4 Essential Tricks to Prepare for Your Next Getaway

Vacation preparation can make or break your trip. Too little can leave you longing to return home, while too much can take the fun and spontaneity out of the adventure. But with the right amount of planning, you can have everything you need and learn just enough of the ins and outs of your destination city to get you headed in the right direction.


Do Your Research

Begin researching your destination a month before your trip. Use an easily accessible tool like the free notetaking app Evernote, so you can access your research lists from anywhere that you have Internet access. Organize your notes into categories: restaurants, activities, cultural sights and any other areas of interest. For each entry on your list, include the neighborhood, address, cross streets and a brief description of why it caught your interest. This will make your research especially helpful upon arrival.

When you’re looking for restaurants, search in a variety of trusted sources to get a well-rounded taste of the local culinary scene. For a special treat, start at the high end to find Michelin-starred restaurants and then peruse Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler and the New York Times before sorting through recommendations on Yelp, Eater and popular local restaurant blogs.

Leave the Guidebooks at Home

No matter how much of a purist you may be when it comes to reading, the old-fashioned way has nothing on modern technology. This rings especially true with hefty travel guidebooks. Instead of ordering that Rick Steves paperback, download the e-book and use the Kindle app to read it on your iPad and iPhone as well as on your favorite e-reader. Thanks to offline usage, you’ll be able to double check that recommendation you read last night using your smartphone without looking like a tourist. If you really can’t help it, just bring one good old guide book, especially the one your friend used for the same destination, full of notes and favorites places.

Create an Itinerary

Save yourself and your travel companions the frustration and back and forth of “what should we do today?” and create at least a skeleton itinerary before you leave. A rough outline helps to ensure that you have time to see all of your must-see sights (and must-try restaurants) while also allowing flexibility to be spontaneous and check out something else if you are so inspired.

When creating your itinerary, try to keep the first 24 hours a bit more scheduled. Sort out what restaurants you’ll eat at and what kind of transportation you’ll use. The first day at a new destination is always a little hectic, so this kind of structure can really help you as you get your bearings in a new city. But always leave some room to explore and change your plans, that’s what traveling is about.

Pack Light

While it may be easier said than done, you’ll be happy you’ve done it when you quickly pop your luggage into the overhead bin, instead of having to check (and maneuver) a large bag and risk it getting lost in transport. Plan to do laundry at least once in the middle of your trip, so you can pack half as much. Worst case scenario: you grow bored with what you brought and get to shop for something new at stores that you don’t have at home. Another feel-good scenario: give some of the gear you may not need anymore to some people you met down the road, and who may really need it.

Keep your suitcase organized by using packing cubes. These clever zippered bags are lightweight and have just enough structure to keep your luggage organized. For maximum space efficiency, roll your garments for easy viewing and sort them into packing cubes by category (tops, bottoms, accessories, etc.). With packing cubes, you can quickly sort through your things without leaving your suitcase in shambles.

Pack a light Pocket XShot or selfie stick instead of the big XShot Pro and don’t forget your extra batteries and chargers for your cameras and phone.

And above all, ENJOY.

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