Take Time to Travel!
Life is too short, and the world awaits with an endless supply of unique and jaw-dropping sites to see. So – get out there! I’m here to share travel tips to make vacation planning easier.
I get through each workday if I have a future vacation on my calendar. I take plenty of pictures and post vacation photos to share the world’s wonders with family and friends, and I’m often asked, “Who is your travel agent?” or “You book the coolest trips; how do you do that?”
I have a great travel agent that assists me with foreign travel or lengthy trips with more complicated issues (such as traveling to Costa Rica, hopping across the Hawaiian islands, or booking a trip to Mexico with fifteen people), otherwise, every trip is planned by me. By popular demand, I decided to share my strategies!
I’ve been blessed with the ability to travel the world, and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.I will qualify my travel advice by saying that everyone has their favorite activities, airlines, hotels, or other activities they prioritize when taking a trip. Some of these tips might not be for you!
Tips for Vacation Planning
Here are some travel tips that I find useful when planning a vacation. Maybe there’s something here that might make your next trip more enjoyable with less hassle.
I’d love to be one of those people who travels the world with no plan with the ability to skitter in the wind without an itinerary – I am NOT that person. Planning ahead is essential. If I am touring the west or venturing to a foreign country for the first time, I need to know what sites I can’t miss and where I’m going to stay. If I wait until we get there to make reservations, then I can’t enjoy the trip without knowing that we can walk into a hotel or VRBO without issue.
That being said, I start planning months in advance. Once the dates of travel are known, I find out what the “must-see” things are that we can’t miss. I make reservations for a place to stay and book any tours that might give us an inside look at the area.
Do Your Research
Do we want to stay at the beach or inside the rainforest? Does the resort have a swim-up bar or does the hotel have breakfast included? Research the area to find what other vacationers like, or don’t like, about the region. When choosing a place to stay, I jump on Trip Advisor or travel blogs to find preferred locations or sites to see. For example, for a recent trip to Utah, I searched online and found a treasure-trove of information online at Utah.com. They even mailed me a free Utah map and multiple pamphlets.
I pull out an old-fashioned map to chart the route when taking a road trip. When traveling from the Badlands to Mt. Rushmore to Devil’s Tower to Yellowstone and then to the Tetons, I estimate how long we wish to stay at each location and make each night’s reservation. Many preferred places are sold out during high travel season if you wait until the last minute.
Believe it or not, I print off a blank calendar for some road trips with multiple stops and fill in each day of the trip. At the top of the page, I write the time needed to travel from one point to another (how many miles or minutes to drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park) and this helps us to know how much travel time to expect as we venture to our next stop. I look at my map and online to see if there are any interesting things to see along the way.
I hate flying… and airports… and the hassle, but you can’t get to most destinations and use your vacation time wisely without them. One of the biggest tips I have to offer is shop around. My experience is that you are less likely to get “bumped” off a flight and will get to choose your seats if you book directly through an airline’s website as opposed to Expedia, Kayak, etc.
Our family flies often, and the girls have the TSA routine down well, but the BEST purchase we’ve ever made is obtaining certification for TSA Precheck.
With TSA Precheck you bypass most long lines at TSA and do not have to remove your coat or shoes, and you do not have to empty your carry-on of computers or other electronics. Here is the website to enroll if desired:
Credit Card Tips
I do not carry a credit card balance, but I use credit cards to obtain points toward travel-related items. When my children were younger, I utilized the Chase Visa Disney credit card. Every purchase of groceries, gas, or restaurants built up points to use for purchase at Disney. After a year of use, I would have up to $500 to spend at resorts, on dining, souvenirs, etc.
Other credit cards can be associated with airline miles or vacation destinations.
Protect Your Beach Valuables
Being able to relax on the beach without worry is essential on vacation. Even though you prefer to block out the rest of the world, you might need your cell phone to take a picture of the kids making sandcastles or need a few dollars to purchase a locally made bracelet from the beach vendor. Getting your phone or money stolen on the beach is a real threat, and securing your valuables is important.
I use a padlocked bag and secure it to my beach chair with a wire cable. There are many variations, but the concept is to lock your money, phone, or other valuables inside the bag while you run to the bathroom or pool bar.
If you search online for “locked beach bag” you’ll find many options such as the one below: (link after the image)
Book a Tour and Get Involved
This section is not for everyone… I’m all for sitting in my beach chair and reading a book for an entire vacation, but sometimes it’s exciting to see the local sites or try a new adventure. Use your resources such as Pinterest, Trip Advisor, blogs, the resort concierge desk, or word of mouth to discover exciting things to see and do while on vacation.
If in a National Park, consider having your youngster become a Junior Ranger. Grab a booklet at the visitor center, and they complete simple tasks as they cruise the park. They even get a badge! My daughter has a badge collection from multiple parks.
When traveling to Mexico, why not check out the Mayan history?
Feeling adventurous, why not try white water rafting?
Have you ever been zip lining?
Take the leap – jump into an underground cenote!
Trip Tip Summary
Life is short. I enjoy traveling and use it to break up the daily monotony of work and life. Planning ahead can ease the hassle or stress when you reach your destination. Research things to do, find the best hikes, or consider extra adventures while you’re there.
Little things can make travel easier. Consider TSA Precheck to avoid long lines. Keep your valuables safe on the beach with a safe while you run for a daiquiri, and consider earning travel points with a credit card, because who doesn’t want extra spending cash!
Happy travels my friends!
I plan to post a Utah Big 5 National Park tour blog in the near future – route, must-see places, and highlights.