A Great Shower
A few years ago, we flew from Washington DC to Reykjavik. It’s only about a 5 hour flight, so it was enough time for all of us to fall asleep but certainly not enough to feel rested. We landed in the wee hours of the morning and immediately hopped in a rental car with our then-3 kids to start a day of exploring. It was the middle of January, which meant it was pitch black until past 10am, so I and the kids enjoyed snoozing while drove for a few hours.
After a day of exploring, we felt pretty darn wiped. I remember showing up at our Airbnb, a darling little cottage outside a tiny town. While it was very sweet, it was on a farm practically in the middle of nowhere. I figured it would be a great place to rest our heads and not much more.
Until I stepped into the shower.
That was one of the best showers I’ve ever had in my life. It got scaldingly hot (which I love), had the best pressure I’ve ever felt, and the entire room got steamy and lovely. It was delightful.
There are a few other memorable showers I’ve experienced (one on the South Island of New Zealand – also on a farm! – and one near Cotopaxi in Ecuador) and it’s something I look for now!
A Great Local Grocery Store
If I’m being honest, there’s no love lost between me and grocery shopping. We get grocery delivery the vast majority of the time it’s so wildly unenjoyable to me.
But there’s something about grocery shopping while traveling, especially in a different country, that is significantly more fun. I especially love checking out the dairy section with all the varieties of yogurt and butter and cheese – it feels like a little insight into the country!
It’s so fun picking out an assortment, including the ones that might be a bit more high end. It’s way cheaper than dining out every meal on vacation, but definitely feels nicer and more luxurious than what we would pick out at home.
A Good Sleep Setup
I can generally sleep on a cement slap; I’m just not a fussy sleeper at all. Dan really loves our mattress and it feels comfortable to me when I lie down. But I honestly don’t notice a bit of difference in my sleep on it vs. the one we had for over a decade before that.
But I DO often get cold! I sleep with a duvet (like this, plus my very favorite duvet cover) and it’s so cozy. I generally even sleep under it in the summertime! So when I’m sleeping somewhere else where I can feel totally warm and cozy, it feels like a dream. It’s nice to not be wishing to be back in my own bed while on vacation.
Likewise, having a solid pillow makes such a huge difference in being comfortable and sleeping well (an even bigger difference than the bed or sheets for me). I was very skeptical of this pillow a year ago when I got it but goodness has it lived up to the hype. I crave it when sleeping somewhere else! Finally, having blackout curtains available – especially for the kids – is a huge travel perk for kids and families.
Local Bookstore or Library
I love bookstores and libraries wherever I am. But they feel not only fun, but also functional while traveling! Even if I’m not planning on purchasing a bunch of books to carry with me (too much weight!) and obviously won’t be checking any out from the library, it feels so comforting to visit them. Anytime I visit one, it’s almost always locals, so it feels especially fun to wander around and be immersed in an authentic experience.
Plus, bookstores and libraries are fantastic places to get local info – not just from the books but also from employees and other customers! They’re often a wealth of knowledge and usually happy to share, especially since they’re not being bombarded like in more touristy spots.
A Fun Playground
We don’t go out of our way to spend tons and tons of time on playgrounds, but goodness have we been grateful to have them available sometimes when we’ve needed to get out some energy and/or pass some time.
Of course, there are big and wonderful ones like the Princess Diana Playground in London or Adventure Playground in Berkeley or Clemyjontri Playground in McLean, VA. But there have also been smaller and fairly nondescript ones that just allowed our kids to move their bodies and often allowed us and them to connect with locals, too.
There was the one at the base of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, where I hung out with our kids, chatting with Parisians, while Dan waited in line for tickets. And there was on Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands where we waited for our ferry and played with little Ecuadorian kids. And there was the one on the side of the road next to the tiniest library in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico where our kids could yell and run and move while Dan took a call in the RV. And so many more!
I’m sure there are tons of other wonderful little travel luxuries and travel comforts, but those are some of my favorites. I’d love to hear any of yours in the comments!