As a company of women who love to travel, Run Wild Retreats' retreat leaders and travel designers are pleased to share their 2023 travel tips for women travelers to help make your next trip a little smoother.
There's no denying that travel services and infrastructure are straining to meet the demand of world's post-Covid travel demands, so your next trip will take a little more forethought and preparation. But it will pay off in the form of less stress and effort once you hit the road!
Take this travel advice from our seasoned travel professionals, all of whom are women who have traveled the world personally with friends and family, for their careers and even to run races in far-flung places.
Hold Onto Your Shoes!
"I like to carry my essential, most hard-to-replace gear like my running shoes in my carry-on bag instead of my checked luggage," says Charlotte Roennau, a Danish expat living in Colorado, USA, who leads retreats in places like Bhutan, Nepal and Vietnam for Run Wild Retreats this year. "While it's relatively easy to buy extra shirts and shorts in a foreign country, finding your preferred running shoe is not! It's been my experience, as someone who travels internationally multiple times a year, that the shortage of airport luggage handlers and the sheer volume of travelers these days makes getting your luggage to your destination in time a challenge just about everywhere."
Elinor, CEO of Run Wild Retreats ads this tip: "Don't forget that travel insurance will reimburse you for clothing and toiletries you buy because your luggage was lost, so keep those receipts and file that claim after you get home."
Sleep Well in Transit
Retreat leader Jan Curl, of Berkeley, California, whose next trip will be to Iceland, makes herself a compact sleep kit to support a restful long-haul flight. "I always pack noise-canceling ear plugs, a pashmina scarf and an eye mask," says Jan. She also touts the portability and convenience of a raw almonds for a satisfying snack. "You'll sleep better with some protein in your belly and they're so packable and don't squish," she says. Charlotte, meanwhile, recommends a supplement called Magnesium Malate for good sleep, recovery and less jet lag. "It’s easier on the digestion than lots of other magnesium variants," she says.
Pick a Daypack over a Purse
Purses don't hold enough stuff when you're traveling, and may become a liability if they don't have a proper closure (ie, a zipper rather than a clasp) to guard against pickpockets. A backpack, however is much more versatile and easier to secure to your body when walking around a city or airport. Retreat travel specialist Hallie Stuart is a self-confessed gear head whose most recent travels took her to Costa Rica.
"I love the Matador Freerain22 Waterproof Packable Backpack but if you’re looking for something even lighter, I recommend the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack," she says. "Both of these backpacks pack down small and come in handy for various situations during a retreat. For example, you’ll want to bring a daypack to store additional clothing on a cold morning at the trailhead or to change into after the run and these packable packs won’t take up too much space in your suitcase, and are very versatile."
Take Time to Write + Reflect
Retreat leader Jan loves to write, though like many of us, doesn't have as much time for it at home as she'd like. "I like to bring a notebook and my favorite blue-ink pen," she says. "Sure, you'll want to have your phone to take photos, but there's something really special about capturing a trip’s worth of observations and thoughts in a notebook that you can't capture digitally. It’s old-school but I have a suitcase full of travel notebooks from all over the world and they have become my favorite souvenirs!"
Denver-based retreat leader Liz, whose been busy this month leading retreats in both the Italian Dolomites and Canadian Rockies, always brings along with her Transformational Travel Journal. "I love the prompts, free space for documenting my inspirations, and will slip receipts, restaurant napkins, and other souvenirs in between pages for future reference and to pass along recommendations," she says.
Replace Social Media with a Good Book
Scrolling through social media isn't actually relaxing, even though it does pass the time by keeping you distracted. Traveling is a great opportunity to disconnect from socials (even when sitting in an airport!) and pick up a physical book. Reading a book is slower and more relaxing to your mind than endlessly scrolling a newsfeed. "My favorite is to bring a good book and then have it bedside each night to ease my mind into a creative slumber after a full day of travel and adventure," says Liz. "I usually have three or four non-fiction books going at the same time. Currently, I'm reading Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty, Out and Back: A Story of Survival Against All Odds by trail runner Hillary Allen, and Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullough because I love a good travel non-fiction, or even fiction books that are based in certain geographical locations.
Charlotte, meanwhile is a big fan of Thich Nhat Hahn and has one of his inspiring books in her suitcase, such as Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise.
Breeze Through Security and Passport Lines
There's nothing like the sinking feeling you get when you're rushing to your gate only to be met with an endlessly snaking line of travelers waiting to get through security. Says Jan: "TSA PreCheck is a must for travel these days. There are a few hoops to jump through but well worth it in the long run. Also, some credit cards with travel benefits cover the enrollment cost, so check that before you pay the fee."
Of course, TSA Precheck is only available at certain U.S. airports, so if you travel outside the U.S. regularly, it's worth getting Global Entry so you can bypass slow-moving Passport Control. Global Entry doesn't work everywhere, but is available at the airports listed here.
Another way to jump the queue when re-entering the U.S. is with the new Mobile Passport app, which replaces the paper declaration form on your return flights to the U.S. and means you can skip the first checkpoint of passport control and save you some time and hassle in customs and border protection (though it doesn't replace your physical passport!).
Making Tipping Less Awkward
It's well understood that most people working in the service industry, upon which tourism depends, don't earn much and rely heavily on tips to make a living wage. But have you ever found yourself wondering how tipping works in various countries and how much you're supposed to tip a tour guide versus a taxi driver? Run Wild Retreats' founder, Elinor found this handy reference for tipping expectations around the world.
Speaking of money matters, what's the best way to get foreign cash these days? This helpful article by travel writer Tim Wenger provides all you need to know about whether it's better to use and ATM or currency exchange service.
Hydrate + Nourish
A lot of the symptoms people attribute to jetlag is more likely due to simple dehydration, which is why retreat leader Lucy Croft, who has run marathons on all seven continents, shares her top tip for arriving as fresh and healthy as possible to a new country. "I like to give my immune system a boost of vitamin C starting a week before I travel. I do this through adding a packet of Emergen-C
once a day into my bottle of water," says Lucy. "I continue this throughout my travels and the week after I return. Not only does it provide me with an extra shot of energy and vitamins, it keeps me hydrated. I’ve notice that when I add this regimen into my travel plans, I stay heathier, hydrated, and overall, more energetic."
Elinor's long been a fan of Colorado-based, woman doctor-formulated Acli-Mate Mountain Sports Drink for travel and hydration on the trail. "I find it's not too sweet and the nutrient and electrolyte mix is ideal for keeping me hydrated on long-haul flights," she says.