What is the first thing you do when you land in a new city? I’ve ben wanting to write this post for a long time, and finally share my best travel tips with you. If I’m traveling to Europe a little nap when I get there is in order. To recharge and adjust to the time change. But if the trip is not long, I’ll hit the streets right away to get a feel of the city and most importantly, to visit as many food spots as possible.
Lats month I went to New York City to attend the preview of Banana Republic‘s Summer Collection which was inspired in Morocco, a country that I’m so looking forward to visiting soon. Upon arriving to our Soho hotel, I went for a walk right away to do a little shopping (it’s NYC after all!) and you know it, EAT!
But while traveling is always fun, and being in a new city is always exciting, the logistics of planning a trip can be a little bit stressful too. On this post you will find my best travel tips. The ones I stick by to make life easier and that I’ve gathered throughout the years. They’ll make your vacation smoother and more enjoyable, plus I’ve listed a few of my go-to restaurants in some of my favourite cities as well. So let’s get started!
Best travel tip #1: Local currency
Try to get some of your money exchanged for the local currency before you leave on your trip. There is nothing more annoying than having to pay up to 6 dollars or euros every time you need to take money out of an ATM. So having some of that money already exchanged in advance, will save you some of those fees and ease your way into your first day.
Best travel tip #2: Packing
I’m not going to lie. Packing, is not my favourite part of traveling but obviously essential. For years I used to be that person that would bring 15 outfits to a 5 day vacation, just to have options. Not anymore. Sure, go ahead and pack and extra outfit or 2, but choose clothing that’s versatile and that you can easily pair with other pieces. Some of my go-tos are;
To pair with loose t-shirts, or even a blazer with a silk cami. Plus let’s be honest, they are beyond comfortable.
Jumpsuits or rompers:
A must in my suitcase that can easily take you from day to night when paired with the right choice of accessories and sandals. One jumpsuit that I’ve been wearing non stop this summer is this white and blue one by Banana Republic. I wore it to the launch of their Summer Collection, and since then it’s been on rotation in my travels. The fabric is super breathable, it has pockets (can we please agree that all jumpsuits should have pockets? ) and while being functional, it’s also elegant.Pair it with sandals in the morning, and dress it up in the evening with wedges or heels plus a few layered necklaces.
Let’s just say that when Warren and I went to Melbourne, we ate our way through that incredible city. But how could you not? Melbourne is made for food lovers with their incredible brunch and coffee culture. Good thing that some of the first pieces that make it into my suitcase are my running shoes, yoga and running clothes.Because wherever you are in the world, you can always go fur a run or attend a local yoga class to keep up with the weekly workouts at home.
Do we really need 4 pairs of heels, 5 pairs of sandals and 2 pairs of running shoes? I was once part of the “pack your suitcase with as many shoes you can fit club” until I realized I gravitated towards the same ones and would not even wear half of the ones I had brought. Simplicity is key when it comes to packing and definitely one of my best travel tips. Keep it simple. Make a list and bring only what you truly need.
A few dresses:
Versatility also comes in handy. Dresses that can take you from day to night are the ones to pack. If you are like me, and like to see as much as possible when visiting a new city, and not necessarily go back to your hotel/airbnb to change. A couple of dresses in your suitcase will have you set. My favourite this summer, is this beautiful maxi dress, also from Banana republic. It’s a beautiful shade of mauve (comes in light blue as well) silky, super comfortable, and probably the prettiest dress in my closet right now. The neck detail makes this dress and it’s another piece I’ve been wearing tons.
Best Travel tip # 3: Roll your clothes
Packing properly is without a doubt one of my best travel tips. We all have our ways and tricks! I’ve seen people packing their carry-on with their clothes still in hangers, so when they get to their hotel all they have to do is hang their clothes in the closet. That technique might work for a weekend getaway, but if you are going away for more than 4 days, rolling your clothes is the way to go.
I place my running shoes and sandals against the side of my suitcase and then place the heavier pieces ( think jackets, blazers or even jeans) on the bottom. After you have that base, tightly roll the lighter pieces placing them side by side. You can easily have 2 layers of tops, shirts and dresses when packing this way. Finally, place your makeup and/or toiletry bacon top so that the precious skincare doesn’t get squished too much.
Best travel tip #4: Let your skin breathe
I love makeup, my girls do too, but if we are traveling somewhere, we wear the bare minimal. Makeup can do a number in your face by clogging your pores while in the cabin. It’s the equivalent of going to bed with makeup on ( or worse) the air is super dry, and your skin will definitely feel it. Instead, the girls and I usually do an overnight mask the night before our vacation. This helps prep our skin for the lack of moisture in the cabin. During the flight, drinks tons of water and herbal tea, and avoid alcohol ( it will only leave you feeling dehydrated and make jet-lag worse)
Best travel tip #5: Ease into it
If you are traveling to a destination with your same time zone, by all means go and explore right away. For the Banana Republic Summer Collection launch, as son as we landed I left my carry-on at the hotel and walked around Soho for a couple of hours. But if on the other hand, you are traveling overseas and landing in a different time zone, one of the things that has worked for me is napping for 2 to 3 hours. Then getting up to enjoy the day. Yes, it is a struggle to get up, but your body will thank you at night, when you’ll be able to sleep properly. Napping also makes sure that your body is rested, in case you were not able to sleep on the flight and overall helps you to adjust better to the new time zone.
