Lara Dalinsky is the founder of En Route Traveler, an online travel site that was created to “inspire wanderlust.” Lara is a well-traveled woman, having visited more than 30 countries. We seized the opportunity when we spoke with her to get our most pressing travel questions answer. After all, she’s the pro who knows. Here’s what she had to say.
What is your number one piece of advice for travelers?
Through the years, I’ve learned that it’s better to spend more quality time in one place than try to squeeze in too much. Over-planning can hinder the opportunity for spontaneous discovery. Some of my fondest travel memories came from serendipitous moments – using some downtime in Myanmar to rent a moped with my husband and watching the sunset from the roof of an ancient temple in Bagan or attending an avant-garde gallery opening after getting lost in the side streets of Paris with my sister-in-law. I couldn’t have planned these random adventures even if I had tried.
What are the essential items you should have no matter where you’re traveling? Domestic and international?
Other than travel documents, IDs and contact information, I bring my smart phone and an extra portable charger with me everywhere I go, especially when traveling on my own. It gives me a sense of security, and I can use it to download books, take pictures, as a map and to do trip research. My phone is unlocked so I can purchase a data SIM card when traveling abroad or can take advantage of WiFi zones. To stay in the moment, I avoid the temptation of using my device for email and social media until I’ve retired for the day.
The other item I always have on hand is a long, cotton scarf. It’s a surprisingly versatile accessory! Not only does it add a stylish layer of warmth, I can fold it up and use it as a pillow on the plane. It also doubles as a sarong or blanket at the beach. And when touring religious sites, it acts as a cover-up for my head or shoulders.
What’s your best packing advice?
Unless I’m taking a trip that requires special gear, like snowboarding, I only travel with a carry-on suitcase. This prevents me from over-packing, keeps me mobile and ensures that my luggage won’t get lost in transit. I try to limit myself to two pairs of shoes and two pairs of pants: black ones and jeans or another color leggings. Pants can be re-worn over again, and I can always do laundry for trips that last longer than a week. I’m also a huge fan of rolling my clothes and storing them in packing cubes. They save space and keep my bag organized.
Learn more about Laura and En Route Traveler on her website, enroutetraveler.com.