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Planning a trip is exciting. However, worrying whether or not you will make the most of your time is a concern that every traveler has at some point. You can do tons of research, and rearrange your plans over and over only to find out that you may have barely missed something when you returned. We have come up with a general plan for avoiding that situation.
Pinpointing a City
The world is big and your time is limited. You may have already drawn up a list of cities you plan to visit and you might be working your way down that list. Another fun way to determine where you will go is to get a big map, either domestic or international and play a fun game of darts to determine where you will go next. This is both adventurous and thrilling as you don’t know where you might end up.
Once you find out where you’d like to go, you’ll want to focus on the walkability of your destination so that you can make the rest of your plans. If you plan on going to a busy downtown area, it may be beneficial to walk and uber instead of rent a car. You can always filter your search for hotels by distance to the city center to make your life a lot easier. If you plan on going out to the countryside or to go hiking up mountains, then you might prioritize the car rental over the hotel location. It’s important to envision your trip before you book. This eliminates scattered bookings that don’t make logical sense once you’re actually on your trip.
When you plan your travel dates, it all depends on what works best for you. Our suggestion is to make a list of as many possible dates as you have available. Also, we have discovered that it doesn’t make a difference if you plan far ahead or on short notice. Flight and hotel deals can always be found at a discount somewhere. It does make a difference to have a destination in mind and research it. You’ll get to know when the best times are to visit and then make it work for your schedule accordingly. It helps to be flexible. If you’re used to being a planner, you’ll find that this can be hard to do at first. Trust us, sometimes it helps to go with the flow or be able to wait until the last minute to book something. We know it might make you nervous, but it could be the key to a great vacation. First, determine where you want to go, the dates will come later.
Once you’ve decided on your city and you’ve taken a look at your available travel dates, you’ll need to check on flights. In a previous article, we discussed the benefits of Skyscanner. This app provides a daily detailed chart on the predicted prices for your available travel dates. This app will also help you if you haven’t chosen a destination. Just type in your departing city and then type in your destination as, “Everywhere”. This will give you all the available options for the days you are thinking about traveling. A great bonus is that it will also suggest great deals. We highly recommend spending some time on this website if you’re dedicated to traveling and getting the best deals. It’s truly a lifesaver.
If you’re planning a weekend trip, chances are you’ll need to stay a night or two. Booking a room with HotelTonight is a great way to go. Every day they provide a deal of the day. Normally you have 15 minutes to see whether or not you’d like to book the deal of the day or not. If you plan to travel with at least one other person, have only one person on the app to find what the deal of the day is. Once your research on that hotel is complete, you can book using an alternate device. This is a great tip for taking advantage of last minute details.
Figuring out which method of transportation is best for your trip has a lot to do with the vision you planned for your trip earlier. When it comes to car rentals, you’ll want to think about what makes the most sense. If you’re staying in the city, a small car will be better for tight parking and busy roads. However, a big truck would be better for some off-road camping. Make sure that whichever vehicle you choose, it makes sense for what you’ll be doing. It’s all about eliminating problems before they happen and being proactive.
Alternatively, most places have Uber and Lyft available. But, buyer beware, there are still locations that do not. Know before you go. This may be the best method of transportation if you plan on staying close to your hotel.
Many people forget about train travel when they plan a trip. It’s not worth forgetting about. It’s always cheaper than a ride service such as Uber or Lyft, and often much easier because they are on a schedule. The reason people steer away from this is that they may not have dealt with public transportation in their area and feel uncomfortable when it comes to navigating the system. In reality, rail systems are set up for success. We will cover this in a separate guide as we believe it opens doors to being a more efficient traveler.
Turo is another great service that is similar to renting a car but it’s done through an app without the hassle of dealing with waiting in line at a rental agency. You can schedule Turo ahead of time and pick up when you’re ready. This is an advantage when it comes to cutting down the hassle of your trip and going through a rental agency at the airport.
Google Maps will be your new best friend in a place you’ve never been to before. The feature we use the most when traveling is the “find nearby” option. It allows you to search locations in your walking, driving, or train riding range. Often times, you’ll find that you can find the best adventures right where you are. It’s just a matter of knowing about them.
Another tip we can provide is to use the app “Waze”. This app is similar to google maps with a few added bonuses. This platform will alert you regarding police activity in a certain area and plans more efficient routes with better directions. This may be a great option, especially when going to an unfamiliar area.
When planning out your must see and do list, it’s important to keep in mind that you will need some downtime. There’s a lot to do in a short amount of time, but make sure you give yourself some time to really take everything in and breathe. Traveling is definitely about quality experiences and the only way to get there is to slow down for just a minute and enjoy what you’re doing instead of ticking boxes on a checklist.
Another thing to keep in mind when you plan your activities is the proximity each activity is to one another. Make sure you’re going in order and not wasting time going back and forth between areas. This is a common mistake and sorting it out only takes a few minutes looking at a map. It’s always better to travel to your farthest location and work your way back to the hotel.
One of the most cultural things you can do on vacation is to try the local food. Getting a taste for the area assimilates you with the location. In the future when you eat similar items, you will look back on them and your time away and associate them together. Engaging your senses will only broaden your mind. Plus, who doesn’t like food? Since you’ve already nailed down your location and the area you will be in, you can now search for local restaurants in that area.
Just as you have done by looking up this article, do your research. Ask around and find out if anyone you know has gone to your destination. Get their recommendations and find out what stood out to them. Buyer beware though because not everyone’s idea of a great time is really that great. Always be sure you are doing what interests you and don’t skip out on an activity or restaurant you wanted to go to in lieu of a recommendation alone. You might find out that your trip was more unique because you took a step off the beaten path.
We are planning to create our first series with a guide to the 50 states in order to give more specific advice on unique things to do in each one. We look forward to putting an original guide together as well as carry them all out. Should we do them in any particular order?