Tag: vacation

How to Plan Your Trip to a Place You know Nothing About

Yvone AK Johnson: How to Plan Your Trip to a Place You know Nothing About

How to Plan Your Trip to a Place You know Nothing About

One of the best things about traveling is experiencing a place and a culture that you know nothing about. There is no better way to learn about this planet and the people we share it with than to leave behind all your preconceived notions and go exploring. Putting myself in an entirely new situation and embracing my surroundings has lead to some of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Of course, the trick is knowing how to plan the right kind of trip for you. When you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, it can be hard to know where to start. How do you plan a trip to somewhere you know nothing about?

Whether you’re the kind of traveler who likes to make detailed itineraries or wait and see what takes your fancy when you land, you’ll have to start somewhere! Here’s a crash course in planning your trip when you’re starting from a blank slate.


Wiki It

Seriously, look up your destination on Wikipedia. It might sound silly, but when you’re really going in blind this can be a great way to get an overview of the country and its history. Pay attention for any tidbits of information that pique your interest. If something catches your attention, do a little more research and you may just have found an awesome destination or activity that isn’t part of the standard guide-book fare!

Get Guide Books

If you’re pinching every penny for your upcoming trip, you can even visit you local Barnes and Noble and sit in the coffee shop with a stack of books, or your local bookstore with the comfy armchairs. You’ll probably want to take at least one or two of your favorites home with you, though, so that you can mark them up and dogear the best pages. Reading guide books is a fantastic way to get a sense of the sights you won’t want to miss, and many offer great tips for safety and cultural sensitivity.

Ask Around

Once you have an idea of what kind of questions to ask, start asking around among your friends and family to see if anyone else has already been to your destination. Where better to get advice than from those you trust? Make sure you ask not only about their favorite days, but also about their least favorite parts of the trip, things they wish they had know before they left, and what they would have done if they had more time. Keep in mind what you know of the person, however. If they like to travel in style and luxury and you like to rub shoulders with the locals, you may not want to take their word as gospel.

Find Bloggers

And no, it’s not just because I run a travel blog! Blogs that center around your destination can often fill in the gaps and suggest neat things that aren’t common knowledge. The best part is, you can reach out and ask them your questions directly! Get googling.

Crowdsource Your Plans

If you are comfortable with putting your trip in the hands of others, don’t underestimate couchsurfing as a resource. You’ll get a real taste of local flavor staying with locals, and many hosts will be happy to take you around their city. There are even some people who sign up simply as guides without offering a bed. It’s hard to know exactly what you’ll get, but you’re guaranteed to have experiences that you couldn’t find in the guide book!

How to Pack Light and Travel Smart

Yvonne AK Johnson: How to Pack Light and Travel Smart

How to Pack Light and Travel Smart

We all have this problem. It can be frightening to travel to an entirely new destination — you are placing yourself at the mercy of a foreign country without your usual safety nets, and it is a natural impulse to try to bring everything you can think of to be prepared for every scenario. What if you really need that extra bathing suit? Or a large umbrella? Or the shampoo you’re used to? We have all faced this pitfall, but the savvy traveler learns to fight it and bring only what she or he needs. With the rising cost of baggage on flights, no one can afford to bring extra suitcases., If you’re planning to stay on the road visiting multiple cities, or even try backpacking, you can’t afford any extra weight or space. Besides, you need to leave a little extra room so you can bring souvenirs home with you!

Here are a few easy tips to follow for those of us who struggle to pack light and keep moving!


  1. Pack Right

Versatile, low maintenance clothing is key. Bring only clothes that match a large amount of the other things in your suitcase. There’s no point in carting that one great shirt all around the country to wear it only once or twice. If it wrinkles easily, leave it at home. If it takes ages to dry, put it back in your closet. Aim for light fabrics and clothes that can layer for a cool evening rather than bulky coats and sweaters.

  1. Roll, Roll, Roll

It won’t make your bag lighter, but it sure will save a lot of space. It might seem counterintuitive, but the most efficient way to pack your clothes is by rolling them up, squeezing tight to push out the air, and line up the cylinder shaped clothes in your case. This also also has the added benefit of letting you look down at all the colors of your clothes at once. If anything sticks out as being a different color scheme that won’t go with most things, ditch it. In a similar vein, pack your socks and underwear last. Ball them up and use them to stuff your shoes or other containers, or push them down into the corners to take up any empty space. On your trip home, you can use them to surround and protect any fragile souvenirs.

  1. Wearing it Doesn’t Count

Wear your heaviest coat and bulkiest shoes onto the plane. You’ll keep warm up in the air and save a huge amount of space in your bag. If you’re really pressed for space you can stuff your coat pockets with underwear, socks, and toiletries.

  1. Make Airline Policy Work for You

Take every bit advantage of that “one personal item” policy! Bring a large tote bag and use it either as an extension of your suitcase, or treat it as leeway space for all the extra things you’ll pick up for the trip home. You can even put your usual purse inside a larger bag to gain a little extra space.

  1. Ditch the Toiletries

Don’t pack anything that you can buy at your destination! No matter where you’re going, you’ll always be able to pick up soap and sunscreen with ease.

  1. Virtual Packing

Finally, you can cheat by “packing” certain items on your smartphone. Ditch the moleskin in favor of a notebook app, and get digital versions of maps, travel guides, leisure books and magazines, etc.


For more tips, check out the lists here and here

Happy traveling!