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Share! What: (1) Worked Well (2) You'd Do Differently and (3) You'll Keep Doing

Inspired by another similar post. Here's my two cents.

Places Traveled and Month

  • Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia, mid-June

New Things I Tried that Worked Well

  • Bose QuietComfort® 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headphones...so much smaller than over ear headphone, excellent noise cancelling, new favorites.
  • Packing extra light with a bag that weighted 20 lbs with carry on included
  • Using a 46 liter backpack (Osprey) even though 35 would have sufficed. I was able to bring home 3 bottles of wine, 1 bottle of olive oil, truffle oil and more!

What I would do differently

  • Bring a pair of stylish shorts in summer when traveling in the Mediterranean
  • Book a flight with more than a 50 minute connection within Croatia (missed flight meant an extra 8 hours of travel and FOUR flights to get home. Boo hiss)
  • Bring even fewer clothes

Kept Doing

  • iPhone takes great photos so no need for a camera
  • I adored having my Ibex lightweight wool shirts (short/long) and dresses. Comfortable, pretty and minimal washing

What about you? Copy and paste and share your travel wisdom.

Places Traveled and Month

New Things I Tried that Worked Well

What I would do differently

Kept Doing

Posted by
7381 posts

Places Traveled and Month
Have to say because of my job I travel to the UK in November. I like that month for a number of reasons:
1. Crowds are fewer. For example in a trip to Hampton Court in 2015 virtually had the palace to myself. Honestly, maybe 40 people there total. Have pictures of the beautiful garden and the pond free of people. Bliss. Same with the Gap of Dunloe in Ireland. Kate's cottage was closed, didn't care. Hiked 2 miles of it. Saw one couple riding a trap. 2 cars. 2 lorries. 1 rock climber, 1 bicyclist , 3 other walkers. Then drove the rest of the way and saw the same bicyclist on the down side of the grade. Loads of sheep. Gorgeous day with looming grey clouds but blue sky and a bright sun which made the hues of gold, red and orange of the foliage shine. BEST day ever in Eire!!! Can there be rain? Yes? But nothing to deter me.
2. Costs are a bit cheaper. Last year flew a Virgin Airlines flight roundtrip from LAX for around $840.00.
3. I live in LA and absolutely adore being able to wear a coat, scarf, Smart Wool socks, Keen boots and gloves and experience days that are grey and chilly. LOVE IT!

New Things I Tried That Worked Well
Citymapper app
Not taking the DSLR. Taking my Canon G15 instead.
Bose canceling ear beds
iBooks on the mini iPad
Keen Kaci Slip - ons and boots

What I would do differently
Take more London Walks
See more theatre

Keep Doing
Always budgeting and taking the Heathrow Express
Always flying Virgin Atlantic
Always enjoying a pint by a fire in a pub
Always seeking out one or two museums to see
Always seeing neighborhoods that tourists never visit
Traveling until I no longer can

Posted by
3616 posts

christymck, thanks for starting this great post!
Places Traveled and Month
Lisbon and Spain-Memorial Day week and first week in June

New Things I Tried that Worked Well

Going the day after I got out of school before Portugal and Spain got so hot
Keen Rose Sandals
Express meal in Delta Business Class(points sale) so got a reasonable amount of sleep-fortunately, since our evening flight on British to Lisbon left 2 hours late and we got to Lisbon at 1AM
Vacation within vacation-2 nights at oceanfront hotel in Torremolinos area
Going to Aquarium in Lisbon-we don't normally do these kinds of things since we have them in US, but this was the best one I've been to anywhere
Picked up extra of those baggies that Heathrow requires for liquids and packed mine in advance instead of airport(for other airports I have the heavy plastic ones sold at Target)

What I would do differently

Take taxis in Sintra instead of Scotturb Bus 434-because it is LOT longer between pickup times than the 15 min they claim and because there was an unlisted stop that we mistakenly got off and then had to wait 45 min to be picked up, we missed the Moorish Castle and wasted the money we had spent for those tickets

