Okay, let’s be honest. 2020 has outrighted sucked and everybody is ready to get past COVID and start living their life again. We want to eat at restaurants, go to movies, and have more than ten people at our homes. We want to stop wearing these masks and we want to travel to see our friends and family and just have a great vacation. The good news is that we finally have a vaccine so we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In just a few months we will start doing some of those very things and living our life again. During my lifetime I’ve done a fair amount of traveling, both in country and abroad. I’ve taken on the role of travel agent extraordinaire for my family. As a result of my travel experiences, I have found there is the wrong way, the right way and the better way to make your next adventure one to remember. In hopes that you will be able to make great memories that will last a lifetime, I want to share with you the better ways that I have found over the years to make your next adventure a memorable one.
- Choose wisely. Consider the what, where and when. Choose a destination that has all the types of attractions that will make your trip enjoyable for everyone. Going on a trip that doesn’t have anything to do, or is exciting for some, but not others, will provide a terrible experience for the ones not into what has been planned. Generally, it is also likely to ruin it for the others. Contacting the destinations tourism department or spending time on the web may be worth your while. You may be able to get a coupon book that allows for discounts at local attractions or purchase multi day passes that allow discounted entry into tours, museums, etc. Doing this also may allow you to skip long lines. Don’t forget to schedule some down time so you can soak in your vacation, allow for spontaneity and to recharge. Choosing wisely also means considering the time of year. It may mean less money if you travel in the off season, but there may be considerably less to do. This is especially true of beach trips and other seasonal destination spots. Consider the weather. You don’t want to plan to go to Disney Land when it is raining. The rides will still be running, but it’s not fun walking around or waiting for the tram wearing a poncho, don’t ask me how I know. Also, it may be too cold to enjoy your trip, so choose wisely if you’re traveling to locations that have defined seasons. Going to see the fall foliage in the north could be chillier than expected, so be prepared. Finally, let everyone be in on the planning for the trip. This allows for a better experience for everyone.
- Consider the mode of travel. Flying may not always be the best way to go. The air fair may be great but then you also may have to rent a car when you arrive at your destination. Now your trip has an extra expense to consider. Traveling by car allows you to have the option to stop and experience things as you go. Also, since you’re going to have to rent a car anyway, your trip becomes less expensive. Also, you’re saving the wear and tear on your personal vehicle and you can get a vehicle that is a different size than what you have. This can be a big plus when you consider the comfort of everyone going on the trip and the amount of luggage being brought along. the one thing to consider is it may take you longer to get to your destination. Trains can be another option, this may be a great option for those that don’t like to fly and it can be rather comfortable, but it also will take you a while to get to your destination, and it might be more than you want to pay. Also, consider the public transportation system in the location you plan to attend. You may be able to avoid the car rental all together if the destination has a suitable public transportation system. Some destinations give discounts for public transportation options. Again, contacting the tourism department of spending some time on the web may help you with that.
- Where you stay is important. There are many options available. Hotels, Bed and breakfast, apartments and houses have the potential to make your trip better or worse. If you’re just staying overnight then a hotel, or motel, may be the better fit. I have found that if you search on your smart phone, you can find local pit stops and their current rate. A quick phone call and you can find availability and make a reservation. This removes the stress of stopping at a location and going in to see if they can accommodate you and being frustrated when the answer is no or they don’t have the appropriate space to meet your needs. Apartment and houses allow for a comfortable home base when you’re staying longer. My wife and I have travelled to Montreal, CA a few times for a long weekend. Once I chose an inexpensive hotel near the places, we wanted to go but ended up with a room that had a tv that didn’t work, and had a bathroom floor that was uneven and made me feel like it might slide into the tub. When we went to Sarajevo, Bosnia we chose to stay in an apartment that was located in a neighborhood, a short walking distance to the old city where all the shops, museums, and tours were located. We felt as though we were locals as we traveled down to the neighborhood bakery and market to get our needs, and we had the option of eating out or in. Apartments and houses are usually equipped with the basic kitchen needs and also have their own laundry facilities which means you can cut down on the amount of clothes that you need to bring. They also allow for a comfortable place to recharge. If you have a lot of people, then a house may be the better option. Air BnB’s are a great option and can be booked as easily as getting a hotel. If it’s just the two of you than an apartment in the heart of your destination spot may be the way to go.
- Go with friends or family. Going on a vacation is not as fun when you go by yourself. Experiencing the local attractions with another helps build great memories, and can strengthen friendships or family relationships. Vacations should be experiences that allow for great memories. Those memories are more meaningful when they are shared with another. If you are traveling with others make sure you can communicate with each other if you get separated. In the states you have your phones. If you travel outside of the country, purchase a phone in that country that you can place minutes on. It is considerably cheaper and can be purchased at most stores that are comparable to a drugstore like Kenny’s and CVS or ones that are comparable to Walmart or Best Buy in the United States. If you’re not sure talk to a local and they can steer you in the right direction. This is considerably less expensive than contacting your local carrier and setting up your phone for temporary international calls. Make sure that you share your phone number with everyone in the group and that you let people back home know what it is as well. This is important in case of serious emergencies.
- Take pictures. Do it throughout the day. You may not make another trip to that location, so document your memories. At the end of the day share your pictures with your travel companions and celebrate the day’s activities with each other. This may create the opportunity to blackmail your travel companions and get some great laughs in. Laughing is one of the signs that you’re having a successful vacation. You can use social media to tell the world about your trip, but I wouldn’t do that while on vacation. Doing so advertises that you are not home. It would be terrible to come home and find that you have had an unwelcomed visitor and now you have to buy a new tv. Don’t forget to purchase a memento to mark your remarkable excursion. I used to purchase a mug for every trip I went on and then my wife and I realized that we had so many mugs that we didn’t know what to do with them, and they collected a lot of dust. Now we’ve downsized. We now purchase a magnet and place it where we can see it and remember the fun we had. You can choose whatever you want, but do something. Pictures are great but you probably won’t have them out where you can see them. So, do something to symbolize your great adventures.
- Use common sense and be safe. While you’re having a great time on your vacation, don’t forget to pack your common sense. You don’t have to carry all your money with you. Just enough for the day. When my wife and I are on vacation, we split the cash between us and make sure that both of us have enough for the day’s activities. Hopefully you don’t become a victim of a pickpocket, or get held up, but this way you won’t lose it all. Another benefit to this is, it places a limit on how much money you spend during the day. Avoid cutting through allies and don’t flash your money around. Also, consider the activities that you do. Use the correct safety equipment and if that little voice in you says “don’t do it”, then take a moment and step back, this may allow you to avoid an accident and will help you have a more enjoyable trip. I’ve seen my share of skiers that thought they could do the black trails when in reality they should stick to the blue trails and end up in the hospital. A broken leg or comma really would put a damper on the trip and is not the kind of memory you want to create.
So, there you have it. Six tips to a better vacation. Now go make some memories! When you look back on your life, you want to have a life with as little regrets as possible. Doing vacations with friends and family will help you sit back and smile and say, “my life has been well lived.” If you liked my article please follow me at lifeincontext.blog, and look for more weekly articles to come.