Becky is back again this week for some more Travel Tips! This time she’s sharing her best vacation planning tips; something I that always stumps me when traveling.
My lovely boyfriend and I have decided to go to New Orleans in December to celebrate the end of my last academic semester. I love New Orleans and have been fortunate enough to visit several, but he has never been. So, I want to make this trip memorable for him. Thankfully, I’m a good planner, so I know exactly where to start for this trip to fulfill all of the expectations I have for it.
Here are some tips I have developed for planning a vacation that will help ensure an awesome trip.
- Determine your budget. I know that the boyfriend and I don’t want to go broke on this trip, so we’ll to keep our activities to either cheap or free. This may sound limiting, but there are so many free things to do in every city. Don’t ever let a low checking account keep you from enjoying yourselves! Although it may be uncomfortable, it is also important to talk to your travel companion about who is paying what or how you plan to divide the trip. I have not done this in the past, and it has not worked out well for me. Don’t forget to include food in your budget!
- After you have determined your budget, research hotels. I usually check Priceline and Kayak. One important tip I have learned over the years: always check the actual hotel’s website before you book. Sometimes that’s where the cheapest rates are found; especially if you book it in advance. We ended up saving almost $80 by going through the hotel website.
Side note: Bear in mind that many hotels charge extra for parking.
- Do tons of research! Most of my travel planning is done by pasting links into a Word document I’ve created specifically for a trip. Thankfully, the Internet gods have bestowed the blessing of Pinterest upon us, so now I create a travel board and keep all of my ideas there allowing me to keep up with what I come across online. At first I pin a lot of ideas, and then as the trip gets closer, I narrow it down to what we can feasibly do.
- Make a tentative day-by-day schedule. I try to keep all of the activities we want to do in the same area, so we don’t waste time backtracking. I also pick out restaurants (listed with the address and hours) that are near our activities. I have recently fallen in love with Urban Spoon. It gives reviews and suggestions about restaurants. If you are a foodie, check out the Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives website. It will give you some awesome suggestions. It’s how I discovered my favorite New Orleans restaurant! I also try to check sites like Groupon or Living Social for deals on activities and food.
- Be flexible! Although I love to make a schedule, I understand that vacation happens. Upon arriving in the city, you may discover other things you want to do! As long as you have fun, it doesn’t matter if you don’t accomplish everything on your list. Don’t forget to research a few activities in case of inclement weather. Ninety percent of our activities in New Orleans depend on good weather, but I’ve definitely got my backups just in case!
I hope that these tricks help you as you plan your next trip. If you’re unsure of a great things to do in a city, I’ve learned that it’s great to stop at a little mom and pop restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall bar and chat up the staff. They are usually more than willing to give you a few pointers!
Where are you guys currently planning a trip?