lonely planet summer travel tipsShare on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Summer travel… is that you? *Falls to knees and sobs*

Call us dramatic, but after months of cancellations and isolation, it’s hard to believe that vacations — real life, not an Animal Crossing-induced hallucination, in-the-flesh vacations — are back on the table. And while travel rules have certainly changed, the game is still the same: travel to a place you want to visit and enjoy the *eff* out of it.

If the thought of choosing your first post-quarantine trip has you a bit paralyzed, never fear. We have a few friends at a little place called Lonely Planet — yes, that Lonely Planet. To help you plan a summer trip to remember, we asked them to dish about their travel plans and share their favorite tips.

Happy trails!

Destination: Iceland

Alex Howard summer travel tipsShare on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Where do you live? Nashville, Tennessee

Why Iceland? I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland, but the time was never right. As a first post-pandemic international trip after being confined to our immediate surroundings, nothing sounds better than exploring a wide-open volcanic landscape and then warming up in a hot spring.

Tell us the top three items on your itinerary. The Geldingadalir volcano has been erupting since March of this year, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that’ll still be flowing by the time I get there. Otherwise, I’m looking forward to checking out the new Sky Lagoon in Reykjavik and driving the Golden Circle, a convenient route that traverses some of Wester Iceland’s most significant geological sites.

What item can’t you travel without? My Canon 6D DSLR camera. I love travel photography — the challenge of composing a frame, telling a story through a single image. Smartphone cameras will do in a pinch, but there’s nothing like the quality and flexibility of a DSLR.

How do you stay healthy on the road? Sleep is super important to me when I’m at home, and it’s often a tricky balance when traveling, whether it’s due to staying out late to take in the bar scene or getting up early to watch the sunrise. In Iceland, the sun will only set for around 3 hours every night, so I’ll have to make sure to pack a quality eye mask.

Destination: Chicago

Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Where do you live? Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Why Chicago? I’m going to reunite with family and friends after not seeing them due to the pandemic. No matter how many times I go to Chicago, the city always feels fresh and exciting to me, especially in summer. Typically summer is filled with neighborhood block parties and street festivals. I’m sure those activities will be scaled back quite a bit this year, but I’m still looking forward to attending backyard barbecues and rooftop bars.

Tell us the top three items on your itinerary. Food is always at the top of my list when I go to Chicago! I’m excited to introduce my son to Lou Malnati’s and Portillo’s. I try to get to Lem’s for barbecue on the south side and Joy Yee in Chinatown at least once whenever I’m in town.

Aside from where we’re eating, we’ll definitely spend some time at the lake. I also hope to support whichever of Chicago’s blues clubs may have survived the pandemic because they’re historically significant to the culture of the city.

What item can’t you travel without? Compression packing cubes! They’re great for organization, especially when I’m packing for my son and myself. These are a lifesaver when I’m mid-trip and trying to separate clean clothes from what we’ve already worn. And the compression feature means I can squeeze a few more garments in my suitcase!

How do you stay healthy on the road? I walk a ton whenever I’m away from home. One of my favorite things to do is to go for a stroll in an unfamiliar place and take in all the sights and sounds. It usually means I’m more active on a trip than I am when I’m home.

Destination: County Sligo, Ireland

Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Where do you live? Dublin, Ireland

Why County Sligo? Last year we took two trips — one to County Kerry and the other to County Donegal. This year we’re spending a week exploring County Sligo, where we rented an old farmhouse. County Sligo is actually featured in “The Crown,” and was also a filming location for “Normal People.” It’s also home to the majestic Ben Bulben table-top mountain, the grave of poet WB Yeats, and is home to some of Europe’s best surfing beaches.

Tell us the top three items on your itinerary. My 15-year-old son’s two friends are joining us on holiday this summer, and we are all taking surfing lessons on Enniscrone beach.

I’m also excited to visit the Voya Seaweed baths. Atlantic Seaweed is known for its healing and restorative effects on the body, so I cannot wait to sink into a pool of hand-harvested seaweed. I am on a mission to return home fully recharged, so I have also booked a sound bath meditation workshop at Salt and Soul yoga studio in Strandhill in Sligo. It promises to aid deep relaxation and help you to totally switch off.

What item can’t you travel without? One item I always carry is Image Skincare Moisturizer Factor 32. I am prone to prickly heat rash in the summer months and this is one product that doesn’t make me break out.

How do you stay healthy on the road? One upside to taking our vacations in Ireland the past 2 summers is taking our dogs along. Fuji is a 10-year-old greyhound, and Frankie is a 1-year-old dachshund with boundless energy. Her barking makes sure everyone is up early for the first of many daily walks.

I also pack my yoga mat and do online classes with my local instructor Kevin Boyle. When I am away, I can commit to longer classes, and not feel I should be anywhere else.

