Hey there Redskins fans!
Jackie here, and I'm very excited to share with you a few of my top traveling tips. My biggest passion in life is traveling, and I do it quite often. Hopefully, sharing some of the things that I've learned along the way can help you plan your next exciting adventure!
My love affair with traveling started at a very young age. My father had a 'get in the car and just drive' kind of attitude. In fact, I'd seen more of the country by the age of five, than most people would in a lifetime — not that I remember much of it now. However, it wasn't until I embarked on my very first solo trip at 10 years old that I actually caught the travel bug. I hopped on a plane, and flew to Florida, to go to Space Camp (Yes, I wanted to be an astronaut — don't laugh!). The instant rush of going to visit a new destination was so exciting to me. Because I loved traveling so much, I decided I wanted to be a pilot; that way I'd be able to fly myself all around the world. Which is why, at age 12, I flew to Alabama to attend Aviation Challenge Camp. Although I never did follow through with being a pilot, I still travel the world every chance I get! So far, I've been to 25 countries. Some of my favorite travel destinations have been Italy, France, Iceland, Costa Rica and Hawaii — even though that's technically the United States.
Being part of the Washington Redskins organization has had a huge impact on my travel life as well. While participating in our 53rd, 54th and 55th Military Appreciation Tours, I was able to travel to countries I would've never been able to visit otherwise, such as Afghanistan, Curaçao, Bahrain and Dubai. I was able to meet thousands of our military servicemen and women who fight for our country each and every day. Those are opportunities and experiences that no travel agent could ever grant me. Of course, let's not forget the amazing calendar shoots we go on every year to beautiful countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, and this year, Jamaica! Enough about my travel history, let's get to my travel tips!
Here are my Top 5 Travel Tips:
- Book ahead. So many times, people assume that backpacking or flying by the seat of your pants is the cheapest way to travel, but that's not always the case. I always book ahead. For instance, I just traveled to Italy for two weeks. During that trip, I wanted to visit 13 cities, which is almost one city a day. To prepare for my trip, I had to sit down with a map, and a calendar and pre-plan which city I would visit on what date.
Sticking to a schedule while traveling is very smart and effective, because it allows you to get the biggest bang for your buck. In addition to planning my road trip Italy-style, I booked my hotel for each city before I left, so that I didn't have an option to veer off track. This also makes the trip cheaper, because I was able to research the cheapest hotels and Airbnbs in the area. For example: I was able to stay in Rome for just $70 a night! After you book everything, remember to print out all of your reservations and keep a copy with you during your trip. This will keep you organized and alleviate any stress.
- Pack lightly and responsibly. This is my most important tip, because 90% of people over pack. What I do is pack one outfit per day, that way I don't have options! As silly as it sounds, I'll set the outfit up on my table, accessories and all, and take a picture of it, then I pack and move on. This way, I can just scroll through my pictures and pick which outfit to wear for that day. Not having options is key!
- Do your research and explore! I don't see traveling as a "vacation," but more as time to experience a new culture. I'm not one to arrive at a destination and just relax; I travel with a purpose. I want to get as much out of every trip as possible. Being a huge history fanatic, everywhere I go, I research churches, museums and important historical landmarks. I'm also very adventurous, and love eating fine cuisine, so looking up the best restaurants and any unique excursions is a high priority for me. You never know if you'll travel back to that destination, so you don't want to leave with regrets of not experiencing it all.
- Locals, Locals, Locals! I absolutely love talking to as many locals as I can when I travel. They have so much knowledge about their country, and know more than any travel website or travel agent ever could. Of course, booking some activities ahead of time can be a good idea, but it can also be a rip off. Whereas, if you ask a local, they're usually more than happy to be your tour guide for half the price, or even for free! Interacting with the locals will give you a unique and authentic experience.
- JUST GO! That's my last and final tip…JUST GO.
Don't let weeks, months and even years pass you by before you visit that country or city that you've always wanted to go to. Take off work and enjoy life. Don't look at traveling as something that's scary or intimidating. Some of the best trips can be made at the last minute. One time I booked a trip to the Bahamas five hours before the plane took off, and it was great! Make it a point to see the world. After all, it's a pretty amazing place!
Much Love and Happy Traveling,