Top 5 Travel Tips

When I’m setting up itineraries and scouting locations, I’m taking inspiration from the luxury travel market and making it both more approachable and more affordable. While there is a lot of research that goes into it, as well as some dumb luck (BaoHaus was one of the best random decisions of my life..), along the way I’ve come up with 5 travel tips that I like to think sum up the project rather nicely. I’ve illustrated what I mean with selected webisodes, and I hope the list brings you a bit of inspiration in your travels.

1. The Perfect Setting

The best part of travel are the experiences you have, and the memories you make. So look for places that are going to provide you with those special experiences. Setting is half of the fun in a movie or play, and that’s how you should treat your travels.

Here’s the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris, with its tapestry walls and crystal chandeliers and vast assortment of taxidermy and artwork. So extravagant and out of this world, I can truly say I’ll always remember the afternoon I spent in that museum. Which is the point of travel, right? For me, though, it’s not just about the art here — it’s the setting. It’s a completely immersive experience, which is what you should look for when planning out your travels.

2. Parks

What’s the best part about parks? They’re free. And they’re perfect for picnics. Spending an afternoon outside, people watching, and just taking in the city and its sights is a great thing to include in your travel itinerary.

The High Line in NYC is beautifully done, and spans a large stretch of the city. You can choose to sit back and relax in one part, or walk its entirety to take in the views.

3. Take Quiet Moments

You’ve saved, planned, coordinated, taken time off from work, and gotten yourself there. Chances are you’re going to want to be on the go seeing as much as you possibly can. Which is fine, totally understandable. But that’s also how you can burn yourself out, which takes away some of the magic from your journey.

I like to plan in quiet moments to my trips. Maybe waking up a bit earlier than I really want to, just so I can grab a coffee in the morning at a local cafe, Le Progres. Paris is beautiful in the mornings, quiet and lovely, and this experience is one that I would’ve missed had I not taken the time to just sit back and people watch a bit. I was up a bit earlier, but I wasn’t exerting myself or really doing anything more than I had already planned. I was just taking it all in.

4. Lunch

While I’m not necessarily a food snob, I am a foodie — I love to eat, and it’s one of my favorite parts of travel. Trying new things and finding the places you can suggest to friends is what makes a trip perfect. But dinner at restaurants can be expensive, and sometimes when you’re traveling alone dinner for one really isn’t that appetizing. That’s why lunch is always my big meal when I travel. I’m not sure why, but an afternoon for one is a lot less intimidating than dinner for one, and most places have reduced prices on the lunch menu, even though it’s the same thing as the dinner menu. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Here I check out Smith & Mills, which is in NYC’s TriBeCa neighborhood. I’ve been for dinner as well, but lunch here is just that much more enjoyable — it’s quieter, and when it’s summer and the doors are wide open, the tiny carriage house conversion is awash in sunlight.

5. Splurge a Little

You’ve already spent the money to get yourself there, you’ve invested your time and energy to get there, so why not splurge a little? That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to request the gold cutlery and casks of champagne, but it does mean being open to spending a little bit more money here and there, when it feels like it’s the right thing to do. It’s ok, and sometimes necessary, to go ahead and give yourself permission to splurge.

A favorite of mine in Paris is Ladurée, which is decidedly more “high class” than “no cash,” but it’s one of my favorites for what I consider an extravagant Parisian experience. Whenever I leave Paris I buy a small sampler of six — I enjoy the macarons on the way home, and the gilt box they come in becomes a perfect souvenir. Not a bad deal for about $20, even though it’s on the pricier side.

Jeff Smith

Jeff started in photography and short format video, and he's been at the forefront of the web tv movement. He’s worked on haute couture shoots in Paris, shot street style in Milan, and is currently developing a steady roster of beauty, fashion, and digital clients in NYC.