About this time every year people begin to go a little stir-crazy. If you’ve been finding yourself Googling “caribbean cruise” and “weekend spa” on your lunch breaks lately, then this week of vacation window shopping is for you! Use it to book a much-needed getaway or just to escape for a few minutes at your desk.
To kick things off we have Colleen McIntyre with her tips on planning the perfect trip. Colleen, who has been flying since before she could walk, blends her passions for exploration and creativity in her funky-fun travel blog, Flee Fly Flown.
Plan the Perfect Vacation
Ahhhh, vacation! You’re sitting on a beach, drink in hand, nose in a book and soaking in the sun. It’s bliss thanks to your (or your travel agent’s) fabulous planning. But let’s hit pause and rewind for a second. Chances are, if you had the task of coordinating everything, the process wasn’t 100% smooth sailing.
When planning a trip, there’s a lot to consider. How do you decide where to go? How do you get there? What do you pack? Do you have all the travel gear needed for your trip? Where do you read travel gear reviews if you need a new sleeping bag? When should you go? How much is it going to cost? Yikes! The list goes on. There’s two ways to approach your vacation planning: Hands Free or D.I.Y.
Call a travel agent. They’re experts at what they do, so why wouldn’t you call one? Plus, if something goes wrong, you have someone to fix the messed up the reservations or deal with things when the hotel doesn’t recognize the website you used to book.
I’m not saying to leave everything up to the agent. Do your online research if you like and take what you’ve found back to them. Leave the booking up to the agent and let them shoulder the responsibility of making your vacation perfect so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy. Want to go hands free? I recommend Passageways Travel who has experts for every continent.
Since most of you won’t take my advice and call an agent, here’s some tips and tools to help your d.i.y. planning run a little more smoothly.
Travel deals are a dime a dozen so do a search and pick the one that works best for you. Just make sure you read the fine print. Now getting back to planning tips, here’s a few things to think about:
- Where do you want to go?
- How many people are going?
- How are you getting there?
- What’s the best time of year to go?
- Based on price or weather?
- Tropical destination? When’s the rainy or hurricane season?
- Is everyone coming from the same place?
- How many hotel rooms will you need?
- How many nights will you be staying?
- What does everyone want to do when you’re there?
Next, make a list of all the trip components and fill them in as you book them. Share it with your party and be sure to take it with you when you leave for the trip:
Destination & Dates
Travelers: Include full names as they appear on their state issued I.D. or Passport and cell phone numbers
Flights: Include confirmation numbers, flight numbers, airline info and arrival & departure times
Accommodation(s): Include hotel name(s), contact information, confirmation numbers and if you’re staying with friends, their address & phone number
Activities: Confirmation numbers, time & dates of tours, meeting point for tour pick-up
Restaurant Recommendations: Talked to friends who’ve visited the same place and check out travel user ratings & reviews sites.
Car Rental: Rental company name and confirmation number
And in case that’s not enough, here’s a teeny, tiny list of resources I tend to start with when researching a trip:
Tourism sites of the city or country you’re visiting
Relax, It’s a Vacation!
Coordinating a trip isn’t a simple task. I’ve covered the basics, but there’s a lot more to consider. Here are a few final thoughts on planning the perfect vacation:
Leave room to breath –You’ll need a vacation from your vacation if it’s too action packed.
Make planning a team effort
Be patient – Weather delays or mechanical difficulties are inevitable.
Lose the attitude – In a bind, you’ll get a lot further with gate agents, flight attendants and hotel managers if you’re polite.
Go with the flow – Plan some activities and tours in advance, since it can be cheaper. But leave a little room to get advice from the locals upon arrival.
And most importantly, once you leave for the trip, be in the moment. The world will not stop if you’re not at the office. Enjoy your time with family and/or friends and STOP checking your email every hour from your phone. You’ll be a lot more refreshed and ready to work when you get home.
Happy planning and bon voyage!