Planning Your Dream Vacation: Tips to Make Sure It Doesn't Turn Into a Nightmare
After deciding to go on a vacation, only the first step in planning an amazing trip has been achieved Following some simple and easy steps can help you plan the vacation of a lifetime without spending months stressing about the fine details!
Choose a Destination: When choosing a destination make sure that all parties agree on the ideal location. Whether it is a beach trip to Cabo San Lucas, a ski weekend in Aspen, or even a ladies weekend in Las Vegas, it is important to make sure that everyone is in agreement about where you are going and the intent of the vacation. The vacation could start on a sour note if someone thinks they are going to be lying on a beach for 5 days when really they will be volunteering the entire time.
Accommodations are Key: Do your research! There are some amazing sites on the internet that rank hotels, bed and breakfasts or even private condo rentals so start your search on reputable sites like Hotels.com or HomeAway to get ratings directly from actual guests. Most sites allow for guest feedback so you can if you are looking at accommodations and you can not locate any reviews, this should be your first red flag that the place is not the 5-Star Resort it is advertising. After choosing your accommodations make sure you shop around so that you can get the best price. Use sites like KAYAK or trivago to get easy price comparisons or do your own investigating by looking on the accommodation's website, looking on local tourism or visitor center websites for special deals or simply calling the hotel, B & B or condo owner directly and asking for lower rates. The key to getting lower rates is asking because the worst thing they can do is so no but if you do not ask they will NEVER say yes,
Another important factor when choosing accommodations is to make sure you are getting everything you want or expect. If you want an all-inclusive resort, make sure you confirm that the hotel you are booking offers specific packages; don’t just assume that since it is in Mexico or the Dominican Republic that they are automatically all-inclusive resorts. Also, confirm what is specifically included in your package especially if you are traveling out of the United States or to an new destination because all-inclusive is not a cookie cutter business. So call the hotel and speak directly to a representative regarding any concerns or questions you have about what is included. If you negotiate a new rate or additional services, make sure you get those in writing either on a quote form or a letter from a manager (not just an employee) because "Someone told me" is not going to provide enough support to confirm your claims.
Bundle if Possible: When you are ready to book your hotel, plane tickets or rental car, make sure you book them all at one time so you can take advantage of package deals. Many times when you book everything through one site, you’ll get a discounted rate for bundling the entire vacation through that site. Although, the best advice is do your research, shop around and ask for better rates or upgrades when booking.
BONUS TIP: If you are just booking plane tickets, look at booking 1-way flights through different airlines. This gives you more choices and possibly better prices and this works especially great if you have a more flexible travel schedule.
Plan Ahead and Have Back-Up Plans: The weather does not always cooperate with your vacation plans so make sure you plan ahead and pack accordingly. Check out the weather forecasts and have alternative activities planned that you can do indoors in case of inclement weather. Museums, bus tours, indoor water parks, and even visiting historic sites like churches, mansions or castles can be great rainy day activities. The most important thing to remember is to be flexible and prepared on vacation because you may have rainy days but that most definitely is not a good reason to have a horrible or boring vacation.
Protect Yourself: There are bad people in the world and there are bad things that can happen to you while you are on vacation but a stolen credit card or ID does not have to mean days of sulking and tears so be prepared for the worst! Begin safeguarding your vacation from the beginning, do not solely depend on electronic copies of itineraries, confirmation numbers, and flight information. Print out hard copies to bring a long with you or keep a handwritten account of important information. There may be times when you need your flight or hotel confirmation and you do not have access to the internet to retrieve the information, if you have a hard copy, problem solved and hop on your plane!
Bring additional identification with you on if available and make sure you do not keep them in the same location. If someone happens to steal your wallet or you lose your purse with your driver’s license in it good luck being able to board your flight home. So come prepared with another form of ID like a state or federal issued ID, military ID, passport, or passport card. That way you can make sure that if you would lose one form of identification you are covered with a backup.
If you are going to be out of the United States and plan on using a debit or credit card, call the provider and inform them that you are going to be out of the country and that suspicious charges may show up during your time away. This covers you from having your financial institution put a hold on your account leaving you with no way to get any money or charge anything to the account.
Planning a vacation does not have to mean months of stress and worries because if you start covering all your basis from the beginning than even the worse mishap can simply be laughed off. Do your research, ask questions, be flexible and be prepared and then sit back and enjoy and amazing dream vacation. Happy Travels!