Recently, I shared a couple of tips with writer Lola Augustine Brown for her story in the Toronto Star on how to travel well, which gathered advice from 12 experts.

Below, I’ve reiterated my pointers — and added some other tips I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) over many years of travelling for fun and work.


I favour going carry-on only, and I’ve successfully done a four-country, multi-climate whirlwind of a trip without checking a bag. My how-to:

  • I go with a wheelie that fits in the overhead (nothing fancy, but it must have a zipper to expand), a capacious Muji backpack that slips under a seat (no heavy totes — save your shoulder), and the TikTok-famous Uniqlo shoulder bag (super light but holds a lot).
  • I’ve made a packing list template that I tailor for each trip. No more last-minute, panicked tossing of all the things into a suitcase.
  • I roll my clothes, which really does save space. Packing cubes, on the other hand, seem like a scam, but it’s possible I’m using them all wrong.
  • I pretend to be a minimalist, and if I forget a genuine essential, I can almost always buy it after I land.

Getting There

Google Flights and Skyscanner are my starting points for flight research, but I always book with airlines direct (instead of third parties, which may or may not be able to help promptly when things go awry).

When possible, I love to book open-jaw flights — this is an itinerary where you fly into one city, and then fly out of another city. The plane fare can be roughly the same as a traditional round-trip, but you can see two cities on one vacation; you just have to make your own way between them.

This is especially great if the two cities are well connected by budget airlines (lots of places in Europe and Asia) or, even better, an easy, affordable train route (say, Porto and Lisbon).

Mapping and Planning

In Google Maps, I create my own private lists by city. Then whenever I read about an intriguing place I’d like to visit in the future — say, a cool restaurant or new museum — I’ll save it, adding an optional note to myself, so I don’t forget.

This is also handy when I’m actually travelling: It’s easier to plan my day’s itinerary when I can see, at a glance, which places are located close together.

Staying Connected

If you have an unlocked cellphone, you can avoid spending a small fortune in data roaming. You don’t even need to go hunting for a physical, local SIM card in your destination; you can just buy an eSIM pre-trip, as long as your device is compatible. It’s cheap and easy.

I do this using the Airalo app before I leave home. Then I switch off my normal number, and as soon as I land in a new country, I just switch on the eSIM. (Here’s an Airalo referral code to get a few bucks off: WING0942. This is not a sponsored plug, though I get a few bucks off, too.)

Meeting a Savvy Local

I’ve booked Airbnb Experiences on several trips just for fun — including a photo shoot in Lisbon (where this picture was taken), and a jaunt around Seoul’s street-food markets. The website is a great way to find an enthusiastic local for a guided tour and meet like-minded travellers. And because the guides are typically independent, the tours tend to be small and intimate, with lots of affordable options.

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