Unexpected Essentials to Pack for Your Overseas Trip

Planning a trip overseas is a daunting task, from booking airfare and hotel stays to dealing with different languages, currencies, times zones, and cultures. That’s why you should plan as much as you can in advance, including your packing list.

Here are some unexpected essentials to include in your suitcase when packing for a trip overseas:

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter has protein, fat, and sugar, which are your basic nutritional needs. It doesn’t spoil, and it tastes good on fresh fruit or bread. Peanut butter is a comfort food that tastes like home. Bring it with you, because it’s unlikely you’ll find it in the grocery stores in other countries.

Pack your favorite jar of peanut butter or a non-perishable snack like granola bars, crackers, or trail mix. These snacks make those long plane, train, and automobile rides much more bearable.


Grab your favorite pair of sneakers, and you’re all set, right? Wrong. In Hong Kong, a restaurants often refuse to serve patrons because they are wearing sneakers. Some hotels in Europe don’t allow you to wear flip-flops in the lobby. Give yourself some options because you don’t want to have to buy shoes at your destination.

Shoes purchased in European or Asian shoes might look like your favorite Nikes or Timberlands, but they might not hold up after a 10-mile walk through the cobblestone streets of Denmark or London. You don’t want to fall or break an ankle. However, if that happens, you can use a trusted company like MedjetAssist to arrange transportation to a medical facility.


Make sure you know what type of weather you’ll encounter on your travels. If you are going to several places where the climates may differ, find a thick jacket with layers that can withstand many temperatures and keep you dry, too.


While traveling it’s wonderful to experience local cuisine. Adventurous eating can be a highlight of traveling. However, you might find your stomach upset by unfamiliar food. Be sure to bring some of your trusted gastrointestinal prevention along. Otherwise you might find yourself having an uncomfortable vacation. Even if you have an iron stomach, acid eats through iron. Your stomach won’t withstand everything you throw at it. With a little pre- and post-noshing medication as needed, you and your stomach can enjoy the cuisine of any region.

U.S. Dollars

If you enjoy the art of bargaining, you might be surprised to learn that you’ll get a better deal if you have U.S. dollars–especially in some parts of Asia. In Vietnam, you’ll find that many retail shops and restaurants display prices in dollars. Make sure you carry some, but not too many, or you might find a local kid picking your pocket and running off with your dollars.

By putting these often-overlooked items on your packing list, you can ensure that your trip is more comfortable — allowing you to focus on the destination and the adventure.


Millennials Share Their Tips for Working While Traveling the Globe

This post was originally published on Tailwind by Hipmunk on April 11, 2016.

When you’re still new to a career and trying to make a name for yourself on the job, it can be stressful to take vacation time.

Heck, forget traveling for pleasure—even business travel can feel stressful. When you’re juggling delayed flights or bad cell service with the desire to make a good impression on your clients and coworkers, travel can feel anything but relaxing.

But take a deep breath, because we’ve got some good news for you: You can travel the globe and continue to rock out at your job. Here’s how four hard-working millennials make it happen.

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Jenn Hirsch. Photo credit Brandon Smith

Draw work inspiration from your travels.

As a surf retreat leader and a storyteller through (and founder of) Swell Story, Jenn Hirsch has learned firsthand that her travels can inform her work in big ways.

“My rule has always been to find inspiration from where you travel for whatever venture you have at present,” she says. “[My] work is highly creative yet grounded in the present—kind of like traveling to foreign countries and surfing in general.”

Communicate with your team before you leave.

Make sure your colleagues and clients have a sense of where you’ll be and what your availability will be like before you leave the office.

“Before a trip, I think it is important to meet with your team and third-party partners to make sure all bases are covered,” says Nolan Walsh, CEO of Thursday Boot Company.

Let folks know when you’ll be out of touch, and also aim to make yourself available at times when they’ll be working.

“I usually create a block of 3-5 hours that overlap with my work day back home,” says Hirsch. “This is a great tool to find overlapping time when you travel. Share your travel itinerary with your close team members, and let them know when you likely won’t be able to take calls. With advance communication, anything is possible.”

Use long transit times for work.

Instead of bemoaning the time you spend in transit, put it to productive use.

“You’re already stuck in a chair, and you’ll feel better getting work done than watching the in-flight movie you never really wanted to see,” says Walsh.

