Pick a travel destination, choose accommodation, and then start packing. If only it were that simple to organize your travel plans. Technically it is; but to perceive it that way wouldn’t be fascinating now, would it?
Limited time and budget doesn’t allow you to travel everywhere; and unless you only have one destination on your wish list, you want to consider all your travel options carefully.
Here’s how to make your next vacation the most exciting, fun-filled holiday you will never forget.
Deciding on the Type of Vacation
What type of travel person are you? Are you traveling solo or with family? Making the most out of your travel time means deciding on what type of vacation you like the most. Some people love lounging and basking under the sun all day while others prefer more thrilling adventures that give an adrenaline rush. Some people even prefer a more educational experience when they vacation.
To give you a few ideas, below are a few of the most popular types of vacations.
Shopping Focused Travel
Who says shopping and travel can’t be combined on a trip? While most people shop for trinkets or small items when they travel, there are tourists that are dedicated to finding unique treasures or plan each day around shopping. Often these tourists are focused on finding items that are tied to the culture or destination and are often one of a kind.
Another example is going on shopping tours, where a personal concierge guides you on your shopping spree. They don’t just advise you on the best places to shop but teach you how to shop like a local too. The whole point of travel shopping is not only to buy something but to have a special experience when purchasing.
Food Focused Travel
Forget about dining-in your hotel or eating out at well-known chain restaurants. Food travel is about experiencing authentic, delicious (or challenging), local foods that mix culture with the purest pleasure of life.
It can be affordable, or it can be extravagant. Food travelers are looking for the ultimate culinary dive that rocks their taste buds and thrills their senses—feeling adventurous? Try sheep brains in the dusty markets of Marrakech. Or for the best tasting lamb in the world, head to the Karoo in South Africa.
Solo, Couple or Family Travel
Who you travel with is just as important as where you visit. As a solo traveler, you can save money by staying in hostels or dormitories. You can meet new people and get out of your comfort zone. Whereas as a family, you want destinations that you enjoy at a slower pace and create beautiful memories together.
Couples, on the other hand, will often prefer romantic getaways. They get a chance to reconnect emotionally without the daily hassles of work and other commitments.
Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or a family, you’ll have different options for a great vacation.
If you have the cash and don’t mind splurging, then treat yourself or the whole family to some luxury travel. What’s great is that you don’t have to adhere to some set standards when it comes to luxury travel. It’s a highly subjective industry. For one person, it might be a week stay in a five-star resort in the Himalayas; and for someone else it’s a 90-minute revitalizing treatment in a Dior Prestige Luxury Spa and relaxing in a tropical rain sauna afterwards.
Luxury travel is about more than appearances – it’s about the feeling of wonderment while enjoying every single moment of the experience.
Perhaps you’re an adrenaline junkie who is fascinated by the thought of base jumping in an underground cave; or maybe a slow, dream-like experience of swimming with giant whales under a blue sky is more your speed. If you want to spend your vacation doing something extraordinary and exciting, then adventure vacations are for you.
Adventure travels can be leisurely or challenging; but obviously, you won’t be lounging all day on most types of adventure travel. It’s about self-discovery. You learn more about the world and your role in it through personal accomplishments – giving you a sense of wonder and an incredible spiritual journey.
The travel industry is ever-evolving and the list above is only the tip of the iceberg on what’s possible. Maybe you fancy big tour groups that involve visiting historical monuments and interesting landmarks, or perhaps a road trip in an RV is more your style. Whatever you choose to do, the important thing is to have fun doing it.
Once you decide on the type of travel you’re going for, it’s time to start searching for flights and accommodation!
How to Get Cheaper Flights and Accommodations
Getting the best flights or accommodations has spawned its own set of myths to lead unsavvy travelers astray such as searching for flights in incognito mode and hotel rooms should be booked at the last minute. Whether these statements are true or not is up for debate; but even so, there are tried and true to find the best travel deals.
Since airlines use sophisticated and advanced algorithms to determine prices, it’s not likely that one app will always show the best price. Your best bet is to download a few of the better flight tools and compare. I regularly use Skyscanner, Momondo, Airfarewatchdog and Google Flights. The last two being websites rather than apps.
For accommodations, nothing beats AirBnB, in my opinion, for finding a place to stay. Most times, you can get hotel-level comfort but at a much lower price. Not to mention that apartments tend to be more spacious than hotel rooms.
On occasions where a hotel would be preferable, use a comparison app like Hotels Combined. Also, apps that reward members for continued patronages like Agoda and Hotels.com can save you money as well. Hotels.com gives you one free night stay after the 10th night; whereas Agoda gives you rewards points that you can redeem on your next booking.
After you have your flight and hotel confirmations, it’s time to organize the rest of your travel plans.
