We asked our #wanderlust friend Daniel MacKinnon to share his knowhow about travelling smart. As a creative director who’s always flying to far flung location shoots (Turkey and Tahiti were recently on his work schedule) and an avid travel blogger (he’s gone everywhere from Detroit to Bali for jetlegs.net), he logs miles like a junkie. Just check out his Instagram feed and you’ll see what we mean.
Here are his thoughts on how to make modern travel more comfortable and convenient. They’re especially handy for families with older kids who are ready to explore the world and most importantly, are able to carry their own stash in their own knapsacks. So get ready, get set and get going.
6 Secrets from a Jet Setter
1. Invest in good luggage. “It’s not necessary to buy Louis Vuitton bags—they’ll get stolen—but try a brand like Rimowa. It’s made of lightweight polycarbonate so it won’t eat up your weight limit and it’s easy to handle so you can free more energy to mind the kids. Plus it’s engineered so you won’t have to worry about it falling over, breaking or spilling when you need it most. ” He also loves his Briggs Riley carry-on. It has an interior expandable feature that lets you pack up to 30 per cent more than the average carry-on while staying within airline size restrictions. “I feel like I bought the Volvo of luggage: Strong, dependable and well-made.”
2. Pack less and do laundry on-the-go. “For all the extra money you can spend in extra baggage costs, you might as well pack fewer clothes, have less to lug around and use a laundry service while you are away. And I’m not talking about the hotel laundry service. Google or ask the concierge for a service that’s more affordable and close by.” He suggests bringing mix n’ match neutrals, packing two tops for every bottom, one topper that transitions from day-to-evening and an accessory like an interesting scarf than can liven up any outfit.
3. Transform economy class to oh-so-comfortable class “Take advantage of the options airlines offer to help make your trip more enjoyable like upgrading your meal or buying a lounge pass. They usually range from $25 to $50 per person which is as much as paying for food and snacks at expensive airport food services. Plus if you’re on a stopover or have a long day of travel ahead, there are showers available so everyone can freshen up. If you can splurge even more, spend the extra $30 to $100 for more leg room. It’s not business class but it makes a huge difference.”
4. Relax. Right. Away. Make transportation a joyful part of your trip and unwind before you even reach your destination. “Travelling is stressful enough, so take it from 5th to 2nd gear as soon as you can. For example, you don’t need to be the first people on the plane. If you miss a train or a bus, there will be another one and while you wait, put your stuff in a locker and stroll the nearby streets. When you’re high strung, you’re going to miss things like a weekend market or pop-up store outside the station.”
Damn, Daniel: Just a few of his pit stops within the last year….
5. Don’t spend the whole time sightseeing. “Whenever people go away, they feel obligated to make a list of stops without leaving time to sit in a park and see what a city is really all about. Galleries and museums can be overwhelming for grown-ups and kids. After 4 hours, you’re likely not absorbing much anymore. Have a plan, albeit a loose one, so you can be childlike and explore. It’s important not walk around aimlessly either though. Instead, schedule a shorter museum or gallery visit and pick another one or two spots in the same neighbourhood to see before relaxing in a café or a park that you’ll eventually stumble upon. I find when you plan every single second of a trip in advance, you’ve had your vacation before you’ve even left.”
6. Let your guard down. “When we’re working, we have our heads down a lot whether it’s looking at a computer or our phones. Take advantage of your time away from work, home or school and strike a conversation with someone local. I think you’ll be surprised with who or what you’ll discover. Once I was in South East Asia and I asked someone to take me to a popular market and he guided me to an even better local market. Of course you have to use your instinct about who to trust but that’s one of the joys of travel—honing into your gut instinct and exercising your good judge of character.”