Bonus: Get work done on the plane or train, and you’ll have more free time to explore your destination.

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Nolan Walsh at home in NYC

Stay charged.

The best hot spots and data plans won’t help you get work done if you can’t turn your devices on in the first place. Never underestimate the value of keeping your work gadgets fully juiced.

“I’d stress the importance of simply keeping your devices charged,” says Charlie Ellis, founder and managing partner of Oxford Consulting Group. “I always travel with two hefty battery packs, a power strip, and a ten-port USB hub.”

Embrace free time whenever it arises.

While business travel can take you to all corners of the globe, it can be tough to actually see those places when you’re sitting in meetings all day.

The solution? Go exploring whenever down time presents itself, says Hirsch, whether that’s during a midday lunch break or at the wee hours of the morning. Especially in major metropolitan areas (think LondonTokyo, or New York), there’s something to see no matter when you get a free moment. Don’t miss it.

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Ricky Joshi (foreground) whitewater rafting in Tennessee 

Mix business with pleasure.

“I really enjoy visiting places for business where I can add on a couple of extra days to explore an area,” says Ricky Joshi, co-founder and CMO of Saatva Mattress. “Los AngelesMiami, and Chicago are great for this… I [also] really enjoy Central and South America, where I can go on a more adventurous trip. The Caribbean Island of St. Kitts and the Portland area of Jamaica are also personal favorites.”

It’s also smart to plan trips around your personal preferences.

“I’ve never fully adjusted to New York winters, so in Q1 and Q4 I’ll jump at any excuse to take a meeting or contract in Southern California,” says Ellis.

You’ll improve your mental state and your productivity if you go somewhere that inspires and uplifts you.

Roll with the punches.

It’s unavoidable: When you’re traveling the world, sometimes things go wrong.

Try discovering that your airline lost your luggage after you’ve touched down in Bolivia, as Joshi did. “Because I was so “off the grid,” it was so difficult finding a place to even try to call them to track it,” he says. “I finally gave into my fate and bought essentially a new, very light, wardrobe.”

It may not have been ideal, but Joshi made it work. When fate hands you lemons, go find yourself an orange.

Bonus: Practicing adaptability and efficient problem solving will serve you well on the job.

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Charlie Ellis in Montana

Unplug every once in awhile.

It’s not a good idea to go MIA without letting clients and coworkers know you’ll be off the grid. But everyone—everyone—needs to unplug once in awhile, and that includes you. Do it responsibly by setting clear expectations before your digital detox, setting up an out-of-office email reply, and then committing yourself to not checking your email or phone, says Hirsch. Your mind will thank you for it.

Far from being a hassle, traveling as a millennial—for work or pleasure—doesn’t have to be a career killer. Communicate with your team, be open to expanding your horizons, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself. After all, there’s more to life than work.

Hipmunk Hotels: Best Traditional Hotels in Albany, Ithaca, Syracuse and More

This post was originally published on Dish Our Town.

Photo Credit via Creative Commons Paul SablemanPhoto Credit via Creative Commons Paul Sableman

When people refer to New York, they often think of New York City. The state, however, is vast and has a lot more to offer than skyscrapers and a busy lifestyle. A few hours north, in the upstate region of the state, are cities that offer some of the most beautiful landscape in the country. Along with the scenery comes wonderful culture, entertainment, and dining. It also has a lot to offer when it comes to traditional hotel stays.


Albany is the state capital and has a lot to offer any visitor. Staying at the Morgan State House maximizes that visit by putting its guests in the heart of the city.

With Lark Street, also known as Albany’s “village in the city”, right outside its front door, the Morgan State House is well situated for guests to enjoy the restaurant, cafe, museums and entertainment scene that the city has to offer.

Like many Albany hotels, this venue is well appointed with luxurious bedding, cable television, and Wi-Fi. Perfectly traditional in its aesthetic, it does not get much more charming than this place. Rooms start at $98 pernight.


Ithaca sits on the shores of Cayuga Lake. Situated on a hill surrounded by dense forests, towering waterfalls, and gorges, Ithaca is a natural wonder. There is, of course, the added value of the city being the home of Ivy League university Cornell, and you’ll never lack for beautiful, traditional Ithaca hotels.