Always carry cash-in Portugal, my charge card worked for metro ticket first day but never worked again
Still too cheap to buy Bose headphones, but thinking about it!
Always use Google Maps for directions-info from hotel was not helpful in Lisbon( we stayed at two different hotels and found their directions incomplete/wrong both times)

Kept Doing

Stayed at chain hotels with reliable air conditioning and central locations
Packed light(Packing Cubes-am now using Lewis and Clark expandable/compressible ones) and washed clothes in room whenever we spent 2 nights in one place
Had tea the afternoon of the day we arrived in London-this has become our go-to thing to do when jetlagged because it's relaxing-we don't go anywhere we would have to dress up
I also use iPhone as my only camera, do not take laptop or tablet, take Kindle
Cut up Rick Steves guidebook to Spain and put in folders for each location-I never go anywhere without getting the appropriate RS guidebooks-their transportation information is invaluable(except for Bus 434!)

Posted by
542 posts

Places Traveled and Month : Southern Sweden/Copenhagen (3 days), Moscow and St. petersburg ( 1 week) June
New Things I Tried that Worked Well: group tour for week in Russia; renting and driving a car in Sweden; - 1) group tour worked wonderfully - minimized my planning in a country I knew nothing about, made getting to things very easy for Dad (and I) ; learned much more and saw more than i would have unguided and really enjoyed the other people in our group. Dad and i both enjoyed having other people to chat with at the bar /dinner 2) driving- was easier than I thought and was so glad we didn't have to rely on public transportation to see some of the more distant sites.
What I would do differently: 1) Try and use direct flights rather than one stop . having to walk long distances to transfer in short times, go thru security again was more stressful and time consuming than we had experienced before. If the cost is too prohibitive, will choose longer time frames between flights( even 2 hours was too short within same terminal) 2) make clear when making reservation that we need a room close to elevator /and that we prefer no steps. Two hotels had 'split level' floors where you took an elevator to the floor but then had to walk up 4 steps when you moved to the new building.
Kept Doing : 1} Check luggage so I can pack what I want. Not feel guilty if I don't wear everything . 2)Get small amount of local currency so i don't arrive without any cash (makes me too nervous). 3) Spend money of a cab/shuttle to get to hotel from airport if at all within budget . 4) Keep travelling - even as we slow down and are less mobile - we have kept our senses of humor and adventure. 5) Say a quick prayer of gratitude for the blessing of being able to travel and for my great travel buddy. he ends every day by saying "another great day!" ... even when it was a little less great than we might have liked.
Thanks for starting this thread!!

Posted by
681 posts

Places Traveled and Month : Galapagos and Quito Ecuador in May (perfect time), Croatia, Slovenia and Paris in early July and Paris and London in 2 WEEKS with our grandson (WooHoo)

New Things I Tried that Worked Well: Using a travel company for Galapagos and not taking a cruise but staying on one of the islands and then day tripping out. It was amazing, relaxing and 1/2 the price. Plus the bonus of really meeting the Galapagos people. Using googles map. I learned with the last trip to Europe in July to NEVER go without air conditioning. In July we found places in both Paris and London with this wonderful commodity.

What I would do differently: Try to get my husband to pack lighter, it is getting better but still could use some help.

Kept Doing: Staying at AirBNB-we have traveled all over this country, Canada, South/Central America and Europe. We have never been disappointed.

