Travel Tips from a Travel Writer


2 preschool ski school lessons with GPS

Planning a trip to a sunnier climate or off to ski the slopes?  Anywhere you are planning go, a few extra steps in planning will make your trip go much easier and take some of the stress away.

As a travel writer, I travel frequently and have to be able to pack quickly to react invitations giving little notice at times.   Who wants to say no to a week’s notice to the British Virgin Islands?

1. CY article Grand Anse beach view from Spice Island Beach resort (sailboat)

I keep a toiletry bag packed with small sizes of everything so taking a carry on is always an option if I am traveling for a week or under.  Believe me, if I can do it,  you can do it!

When I fly, I often suffer from build up of air pressure in my ears, so I wear ‘ear planes’, simple ear plugs available in travel sections of department stores, and I take a decongestant about 30 minutes before the plane takes off.  The combination works like a charm so I don’t get that head piercing ache of pressure.

blog 2 Melody in lagoon

If you are traveling to the Caribbean, South America or Africa, talk to your Dr to make sure you get the appropriate shots.  Always take out extra medical insurance because you just don’t know what can happen.  Earlier year, I ended up in the hospital in the British Virgin Islands and needed a few prescriptions filled for Bronchitis, and late in the year, I broke a few toes in Mexico which meant a visit by a doctor to my hotel, the cost of an ambulance, x-rays, an orthopedic surgeon consultation and thanks to medical insurance coverage, all but ten cents was covered.

2-writer with stalacites-photo Rio SecretoMelody with penguin

Once you find out what there is to see and do, prioritize your choices arranging as many things ahead of time as possible.  Forms of travel factor into the choices too.  If you are traveling by small boat, you need to think about stepping down, stepping high up for shoes and clothing.

Galapagos 297

7 cross country skiing at Devil's Thumb Ranch

7. blog hike on cobble trail rocks

I whittle down my wardrobe by activities I will be doing while on my trip.  I pack once, remove a few unnecessary items, then pack again, weigh my case, and see what else can be added.  It is amazing how much you can stretch one basic pair of black trousers or a skirt by a variety of tops, sweaters and jewelery.  I make a list of each day I will be away, organize what I will need to wear and pack accordingly, resisting the urge to pack extra.  Always remind yourself that you have to hoist that suitcase up and down endless times, so carry as little as possible.  If worse comes to worse,  you can always buy something.  Don’t just plan by activities , but special occasions – meeting someone special, pack it and don’t forget the nice shoes, jewellery, anything that will go with the outfit.

b. Sir Richard Branson and Melody

It is really important to check measurements and weight for carry on allowance for each airline as the requirements vary widely.

15. Oysters at Starfish

I have some food allergies and I am a downright picky eater, so I always carry a meal, snack and fruit for the flight.   A homemade wrap or sandwich, some grapes, and cashews are a much tastier and considerably cheaper alternative to airplane offerings.  I sat near a young couple traveling with three children recently and as I pulled out my wrap and fruit, they distributed foil wrapped packages of homemade pizza to each of the family members.


I also pack travel sized packages of containers of nuts, raisins, dried fruit, granola bars, or trail mix so when the munchies hit, I am  am ready, saving on picking up pricey unhealthy choices.

Take your own earphones for the in flight movie, and pack a sweater or pashmina to snuggle under for a snooze instead of paying for a blanket.

Get your novel, magazines and guidebooks at your local public library, saving huge amounts of money.  Read the novel and magazines on the flight and during the holidays, and once the guidebook is used for a particular destination, are you going to use it again?

If you need to leave your car at the airport for an early morning flight, it’s often cheaper or the same amount to stay at a basic hotel near the airport for the special package called Sleep, Park and Fly.  We recently had an early flight, so stayed overnight at an airport hotel, left the car at the hotel for 12 days, took their shuttle to the airport and it cost less than having an airport car service from our house.

blog 4 Spice market

Buy souvenirs at local markets where cultural pieces are colorful, unique and usually much cheaper than airport shops.   I recently purchased a hand woven purse at a market in Ecuador and took a photograph of the woman who made it.  I saw a similar purse but cheaper quality at the Guayaquil airport for more than twice the price.


If I am going on holiday, when I decide where I am going, I get a guidebook out of the library to figure out the types of places I want to see when I am there.  Guidebooks are too heavy to drag around, so if there is information I absolutely have to take with me, I copy the pages and carry only what’s necessary.


I always rent a privately owned property when I travel, even if its only 3 nights. Preferring to experience a place like a local, I search a variety of websites to find a suitable place to rent. Why? I can make breakfast, lounge around in my pj’s after a long day sightseeing and meet local people.

23. blog Husthwaite house exterior

Always get off the beaten track : don’t eat where there are tourists, follow the locals. I often stop a local on the street and ask for a recommendation on where to eat – they are always happy to steer you to their favorite place .

5. Jon-Michael with lobster at fish stand

If you would like to hear more travel tips and insights, please join me Thursday, February 7th at 7:00 at Coriander, in Guelph, Ontario.  Seating is limited, so sign up early, and bring your questions:, 519-823-0542



About The blog of travel & lifestyle journalist Melody Wren

Melody is a freelance writer because she believes that work and fun should not be mutually exclusive. She writes about travel, food, lifestyle and green living. Melody loves staying in a place long enough to get acquainted. Local customs, markets and traditional cultures are magnets for this writer. When not writing she’s either on the road, in the air, or savoring something tasty. Most of her travels feature outdoor adventures of some sort, although she typically avoids sleeping on the ground. She is an ordinary person that enjoys challenging and pushing herself, facing fears with an eye on experiential travel. She needs to do it, feel it and see it so she can write about it. Her hope is that her stories encourage readers to get out there and do the same.
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6 Responses to Travel Tips from a Travel Writer

  1. Great tips, Melody! Thanks for sharing . . .

  2. No much here to disagree with! Sounds like my travel routine – except the ‘privately-owned property. Just make sure when heading down-under to New Zealand, you declare ANY food (trail mix etc). we are small island and are very protective of it. To speed your way through customs I’d leave the food off the list.

  3. wakaabout says:

    Hi Melody. Your tips are insightful. I like the bit about buying crafts at local markets. The pix of the young African lady holding a necklace: was that taken in Nigeria or Ghana?

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