A wonderful place to stay is Homewood Suites by Hilton. Though part of a large hotel chain, this specific hotel has a very traditional feel about it. All suites are well-appointed with fully equipped kitchens, separate living areas, lush bedding, and bathroom amenities. Traditional wooden furnishings abound as well as modern luxuries, such as 32’ flatscreen televisions and Wi-Fi. Rooms start at $190 per night.


Stamford is in the heart of the famous Catskills, known as one of the most favored sites for outdoors lovers. Stay at the Colonial B&B Stamford and enjoy a wonderful, traditional experience. The rooms harken upon a luxurious time of yore. Excellent service along with well-appointed, luxurious rooms make this one of the most sought-after Stamford hotels. Rooms start at $190 per night.


Syracuse may be the most well-known city in this region. Much of its fame can be attributed to Syracuse University. The university and its athletic program put the city on the map. Accommodations can be hard to come by, especially at the height of basketball season. Though it is part of a large hotel chain, the Springhill Suites by Marriott gives its guests a special traditional feel, and it’s one of the most beautiful hotels in Syracuse. Highlights include an indoor swimming pool and a state of the art fitness center. Rates start at $150 per night.


We can’t talk about New York and not mention a good option for a East Elmhurst hotel. It’s hard to find an affordable and traditional stay in New York City itself, so one way of being able to do this is to stay in one of the suburbs. One of the best areas to do this is in East Elmhurst. The One Boutique Hotel isn’t necessarily traditional as far as the aesthetic is concerned, but it’s traditional in the way they value their guests.

The rooms are spacious and well-appointed, while the amenities are endless, ranging from an excellent spa to great dining. Service, of course, is second to none.

Book a room at these wonderful hotels. You’ll enjoy all New York has to offer outside of the city and enjoy a traditional stay.

Tour Guides: Carry On with Bravo TV’s Tour Group Host Brandon Presser

This post was originally published Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on March 4, 2016.

As a travel expert, TV host, and writer, Brandon Presser is no stranger to life on the go. Presser, who has visited more than 100 countries, has penned over 50 travel books, and is a regular contributor for such publications as Afar, Travel + Leisure, The Daily Beast, and National Geographic Traveler. And while he may be well known in the travel industry, he’s about to experience a whole new level of recognition: Presser is the lead host of Bravo TV’s new travel-based reality show, “Tour Group“, which tags along as 11 travelers search for the ultimate vacation. (10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.)  We got Presser to stay in one place long enough to give us his best travel advice, his favorite places to go, and the items he can’t leave home without.  


Hipmunk: So, tell us. What’s in your carry-on?

Brandon Presser: A dopp kit with some small essentials like eye drops, moisturizer, a travel toothbrush, Advil, and Ursa Major face towelettes; a small pouch with some lucky charms (a few pebbles I’ve collected from different beaches around the world–I’m a little superstitious!); a good book (that I never finish); an iPad fully loaded with some of my favorite movies; Bose headphones; and Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

H: Carry on bag of choice? 

BP: If I’m hauling some serious carry-on luggage and want the flexibility of bringing more things home, I go for the Dakine Over Under bag, which can grow and shrink in size. For quick trips I’m obsessed with Fjallraven’s safari duffle.

H: How often do you travel?

BP: I’ll travel through roughly 15 countries a year, which has me on one or two large trips a month. Last year’s highlights included everything from Tahiti to Portugal, and leading 11 strangers on a world tour through Africa and Asia while making “Tour Group.”

H: First, business class or coach?

BP: Each travel project I work on has different travel parameters–sometimes I’m in coach, other times I’m in first. I can tell you that it’s super hard to do a long-haul flight at the back of the plane after being treated to the flat beds up front.

H: Ok, now that we’re warmed up, let’s play a game of favorites. Favorite city to visit for work? Why?

BP: Tokyo is the best canvas for my work–whether it’s researching and writing articles and guidebooks or leading travelers through the incredible neighborhoods. The city is an endless well of oddities and curious fads. (Read Brendon’s articles on Tokyo’s oddities and fads here and here, respectively).

H: Favorite city for play? Why?

BP: Luckily, my work life and play life are closely intertwined. And Tokyo never stops inspiring me to get out there and explore with its thousands of cool restaurants, bars, shops and public spaces.

H: Favorite hotels?

BP: I’ve stayed in more than 2,500 hotels worldwide, so this is definitely a tricky one to answer. In the last 12 months some of my hotel highlights have included: Four Seasons Bora BoraTwin Farms in Vermont, and Roch Castle in Wales.

