Be a light traveler with these tips to spend less

Maxwell Ryan is best known as the founder of a pioneering design resource Apartment Therapy.

He was a teacher before starting his business in 2001, initially focusing on home organization and design. Three years later, he added a namesake website whose irreverent, relatable approach to interiors was an instant phenomenon, quickly making Ryan a ubiquitous expert in the field on television and other media. He now operates both that site and Kitchn, which focuses on home cooking.

He’s a creature of habit when it comes to airlines, attributing this routine to his father.

“Growing up in Manhattan, my dad — he always went to the same two restaurants because every time he walked through the door, they were like, ‘Welcome, Dr. Ryan.’ I’m kind of that kind of person,” Ryan says. .

Delta is therefore its reference operator. “It’s a great airline, and it has a great app.”

So far this year, Ryan has racked up 52,000 miles and counts in the air, three trips to Europe, several domestic jaunts and a race in Jamaica.

The 56-year-old lives in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, New York, and has two children.

These are his travel tips.

When Ryan took a year off to cycle around the world, he learned to pack light. Very light.

After college, I cycled around the world for over a year. I left with four saddlebags filled with everything: clothes, tent, stove. I very quickly realized that I was going very slowly, then a man approached me. He was a Swiss doctor and he had nothing on his bike. We rode together one day and one night, and I asked him how far he was going, because he had no equipment. “Oh, I’m cycling for three weeks,” he said, “all I need is my credit card and my toothbrush. I’m staying at the hotel to wash my shorts and my bike shirt, then it’s dry in the morning.” As an American, I was completely stunned by this. We Americans tend to overpack, preparing for the worst, for all conditions. But I sent almost everything home the following week after meeting him. If you pack like that, for every eventuality, in a way, you’re signaling that you don’t trust where you’re going. But depending on others, meeting them and asking for help is the whole point of travel. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, I don’t worry about packing a lot of stuff anymore because I know that if I need it, I’ll ask, I’ll buy it, I’ll get help. And this will probably be the most interesting part of the trip.

Book a group vacation? Use Ryan’s hack to minimize stress.

Every Thanksgiving, we do this great family holiday; it’s about 35 or 40 of us every year now. We are going to the same place in Costa Rica, and when we leave, we are booking for the next two years. They will let you book well in advance if you book about half of the hotel. And we always book an extra room or two, because you know there might be a friend showing up. Booking an additional room costs nothing and you can usually cancel up to a week or a month in advance. But the idea is that you don’t know what’s going to happen in a year – you want some breathing room. The extra room is for the fun friend or the person who just went through a breakup and is truly your best friend and needs a place to go.

Always leave that one thing behind when traveling – you can relax more on the road when you do.

I moved into a building with a doorman for the first time in my life three years ago, and that changed everything. I needed a place that required low maintenance. I am a single father. And now when I leave New York to travel anywhere, the one thing I never take with me is my key ring with all my keys. Apartment Therapy started out as a maintenance business. I worked at apartments for about seven years while we were developing the website. I’ve always had a big keychain. And I have my house keys, my storage key, my gym keychain, my work keychain; my life is on this thing. I’m afraid of losing them all and it terrifies me to transport them to another country. Now there is no reason. I leave them on my front table because the doormen have the key to my front door. You could do the same in a house, like Airbnb renters leave a programmable lock around the back door.

Ryan recommends traveling to the less traveled corners of America, not just the remote places.

Most of us travel overseas, and I understand that. But I think we Americans don’t realize how much we have it in this country. As a businessman, I travel, but I tend to fly over the middle. And that’s what surprises me: the most amazing place I’ve visited in recent years was northern Iowa. I went for a wedding two summers ago, and driving from Minneapolis to Decorah, Iowa, was breathtaking; it was surprising, more relaxed and not too built up. The huge sky and the light as the sun set over the prairie was something I had never really been aware of before. There was also a silence in the air that I cannot describe. We stayed in a really cool old hotel in Decorah, the Winneshiek, which the King of Norway visited in 1935 – they still have pictures all over the walls of his and the Queen’s visit, as that part of the country was filled with Norwegians at the turn of the century. It was built as a big hotel in this small town, and I think it has an opera house. Time stood still in the far north of Iowa, and it felt like 150 years passed before my eyes.

Afraid to fly, like Ryan once was? Try this trick.

I used to be afraid of flying, and one day I was on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. I was in row 43 and was sitting next to this guy as we jumped out of our seats. And I was terrified. I was as white as a sheet and he was laughing. “It’s like that at the back of the plane,” he said. I never realized it was like a car or a bus. So I started flying at the front of the plane, wherever I could go: ahead of the economy, ahead of business. And now, when the plane bounces, it doesn’t matter to me.

Hotels will always have a ready supply of this item that you will probably often forget.

When you forget your cables, hotels will have them – people leave them behind. But the only thing a hotel doesn’t have is adapters for that country. I think people steal them. It’s something I bought a lot. But again, I’m not worried about that. This summer, my daughter and I had to pick some up on day one (in Italy), and that was our introduction to the neighborhood.

Browse the decoration stores of this European capital for chic and advantageous purchases.

When I went to Paris, I love decoration stores. The stuff has a different sensibility. And overall you can buy it and they will ship it. I’ve been to flea markets, the antique markets there, and you have to do a lot of digging. I just like to go to the shops and buy a table that I’ve never seen before. I bought a sofa from Caravane, who make soft, easy and super sexy furniture. It’s a bit bohemian and good for small starter apartments, a Franco-North African mix – lounging low to the ground and not like traditional furniture. Another is Thanks. If you know what ABC Carpet & Home was like in New York, this is it. You can get everything from there, from a watch to a plant to a couch. It’s not huge, but it’s very organized and can solve all sorts of different problems in your home. The guy in me likes everyday stuff you can’t find in New York: a nice new corkscrew, maybe. That’s what’s great about this store. And the Bon Marché department store? It’s a completely different animal from an American department store. It has great tablecloths, napkins, electronics and lighting.

Ryan recommends one-star hotels that might offer experiences that surpass five-star thrift stores.

This year I took another bike trip, from Florence to Rome. When I took a trip after college, I had a book, paper and maps, but now everything is GPS; there’s a great service called Komoot that can guide you around the world whether you’re on a bike or on foot. We cycled a pilgrimage route called the Via Francigena, which runs from England to Rome. We did it from Florence, and it’s off road so you’re on walking trails. Bikers don’t bother them. My approach is always to do challenging hikes during the day, say 60-80 miles. It was difficult, because this trip was more hilly than expected. But then to stay in really cool places. Again, you can carry less if you choose a very nice hotel. Or stay in a one star home situation where they will treat you just as well because it is their home. My friend Andrew and I stayed at a hotel like this in Proceno as we got closer to Rome. We went to this little town, and it was empty. Everything was barricaded. But this old woman ran a small hotel, the Castello di Proceno, which had belonged to her family for about 90 years. She explained to me that the town was empty because all the young people had left. This hotel was probably the most memorable stay of our entire trip.

Here’s why you should always book your return flight on a Saturday.

If I go on vacation, I will always try to come back on a Saturday, because I don’t want to land and have to go to work the next day. You will be tired. But when I land in JFK at 8 or 9 p.m., I walk to the TWA Hotel and have dinner there, at the bar. It’s easy. When you’re traveling with friends, when you land in New York, it’s really nice to have just one more meal together. You only have a 20 minute ride home, so have a drink with your friends and toast the end of the trip. Continue it for just one more meal.

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