Destination: Outer Banks, NC > Marin County, CA > Portland, OR

Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Where do you live? Nashville, Tennessee

Why this trip? Family, family, and more family. The pandemic steamrolled so many milestones for the people closest to my wife and me, but 2021 is when we catch up. That starts with a family reunion with my in-laws on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, not far from where Wilbur and Orville Wright took their famed (and at 12 seconds, brief) first airplane flight. The following weekend, we take a much longer flight over to California to see my brother’s wedding on Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco. Following the wedding, we’re taking some time to head north to Portland, Oregon, to enjoy some coffee, cannabis, and a beer or two. Told you we’re catching up on our traveling!

Tell us the top three items on your itinerary. Aside from all the family gatherings, we’re excited to end our trip in Portland because of its reputation as a chill city with lots of outdoor adventures at its doorstep. We’re more weekend warriors than true hikers, so filling our days chasing waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, and our nights recapping our adventures over a beer sounds perfect. So far Breakside Brewery and Ecliptic Brewing are on the to-do list, but there’s plenty of options in this city.

What item can’t you travel without? As much as I try to unplug on a vacation, I’m constantly checking directions and other information on my phone when I’m in unfamiliar destinations. A portable power bank is a must to avoid that low-charge anxiety.

How do you stay healthy on the road? Ok, I’ll admit it: I’m never too worried about breaking routines while on a trip. A few more heavy meals and a pause to the workout routine while on the road is to be expected. But I do listen to my body, and it’s yelling a bit louder as I get older, so I make sure to prep well before a trip.

For me that means fresh arch supports in my shoes and a knee brace for the longer walks (along with ibuprofen for the morning after a long night out, which knock me out more than they used to…).

Destination: Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Where do you live? Nashville, Tennessee

Why Tanzania? I photograph UNESCO World Heritage Sites and I go to a lot of easy to reach places, but every year on my birthday I make sure I go to a difficult-to-reach destination. I was supposed to do this last year for my big trip but… COVID. The excitement and anticipation that’s built up since then is almost palpable. I’ve already started the physical training for it and I can’t wait to get to the top of that mountain.

Tell us the top three items on your itinerary.

  • I am going to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.
  • I am going to go on a safari in the Serengeti.
  • I am going to celebrate my birthday in Zanzibar.

What item can’t you travel without? A black pashmina. It’s a scarf, a light blanket, a beach sarong, a pillow, makes great lumbar support, can fancy up a simple dress or double as a shawl if you need to cover up your shoulders (such as in the many cathedrals of Italy).

How do you stay healthy on the road? Most of my trips include lots of physical activity: walking, hiking, kayaking. Usually, I have no problem getting lots of exercise. If it’s going to be a long day of sitting I try to get in a quick workout in my room or hotel fitness center before I leave. Also, I never skip breakfast. Starting out hungry can wreck your whole day.

Destination: St. Louis, Missouri

Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Where do you live? Chattanooga, Tennessee

Why St. Louis? I’ll be traveling with my family, who were ultra-cautious during the pandemic and still aren’t comfortable flying or going too far afield. St. Louis is the perfect distance from home to feel special without the drive being too arduous — and somehow we’ve never been despite our decades in the southeast. It’ll be a new state for me, and a new national park on my list, too.

Tell us the top three items on your itinerary.The main thing I’ve been looking forward to about St. Louis for years is the City Museum, which basically sounds like a weird, fun art playground for grown-ups.

I’m very excited about Gateway Arch, which is quite different from other national parks I’ve visited and reminds me of playing Oregon Trail as a kid.

I’m also stoked to go for a stroll through the Central West End — long walks past pretty houses are my favorites, and growing up I wore out our VHS tape of “Meet Me in St. Louis.” The Smith family’s house may have sat on a studio lot in California, but it’ll be fun to walk past real-world houses from that same period.

What item can’t you travel without? A good book, preferably about or set in the destination I’m visiting. This time I think I’ll have Great River City: How the Mississippi Shaped St. Louis by Andrew Wanko or The Broken Heart of America by Walter Johnson in my bag — it’s important to me to know my history!

How do you stay healthy on the road? I walk a lot when I’m traveling, with short stops for a snack or beer along the way. One of my favorite things about life on the road is how much more movement is incorporated into my day than when I’m at my editing desk.

Destination: Northern Michigan

Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Mekhi Baldwin

Where do you live? Nashville, Tennessee

Why Northern Michigan? This is not a new trip for us, we go to the same area every year and have been for generations. The changes are so slow you barely notice them and it’s as if any notion of time just ceases to exist. In those timeless moments, I have space to reconnect to myself, my family and to that special thing inside me that is happy to do nothing more than exist.

Tell us the top 3 items on your itinerary.

  1. Hiking Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and getting my daughter her Junior Ranger badge
  2. Sunset paddle boarding on Lake Michigan
  3. Shopping with my mom in Glen Arbor

What item can’t you travel without? My Kindle Paperwhite.

How do you stay healthy on the road? My family is super active at home and on the road, so we tend to plan trips that include lots of movement; hikes, walks, water play etc. I like to make sure we have one physical activity every day. We also like to eat anything and everything, but we try to make sure that two of the three meals are lighter fare. We frequent farmer’s markets and grocery stores for picnic supplies so we can really enjoy the indulgent meals.