Miami, Florida

A few weeks ago, we took a road trip to Miami for a little fun in the sun. And even though it rained the entire time (seriously, like cats and dogs), we had the best time. The sun came out for a whole two hours out of the entire three days we were there, but it didn’t matter because we had prepared for the trip and knew what to do in case of rain!

I’m the planner, and Ryan is the “strategic director” in our family. I’m usually the one who says “let’s figure out what we want to do, see, and eat” on a trip, and he’s the one that makes spreadsheets, Google maps, and playlists. Together, we make one really great trip planning machine.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t always happen perfectly. There have been a few times that we have completely goofed a trip, like that one time we went to Paris and were too busy to plan ANYTHING beforehand. The trip ended up a success, but not without some serious panic moments throughout… we’ve since learned our lesson. Trust me, you don’t want to end up in a foreign country wondering “okay, now what?!”.  Now, we plan because we learned how to plan a trip. We make lists, plan meals, and bring portable chargers.

Mapping it Out:

One of the greatest tools we utilize while planning a trip is Personalizing a Google Map. If you haven’t ever done this, you NEED to. I would give you a step-by-step of how to set it up for you here, but Wiki-How does a really great job! The best part about a personalized Google map is you can star all of the places you might want to visit during your trip. We code our maps for food, museums, sightseeing, hotels, and drinks. We ALWAYS over star because you never know what neighborhood you’ll end up in and what you’ll want to do.

This worked out great for us this trip. Since it rained the majority of the time, we were able to refer to our map on the go and find little coffee shops we knew we wanted to try! It was amazing.

The Research:

Another thing that can be fairly daunting while planning a trip can be the research. Now that we know we need to star everything and use a Personalized Map, sometimes there’s still a question of what to actually star. If you’re wondering the same thing, don’t worry! I get nervous about this process too, but there are SO many resources at your finger tips.

A Few Ways to Research:

A Social Media Ask: I always ask for favorites on social media, and you would be surprised by how many people will reach out and give you some ideas! Even if you don’t have a ton of followers, 6 degrees of separation says someone who follows you has been where you’re going. This is one of my favorite ways.

Google Search: I often search, “Best Coffee Shops in ______”,  “The Most Instagramable Spots in ______”, and “Where to get the best city view in ______”. It feels silly to Google some of these things, but seriously, I’ve found the best stuff when using these searches.

Thrillist: Another place I always check while planning a trip is Thrillist. I love Thrillist for so many reasons, but their travel/city guides are amazing. It’s a definite MUST in the planning process!

Eater: Absolutely the most incredible site for food. Do not go somewhere new without checking this site out. Best donuts, best brunch, best acai bowls, best restaurant with a view…it’s all there. I PROMISE you’ll love it!

The Tech Prep:

A few other things we’ve learned over our years of traveling together is tech prep is IMPORTANT. It’s worth investing in a few things to make sure your trip isn’t incredibly frustrating. We’ve been on trips where our phones die, and we are lost (IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY!). Or, we’ve come back from an epic trip and realized we only have photos of each other and not a single one of the both of us together. Since then, we have made some serious adjustments. Here is a list of things we don’t leave home without.

Tech Necessities:

Mophie Charger: There are a few different versions of the Mophie charger, but we have the mac daddy. The one that will charge our phones and computers all at the same time. It’s magical, and we cannot, will not leave home without it.

Lightweight Tri Pod: This may seem silly, but trust me, this thing is wonderful. We are now always able to get a great photograph of the two of us on our adventures, and we no longer have to try and find a stranger to help us and then teach them how to take a good photo. It saves a LOT of time and frustration.

Bluetooth Remote: Another absolute necessity! This little bluetooth remote is how we trigger our phone and camera so we aren’t using the “self-timer” app.

Headphones: Most trips we are working, so a good pair of headphones is a must! Especially if you are wanting to get out of the hotel to get a few things done. These are perfect for noisy cafes or coffee shops!

Mind blowing!

As I mentioned at the beginning, this post has been brought to you by Look Beyond.  Every single tech essential (above and more) we rely on has components from some kind of oil or natural gas derivative.  I know, it’s hard to believe, but oil and gas didn’t just fuel our car on the drive to Miami. It was in the tennis shoes we wore, the blender used to make that tasty Acai Bowl at Under the Mongo Tree, our laptop computers and iPhones, sunglasses…the list goes on. You can learn more at Look Beyond. It’s definitely worth exploring on your own, too!

What are your life changing travel tips? Let me know!

After more than a few fumbles, I’d like to think we’re getting this whole travel thing down to a science. At the very least, we now feel more confident than ever about planning a trip. It’s funny how a few things, like Google Maps, specific key word searches, and travel tech can really make a difference! I hope these tips help you in planning your next trip, whether it’s a road trip to a nearby location or somewhere exotic and halfway around the world.