By Jay R. McDonald

Travelling can be a whirlwind … Chasing light, late for flights, fighting through traffic and navigating new places. Sometimes I feel like Indiana Jones dodging boulders and chasing after lost luggage. BUT, the excitement of new people, places and experiences keeps me coming back for more trip after trip. As I plan my next adventure, I thought I would share a few of my favourite tips for travelling stress free. These may not be the “top tips,” but they are certainly always top of mind.

1) ALWAYS (and I mean always) travel with carryon luggage only.

We all know someone who has boarded a flight in their comfort travel clothes, landed in a new place and learned their luggage has been rerouted, lost or stolen. Now, even though your velour tracksuit is comfortable—unless you are P. Diddy himself, you’re probably going to be a little choked if that’s your only option for the next week. I get it. Some people can get away with anything. Lady Gaga loses her luggage, has 10 minutes to get to the red carpet and somehow becomes a fashion style icon by stopping at the deli on the way for a backup plan meat dress fit for a Disney queen. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, that’s not you. SO, how do we avoid this travesty? WE PACK CARRY-ON ONLY—bring only the basics. What I am saying is no new shoes, just new friends. Odds are if you are travelling with a friend, they don’t care what you’re wearing and if you’re flying solo, you will be making friends along the way, so 22 plaids and 32 shoes isn’t necessary. I promise you, by having a backpack and a carry on only, your travel life will be a lot less sweaty. PLUS, the added bonus is when you land you can roger bannister your way out to the Uber or taxi gladiator lane and beat the rush because you’re not sitting around waiting for the carousel from hell to deliver your newly damaged checked bag.

2) Plan ahead

If you’ve travelled with me before, you know I am a total free bird. I like to go with the flow, go where the wind blows and experience travel life as it comes. Sometimes this is great, other times it looks like an origami museum in a hurricane. SO, how do we avoid being paper crane’s turns into paper mache? We plan ahead!

The top three things I like to plan ahead for are coffee and snacks (the essentials), sunrise and sunset locations and lastly, wheels. I like to jump on Instagram and Facebook to crowd source the best coffee. To do so, I simply post a story asking the people! Thanks to the world of social, there are people to follow EVERYWHERE you go. By posting a story or two, you’re bound to get some answers with reoccurring themes.

Second, I swipe up to the Instagram search bar and type the location I am headed into the “Places” section. I find that often the top results have beautiful and visit-worthy landscapes for a little sunset or sunrise action. Last, I look for wheels—do I need a taxi or an Uber? Am I going to use “Bird Scooter’s”? Am I going to have my local friend’s soccer dad drive me around? It seems like a simple thing but knowing AHEAD of time how you will be transporting around is a game changer.

Jay R. Mcdonald and a women sit in the back of a van, drinking coffee and looking out over a beach that leads to the ocean.

3) Get trip insurance

Allow me to reiterate what you just read above. GET. TRIP. INSURANCE.

It’s all fun and games until something actually happens. We all miss flights, break a nail, lose our wallets, lobster burn our nose and get sick from eating at a friend’s recommendation with a one-star Yelp review. Personally, I like Alberta Blue Cross®’s travel coverage. Their travel coverage page is easy-to-use and they have plans that will meet your needs and budget. Their plans include Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption and Baggage Coverage, which (if you made it this far) you can see covers all of the above. Having this type of coverage makes travelling confidently and stress free the norm.

4) Have a camera

It’s amazing what an old photo resurfaced can do to the senses. An old picture pops up or falls out of your bag and all of a sudden you can smell the smells, taste the air, hear the music and love that very moment again. I always travel with three cameras—my Sony A7riii, my iPhone (any smartphone works) and an old vintage Pentax K1000 film camera stocked with black and white film. I am constantly “runnin’ and gunnin’,” which means I have extreme FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and I must capture everything. I have my Sony mirrorless for the majority of shooting due to the fact that commercial photography is my profession (not everyone needs this type of camera). I always carry my smartphone with me (as I’m sure most of us do) and I am always impressed by what I can capture with it when I am tight on time or in tight quarters. Lastly, my Pentax K1000 film camera. I love this camera because I think there is something special and magical about holding a tangible image. We live in the age of social, which I love BUT when you are taking thousands of images daily, sometimes it’s nice to stop and snap a couple timeless candid’s just for the memories.

5) Enjoy the ride

This one is a given, yet I feel the need to touch on it anyway. We live in a time where travel is accessible and it’s easy to compare the grandeur of our trip to our favourite traveller or friend on Instagram. In no other time in history has it ever been so easy to skip across the globe and immerse yourself in someone else’s culture. You can book and be on a trip and be physically across the globe in 24 hours, seven days a week. So, what I am getting at is, appreciate this luxury, enjoy the ride, implement the tips above and head somewhere crazy, go to that little place you’ve always wanted to go. Romance your wild … and enjoy the mems along the way. 

Until next time…


This blog was written in partnership with Jay R. McDonald, creator of Romance Your Wild. To view and read more of his work, visit Romance Your World.

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