This is a guest post by Jessica Watson, an up-and-coming freelance writer with popular articles posted on Bhaya Cruises and Irish Tech News. She’s pulled together her favourite travel tips and resources for easy vacation planning. The hard work is done for you – just follow the steps she’s outlined and you’ll be enjoying your dream vacation before you know it! Trip planning can be fun rather than stressful – let Jessica show you how.
Whether you are planning a family vacation or a couple solo trips, planning can be stressful. When it comes to an international vacation, planning gets especially complicated and most of us get confused. It shouldn’t be this way, though! A vacation is supposed to be relaxing and comfortable. Here are 5 tips to make your vacation planning easy and enjoyable – like it should be.
Easy Vacation Planning Tip 1: Take Advantage of Apps
In the information age, technology has totally changed the way we live, communicate, and – of course – travel. Traveling and vacation planning is much easier today with the help of technology. There are thousands of apps out there to resolve all your problems and make your trip more comfortable. Below I’ve listed a few apps that I consider necessary for every traveller.
Never again will you forget something essential, with this app in hand!
We all know the feeling: You’re about to embark on a long trip, and you just don’t know what to bring and what to leave at home. With so much going through your mind, you can’t narrow down a list. Enter Pack Point.
Just open the app and select the length of your trip, the weather at your destination, and the activities you’ll be taking part in. Pack Point will show you a list of items to pack. You can even save the list and share it with friends if they need help too.
Google, one of the big dogs in the app world, took on the issue of trip planning themselves, and the result is this app. It conveniently gathers all your reservations into one place (no more hunting for booking numbers).
Google Trips also suggests famous places, attractions, eateries, and more that are nearby you and your phone. It can pull together a day plan for you based on these factors. You’re also able to customize based on your needs and preferences. Best of all, the app works offline.
Shipmate will be your best friend if you’re planning a cruise vacation. This app shows you deck plans, who you’ll be sailing with, ship and port reviews, 100,000+ cruise itineraries, and more.
Note, however, that this app only works for major ocean cruise lines. When it comes to smaller lines or river cruises, like a slow boat along the Mekong River or a Halong Bay junk cruise tour, Shipmate won’t be much help.
Trip planning is enough to think about, without adding math into the equation. Let Travel Math do the calculations for you!
Once you enter 2 locations into the app, Travel Math can calculate:
- Driving distance and time between cities
- Flight distance between airports
- The closest airport to any destination
- Non-stop direct flights to your destination
- Time differences and international time changes between destinations
- Flight lengths
- Airlines flying to any city or serving any airport
- Cost of gas/petrol for driving between destinations
- Best stopping points or find a hotel during a long road trip
- Exact halfway point between cities
- Recommended surrounding cities to explore in a given area
- Try Limofind if you are travelling in style – From a Tucson bus for rent to a new York Limo
Easy Vacation Planning Tip 2: Make Yourself a List
Whenever something becomes stressful or overwhelming, it can be very calming to take a breath and make a To-Do List. Vacation Planning is no exception. There’s a lot to consider and it’s hard to prioritize. I recommend putting everything down in a list. Start with the general categories of what needs doing, and then break them down into details.
Here’s my suggested general Easy Vacation Planning list. You can customize it as much as you like depending on your individual plans.
- Choose your destination. Ask yourself where and when you want to travel, how long you have for your trip, who you want to travel with, and what kind of experience you want to have?
- Set your budget. Determine the maximum amount you can spend on this vacation. All the rest of your planning will be determined by this budget.
- Make bookings. Do some research to compare prices and offerings (resources for this are offered below), and then book your flight and accommodations.
- Choose things to do. Research and decide on the things you’d like to do and the places you’d like to eat/drink during your vacation. Apps like the ones mentioned above can give you ideas.
- Think about getting around. Consider what kind of transportation will be available to get you from point A to point B during your vacation, and learn how to use it. An app like Rome2Rio is useful for this.
- Prepare your travel documents. Find out what documents you’ll need during your trip, and obtain or double-check them all well ahead of time, to allow for complications. If you plan to travel abroad, your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of stay. You should also research visa requirements in your destination country.
- Prepare your money. You’ll definitely want easy access to your money during your vacation. It’s also best to avoid high bank fees or transaction charges. Talk to your bank and do some research about currency and availability of ATMs and credit card machines in your destination, and decide what the most efficient mix of cash, debit, and credit will be for you. Exchange your cash currency if necessary.
- Confirm your flight. Confirm your flight time and airport transportation the day before your departure. Checking in online will save you time at the airport.
- Pack your suitcase. Everything is in place, but don’t forget your stuff! Using an app like PackPoint (mentioned above) will give you an easy list to work from.
Easy Vacation Planning Tip 3: Compare Prices
As with any type of shopping, it makes sense to compare prices from different providers in order to get yourself the best price you can. The ‘best’ price is not always the cheapest one – service providers can play some tricks to make you think you’re getting something you’re not. Comparison helps you determine the total value of an offer, beyond the numbers you see at first glance.
Here are some websites I recommend for travel price comparison:
Hotel Price Comparison
Flight Price Comparison
Car Rental Price Comparison
Vacation Package Price Comparison
Easy Vacation Planning Tip 4: Try a Travel Agent or Tour Operator
Sure, DIY vacations are appealing, but there’s also something to be said for the peace of mind that comes with having someone else handle the details. If the trip you have in mind is complex and long, or you have health concerns, a travel agent may be your best option. It’s stress-free, and usually saves you some money as the agent has connections to deals that you couldn’t access on your own.
Here are the Top 10 Tour Operators of 2017, as voted by Travel & Leisure Magazine:
- TCS World Travel
- DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co.
- Heritage Tours
- Gray & Co.
- Mountain Lodges of Peru
- Classic Journeys
- Asia Transpacific Journeys
- VBT Bicycling & Walking Vacations
- Journeys Within
- Back Roads
Note from Mad Monkey: If you’re headed to Southeast Asia and you’re looking for a backpacking experience, plus the chance to meet awesome like-minded people, we highly recommend TruTravels – they’re our favourite group tour operator. No “organized fun” here, just genuinely unreal adventures!
Easy Vacation Planning Tip 5: Ask Friends & Family for Advice
Take advantage of the friends and family in your life. They’re a trustworthy wealth of information that many people overlook. Ask around and find out if anyone in your circles has done a trip similar to the one you have in mind. If they have, meet up with them and get all the information you can. They’ll have firsthand tips to offer that you couldn’t find on any travel website. Plus, they know you so they’ll be able to tailor their advice to your needs and preferences.