Do you ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? Yes, we've all been there! Vacations are so important. They build memories, bring people closer together, and change your view of the world. But whether you're traveling with parents, kids, cousins, or friends, vacations can sometimes be stressful. Today will will examine a few tips to help make your summer vacation as stress free as possible.
1. Define your vacation goals. It might sound silly, but it's one of the most important steps to having a great vacation. Before you start planning your vacation, it's important to know what you want to do and what you want to get out of your trip. Are you looking to relax in the sun, hike trails and ruins, or explore a city? Making sure that everyone has the same expectations before you even start planning will help the vacation go smoothly.
2. Don't sweat the small stuff. Your vacation will inevitably have bumps in the road, but it's the way you handle them that will shape your vacation, and your memories. Just enjoy the fact that you're on vacation. If your ice cream falls off the cone and sits there melting on the sidewalk, you can sulk over the melting ice cream, or you can move on and remember that the rest of the vacation was fabulous and get new ice cream.
3. Don't over pack. It's hard to decide how much you need to bring when traveling (especially with kids), but it's so much easier to travel with as few bags as possible. Don't waste suitcase space with disposable things you can buy when you get there – like diapers and wipes. If you're staying in a house or condo, you can ship yourself a box before you get there, or splurge and use a luggage shipping service to take all the stress off on travel days. Some hotels even have a stash of supplies that you can have for free if you forgot something.
4. Have an emergency plan. Always pack a small first aid kit when you travel that includes fever reducer, pain reliever, a thermometer, bandages, and allergy medications. No one expects to need a doctor or a hospital on vacation, but it's always a good idea to know your options. If you or your child needs to see a doctor while traveling, the front desk at the hotel should be able to help you find appropriate care. When traveling with kids, look up ERs ahead of time to know where they are so that if an emergency happens you can get the care you need quickly and with less stress.
5. Purchase travel protection. Travel insurance is always a good idea and will give you peace of mind that your vacation will be protected in case an emergency arises before or during travel. Most people assume that their regular medical insurance will cover them outside of the country, but that's not always true. If it won't, find an alternative before you leave, such as travel insurance. Each insurance plan is different so make sure that you know what your coverage is before you purchase your policy.
6. Pick a great destination. Know what you want and then pick the right destination for your vacation. Each destination has pros and cons, and to have a stress free vacation it's important to pick the right place. If you are looking for larger rooms, all-inclusive resorts, babysitting services, a kids club, great pools, museums to explore, or serious adventure – the right vacation is out there for you.
7. Use a travel agent. If you want a stress-free vacation stop doing it yourself!. Using a travel agent can save you time, stress, andplanning mistakes. A travel agent is there from the early planning stages, to making sure you have everything you need before you go, helping with anything that arises while you're traveling, and to check in after you get back. When we plan your vacation together, the process will be easy and stress-free, allowing you more time to enjoy your vacation and relax.
Let's face it. Guided tours don't have a good reputation. When mentioned, most people picture a horde of senior adults touring cheesy sights at a snail's pace. While that may have been true in the past, today's guided tours are changing the whole perspective. Let's look at some of the most common misconceptions.
Guided tours only visit tourist traps. Today's tour operators are working to satisfy every client's needs. More options are being offered to travelers who are well traveled or have particular interests. If you want to "live like a local," a guided vacation can now offer that option. With most tour companies, you will find unique accommodations like castles, tree houses, cave hotels, etc. They can also arrange meals with local families, tours with locals, or they can create a totally customized tour just for you.
Tours are just for old people. Not any longer. Tours have become extremely diverse, so there is something for everyone despite their interest or age. In fact, Adventures by Disney, which offers tours for families and children of all ages, is a great example.Whether you're a Baby Boomer or Millennial, there is an enriching, cultural experience for you. Tour operators are aware that exploring other cultures and experiencing local food and wine is an important reason to travel.
I don't want to spend my vacation with 40 other people I don't know. Tour operators get this, and now it's easier than ever to find a tour package that caters to smaller, more intimate groups- some as small as 10 people. They
will even customize a tour just for you, your family and friends.
Guided tours come in so many different forms today. They still may not be for everyone, but I recommend that you give the guided tour option another look. If you're interested in exploring this option, give us a call. We can help!
I love helping people with all types of travel, but there are certain questions that are very common. One of them is "How much money should I take on my trip?"
This is one of those things that comes down to personal preference, but I definitely have some recommendations for you to consider. Based on my personal experience, the last thing you want to do is arrive in a foreign city without the cash you need. There could be many issues- banks are closed, your ATM card won't work, etc. Here are a few quick tips for using money internationally.
