Whether you travel weekly, annually or bi-centennially, you have certain coping techniques and travel tips for dealing with life on the road. We asked some of our contributing travel writers, gals who have trekked all around the world and back, to spill their fave travel secrets, from the best place to grab a drink, their can’t miss attraction or even how to survive a plane ride! Here is what they say, just in time for this busy travel season!
Claudia Laroye – travel writer, blogs at The Travelling Mom
Helen Earley – Family Fun Halifax Editor and Former Flight Attendant
Joanne Elves – travel writer
Jody Robbins – travel writer – blogs at Travels with Baggage
Melissa Vroon – Co Founder Family Fun Canada
Sarah Deveau – travel writer – blogs at Doing all the Things
Voula Martin – Co Founder Family Fun Canada
Don’t Leave home without it – What is the one thing you can’t live without on the road?
Headphones and Earplugs came up a lot! Says Sarah, “I can’t live without earplugs on the road! They help me catch some zzz’s on airplanes and buses, and can drown out partying neighbours, construction, a wedding reception or just loud nightlife. If I’m travelling with the kids in the same room, earplugs help me slumber while they watch morning cartoons!” Another reason to get those headphones? “Ear buds don’t block out the noise of the engines”, says Melissa who found herself adjusting the volume up constantly during in flight movies. A good pair of sound blocking headphones will block out background noise and make for a much more enjoyable inflight entertainment experience.
Wet Wipes are also necessary according to Melissa, “Always have wipes when you are travelling with your kids regardless of their age. They’re great for disinfecting airplane tray tables, wiping sticky hands, washing hands before eating.”
A Pashmina “For air travel, I pack an eyeshade, ear plugs, travel wipes, and my pashmina. It’s always so cold on the plane,” says Claudia Laroye. Adds Helen , “that Pashmina scarf is multipurpose! It’s a headscarf, a blanket, a beach wrap, a fashion accessory!”
Other honorable mentions were runners (“I love running around a new city, beach or trail” says Joanne) and for Voula, a travel candle (because hotel bathroom fans never work) and a power strip because there are never enough plug ins!
However want to know the most important thing of all? Jody speaks from experience when she says “Don’t leave home without a picture of your ID! Snapshot your Driver’s license and Passport/Nexus card which you will save to your phone and your traveling companion’s phone, in case yours gets lost/stolen, too.”
Best way to get rest in transit?
We were torn here on whether coffee and booze were a good thing. Some of us lay off the coffee and drink water instead (Voula) but others like Helen feel a stiff drink is just what the travel doctor ordered! In moderation, of course!
Pampering is key for Melissa. She created her own inflight mini-spa kit for long flights that includes a refreshing facial mist, de-stressing essential oil roll on and hand lotion for quick refresher before take-off and landing.
Other great ways to get rest in transit? Jody counts on an inflatable neck pillow for comfort, and downloads a free meditation app like HeadSpace so she can drowse off naturally.
Best Way to Stay Healthy on vacation?
Avoiding germs, choosing what we put in our bodies wisely and getting exercise are the top three!
According to Jody, you should “indulge when it’s worth it and make a game of out of choosing the healthiest option on the menu when it’s not worth it. Also, you’ll probably be walking a lot if you’re on a city break, but if you’re at a resort, make a point to join the aqua-aerobics class or go for a long run/walk before breakfast. That’ll set you up for the whole day.
The best way to stay healthy while travelling is to “lay off the booze, and drink plenty of water” says Sarah. “Pick up fresh food so you can eat healthy on travel days, or when you’re in a car or bus”.
Frequent hand washing, and wiping down of surfaces (bathrooms, hotel doors & remotes) with antibac wipes keeps germs at bay but Claudia also packs a Ziploc of meds, including allergy medication, and Boiron’s Oscillococcinum to reduce symptoms should she fall ill.
No one likes being stiff and creaky so for getting the kinks out after a long trip, “a tennis ball and a wall” are great says Helen. They’re perfect for loosening up shoulder blades and stiff glutes!
Fave way to keep the kids happy?
Water – “a beach, pool, lake, whatever – just being in and around water makes children happy” says Voula.
Engage them – Let them plan part of the holiday. Jody and her daughter make sure there is an equal mix of activities everybody in their family want to tackle. Plan together by looking at pictures together, showing them options of cool things online and getting into movies and books of your destination before the trip.
But, Joanne also feels it’s important we don’t forget to relax and give them some time to be kids. Don’t structure absolutely everything!
Claudia has traveling with teens down to a fine art and says, “With teenagers, the Wi-Fi password (and resulting social media access) keeps them happy. There’s just no getting around it. With my active boys, daily hikes, walks, or skiing is super key to their well-being. They are happy after an active day!”
Coping with crowds and travel delays
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, says Helen. And never book anything for Day 1! Not only will you avoid disappointment caused by delays but you will enjoy it more when you’re not tired and haggard from a long journey.
Joanne says, “Don’t be afraid to get down on the floor with the kids and play a game. We used to take fresh crayons and new colouring books just in case. A deck of cards travels easy. With older kids do a scavenger hunt in the terminal. They can use the camera on the phone to prove they saw what you asked for. For getting though crowded train stations or terminals, walk single file with the kids in the middle. Make it fun by winding around a bit.
Jody always has back-up movies loaded on devices (make sure kids know in advance these are for emergencies only) and always carries extra food, a change of underwear, toothbrush and a yes, a pack of cards.
One place you always visit or see in a new city
“If there is water to be in or walk by, we are there. Beaches at low tide are magnets for us” says Joanne. Water also excites Helen who seeks out a 25m pool and uses this site which lists them all: www.swimmersguide.com
Jody likes to take a guided city tour – ideally by bike or foot, or a double-decker bus will do. Sounds cheesy, but you get the lay of the land and learn more facts about your destination than locals know. Tour guides know their stuff!
Vintage shopping gets Sarah excited “When in a new city, I always look for the thrift stores in high-end neighbourhoods. They get the best stuff!”
And for Claudia, it’s food! “I love visiting local bakeries, cafes, markets or grocery stores. You can tell a lot about a new place by the type of food local people eat”
Favorite hotel, patio or bar in the whole wide world
For Jody, the Trump Waikiki and The Post Hotel in Lake Louise are tops!
Vancouver based Claudia has a hard time chosing just one! “Locally, I love the Fairmont Pacific Rim and the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. Abroad, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu is a pink paradise in Waikiki!
Helen’s choices are even more exotic! “I adore the hotel bar at the top of the Raffles Swissotel, Singapore”. And as a former airline crew member, “The Truck” at the bottom of the parking lot of the ANA hotel in Narita was the place to be!”
With these travel tips you’ll be jet setting like a pro!