We had a household debrief after returning from two weeks in France, and here is our advice to our future selves about travel:
- Don’t check bags.
- Don’t take neck pillows.
- When taking backpacks, make sure they can somehow connect to roller suitcases.
- Take fewer clothes.
- Don’t take bulky one-fine-dining-experience-only shoes; take flats instead.
- Don’t clothes shop before going, clothes shop once there.
- Take sunscreen (although European sunscreen is very good).
- One shared toothpaste is okay.
- It’s okay — and feels like lovely magic — to take an Uber to/from airport, no matter the moral purity of figuring out transit.
- Always buy multi date transit tickets in any city: even if it doesn’t make financial sense, the convenience is priceless.
- Getting local SIM cards in advance is worth the effort, and makes assuming European life on arrival more seamless.
- A 5 hour layover in Toronto or Montreal on return is a long slog; the ideal, to minimize waiting but minimize rushing, would be 90-120 minutes.
- Don’t eat the second meal on the return flight, save that for layover dining.
As an intrepid and frequent traveler, I agree with almost all... except the pillow! Rather than a traditional neck pillow, I use a small "nap pillow" (casper used to have a great one). I find it extremely useful while traveling... sleeping in hotels with crappy pillows but also as a lap stand for my computer, behind my back on buses and trains, underneath my bum to get a better view. Lucy's preference is the Muji bead-filled. But here's the true genius of the travel pillow. Put it inside your backpack on the way there... and then, on the way back, attach it to the outside of the carry-on. You now have exactly a pillow-sized amount of shopping you can do!
Take fewer clothes is number one, for me, because it helps to enable so many others. As for shoes, I find it very difficult to pack as spare pair of shoes, even sandals. They are just so bulky, even stuffed with socks and underwear.