I am very methodical when it comes to vacation planning. Not only are these trips an escape from the everyday, but they cost time, money and we want them to be stress-free. So here are my top travel tips to ensure you have the best vacation possible.
Basically, study and plan! Too many people try to take vacations without spending any time researching their destination. It definitely pays to take the time to research on the internet or with travel books at your local library. This includes reading up on lodging and dining possibilities, where to shop, weather, local events and more. When traveling to another country, figure out what the necessary documents are for travel, the culture and customs, currency, and even learn a bit of the language. Information is power – the more you know about where you are going, the better you can plan, enjoy, and relax on your trip.
One of the best travel tips I recommend to others is to book things ahead of time. This especially concerns air travel, car rentals, and lodging. You cannot guarantee a great vacation if you’re just going to wing it. Sure, anyone can pick up and travel sporadically, but I can guarantee that their travel plans will have problems. Not only do you take chances when you don’t book ahead, you will be spending more time arranging your vacation, while on vacation. Don’t waste time during your precious few days away, trying to plan the vacation you’re currently on. The planning should be already done.
In regards to booking dining plans and tickets/reservations for activities, only book them if:
With travel, there is almost a certainty that something will go wrong. Reservations will be lost, plans will be cancelled, bad weather will arise, and people will get sick. It happens… and it’s ok! Just be sure to travel knowing that you may have to change your plans due to circumstances that are not under your control. You must be able to prioritize and change your plans accordingly. If you remain inflexible when situations arise, your group’s happiness and future willingness to travel could be at stake.
When it comes down to it, vacation is all about family, shared moments, and fun. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to travel as cheaply as possible, and I’ve been burned as a result.
Want to rent the cheapest car? Sure, as long as your family and all of your luggage fits comfortably.
Want to stay at the cheapest hotel? Find out if it’s up to your standards. A horrible night of sleep on a horrible bed is never a good idea when traveling.
Remember that it’s never worth that small amount of savings, if you and your family are uncomfortable, miserable, hungry, or tired. If your family spends all day walking and touring around, don’t force them to march back to your hotel or lodging. Sure, it will cost money to hire a cab or Uber, but your crew will be much happier overall. Trying to save money by skipping meals, doing the long drive vs. flying, or booking the cheapest hotel may end up turning a vacation into a dreadful one. If there is comfort and happiness at stake, it pays to spend the extra money.
Understood, travel isn’t cheap. So if you have to bump your trip back a few weeks to save some more money to allow for comfort, it’s worth it. Not only will you travel more comfortably, but there will be less stress, less conflict, and more smiles.
What are your favorite travel tips? Let me know in the comments!