H: Favorite airline? Airport? Airport Terminal?

BP: I’m really loving JetBlue’s newest aircrafts right now–the entertainment system is bigger and better than ever, the coach seats really aren’t bad, and there’s an endless supply of snacks. Portland’s PDX wins domestically for making a promise to its traveler to not price gauge on snacks and supplies. And Hong Kong wins internationally for Cathay Pacific’s awesome business class lounge with delicious food and state-of-the-art shower facilities.

H: Any travel tips before you take off?

BP: Change your place; change your luck.

Follow Brandon:

Website: brandonpresser.com

Twitter: @bpnomad

Instagram: brandpress

The World’s Best Cities for Traveling Solo

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on December 15, 2015.

Screen-Shot-2015-12-15-at-9.04.40-PMThere’s nothing like deciding to explore the world, striking out on your own, and doing just exactly what you want to do. But when you start to consider the options, it can be a bit overwhelming. So, rather than start with the whole world and try narrowing it down from there (good luck), why not start with a carefully curated list of globetrotter-approved locales guaranteed to be worth the trip? In answer to that question, here’s a roundup of four adventure-packed spots to inspire your further rumination on the topic.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

A cultural melting pot preoccupied with the finer things, Buenos Aires is paradise for the artist and the intellectual. The place is littered with literary and live music bars, and was home to influential writers like Victoria Ocampo and Jorge Luis Borges. Translation: Wandering aimlessly will inevitably end in the discovery of some hidden gem. With that in mind, make sure to pick a centrally located hotel. Nature lovers can visit the second-largest wetlands in the world at Ibera (a short flight from Buenos Aires). Anyone who considers drinking good wine a worthwhile pastime should make a stop at La Cafe Juvré or Aldo’s Vinoteca & Restorán.

Must-dos: Take in an opera at Teatro Colón, eat traditional empanadas, drink a true Argentine Malbec.

Dublin, Ireland

The sheer, lush expanse of the place makes it worth a trip. Film fans should take time to visit The Cliffs of Moher (you can get there by bus or rail from Dublin and make it back to your hotel before bedtime), a filming location for both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Princess Bride. Literature buffs could make a whole itinerary of famous authors’ birthplaces: James Joyce and Clare Boylan hail from Dublin, to name a pair. Take the two-hour drive to Belfast to see the birthplace of C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Swift, and Seamus Heaney — plus a tour of Game of Thrones filming locations. Sporty types have no shortage of options, with golf tournaments, equestrian events, and boating races occurring regularly.

Must-dos: If you can, go during one of the food festivals, like Taste of Dublin. There are many, and you’ll experience more Irish cuisine that way than any other. If you do hit up Belfast, visit the MAC: the award-winning art center houses three art galleries, two theaters, and a bar/restaurant.

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Bali, Indonesia

Not just because it’s where Elizabeth Gilbert found enlightenment — and eventually the “Love” part of Eat, Pray, Love — although maybe a little because of that, the island of Bali is an incredible destination for the unattached traveler. You can swim in the Sekumpul Waterfalls, follow bright-colored fish snorkeling on Menjangan Island, or have a zen moment in the Jatiluwih Green Land rice fields.Get the full experience by staying in a cottage. On top of the whole “exotic paradise” thing, Bali offers a surprising amount of sophisticated cultural experiences. Think traditional and modern dance, visual art, and music. The annual Indonesian International Film Festival, Balinale, takes place in Bali, too.

Must-dos: Take in a temple performance, eat nasi goreng (a tamarind + chili stir-fried rice) and spicy peanut satay with bubur sumsum (black rice pudding) for dessert.

Sydney, Australia

The first-time solo traveler will appreciate the familiar urbanity and English-speaking environment of Australia. But Sydney has seemingly endless opportunity to explore a different kind of adventure with incredible surfing at spots like Manly Beach and fitness-focused attractions like walking Sydney Harbor Bridge, or taking in all the major attractions on a bike tour.

For a taste of culture, visit The Royal Botanic Gardens or shop at the Centrepoint Mall. Regardless of the kind of trip you’re looking for, you can find it in Australia.

Must-dos: Take in a performance at the Sydney Opera House (it helps if your hotel is walking distance) and indulge in a tasting menu at Sydney-based seiōbo — momofuku’s first location outside New York City, which features locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.