8 vacation lessons from elite travelers

This expert advice will help you plan the best vacation ever

Sometimes planning the perfect holiday takes so much time and preparation that you’re still stressed out as the plane takes off. That’s why it’s important to remember these expert tips (from the pros at Food52MZ WallaceAFARand more) when it comes to all things vacations.

Always be snacking

"Stock your carry-on bags with more snacks than you think you'll need. We reach for heartier, travel-safe foods like granola, nuts, trail mix, and sturdy fruit, plus a bar of good, salted chocolate—because you just never know."—Kenzi Wilbur, Managing Editor, Food52

Season on the road

"Carrying a pinch tin of Maldon salt and a travel-sized bottle of good olive oil might at first feel like a little much—until you use both on packed snacks, airport food, and quick convenience store fare. Separately or together, they'll make everything better, and you'll be happier. Win-win."—Kenzi Wilbur, Managing Editor, Food52

Choose the perfect carry on bag

"Picking the right carry on bag is a must. We always want to get the maximum in our carry on bags and our MZ Wallace Metro Tote is our go-to for every trip we take. Its unique construction makes it foldable, rollable, packable, even crushable, and it will never lose its shape. Plus, it’s really roomy and weighs almost nothing. It’s the ideal travel bag. Not to mention, once you reach your vacation spot, the metro tote doubles as the best beach bag ever."—Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice, MZ Wallace Founders

Pack smart

"Packing correctly is key to a successful vacation. In your carry on, make sure that’s where you pack an extra pair of glasses and any medication—in case your checked luggage gets lost—and a lightweight cashmere scarf for warmth and an eye mask for maximum relaxation while flying. Pack frequently needed items at the top for easy access. Our favorite space saving tip is to roll your clothes tightly instead of folding. This allows not only for space saving but keeping your wardrobe wrinkle free."—Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice, MZ Wallace Founders

Get choosy with your destination

"With so many beautiful beach destinations around the world, how do you choose where to go? Think about what you want out of your trip. Are you looking for a scene where you can get glammed up and go to clubs at night? If so Ibiza or the Hamptons is for you. Do you want to get off-the-grid and totally relax and lounge in the sand somewhere exotic? Then maybe you should head to Trancoso or Bazaruto Island in Mozambique. If you want action—think surf and scuba—head to Hawaii’s North Shore or Puerto Escondido. And don’t discredit the off-season. There’s something so lovely about visiting beach towns before and after the summer rush; Maine in early May or the Amalfi or Nantucket in September are just as gorgeous."—Jen Murphy, Hotels editor, AFAR

Don't shy away from an adventure

"I always embrace the local customs. In Brazil, women of all ages and shapes where Brazilian bikinis so I made myself do like the locals do and by the third day most of my self-consciousness disappeared. Be adventurous. Take a surf or SUP lesson. Be curious. Ask about the shells you pick up on the beach and what the local fishermen are pulling in. Order the crazy frozen drink all the locals are throwing back at the beach bar."—Jen Murphy, Hotels editor, AFAR

Don't rely on the hotel gym

"Super-long workouts and vacations don't usually go hand-and-hand, so this quick and effective do-anywhere session—it’s just around 16 minutes and doesn’t require a single piece of equipment—will fit perfectly into anyone's vacay schedule."—Q Editors FIND IT

Keep your skincare simple

"A skincare expert recently told us that airplane cabins usually have only a 10–20% humidity level (as opposed to the more typical and comfortable-for-your-skin 30–65%). Drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin. And when it comes to your routine while traveling, simpler is better. Bring moisturizer, but skip exfoliants and masks."—Q Editors FIND IT