Little Things That Make a Big Difference

A Big Change

I’ve spent these last couple of months slowly transitioning my home office into our old guest room. Nothing tells you what you can (and can’t) live without like moving, right? In this case, I really need to bite the bullet and get rid of a few things. This business is kind of like my child, though, and purging old ideas is a bit like throwing out baby clothes. I know I’ll never use them again, but there’s a sentimental value in holding on.

Anyway. The primary reason I’m playing musical chairs with our home spaces is because my old office had very little natural light—and absolutely no view. I am one of those people who really flourishes in a bright space with a lot of natural elements, so I found myself packing up my laptop and files to do work in the dining room way too often. Fast forward a bit…now I am *mostly* settled in to my new office with lots of space and a big ole window!

A couple of days after my new desk was installed, the most amazing gift appeared! A sweet little hummingbird fluttered by my window. I took it as a sign of good luck (because what’s better than a hummingbird?) and went about my day. A few days later, I discovered that she had built a nest on our tree branch directly in my eyeline.

Maybe I’ve gone cuckoo (see what I did there?), but this little thing perched outside my window is a daily reminder to take joy in the little things. What I’ve noticed—both in travel planning and in my day to day life—is that it really is the small things that make all the difference. Here are some of the pesky “small” issues I’ve noticed that can make or break your trip:

Where will we eat?

For many years, this was a pain point in my travels with my husband. We spent all of our travel planning energy on the “big things,” and never took into account how to deal with hunger before it became hanger. My hubby (who is not a foodie) was more than content to duck into a fast food joint, whereas where and what we ate was a huge part of the travel experience for me. Taking control of the situation and planning out some meals has made a world of difference. The absolute last thing I want to do on vacation is fight with my husband about food, so it’s a relief to no longer be in that downward spiral.

Kill the Grumble Monster.

There is seriously a monster that invades vacations. You spot him outside the Vatican, in front of the Louvre, and always at the airport. Maybe you’ve noticed him hovering in the clouds above Disney World. The Grumble Monster is like mold that grows in lines. The longer and hotter the line, the bigger the monster grows. Make no mistake: he will appear in your vacation too! You kill him by (1) reserving advance tickets/line passes, (2) staying adequately hydrated, (3) having something really great—like gelato—to look forward to after you visit the sight in question. In all seriousness, line fights are a major cause of vacation dissatisfaction, so having a plan of attack against the Grumble Monster is a game changer. {Travel Hack: conversation cards and “would you rather” quizzes are amazing monster killers.}


NOT go-go-go! I have traveled extensively, and one thing I can assure you is that there is no sight worth seeing exhausted. Stop. Watch. Enjoy. Then go some more. Giving yourself permission to slow down is the single best thing you can do for your travels. My trick to doing this is to always travel with the intent of returning.

It’s Only Money.

No, I’m not suggesting you splurge on everything. I mean, if you can, yay you! But most of us need to respect our budgets so that we can continue to travel, right? There is a slippery slope that goes from making reasonable savings to being miserly. As I told you last week, coming home with a fat wallet does not amount to a great, memory-filled vacation (unless you went to Vegas, of course).

If something will make you more comfortable (“I think these Dr. Scholl’s shoes are a great souvenir”), get you past a tired spell (“let’s sit at this café and people watch for awhile”), or give you a better overall experience (“I think a private tour guide just makes more sense for this particular sight”), it is money well spent. Stop at the used bookstore for a priceless momento. Buy an extra chocolate croissant. Get two scoops of gelato. And for goodness’ sakes, get an Uber when you’re tired of walking!

Make Moments into Milestones.

Travel is nothing without laughter. The best travelers can laugh at their goofs and giggle about their faux pas. A sense of humor will turn the most forgettable moments into cherished memories and hilarious inside jokes.


Look, I make a living organizing the big and small details of super-complicated itineraries. I can get you from point A to point B like a rockstar! But, at the end of the trip, your memories will benefit more from a positive attitude than relentless organization. Don’t focus so much on the trees that you neglect the hummingbirds.

Ciao Chow,