My ideas for happy travels

I am no expert traveler.

Sure, I’ve done my share of traveling. I’ve taken tours, I’ve traveled independently, and I’ve traveled with friends and family. I’ve made mistakes and learned from my mistakes. So I suppose that qualifies me to offer advice.

But I am clear that there’s no one right way to travel. What has worked for me might not work for you. There are a lot of places people rave about that failed to impress me. When I post tips on travel forums, I’ve sometimes been contradicted; sometimes my knowledge of the subject has been called into question.

None of this will stop me from offering tips. But take them with a grain of salt.

My favorite “other” museums (5/20/2024)

There is a long list of great museums (The Louvre, the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum, the Vatican Museum, the Hermitage, and the Smithsonian, to name a few) that travelers, and even most non-travelers, know about. Many are destinations in and of themselves, reasons to visit the city where they are located. But there are a lot of wonderful, interesting, or just plain quirky museums I loved visiting that are perhaps smaller and not as well-known.

Here are my suggestions for museums you should visit that fall into this “other” category.

There’s no particular order here. I couldn’t begin to rank these. They may not be worth a special trip (though I think some of them are), but all are definitely worth visiting.

Just one caveat: I’m not a big fan of historical museums that display artifacts from the past. Some historical museums have made the list, but these probably show more than vast arrays of arrowheads and pottery shards.

Logo of the Pueblos Mágicos program The best of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos (3/12/2024)

I’ve been to a lot of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos. As of this writing, I’ve visited 46. Granted, that’s only about one quarter of them. But I have some recommendations for the best of them. If you want to see some of the nicest smaller cities and towns in Mexico, here are my suggestions for the best Pueblos Mágicos.

20 Top Topics for European Travel (11/12/2023)

Are you going to Europe for the first time? Or maybe thinking about your first independent trip after a few tours? If so, here are some great European travel tips based on the Twenty Top Topics I’ve seen people ask about on travel forums, plus stuff I’ve learned based on personal experience. 

Maybe you’re going to a place where you don’t speak the language, or you’re going to rent a car or rely on a mode of transportation that is unfamiliar. Whatever it is, this guide is for you.

Seeking travel advice is wise, but to be honest, there just aren’t as many different answers as there are different questions (or different ways of asking the same question). That’s why I compiled these Twenty Top Topics

A sleeping pod with mirror on the side and door at the far end Sleeping in a pod (9/15/2022)

I am now an expert on sleeping in a pod.

For my trip to Istanbul, there is a direct flight from Mexico City departing at 10:05. I had to book a separate flight between Guadalajara and MEX, and the earliest flights in the morning were too tight for making my connection. So I flew here last night and stayed at izZzleep.

The Most Beautiful States in the USA (2/21/2021)

Early last year, before the global pandemic put the kibosh on the trips I was going to take, I was lucky to do some traveling. I have officially postponed my trip to the Middle East until the fall of 2021, and I’m about 50–50 on whether to postpone further.

I could just skip adding any new content on my blog, but I thought I might share a little about my past travels from the perspective of time.

I’ve visited all fifty of the United States. To be fair, I shouldn’t say I visited them all. But I’ve at least been in them all. Some of them I have not seen nearly enough of to make a judgment. But all I can do is offer an opinion based on what I have seen of each state.

Home away from home (4/9/2019)

Fast Travel

The first half of this trip is some of the slowest travel I’ve ever done in Europe.

The Great Money Belt Debate (3/27/2019)

After four days in Stockholm, it’s time to head to Tallinn on an overnight ferry. I load my travel backpack and walk to the metro station to head to the ferry terminal.

Use Furkot to Plan Your Next Road Trip (10/29/2018)

I discovered Furkot kind of by accident while researching scenic route options for my Yellowstone road trip last month. It turned out to be an invaluable tool for planning the trip. I’m going to show you how to use it to plan your next trip.

Itinerary Advice (10/5/2016)

I don’t think I’ve ever planned a trip without someone, either on a forum or in real life, suggesting alternatives to my itinerary. When I went to the Balkans, I heard from people who said I needed more time in Dubrovnik and others who said I needed less time in Dubrovnik. And no where did I get more varied opinions than when asking about Belgium. There are four major tourist destinations in Belgium (in addition to countless smaller places that are undoubtedly worth seeing): Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, and Antwerp. There are 24 different ways of prioritizing those four cities, and I have no doubt you could get 24 different opinions if you asked 24 different people on a travel forum.

So why bother asking for itinerary advice? Well, for me, sometimes it’s just to get confirmation that I’m not making foolish decisions. It is reassuring to get a thumbs-up on a potential itinerary, and sometimes, a genuinely useful bit of advice has helped me make some good adjustments to my itinerary.

As long as I’m there… (4/21/2016)

When you travel a long way to see wonderful things, there is a natural impulse to squeeze in as many destinations and activities and great sites as possible. After all, you might not ever get back, and you’re so close, how can you not go to _______?

I can definitely relate. Whenever I plan an itinerary, I try to see as much as I can. And invariably, I don’t make it to a lot of the places I hoped to see.

Planapple (4/15/2016)

With just a few weeks until my Beltherway trip, I am spending a lot of time trying to get organized. That involves not just making final itinerary plans, but also making a checklist for packing and pre-trip preparations — things like remembering to stop mail delivery, turn down the heat, and notify my credit card issuer of my plans.

Anxiety (4/29/2014)

I’m feeling anxious.

I’ve had generalized anxiety before, nothing severe, but I’m feeling specifically anxious about this trip. I’ve got a nervous feeling in my gut and I’m not sleeping well, waking up in the middle of the night or much too early in the morning.

I’m not sure what I’m anxious about, though there are some possibilities.

Guidebooks (9/23/2012)

Picking the right guidebook is always a challenge. On the one hand, any guidebook is going to provide useful information, so you won’t necessarily have a better or worse vacation by picking one guidebook over another. But some guidebooks provide advice and recommendations that fit a particular traveler’s interests, budget, and time constraints; others are more a compendium of every potentially interesting sight and activity. Also, some have big long sections on where to stay. That can be helpful if you are traveling on the fly and looking for lodging as you go. If you plan ahead and book lodging beforehand, those sections are a waste of space and are extra stuff to carry around.