Posted by
11580 posts

Places Traveled and Month
-Paris, Brittany and Normandy the end of April to mid-May

New Things I Tried that Worked Well
-Paris Walks. I'd done a number of London Walks and had experienced a walk on a RS Paris tour with someone who is also a Paris Walks guide, but had never been able to work them in. I really enjoyed the 2 I did this time
-I loved traveling in April/May (except for the holiday!)
-Somehow I have always ended up at d'Orsay in the afternoon and been too pooped to get thru all the floors. This time I started out there first thing in the AM and that worked great. I probably really need to break this in to 2 days
-I did do quite a bit of research on what I wanted to see and discovered that at Jardin des Plantes some areas are either closed on the weekend or have a charge so I worked that in to a weekday.
-I do daily itineraries and did wind up swapping a couple of days doing a garden day on the day that turned out to be sunny and then did the museum day in the rain.

What I would do differently
-Not travel over May 1 to a country that celebrates May Day and be cautious about future plans over big holidays. May 1 was a Monday so some museums were closed 2 days in a row. Just had to juggle a bit more.
-Leave in the long sleeve shirt instead of taking it out to try and save weight!

Kept Doing
-Have daily plans.
-Get a 6 day Paris Museum Pass even if I can't use it all 6 days.
-My shoes (Altra Lone Peak) worked really well this time.
-Had 2 Smartwool Tees and 3 cotton/modal Tees that have become my standard
-My standard waterproof Cabelas rain jacket made the team for the 2nd year and was great

Fun thread! Thanks!

Posted by
3031 posts

What a good idea! Liked your insights, especially about less clothes. It's true (in many situations)

Places Traveled and Month: Athens and Agistri, June 2017

New Things I Tried that Worked Well:
-My Kindle died so I decided to just use the Kindle app on my phone. With a good external charging battery this worked just fine. One less thing to bring!

-I got new, lightweight Sketchers running shoes just before the trip. Did I mention they were lightweight? Fantastic even sockless doing ruins in the heat of Athens.

What I would do differently:
-LESS CLOTHES. We both brought heavyweight denim to Greece in June. What were we thinking? I have a pair of lovely white denim capris that I didn't wear once because the thought of wearing full-on denim in that heat was horrifying. Honestly I wore 3 different pants/capris for a week trip and that was fine. I packed two shirts I never wore. I washed a couple shirts in the hotel sink on the island because our hotel thoughtfully provided a little clothesline drying area on our patio. I also could have done without one of the shoes I brought. I overpacked. Next time - 2 shorts, 1 capri, 1 dress, 4 blouses, 1 scarf, 1 cardi for a week. Wash as needed.

-We paid extra to check a bag because I wanted to bring my own sunscreen, towel, etc for beach time. While we did use nearly the entire bottle (we're transparent, lol) my plan on my return trip is, after doing delphi with a rental car, go to the greek equivalent of Wal-Mart near/in Athens, buy bug spray, sunscreen, some floaties for the sea, a beach towel, for next to nothing. We packed all that crap (except the floaties, which we wanted but they were selling for 20 euros on the island). Will leave behind what we don't use.

-I brought shitty "water socks" that I used once. They're not comfortable to hike in. We're going to spend 30-40 euros to invest in some truly decent water shoes/sandles that can handle short hikes and go in and out of the water in pebbly beaches.

  • I have a super cute beach bag that I brought instead of a way more functional backpack. We're bringing the backpack next time. It will be more comfortable to explore and carry and for those important trips to the market.

Kept Doing:
-Despite being a smartphone user my tiny Moleskin notepad continues to be convenient. It's not always easy to pull out your phone and start typing. Perforated pages also mean if I'm trying to give someone some info I can write it and detach easily.

-Doing moderate but not insane research prior to trip. I used to be an over-planner. I'm more likely now to solicit locals for advice about food, etc, in conjunction with reviews online to figure out where to eat and what to see. It was a laid back trip but I didn't feel that I under-planned except perhaps for the difference between the hydrofoils and the car ferries (the latter is far more pleasant when the difference is only 30 minutes).

