My Favorite Tips for Traveling Internationally (Plus Everything We Did in London!)

Traveling internationally can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Discover my top tips for effortless travel, plus a behind-the-scenes peek at my trip to visit my daughter in England!

London Collage

My daughter Mia has been in England since January on a study abroad program and has had an incredible experience. The handful of times I had been to London was for work and I never had a chance to truly explore the city for fun before. So when she asked if I’d be interested in visiting, I jumped at the chance!

Planning the trip was fun, though it did require a different way of thinking. Whether you are traveling for work or pleasure, it can sometimes be overwhelming to find the right places to stay and know how best to manage logistics when traveling abroad. Here are a few tips that have helped me tremendously when planning international trips. I have returned to these tips over and over, and I hope they help you, too!

Get Yourself an Independent Travel Agent

I honestly thought travel agents were a thing of the past, thanks to all of the self-serve options out there. But when my sister mentioned using an independent travel agent to plan a family trip, I realized that this is still a thing!

Since then, I have used two independent travel advisors and found it extremely helpful in making planning big trips less stressful.

For a relatively small fee, I was able to get expert travel advice, arrange lodging, transportation, and schedule special activities based on my budget. Leveraging a travel advisor is not as expensive as you may think and it takes a huge mental load off by having the extra support.

For my trip to England, I worked with Brian Huyvaert, a travel advisor with Timezoneless Travels and can’t say enough great things about the experience.

Brian is a full-service travel advisor who partners with the best suppliers across the globe to create and book unique travel experiences for you. The best way to reach Brian is by email ( or phone (630-776-1802).

Find Travel Inspiration

My friend Sarah Centrella is a master at getting the most out of travel adventures. She is a big proponent of immersing yourself in prepping for the experience.

If you are on Instagram, she recommends following accounts from the destination you are traveling to. This helps you discover local restaurants, activities and accommodations that you wouldn’t otherwise know about.

Consider this the new version of lugging around a heavy travel guidebook with you but way more fun and insightful. It also builds excitement leading up to the trip.

Putting together a Pinterest board is another fun and easy way to find inspiration as you plan your dream vacation. A few weeks before my trip, I also posted on Facebook and asked for activity recommendations – this was a first and I’m so glad I did it. I got several great recommendations from friends and family. While I haven’t done this yet, you can also join Facebook groups dedicated specifically to that location and post there for recommendations.

Here are a couple of the Instagram accounts I used for my trip to London:

Save Time with the Mobile Passport Control App

My family thinks I’m nuts with this tip, but I discovered the free MPC app a couple of years ago and it essentially helps you fast track the customs process. After traveling on a long international flight, who wants to wait in a long customs line? Not me!

Once you enter your information into the app, you can skip the customs line and head straight for the MPC line which is usually way shorter!

Mobile Passport Control (MPC) | U.S. Customs and Border Protection (

Plan In Advance at Work

One of the biggest roadblocks in truly enjoying time off is knowing how to take a real vacation instead of a “workcation”. Planning ahead at work will allow you to unplug while you are away and stay in the moment. This was especially important for me on this trip, as I wanted to enjoy my time with Mia and create some extra special moments together.

For anyone thinking of a trip to England, here are some of the highlights.

England Trip Highlights:


Day 1: Travel Day

Direct flight from Portland to London Heathrow. I picked Mia up from the University of Hertfordshire after she wrapped up her study abroad program. We donated her bedding to a local charity shop and then headed to St Albans, a cute little town nearby.

Stayed: The Samuel Ryder Hotel St Albans, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

Explored: A cute bookstore, Farmers Market, Joe & the Juice

Day 2-4: Train to Chesterfield

Mia and I are big fans of the movie Pride & Prejudice – so much so that we planned part of the trip to visit the Chatsworth House where part of the movie was filmed. Seeing the English countryside was literally charm overload. We stayed at an Inn in the pretty town of Pilsley (owned by the Chatsworth Estate). The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful — I’d absolutely stay here again.

Stayed: Devonshire Arms The Devonshire Arms at Pilsley – Devonshire Arms at Pilsley (

Explored: Chatsworth House Tour + Garden Tour + local market

Day 4-8: London

Stayed: Number 16 Hotel in South Kensington Firmdale Hotels – London – Number Sixteen

Number Sixteen forms part of a mid-Victorian white stucco terrace situated in the heart of South Kensington. Hyde Park and world-renowned museums, including the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum are all within short walking distance.

Number Sixteen has its own tree-filled private garden, a stylish Drawing Room and sunny Orangery. The hotel offers 24-hour room service, valet, concierge and high-speed wireless internet access.

We loved our stay here! Besides being in a great location with a short walk to the tube, the staff was friendly, and they even helped me get gluten-free treats to celebrate Mia’s birthday.


Overall, we had an amazing time and can’t wait to plan our next travel adventure.

Happy Travels!

Danielle Cullivan Signature

Danielle Cullivan

Career Insight Studio

Danielle Cullivan is a seasoned leader in tech with over 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies. She is also the creator of Career Insight Studio, a career and lifestyle blog dedicated to providing insights and new perspectives for working women. Danielle lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and high-school-aged son, and visits her college-age daughter as often as possible! 

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