Our Tips for Smart Travel
We love June. Aside from being the month where seemingly everyone is in a good mood (hello, summer!), it also marks the kickoff of the unofficial season of travel. Whether it’s a taking a domestic road trip or an overseas haul, we’re huge fans of the adventure, excitement, and magic of travel. What we’re less enthusiastic about: The often-sobering reality of it all.
You know what we’re talking about – hellish traffic, sky-high expenses, and sub-par hotel food, to name a few. While some of that is inevitable – sadly, we are not yet the gods of traffic – a lot of it is avoidable. Oftentimes it’s just a matter of some smarts, savvy, and a good attitude. While, we’re no experts, here are some of the tips we’ve collectively picked up along the way to travel smarter. Read on!
Get social – let people know where you are going.
This is a surprising recommendation coming from me, because I am not one for blasting my plans on social media. (I prefer to have my meals in anonymity, thank you very much.) However, I have found that social media is a great place to procure travel recommendations. For instance, back in December we – as in, S.W. Basics – posted that we were in New Orleans for vacation and asked for must-dos. Solid recommendations came flooding in on everything from where to drink sazerac to what local artists we should be peepin’. Moreover, when I was heading to Houston years ago for a solo work trip, I posted on Facebook asking if anyone had dinner tips. A friend connected me to a friend and I ended up having the best night out ever with a bunch of pickup-truck-driving, PBR-drinking, brisket-loving, crazy-ass Texans.
Lesson here: When it comes to travel, your social media “friends” can actually become – or connect you to – real friends.
Beignets and Lip Balm in New Orleans
Splurge on drinks, not dinner.
This is a tip that transcends travel, but is particularly apropos when scoping out a new city. Oftentimes people feel like they need to splurge on dinner at one of the nicest restaurants in town, only to be let down by an average meal and a really expensive tab. Alternatively, some of us shun the idea of splurging on any meal out because of budgets …and end up feeling like we did nothing special.
I am a huge fan of doing something that falls a bit in the middle (although much more on the cheap-y side). Head to a really nice bar – oftentimes it is the city’s top hotel bar – and go-for-broke by savoring one delicious and criminally-overpriced drink. Not only will the experience feel utterly special, you might get lucky and get some delicious snacks (chips, bar nuts, olives) to help pre-game for that night’s dinner. Which, in my ideal world, would be some equally delicious, criminally underpriced street food. High-low, anyone? (PS: Not into drinking? Afternoon tea is another option!)
Drinks and games in Stowe, Vermont
Forget the concierge – make friends with bartenders and baristas.
While concierges can be wonderful, helpful, and indispensible to some, I’ve found that the most valuable resources for getting to know a new place are the local baristas and bartenders. In the case of a barista, you begin your day with them, so it’s a natural time to plan out your morning, afternoon, and evening. With a bartender, the chatty nature of a bar setting – and the fact that you might be lubricated by a glass of wine – encourages conversation. In both cases, I have received excellent recommendations on what to do and what to see in a given locale. In fact, when I was in Charleston several years ago, I had one bartender recommend a coffee shop for the next morning, only to have that barista refer me back to that bar. Talk about validation.