 70 (face). Both are light, non-streaking, and good for sensitive skin. You can even pat the liquid sunscreen on over makeup if you’re careful about it. If you want something that’s good for face and body, Aveeno’s Baby Sunscreen SPF 55 is a quality (and cheap) pick.

13. Always bring anti-nauseous. Yep, I’m the girl who always has Bonine or ginger tea for you. I can and will offer it to queasy-looking strangers. Sure, it costs me money, but it improves life for everyone, since no one’s getting sick and no one has to deal with a vomiting stranger. It’s a win-win.

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What have your travels taught you this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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