Posted by
1172 posts

*Places Traveled and Month*
London and Paris July
New Things I Tried that Worked Well
Having each person only bring a carry on size suitcase even though we checked our luggage. Made getting on and off tubes/trains, pulling luggage on cobble stone streets and up and down stairs so much easier. Each child could carry their own. Great use of packing cubes.
What I would do differently
Try and start some days a little later so that we get a chance to see the city at night as well. We were up and out early which ws great to avoid crowds but we were also in bed before the city went dark!
Kept Doing
renting apartments through VRBO or that type of service .. we all appreciated having more space, being able to have some food on hand, the use of a washer/dryer made it possible to do carry on size luggage. Get to feel bit more like a local.

pre- purchasing tickets ahead of time to must do and see activities. We saved loads of time by doing this. For example, at the Catacombs, the wait line was 1.5 hours at the opening. We walked right in. In some cases, it also meant saving some$$$ I was able to get a 1 day/2 park Disneyland Paris ticket for cheaper by pre-purchasing than getting a 1 day/1 park ticket on site.

For those travelling with kids: each child had their own pocket money so they had to make decisions as to how to spend it.. We never got asked if they could buy this/get that... they have become quite the bargain/value shoppers this way :)

Posted by
8388 posts

This is a really fun thread. I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed all the responses and, in particular, Diane's #5:

5) Say a quick prayer of gratitude for the blessing of being able to travel and for my great travel buddy. he ends every day by saying "another great day!" ... even when it was a little less great than we might have liked.

What a GREAT reminder for us all to appreciate what we can do and who we can see it with!

Posted by
339 posts

Places Traveled and Month
Ireland (Dublin, Doolin, Dingle, and Kilkenny), Rome, and London, June/July 2017

New Things I Tried that Worked Well
- Traveling with a toddler! This was a whole new experience as we took our first overseas trip with our son. I was nervous about how he would handle it, especially the long flights, but he did great a great job. Lesson learned: kids (even young ones) can be great, flexible travelers.
-We traveled at a slower pace with a toddler (we also had my in-laws with us). We made sure he could nap when he needed to, and didn't stress about seeing all the sights.
-I took a (carry on sized) rolling suitcase instead of a backpack. It worked well since we were not relying on trains for this trip (rented a car in Ireland, flew to Rome, flew to London).
-Splurged and went on a food tour. It was my favorite thing we did in Rome!
-Used Google Maps to navigate around Ireland since I switched to T-Mobile.
-Brought my Kindle instead of paperbacks.

What I would do differently
-Bring a few more warmer layers for Ireland, and leave one t-shirt and one tank top at home.
-Book Airbnbs earlier to get a better selection. The places we stayed were fine, though I would not stay in most of them again.
-I would have stayed in Kilkenny two nights, and taken a day from Rome and given to to London.
-I would have packed a few less clothes for my son, knowing we had laundry in all our Airbnbs.

Kept Doing
-Bringing paper guidebooks. I like being able to quickly flip through them.
-Packing cubes to stay organized.
-Follow RS walking/driving tours. These are often one of my favorite things!
-Gelato every day in Italy. Why not?

Posted by
647 posts

Last Trip: 45 days June and July to The Neatherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, France, and England.

Upcoming Trip: 17 days Tuscany and Northern Italy in late September and early October.

New Things That Worked Well: (1) 150 SmartWòol shirts and smartwool socks. These are cool, dry fast, and resist orders. (2) a three way adaptor: USB, chip, micro chip allowing me to view on my tablet what I'd photographed earlier on either my camera or my phone. Great for sketching or posting edited photos.

Keep Doing: (1) Four shirts two casual tees, one three quarter sleeve, one dressier, one pair jeans, one pair Capris, one skirt, one rain jacket, sandals and walking shoes; (2) bring backpacking spices; (3) sketchbook and waterproof black felt-tip pens.

Things I Would Do Differently: Take guide books on tablet; take novels on Kindle Tablet app not Kindle; take cotton scarves for dress up and warmth.

Seasonal Changes: Take two jeans and one capris; take light weight Zip up jacket.

