Madewell’s 10 Best: Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Holiday Vacation

140917_MWSM_BTSVienna_23_insta

Supereasy travel tips you’re gonna want to keep handy this season.

When you’re planning a vacation, the last thing you need is another list. But unlike “best of” roundups that only add stress, this one is intended to relieve it—and help you get the most out of your time away. We consider ourselves wanderlusting types, always up for adventure, but we also asked a few experts from Tablet Hotels to weigh in. What that means? This is pretty much the definitive list.

1. Use Instagram to plan. Search hashtags of your destination city to find great coffee shops, restaurants or boutiques and to get a sense of what’s most popular right now…

2. …but at the same time, don’t rule out cheesy go-to touristy things.

3. Bring along something familiar. Whether it’s your favorite robe, a book you love or a packable snack, those small touches of home can help you feel in your element wherever you are.

4. Unpack as soon as you arrive. It’s the quickest way to feel right at home. (Staying at a hotel? Call before you check in to request extra hangers.)

5. Unplug as much as you can. An Internet connection is great for on-the-ground research or Instagramming, but try setting your phone to airplane mode for periods of time every single day.

6. Live like a local. Ask a concierge or a local shop owner the last few places he or she ate dinner, went dancing or had a great local experience. Make it personal and you’ll get more personal recommendations.

7. Take alone time if you need it. Wake up a half hour earlier than everyone else to do a little solo exploring, even if it’s just grabbing a coffee down the street.

8. Stay somewhere memorable. You’ll be living there, for a few days at least, so take time to research and find a place you’re really excited to be at. There are plenty of hotels and apartments out there with personality to spare.

9. Break your routine. Sometimes the trick to really getting away is allowing yourself to do things a little differently (ex. let your hair air dry, sleep in a little later or wake up a little earlier).

10. Don’t over-plan. Be ready to throw your itinerary out the window. You’ll find that when you do, the most unexpected and unmissable things often come along.

And tip #11? Enter our Sand & Snow Sweeps with our friends from Tablet.* We’re sending two very lucky winners on a three-night trip for two, either to Turks and Caicos’s Parrot Cay by COMO or to Lumière Telluride. Details right here.

And while we’re at it, here’s tip #12: Make sure your bags are packed—shop our newest arrivals here and shop our #giftwell guide here.

*No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States (including DC), Canada (excluding Quebec) and the United Kingdom, 18 years and older. Void in Quebec and where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends December 24, 2015. To enter and for Official Rules, prize descriptions and odds disclosure, visit madewell.com/sandandsnowsweeps. If you are a Canadian resident, a mathematical skill-testing question must be correctly answered in order to win. Two sweepstakes prizes (approximate retail values from USD $4,283.50 to USD $5,519.50) are available to be won.

Photography by Angi Welsch.