It's so surreal to be saying this, but we are in the thick of planning logistics for multiple personal and work trips for the rest of the year, including my 10 year anniversary trip with my husband Brian! A trip to Europe has been postponed twice over two years, and now that it's our anniversary and travel is picking back up, the trip has gotten bigger and better! We'll be spending time in Rome and on the Amalfi Coast to celebrate our first decade of marriage, and I can't tell you how excited we are to finally be doing this.
With so many things to keep track of and plan, I thought I'd share a few things we've picked up along the way to make traveling easier for two.
But first, I have to pause and gawk at our little baby faces during our engagement shoot on the left! I couldn't imagine the last ten years with someone else by my side, through all the highs and lows - love you Brian!
1. Prioritize what you love
Both Brian and I get a lot of vacation enjoyment out of staying in beautifully designed homes and hotels (hazard of the job, you can say). I used to be fine with staying in a nice enough place but on the cheaper side, but now, the atmosphere and design experience of a place is a must for a big vacation.
That being said, we prioritize where that makes sense for the overall budget of a trip. For example, the Amalfi Coast is more expensive anyway, but there are also not as many options to choose from. A lot of our lodging budget went to our accommodations there. In Rome, there are many more options, so it was a balance of an interesting hotel that also didn't cost an arm and a leg.
For you, prioritizing what you love may mean budgeting for multiple big dinners at highly rated restaurants, or prebooking one-on-one tours through the hidden gems of a city or town. Vacation is about enjoyment and time together - make sure you're setting yourself up for that as much as possible!
2. Call to check for upgrades
It never hurts to call your hotels ahead of time and ask if there are any upgrades available for you. Hotels want to make sure you have a great experience and that you recommend them to your circle of friends. Mentioning that you're on your honeymoon or an anniversary trip may snag you that larger room with a better view before the person in front of you at the desk during your check-in! Anyone else thinking about that honeymoon episode of FRIENDS, too?
P.S. This is a night shot of the Amalfi Coast - I'M SO EXCITED!
3. Use credit card points for travel
If you're really good about paying off your credit card balance every month, I highly recommend using credit cards to accumulate points that can be used for flights and hotels. We both have personal credit cards that are tied to an airline, so checked bags are included for free, and every purchase goes toward that points bank.
I also use an American Express Business Platinum Card for business transactions, and that has been the biggest source of point accumulation over the last few years. This card is truly incredible, but it does have a steep annual fee. For as much traveling as we did and now will do this year for work, it makes sense for us, and it all adds to a points bank that allows us to book upgraded flight seats and hotels just by spending normally for the business. If you're interested, click through to read up on more details of this card! It has also saved my butt a few times when we have needed to dispute charges, but that's a story for another day!
4. Sign up for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
This might sound like a no-brainer, but the logistics and in-person interviews often keep people that are frequent travelers from completing applications for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry. Both serve their purpose - you'll get through security much faster, and don't have to unpack your electronics or toiletries with TSA Pre-Check, and you'll move through customs much more quickly using Global Entry on international trips.
One thing to note - applying for Global Entry automatically gets you TSA Pre-Check, and at the time of this post, it's only $15 more to get Global Entry. It doesn't work the other way around - you would have to pay the entire $100 fee for Global Entry, even if you have TSA Pre-Check already. BUT that's where those credit cards come in - many travel credit cards cover the cost of these applications if you use the card to pay, so make sure to check that before applying. I know it can be a hassle, but I'm telling you - it's worth it 100%!
5. book a food tour on your first day
The first time we went to Europe, we booked a food tour that took us all over the region we were in, and we absolutely loved it! It was a super casual, relaxed way to start the trip, and we had a built in tour guide in between all the yummy food and wine. Doing this early in your trip also allows you to get acclimated to local travel times and transportation, and where certain areas are in relation to others.
6. Mix up your packing between bags
I am the first to tell you I am not a light packer. I am in the market for a new checked bag - I love Paravel's line, but please help me pick a color! Of course I want the white one, but I know it will get trashed on the first trip. Which one would you choose?
For my carry on, I took a chance a few years ago on this white version here, but it's actually held up really well!
All this to say, I may or may not be guilty of sneaking more things into Brian's suitcase, but overall that's still a good tip for couples - distribute your things more equally between your bags, just in case one of them is lost in transit. Both of you will have at least some of your things, and your whole vacation won't be ruined because one of you has no clothing.
7. Book A photographer
I love a good selfie any day, but sometimes you just want a guarantee of a few nice shots that are in focus and beautifully framed. That's a where a photographer comes in!
It had been a lifelong dream to go to Rome, and we were so happy we found someone locally to take some photos during our trip. Tricia did an amazing job and didn't make us feel awkward at all - we highly recommend her if you're thinking about doing this for your Rome family trip! Her photos are shown throughout this post. I know it sounds a little extra, and I hesitated doing it, but looking back, I am so thankful that we did!
That's all I have for tips - I'm still working on the packing situation, but I think I'm allowed to be extra for my 10 year anniversary! Do you have travel tips that have changed the way you travel? Leave them in the comments below - I'd love to hear! Also open to any recommendations in Amalfi + Rome!