Posted by
19 posts

Places Traveled and Month

Florence, Pistoia, Orvieto, Rome. September 2107 (2 weeks)
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/florence-pistoia-orvieto-rome-2018-our-first-trip-of-many

New Things I Tried that Worked Well

Our first trip, so everything was new and everything was amazing! Can't wait to return, we loved it!

What I would do differently

Pack lighter. We carried on our luggage, but still took more than we needed, especially clothes and toiletries

Bring a compass and a magnifying glass for use when reading maps (we didn't use mapping apps, prefering to keep our smartphones safely in the bag. We may chose to use downloaded maps next trip)

Kept Doing

Book apartments when possible. The space, kitchen and washing machine was worth it

Carry-on luggage only

Lots of Gelato

Sleep in and stay up late

Allow 5 days to readjust before returning to work. The jetlag upon returning home was brutal

Visit the Sea and collect beach glass and travertine stones for souvenirs

Allowing myself to get emotional while gazing at Michelangelo's David, the Sistine Chapel and especially his Pieta. Believe me, you will feel better and you will be in good company

Posted by
996 posts

Places Traveled and Month

Costa Rica - Feb/March
Montana/Canada - June/July
Arizona - September
Italy - November (with RS)

New Things I Tried that Worked Well

--For the Italy trip, I tried to pack lighter. It wasn't a 100% success, but it was a HUGE improvement.
--Because I packed lighter, I only had one book to read. When I finished that, I bought two new books based on where I was. Win/win for me and the local economy.

What I would do differently

--I'm still working on packing less.
--I'd remember to pack more Motrin. ;-)

Kept Doing

--Try new restaurants
--Book tours when available. (I love doing things on my own, but it's like I told one tour guide. I know just enough about art to know that I don't know enough. When possible, book a local, knowledgeable guide.)
--The new iPhone takes pictures as well or better than my old point & shoot camera.

Posted by
3796 posts

Places Traveled and Month

Mid-June to mid-July.

Rome, Ravenna, Venice, Rick Steves Village Italy Tour, Milan.

New Things I Tried that Worked Well

Traveling in Italy in summer in spite of the heat.

Taking the 2-week Village Italy tour as a solo with the single supplement.

Opting out of some tour activities when I needed to.

Participating in an EatWith dinner in a private home in Trastevere in Rome.

Doing the Scooteroma Rome street art tour on the back of a Vespa when almost everyone said it was too dangerous.

Using Google Maps to find my way around Rome on foot and by bus.

Following my nose when walking in Venice.

Ordering a room service hamburger at the Hotel Berna in Milan. Indulgent and delicious.

What I would do differently

Do that Trastevere dinner on any night but Saturday.

Use Google Maps for walking directions in Milan instead of following my nose.

Take and use my walking poles.

Take and use my high top hiking boots for more walking stability.

Take all lighter weight pants in hot climates. I don't wear skirts or shorter pants in public.

Take a pair of shorter pants for in-room use only.

Limit tops to 4.

Eat more gelato.

Keep Doing

Packing light in every way possible.

Traveling carry-on only with my major bag weighing no more than 20 pounds.

Going on RS tours solo with a single supplement.

Enhancing those tours with time on my own before and after them.

Posted by
15360 posts

Places Traveled and Month Italy, February New Things I Tried that Worked Well driving on the Amalfi Coast; walking tours in Rome What I would do differently not fly into Venice - such a pain to get from Marco Polo to the Dorsoduro. Not expect to take buses on Sunday in Italy, and with infrequent bus service, no taxis either.

Places Traveled and Month Greece, April-May New Things I Tried that Worked Well Not a new thing, but a new place. By day 3, I was mentally kicking myself for waiting so many years to discover this great country. Kept Doing RS Tour (my 3rd) was even better than the others.

