As much as we’d all like to take 3 weeks to explore a new place on a vacation or holiday, it often just isn’t possible. For some families, you’re lucky to get 3 days in for exploration! Add in the increasing expenses of meals, hotels, and all the other “luxuries” of a trip to someplace new and the need to maximize your time becomes that much more important.
With that in mind, here are some of what we hope are our helpful tips to help you maximize your itinerary so that you can explore a new area as much as possible!
7 Tips To Maximize the Awesomeness of Your Vacation:
#1. Plan Ahead… WAY Ahead
Knowing what kind of vacation you can take is important to knowing how much time you can take at each stop on your adventure. By having a good idea of what your vacation or holiday is going to be like well in advance, you can plan your budget up to 12 months in advance, know how many vacation days you’ll be able to take, and even save some money by booking tickets in advance as well.
How can you know how many vacation days you can take from work? Well… you could do the math in your head, but why do that when there’s a handy vacation tracking app like Vacation Tracker that can figure it out for you? When you figure out how much time you can take, set deadlines for yourself to meet specific goals for your vacation so that you’ve saved enough money and kept enough time in the bank to make your forthcoming trip a reality.
#2. Take the Red Eye
Whether you’ve decided to fly, drive, or take the train to your vacation destination, book the times that are the slow traffic times for your traveling. For airlines, this means the late night flights. Don’t take the first flight in the morning from your airport because it is usually full. If you’re driving, try leaving the night before your vacation “starts” to get a jump on the distance you’re traveling. For the train, call ahead to see if your train will be arriving on time because trains are notoriously late!
If you’re flying, do the same thing coming back from your trip as well. This will let you enjoy your last day away from the office more. After all, who really likes being stuck in an airport on your last day of a vacation? The next work day will come soon enough anyway. Enjoy what little time you’ve allowed yourself!
#3. Make Your Itinerary Flexible
I know you want to pack in a ton of things into the limited window of time that you have, but if experience has taught me anything in the few vacations that I’ve taken, it’s that something “really cool” will be found and you’ll want to spend more time at one particular spot instead of rushing on to something else that might be less “cool.” With a flexible itinerary, you can linger at the locations that help you enjoy your vacation time more and spend mere seconds at the places that look great on paper or through Yelp reviews, but end up being a disaster of epic proportions in reality.
#4. Don’t Forget About “Constipation Lag”
Everyone knows about jet lag and the fact that they should give themselves a day or so to adjust to the new time schedule. What people don’t always take into account during their travels, and especially for a road trip, is what I like to call “Constipation lag.”
When you drive over a long distance, your body invariably goes into shutdown mode. This happens on other forms of travel, including the train or on airplanes as well, but to a lesser extent. The need to go to the bathroom is replaced by the need to meet your travel schedule! When you finally get to where you’re going, your body replaces the needs once again and suddenly that sound you hear is the gas station beef jerky you ate two days ago singing soprano from a strange bodily orifice.
The first day or two of your trip, plan to see places near your hotel so you can reach the facilities you may need to reach without having to give up an entire day to the TV in the room. Even if you just relax in the sauna or take a swim in the pool, it’s relaxation time away from the stresses of modern life and that’s what is most important!
#5. Leave Work At Home!
The point of taking a trip is that you eliminate the distractions of your regular life. To that extent, maybe you should just leave the computer at home. E-mails can wait, especially if they are work e-mails. Social networking can be fun when you share pictures of your trip, but those pictures are also an advertisement to predators that you’re not home! Most importantly of all, leave your work computer, correspondence, phones, and whatever else you have at work so you can enjoy your time away. Working on a vacation… that’s still working, even if you are drinking martinis on a beach at sunset while speaking with your boss.
#6. Go For a Trek Somewhere
You don’t have to be an avid hiker to enjoy a hike! Even if it’s just a lame 1/4 mile trail that is perfect for a stroller, it’s still physical activity that gets you outside, enjoying a beautiful day, and seeing something new. You don’t have to do a rugged 1.5 mile trek that takes you to the very edge of the Northwest US Coast while avoiding mountain lions and steep cliffs as you try to make room for other people on the itty bitty trail that cuts through the woods!
Keep in mind that a trek can occur indoors as well. Exploring a new science museum, an aviation complex, or even shopping at a super mall that you’d never see at home are all ways to be active on your trip. Whatever activity you do to relax, just make sure you include it on your itinerary so that the $40 room service you order can get walked off.
#7. Realize That You Don’t Need To See Everything
Life will go on if you don’t see the animatronic Wall Drug T-Rex as you go through South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. Allow yourself the imperfection of not seeing everything during your trip for one simple reason: it gives you an excuse to come back again at another time! Allow yourself to be impulsive as well, because many of the best memories that come from a trip don’t originate from the itinerary, but do come from that breakfast you had at the weird diner with a talking catfish.
How do you make the most out of your vacations?