Updated: May 14
If this is your first trip or 50th (& hopefully you figured it out by your 50th), planning your vacation can seem exciting and first then somewhat daunting. You know they say, preparation is key (also, where the work is)! I have been to 7+ countries, majority of America, driven and flown. I’ve traveled with others and alone... this is what advice I can impart on you.
When planning for any vacation, make sure you review blogs, IG, Pinterest to get a feeling for
what you want to see and the best months to visit. You may want to visit Costa Rica in November because Travelzoo.com has an awesome 7- day deal. BUT the catch is- RAINY SEASON. You failed to check the weather and now you can’t go on the world’s longest zip line over the rain forest due to rain. Or, you want to see the world’s largest flower garden in UAE, but you go when the weather in 120 degree with a 100% humidity... only to find they close the park in February because all the flowers die. OR that Buckingham Palace is only open to the public in August... The White House has to be scheduled months in advance because you have to have a background check done? This is a great time to gather points of interest, dates and times they are available and costs of sites. Maybe that underwater restaurant seemed really cool but then you found out for 2 drinks & little sandwiches, it wasn’t worth $280 for the experience. I am very particular because I’ve lived it— and no I didn’t go! It’s very important to review cost/ benefit analysis because you may want to do 3 more things with that money.
Once you have gathered all your points interest and their data, lay it out on paper and schedule times to view it. This is very important! Why? Because you do NOT want to be stressed out looking to make it to the next place or getting impatient looking for the next place. When I plan, I schedule one BIG thing a day. When I was planning on going to Gettysburg, PA, I knew I wanted to get a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield. I also knew that it was a very large area to cover and in the summertime heat, there is hardly any shade, first time go, I was a sweaty mess from the walking. Since it was vacation, I scheduled the Gettypeds for 10:00am. Allowed enough time for sleeping in, breakfast without rushing & ability to get there. I also booked the hotel close enough to get there fast. Even though Gettypeds were about $200 for a 3- hour tour, I highly recommend it for a few reasons but the most important were the time factor, the fun and history lesson.
So I said I plan for one BIG thing a day... well, if you are not the “lay on the beach/ hotel room” type, I highly recommend gathering other forms of entertainment. When in NYC, I wanted to surprise my friend. So we rented bikes right outside Central Park and rode them all the way down to Greenwich Village (a couple miles) and took him to a rooftop brunch at Restoration
Hardware. Yes, it is a fancy furniture store but they have an attractive brunch menu. That can’t be all, right? So what else is in that area? Check those options out. Is there a pier? A skywalk? Shopping? Museum? It may be something you can leisurely do but those don’t have time limits. Who knows, you may have had an 8 hour hike the day before and you just want to lay and read on the beach.
Another recommendation is getting a few food choices for lunch and dinner... maybe
breakfast if your hotel doesn’t come with a continental breakfast. I typically review items on yelp and write what type of food place they are, typical price range and hours they are open. If you're into happy hour, maybe grab those times. You may be thinking ”this girl is nuts” at this point... but trust me, how many of you say and stared at your phones searching for meals? Does your significant other agree? Is your kid starving and wants food NOW, but you want something new and local? This will cut out precious time figuring out food options. I give my boyfriend the 3 options and let him choose. Who would want to be looking down at their phone while driving if we could be looking at the beautiful mountains of Hawaii? Yea, me neither. And one day, that did happen... I was more stressed trying to find food than enjoying the scenery.
When I road tripped from Detroit> Gettysburg > D.C.> Philadelphia> NYC, I wrote how long it would take to get to point B and went from there. One morning, we were leaving from Philly to go to NYC, but we enjoyed our day and it went longer than anticipated. But we made that ONE BIG event then loved the exploration of the additional site- seeing we did on the way. Instead if getting to NYC at 5:00 pm, we got in at 9:00 pm and basically crashed. Remember, driving takes a lot out of you. If you’re staying with a friend, they will want to visit when you arrive- no matter how late! Be mindful of that the next day.
Seeing as you have now planned your vacation, that will help greatly on what you should pack! I do have one motto though, ALWAYS bring one dress casual outfit. Even though you’re on vacation, you might get a wild hair and want to go to a restaurant that is a little fancier. And if you don’t have a child of babysitting age...well, figure it out! Ha!
I hope these tidbits were of help. Remember, balance is key and you’re on vacation! Drop questions & inquiries below, I’ll be here to answer them!