Places Traveled and Month Poland, Hungary September New Things I Tried that Worked Well staying in apartments. I like hotels: if there's a problem or if I want local information or just getting a taxi, having staff 24/7 is really important for me. For some reason, hotels in Warsaw were too expensive and flats were much cheaper. I had 5 nights in a reasonably good place, great location, easy city to visit solo. Thanks to James E's recommendation, I stayed in a wonderful flat in Budapest. This was my second visit so I was pretty self-sufficient I didn't miss having hotel staff. Note: I met a couple who rued staying in a flat on their first visit; they had several missteps because they had no one to get advice, answers and recommendations from. The other thing I did was a string of 3 small Hungarian towns in 4 nights. I crammed my essentials in my backpack and had a great time in some interesting, low key places, moving around very efficiently.

Kept Doing Not worry about packing light. On a 3-4 week trip, I'd rather have my small comforts. It's not hard to manage a larger suitcase with wheels. Mixing new destinations with return visits.

Posted by
338 posts

This is a really good thread. I will probably have to come back after I reread some of the other responses as it'll trigger my memory. But I'll start with this

Places Traveled and Month
May/June

Ireland 10 nights
Scotland 5 nights
Iceland 3 nights

New Things I Tried that Worked Well

We did two things differently this time. We used hiking type backpacks and regular backpacks and therefore did not check any bags. We tried to really go as light as we could. Overall I think it worked out great. Primarily the reason it worked is because we use packing cubes for the very first time and now I am hooked on them. I wish I would have discovered these years ago. Packing cubes just make things so much easier to stay organized and it really helps you not over Pack too

Since we went with our 2 college-age children. I bought 4 High Sierra 55 liter backpacks. Now that I remember, my wife actually refused to use one and she used our carry on roller rolling suitcase.

Another thing that we did was we used airbnb's almost every single night. I was very pleased with the results.

The rental car situation in Ireland and Scotland was interesting. Particularly Ireland. As everybody knows it's quite a challenge driving there. Fortunately unfortunately my wife refuses to let me drive most of the time particularly if we are going to be driving on a curvy route. The good thing is I love having a chauffeur sometimes. The bad thing is she doesn't always get to experience places like Scotland's scenery as well as the rest of us.

Overall though Scotland was easy Ireland was quite challenging and thank goodness for the GPS on my phone.

Another thing I thought of that I tried differently was in my mission to pack lighter, I got a pair of Columbia 100% nylon travel pants that allows you to zip off bottoms if need be. I had two pairs of those and also brought a pair of jeans and a pair of sweat pants as well as a pair of dressy shorts. I was so happy with the Columbia pants that I've actually decided I only need two maybe three pair of them for an entire three-week trip and leave all the other items at home because they're so easy to clean if needed and you can go many days where you can't even tell. Not to mention that you can convert them to being shorts if you needed to. they take hardly any space in your suitcase. In places like Ireland and Scotland where there is rain these are invaluable. I did go out and buy two more similar kinds but from different manufacturers and I wish I would have stuck with the Columbia and I won't buy anything but 100% nylon. The other materials just aren't as good at wicking away moisture and being comfortable.

What I would do differently

I maybe wouldn't have used the same backpacks we used. I think my wife might have had the better idea. Part of the reason is you can't set down a backpack very well without getting it dirty or having it tip over. Unlike a roller case where you can just park it and leave it standing upright and even set your small backpack on it. So from that standpoint I think my wife had the right idea

I'm still very tempted to buy the Rick Steves rolling backpack as I've always thought that was the smart way to go. It just didn't seem to have quite the capacity that I wanted as packing light is always a challenge especially when you're going to be gone that long. Plus, I just couldn't bring myself to drop $170 on it. But I think I'm going to revisit that again. I've looked at virtually every single type of rolling backpack on the market

Kept Doing
We did another food / history tour in Glasgow. We've been making habit of doing these on every trip and I am a huge fan. One of the best ways to see different areas and try different foods. They usually almost pay for themselves if you consider what you would have spent on a really nice meal and a guided tour