If you want to live your 100 Year Lifestyle, you have to make time for vacations. You have to make time for Play Time! To do that, it’s going to require some Prep Time.
Here are 10 things you can do right now to insure that you make vacations a priority in your life:
1. PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR!
How many times have you seen an ad for an amazing resort and you say to yourself, “That’s where I’m going for my vacation.” You pull the ad out, you look at it every day, you even call up to get rates. And then . . . nothing! Time goes by and you never make the plans to go.
What you need to do is go through your calendar and choose a time you want to go away. It can be for a week, a weekend, a month. It doesn’t matter, but you have to put it onto your calendar. Once that’s done, it’s much easier to create what you want.
2. RELAXING OR ACTIVE VACATION
Are you looking to decompress? Or are you looking for an adventure? It makes a difference. If you want an adventure, 7 days of sitting in a lounge chair on a beach won’t satisfy you. And if you want to relax, dealing with the hustle and bustle of the streets of Rome and spending hours on your feet touring will be anything but relaxing.
3. NOW FIND A LOCATION
Do you have any place in mind? If you do, that’s great! Just get on line and start researching that location. Cruising? Where would you like to visit? If you’re not sure, it’s best to call a travel agent. You can explain what you are looking for and the agent can narrow it down for you, make suggestions and take away a lot of the stress of planning!
4. WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
Most people don’t think about this. If you are on a limited budget, a safari in Africa or a trip to Bora Bora might have to be put on hold. Again, a good agent will always asks about your budget in order to make it easier choices.
5. WHERE TO STAY?
If you are doing this on your own, research hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, cruise lines, etc. for the location you choose. Look at the amenities, what the establishment offers. If you want a hot tub, be sure there is one. If you are looking for an all-inclusive vacation, be sure it is offered. Look at the photos. It might say it’s on the beach, but if there are no photos of a beach, I would do more research! Trip Advisor is a great website (www.tripadvisor.com). Travelers create reviews for hotels, etc. after their stay. I always say to read a number of them and then see what is consistent. If one person has a bad experience, for whatever reason, the review might be awful – and not accurate!
Are you going as a couple, as a single, as a family? Make sure you get single occupancy pricing if you are alone. And check for children’s prices. Sometimes “kids are free” or their cost is discounted. Hate being around kids? Check out adult only resorts! Want to bring your kids? Check out family resorts. Be as specific as you can!
6. WILL YOU NEED A CAR?
This is a personal preference. If you are going to a big city, especially outside of the U.S., find out what public transportation is available. It is probably less expensive and definitely less stressful (especially if you’re going to Great Britain or other countries where you drive on the opposite side of the road!). If you are going to be traveling great distances on your trip to sightsee, and you love to drive, it’s definitely the way to go. Going to a beach resort? Chances are, you won’t want or need a car. There are taxis galore who can take you where you want to go and if you choose to sight-see, the hotels arrange transportation with the tour.
7. WHEN TO BUY AIRLINE TICKETS
This is a question to which there is no definite answer! Most “experts” say anywhere from 29 – 54 days prior to a flight is the best time to buy domestic tickets. I’ve seen fares lower even 21 days prior. You definitely want to book more than two weeks out. Fares tend to go up at that point.
If you are flying internationally, you should be looking at tickets about 3 months prior to the flight, although sometimes you can catch a break closer to your departure date. If you are planning in advance, international fares are usually better between 3 and 5 months out.
I have seen the best pricing on tickets on Tuesdays, from about 3PM and throughout the evening. Many times these better fares are gone the next day, but if you can’t book on Tuesday, Wednesday is another good day. The worst time to purchase tickets is on the weekend! Wait until Tuesday!!!
The least expensive days to fly? Wednesday, followed by Tuesday and Saturday. Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive. This is for domestic flights. And again, nothing is written in stone, but historically, this is what research has shown. International flights are much more difficult to predict.
Buy your tickets on line, either directly with the airline, or with one of the many websites that sell airfare (Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, etc.). If you have a preference of airlines, or have miles with one specific airline, I suggest going directly to their website. For example, Delta allows you to cancel or change your booked flight up to 11:59PM the day following ticketing – with no penalty! You won’t get that with those other websites.
By booking online, you save a surcharge that you would have to pay if you call the airlines or a travel agent (unless the travel agent is doing a package of air and hotel – then, many times they waive the surcharge).
8. WHAT LUGGAGE SHOULD I USE?
Are you going to carry on or check your luggage? I always do carry-on (unless I am going skiing or somewhere for an extended period of time.). By carrying on luggage, you save time waiting at the luggage carousel after your flight (not to mention the stress created if you get to your destination and your luggage doesn’t!). If you are going to do carry-on, be sure the luggage you are using fits the specific airlines guidelines for sizing.
If you are checking your luggage, find out if there are any weight restrictions for the airline you choose. And also, find out if there is a cost to check it. You just might change your mind, pack tighter and carry on!!!!
And, you can carry another bag, as long as it can fit under the seat in front of you. So, you can pack a backpack, or another smaller bag if you need extra space.
If you do carry on, remember the 3 ounce rule. All liquids must be in bottles and containers no larger than 3 ounces. Purchase plastic travel bottles and pour in your favorite shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, etc. Your toiletry bag will be about one quarter of the size!!!
9. PASSPORT OR VISA NEEDED?
If you are traveling outside the country, be sure to have a valid passport. Depending on your destination be sure to ask the airline about any restrictions, such as the passport needing to be valid 3 or 6 months following your trip. If it’s coming up for renewal, it’s better to renew it early so that you don’t have the additional cost of rush payment to get it in time!
Visas are required for many countries. Again, ask the airline or your travel agent if you will need one. Applying for a visa is different for every country.
Traveling in the 50 United States? You will need a drivers license or another government issued ID.
If you travel internationally often, you might want to consider GLOBAL ENTRY. It will save you time when you return home by by-passing often long immigration lines! Go to https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes to apply.
10. AND THE ALL IMPORTANT QUESTION: WILL MY CELL PHONE WORK?
If you are leaving the country, definitely check with your carrier. Certain carriers work in certain countries. Coverage keeps getting better! If you need a phone and yours won’t work, you can purchase a local phone or you can Skype to stay in touch with those at home. Every country is different so you will need to do your research on this one.
Reprinted with permission by Kathi Handt www.vacationonyourmind.com