5 Top Travel Tips for Any Destination

passport map copies

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.

Some of the best and worst experiences of your life can be made while traveling. I’ve definitely made a lot of mistakes over the years, but being prepared for any situation and planning ahead can significantly improve any trip. Here are my five top travel tips for any trip, no matter the destination.

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Best Cafe in Istanbul

Beyoglu Istanbul skyline

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.  Today’s question: tell us about an experience you had from information you got from a local.

A Local’s Perspective

Back in April, Andy and I visited Turkey.  After a great time in Cappadocia (to be outlined in a future post), we flew to Istanbul for a few days.  Istanbul was such an amazing city and I really think it should be added to any traveler’s short list.  The people were so welcoming, the food was excellent, and there is so much to do and see.  That goes for the rest of Turkey, as well!

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Hidden Gems of Washington, DC

Our group in a tuk-tuk at the Embassy of Bangaldesh

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.  In this post, I discuss one of the best hidden gems in my current city of residence – Washington, D.C.  No travel lover should miss this!

Tell us a place in your hometown, or in the town you’re in now, that you think more visitors should experience.

Washington, DC is an interesting city.  I definitely think people who are from this area take for granted the 20+ free Smithsonian museums, incredible monuments, and excellent day trips (some less than 1 hour from the city).  You don’t need a car to take advantage of all it has to offer, either.  If you’re considering adding Washington, DC to your United States itinerary, remember that the same museums would cost $20+ in any other city.  I’m happy to answer questions below, too, if you have them.

That being said, most visitors hit the same places ad nauseam – Smithsonian museums and art galleries, the city’s free zoo, monuments, tidal basin, White House, Capitol building.  Locals know the hidden gems.  I have a few favorites (Hillwood Estate, Glenstone in Potomac, MD, Great Falls National Park, Maine Ave Fish Market), but I really love Embassy Day.

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Learning from Long-term Travel

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.

I grew up in suburban America, descended from immigrants who came to this country to escape persecution and try their hand at the American Dream.  My great-grandmother came from Latvia, alone, with two silver spoons.  Sometimes I wonder about what that experience must have been like – she carried no possessions, came alone on a ship full of immigrants from around the world, to a place she had never been and couldn’t possibly imagine.

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Prioritizing Experiences & Eliminating Possessions

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.  Unlike some travel challenges, this isn’t just answering questions – as you’ll see below.

How is having experiences better than having possessions?

Experiences and possessions both bring joy, but in different ways.  Think back to childhood… perhaps there was a toy you’d always wanted (Skydancers anyone?), but after you finally got it, it was far less interesting.  During that same time, an experience – a trip to the beach, acting in the school play, your first concert – had all of the lead-up excitement and then continued to entertain afterwards.  I still feel a certain nostalgic happiness when I think back on some of my favorite experiential memories, yet I’m not as enamored when I think of once-treasured possessions.  In sum: despite all logic to the contrary, experiences last longer (in memory!).

That was easy.  Now to the more challenging part.

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Why I Travel

stmarkspigeon

BootsnAll, a favorite travel website of mine, is hosting an Indie Travel Challenge – starting today! I thought it’d be a great way to reflect on what travel means to me, and why it’s such an important part of my life.  On some days, I’ll be answering questions, and on others, I’ll have action items to complete.  It’s basically travel truth-or-dare.

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