Organizing your Travel Plans
Whenever you book your flights, hotels, rent a car or go on a tour, it’s good to keep everything in one place. Rather than going through your confirmation emails or keeping track of multiple websites, use travel organizing apps to keep your information easy to reach. A few of the resources below help with planning your itinerary and keeping your reservations in one place.
Keep your Travel Plans Organized with TripIt
Keeping track of travel reservations can get pretty chaotic if you’re booking from multiple sources. With TripIt, all you need to do is forward all your bookings and travel plans to their email address, and it will add it to your master itinerary. An easy way to do this is to connect the app to your email account and allow it to auto-forward your email confirmations as soon as it hits your inbox.
If you don’t get a confirmation email, there is an option within the app to manually add your past and upcoming trips to organize everything. While the free version has a lot of useful features, the Pro version goes the extra mile to make sure your travel plans proceed smoothly by offering check-in reminders, helping you navigate airports, updating you with real-time flight alerts, and a multitude of other features.
Find Things to do with Sygic
While TripIt helps you organize your travel plans, apps like Sygic Travel Maps enable you to create those plans. The app shows you exciting things to do around the world. You can even use various filters to narrow down your search.
Within the app, you can see places of interest once you enter a location. Once you find activities you’d like to do or places you intend to visit, you can add it to your itinerary. The app will then tell you the distance between different locations – giving you the travel time between them. It will also provide the estimated total time for all your planned visits in a day.
The free version offers 3D video tours, information on nearby hotels, weather forecast and some basic information regarding the destination. If you go the premium route, you get access to offline maps, a more detailed guide on your selected destination, walking guides, and you can read reviews by other travelers.
Track your Travel Expenses with TravelSpend
Overspending can be a problem when you’re on holiday. There’s so much to see and do but suddenly realizing that you’re short on cash can be a real downer. That being said, keeping track of your travel budget is the only way to make sure every plan goes accordingly. So, what if you’re the type to lose receipts or hate using spreadsheets to keep track of your daily spending? There are easier ways to manage your travel budget.
One way is to use travel budgeting apps. There are plenty to choose from in the Apple app store or Google Play; but one I would recommend is TravelSpend.
With TravelSpend, you can put a list of expenses together even before you travel. This is a great way to keep track of all your total expenses, so you know how much you need. Moreover, you can group your expenses by categories to easily sort through it. The app works offline, so you don’t have to worry about needing an internet connection to use it.
A huge time-saver I like about the app is that it auto-converts foreign currency into your own. You can just enter the cost of tickets or attractions in its local price, for example, and it will reflect the value in your own currency. No more back and forth using a currency exchange calculator!
The premium gives you access to a host of other features. You can cross sync between devices, have unlimited data cloud backups, attach places and pictures to your expenses, add friends to share the costs, and even add an income tracker as well. The last one is especially useful if you earn while traveling and would like to keep track of your cash flow and balances.
Have the Right Travel Accessories
Once you’ve organized your itinerary, it’s time to figure out what kind of travel essentials you need to bring. Obviously, you’d be packing different things for an adventure trip that requires specialized gear versus a day at the beach. To keep things simple, below would be necessary items I would bring on every trip. And some of the ideas below can be a life-saver at times, so don’t leave home without it!
A Travel Organizer
There is nothing worse than losing important travel documents when you’re traveling. You need to keep everything safe while being able to get them out when required conveniently. Rummaging through multiple bags to find passports, credit cards, hotel reservations or even some loose change for that cup of coffee is no fun; but you can avoid all that with a good travel wallet. My personal choice would be the Zoppen multi-purpose travel passport wallet. It’s made from eco-friendly PU leather and has room for a lot of your travel essentials; plus, it comes with an RFID blocking sheet to protect your sensitive information from identity theft.
Travel is fun but packing and unpacking never are. If you’ve been shopping on your travels, space can become an issue. To help organize your clothes and save space, use packing cubes. The Bagail set of 6 packing cubes is one of the best options for separating and organizing the items in your luggage. These packing cubes are especially great if you’re on a road trip or visiting multiple cities in one trip. You only need to take out what you need and leave the rest alone, saving you more time to do something else, like posting your Instagram pictures!
Travel Tech Organizers
That’s right. No more dealing with tangled cords and looking for your digital accessories in the wrong place. An electronics organizer bag will keep your flash drives, memory cards, spare batteries, headphones, travel adapters, chargers, power banks and similar items safely secured. The Dot&Dot Travel Tech Organizer is made from water-resistant materials, keeps your electronic accessories from getting damaged and has plenty of room – making it an essential travel companion.
Travel is nourishment for the soul. That’s what I think when I reflect on the destinations that I’ve been to. Whether you plan on traveling soon or sometime in the future, planning your travels should be part of the fun.
And once that date finally arrives and you’re on your way towards that special destination, be happy that it was planned well and you organized everything perfectly, or something pretty close to it!