So you are going on a trip? What are the key planning tasks to get you prepared?
Planning a vacation is simple and easy right? Maybe, but not all the time.
With so many factors that go into planning a vacation (finding a destination, researching, making travel plans, and finding things to do), I am going to share some of my favorite travel tips below.
- United States Department of State (or your Country’s) Travel Advisory website: From this site, you can research by country, travel advisories and warnings for the country selected. This is helpful if you have any concerns on the destination you would like to or have chosen to visit. Although I hate thinking the worst, even on vacation you still want to take the necessary precautions.
- Search Engines: Google, Bing, and etc. are great resources when researching information on your destination of choice. You will find various articles, first hand knowledge, and other applicable information; that will help to make the decision on where to go easier! When I need to make sure that my destination has ample wine bars or wine available, I pop it into the search engine and all the applicable restaurants will pop up. We can then source our favorites, it is amazing!
- TripAdvisor : I use TripAdvisor when the destination has been chosen, and I want to learn more from other’s experiences in my destination of choice. The site provides me with realistic traveler reviews from a certain time period (oldest to recent/recent to oldest, and etc). It is very helpful when you are deciding what you need out of a destination: hotel, activities, or recommendations. Case in point: maybe the resort you have chosen in Cancun is not suitable for children. This is the type of information you can find out from TripAdvisor.
- Kayak: After you have decided where you want to go, you have to book your travel. I love Kayak because it’s a one stop shop. We use the site to not only book travel, but if we are not ready, we can “watch” our airfare to see the price fluctuations. One time, I got a nonstop ticket to Japan for under $700 by just watching my alerts. It has been phenomenal for my family and I. You can also buy activities from the site, book cruises, hotels, and find other travel deals.
- Airline Vacation Sites (Delta Vacations, United Vacations, American Airlines Vacations etc.): We love to earn miles whenever we go on vacation. We try to capitalize on our airline of choice, in order to earn miles and gain or maintain elite status. We are both elite members on American, United, and Delta; so whenever we start planning our vacation, we always look to our airline sites to find great deals. Honestly, airline vacation sites have amazing deals from time to time. We booked a week long vacation to Hawaii with car, hotel, and first class flight on Delta Vacations and saved so much money! From having a one stop shop to book everything and also earn miles in the process is a win/win for everyone.
- Airbnb, HomeAway, Luxury Retreats, etc.: If you need to find accommodations similar to a home, villa, or luxury retreat; these sites will be your best friend. From booking a home in Napa to a villa on the Italian coast; these websites have it all. You will want to of course take into consideration your price range and also your destination, as that will affect your final price. We personally love to have a kitchen, pool, and other “home-like” features when we vacation, so these sites have been super helpful. We booked a ocean view condo on one of our Hawaiian vacations from HomeAway, and it was absolutely magnificent. If hotels are not your thing, definitely think about it…you will not be disappointed!
- OpenTable: Depending on your destination, you may want to book restaurant plans in advance. Some destinations have a restriction on how far in advance you can book, but if there is a restaurant in your destination of choice, why not guarantee that you have a table? Just make sure you keep your reservation, as someone else would love to have your table if you did not show up. We booked a really nice restaurant in Hong Kong a month in advance and when we showed up for our dinner, we had the most amazing view of Hong Kong harbor. I love OpenTable and use it for everything!
Remember: When booking travel and other activities, it is all about the season. If you plan to go to Hawaii in June through September, it could be a tad more expensive. But if you go like we do, in the offseason, you may save yourself a considerable amount of money. It just takes patience and research to figure out when that is.
Keep in mind events that go on in your destination of choice, as that will also have a factor in the price. New York City may have higher rates as you get closer to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, due to the activities in the city around that timeframe.
Although we love to go when it is “happening”, going off season has afforded us the opportunity to see many places and it not be as crowded. With that savings, we will throw it towards the trip and enjoy a couple’s spa day or a fun activity that we can only do in that destination. With our upcoming Dubai trip, we’ve saved so much money, that we splurged on a villa for the first 4 days of our trip. Make memories with the extra that you saved!
Going on a vacation is FUN FUN FUN, but can be a hassle at times to book, especially when you are trying to coordinate various factors.
NOW that your vacation is booked, it is time to enjoy it! My next post will be all of my tips while you are in your destination. From Spa days, to kid’s clubs, and maybe even a private dinner on the beach; I will share my tips.
Follow my Instagram at @Lifestyleandtravelgeek to keep up with my pictures and experiences!