Did you know that hotels worldwide take in about $2 billion a year in hidden fees? With all of us looking to save money in today's economy, we need to research our choices and avoid the hotels that are overcharging. This, however, is easier said than done because many hotels don't break down their fees until you receive the final bill.
Although there are many ways to avoid some of these sneaky fees, the obvious is to just ask! Pick up the phone and call the hotel directly to inquire about which fees will be charged to your stay. Avoid calling the 800 reservations number, because even chains will vary from hotel to hotel. Many times if you have a problem with a fee, it will be waived if you ask, but make sure that you write down the staff member's name and the exact fee they agreed to drop. During your stay, don't take anything for granted. Always ask if a fee applies.
One of the biggest fees that you can avoid is the use of the room's mini bar. Other than the outrageously marked up prices that the hotel will charge for its contents, sometimes just picking up an item and putting it back can trigger the mini bar's sensors and result in the price of the item being added to your bill. Putting your own items in the mini bar can also incur fees because you will have to move items to make room for your own. Try calling ahead and asking the staff at the hotel to empty the mini bar before you arrive. Beware, however, because some hotels have been known to charge a $50 "re-stocking" fee! Be careful also about that big bottle of water left in your room. That is not a gift; it will usually cost between $6 and $10!
Resort fees are another big surprise for many travelers. These fees can run as high as $25 per day in some places, and you're not even sure what they cover. Most of the time, resort fees are charged to cover the cost of the business center, pool, gym, daily newspaper, grounds keeping, housekeeping, etc. Without inquiring, you will be charged this fee, even if you use none of the services.
Many hotels are now adding housekeeping and bellman gratuities to your bill, sometimes as much as $30 per stay. Although most people want to tip these hard workers, just be sure that you are not doing it twice. Ask when you check in, and if a fee will be added, ask that it be removed so that you can tip at your own discretion.
Do you ever check into your hotel early or later than the stated time? Arriving early can sometimes cost $50 for that early access. Additionally, late checkout can cost you dollars too. Be sure to check the hotel's cancellation policy when you book. Many hotels that used to let you cancel on the same day are now requiring a 48 hour notice or you will be billed for one night's stay.
So what do you do to avoid being surprised by hidden fees? Always check for fees before booking your hotel. By law, fees should never be a surprise. They must be clearly stated in the reservation conditions. Make sure you read the fine print or ask about fees when booking by phone. If you are being billed for a service that you are not using, ask to have it removed from your bill and they should grant your request. Finally, check your bill carefully before you check out and contact the staff immediately if you see any unfair charges. If you have a problem with the resolution of your bill, put your complaint in writing so you will have a record of what happened should you need to get your credit card company involved. The best option of all is to simply avoid the hotels that consistently charge fees. Stay only at hotels that charge a fair price, rather than one that advertises low rates, but then pads the rate with an assortment of fees.
In my opinion, travel insurance should be a staple in a well planned trip. Nothing can ruin a dream vacation faster than lost luggage, unplanned medical care, and unexpected expenses. No one single travel insurance policy or provider is right for everyone, so it's important to consider a few key factors when deciding if travel insurance is right for you. These are the things to think about when making your decision:
Know what needs to be covered
Most major policies cover trip cancellation or interruption, emergency medical care, medical evacuation, and baggage and personal item loss and delay. A good insurance company will also provide 24/7 worldwide assistance for claims and emergencies. Depending on your needs, you might look for a policy with coverage on a combination of these risks or on all. When selecting a policy, remember to evaluate your needs and what's important to you before you make your selection.
Read the details
Unfortunately, insurance providers sometimes try to sneak in loop holes and secret clauses. Read the fine print and make sure you are getting the coverage you want. Don't be afraid to ask questions, do your research, and be skeptical. For more details on travel insurance policies, your local travel agent can be a great place to start.
Test the customer service
You'll want to make sure your provider is there for you when you need them. They should be able to help you choose the right policy, file claims easily, and be able to help with any other questions or problems along the way. If they're a headache to deal with when choosing a policy, you can pretty much guarantee that filing a claim with them won't be easy either. You can have the best coverage in the world and it won't mean anything if you can't get through to customer service when you need them.
In my 11 years as a travel consultant, I've seen many clients have unexpected situations and emergencies. In some cases, some of them were protected, but other times they weren't. Do your research, know your needs, and make the right decision for you and your travels.
Ann Jones, CTC, MCC