Best travel tip #6: Do your food homework
One of the questions I get asked the most, is how I find the restaurants, bars and cafes I go to when I travel. My answer and one of my best travel tips is to do your homework when it comes to food. I am fortunate ( and feel extremely grateful) to have friends all over the world, who have recommended some of the most unique spots. I also follow local gastronomy accounts like @tasteofprague or @foodstoriesberlin who are on top of the food scene in their cities and other places in Europe too.
Ask friends that have been to the cities you are visiting, look for food and travel blogs of people based in the cities you’ll be traveling to and see what they recommend. Once I’m in a new city, I also talk to locals and ask what their favourite spots are. You see, their recommendations will always be the best. From family run restaurants, to whole in the wall cafes, locals will steer you in the right direction. At the end of the day, you don’t want to eat food that looks instagramable but has no flavour or depth. Believe me when I tell you, research before you travel pays off and by asking locals you’ll never go wrong.
Favourite restaurants around the world
Below, you’ll find a list of some of my favourite restaurants so that in your next travel adventure you can stop by! If you do, I would love to hear how did you like them.
Frenchette: Located in TriBeCa this French brasserie offers incredible seafood and probably the best frites I’ve tried. They have a huge selection of natural wines and the staff is incredibly friendly.
Bar Pitti: Southern Italian food done right. Don’t miss their rigatoni and also the eggplant parmigiana.
Tacombi: located in Soho, Tacombi serves some of the best tacos I’ve had outside of Mexico City. Their fish and shrimp ones are a must, and so is their Paloma.
Rooftop bar of the Whyte Hotel: Go for the delicious cocktails and stay for the view of the NYC skyline.
Llama Inn: Super flavourful ceviche ( with a bit of sweet potato like in Lima) and great Pisco sours.
La Palma: Husband and wife Craig Harding and Alexandra Hutchinson created one of the most beautifully designed spots in the city. The food is absolutely incredible and so are the drinks.
Bar Raval: a favourite of mine and for the right reasons. Great atmosphere, a killer playlist while you sip on Rosé cava and eat the best tapas I’ve had outside of Barcelona. Don’t miss the hot octopus. It’s grilled to perfection and comes with garlicky potatoes and sauce that you can’t leave behind. Ask for a bit of sourdough so that you can scoop it up.
Aloette: You’ve got to experience Aloette at least once. Impeccable service, food that’s not only delicious but utterly creative ( hello iceberg wedge salad!) and an impressive wine list.
Rosalinda: Toronto needed a plant based Mexican restaurant and Rosalinda delivered. Their Pozole is the real deal and their grain bowls are deliciously satisfying.
Bluestone Lane: Nobody does brunch and coffee like the Australians, and Bluestone lane is in Toronto to prove it. They also happen to have the healthiest brunch dishes in the city and make the best flat white.
Pujol: Pujol is a gem. 19 years ago, Chef Enrique Olvera created a restaurant for the senses, where Mexican cuisine reveals a tapestry of flavours. Don’t leave without trying their iconic Mole madre.
Eno: Also owned by Enrique Olvera, Eno specializes in simple a delicious options for breakfast and lunch. try their chilaquiles and refreshing agues frescas.
Contramar: Pretty much an institution in CDMX. Contramar has been going strong for 20 years and it is as popular now as when it opened. It offers a menu filled with seafood dishes, and recreates the beach vibes from Ixtapa. Order their classic tuna tostadas, and be ready to order 2 more after.
Maximo Bistrot: Chef Lalo Garcia has a mission. To bring seasonal, fresh and sustainable dishes to the tables at Maximo Bistrot. The restaurant sources the best local ingredients to create a menu that changes daily and the results are spectacular. Bread gets baked in house and it’s served at the beginning of the meal with 3 mouthwatering sauces.
Rooftop at Hotel Condesa DF: Two words. Hibiscus Margaritas. A classic cocktail at this iconic boutique hotel that can’t be missed.
La Menagere: A gorgeous concept store that houses a cafe, restaurant, flower and pottery shop. Grab a coffee and cornetto before heading out to explore.
Ditta Artigianale: It opened 6 years ago by Francesco Sanapo, a three-time barista champion. As you can imagine the coffee is next level spectacular. If you want to start your day with soft scrambled eggs or buttery French, this is the place to go.
Gelateria La Carraia: Named because of its close location to Ponte alla Carraia, this gem has the best gelato I tried in Florence (and I tried many). Their sesame gelato was definitely my favourite.
Habanera: One for the prettiest restaurants in the city with a vibrant tropical flair. Habanera has Cuban classics like ropa vieja, but also offers a bit of Latin American favourites too, such as tiraditos and ceviche.
Perra Chica: Pumpkin soup with ginger and lime, grilled provolone and fresh gazpacho are some of my favourite dishes on their Menu. Madrid is packed with great restaurants and Perra Chica doesn’t disappoint. Their baba ganoush is memorable.
El federal: with spots in Madrid and Barcelona, El federal is my go-to when I’m in town. They make an excellent shakshuka and delicious coddled eggs with creamy, parmesan, spinach and hazelnuts.
Do you have any travel tips to add? Comment below and happy travels!
This post was made in collaboration with Banana Republic, however all views and opinions are my own. Photos of Isabella Gilmore and I were taken by the talented London based photographer Josh Castellano