Summer is more than halfway through already, and I thought some of you might still be planning a vacation. Here are some tips to make your vacation a memorable success. Whether you’re making the trip of a lifetime or taking the first vacation in years, everyone wants their vacation to be a memorable one, but great vacations don’t automatically happen.
When preparing for a vacation, one of the smartest things you can do is plan. By plan, I don’t mean plan every minute. To create a plan, start by deciding what you want on vacation and what other people on the trip would like. To choose where to go, think about who is taking the trip. If you have young children, inviting a family member, perhaps a grandparent to watch the children, will make it more enjoyable. Be sure to make it clear that you expect them to help you with the children. If your kids are older, allowing them to invite a friend who gets along well with the family can make the trip more fun for them and for you too. Think about what you like. Do you like the beach, the mountains, exotic destinations, big cities or quaint little towns? What do you love doing? Do you like theme parks, hiking and camping, gambling, food or nightlife? Planning where you are going, how you will get there, and what you will do there will not only allow you to enjoy the trip, but could save you money.
Schedule the appropriate time. Factors to consider when deciding the length of your vacation: what works for you. I was once married to someone who thought a week was an extended vacation and was usually ready to come home after 5 days. My ideal vacation length at this time of my life was 3 weeks. Our vacation was always too short or too long for either of us. Another thing to consider, if you drive more than 8 hours, you should allow at least two days of travel. I would recommend 1 day of travel and at least another half day off each way. If you cross time zones, add a little more time to adjust. When you can, add a day before and after your business trip to enjoy the area, but remember that many attractions, museums, and restaurants are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
Schedule outside high season if weather permits. Choosing dates in the month or two before or after peak season will save you money, and most importantly for me, fewer crowds will be. This means that lines will be shorter, reservations and tickets will be easier to obtain, the pool will be less crowded, and restaurants will be less crowded. Make sure you know when things “stop” for the season. You wouldn’t want to go somewhere for entertainment only to find the shows closed or head to the mountains to ski and find the ski lifts closed, or the snow is gone.
Accommodation can make a difference. A condo often costs less than two or three hotel rooms, and you will have a kitchenette and a living area where everyone can meet. When choosing a hotel, think about what is important to you and to others with you. Does your group need a free breakfast? When traveling with children, a swimming pool can be one of the best vacation times, especially if they like to play in the water. Consider paying a little more for accommodation and staying in a safer area and / or closer to the places you want to visit. Make sure to check the comments. If many customers report that a place is in a bad neighborhood, dirty, or has an unpleasant odor, you might want to drop by even if it seems like a good deal.
Let go of the expectation of a “perfect” vacation. No matter how hard you prepare, there’s a good chance that something won’t turn out as planned. It’s a vacation, so go with the flow. You will find that a little flexibility goes a long way. If you are usually tense, your fellow travelers will appreciate that you are happier and more relaxing. If you love watching the sunrise, but the rest of your family loves to sleep, remember this is their vacation too. That doesn’t mean you can’t watch the sunrise, but when you get up, do it gently so that everyone can enjoy what they love.
If you want the vacation to be memorable, do something different. Different can be an activity or a place, but it can also be spending time together if it’s not something you do often. Great things can happen outside of your comfort zone, making your vacation an adventure. Be careful not to take too much of your time. I encourage people to plan at least one day a week for doing nothing. With a day off on the schedule, you’ll have time to rest if you need to. If you find that you don’t need to rest, you will likely have identified some things to do in the area that you did not know about before and now have time to enjoy. If you discover something more interesting that is not on the agenda, feel free to deviate from the plan. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll hear about something you’d like to do that you couldn’t know when you planned your trip. Don’t get caught up in your agenda; it is a framework from which to work.
Don’t overspend, but decide in advance how much you can afford to spend. Bring your spouse and you are your traveling companions on spending expectations. If your friends like expensive wine and you don’t drink, tell them you prefer separate checks. Avoid being too focused on the money. Research on vacations has shown that the enjoyment you get from vacations is not based on the amount of money you spend. Kids will remember going for donuts in their pajamas as being more special than having dinner at a fancy restaurant. You can look for ways to save when planning, and then if possible take a little more, just in case, then enjoy. Children can be incredibly frugal if you take the time before travel to talk to them about money and manage their expectations. If you plan well in advance, they can even make some money doing household chores. Many children are more careful with their own hard-earned money than with their parents’. The experience will mean more to you and your family than the money.
To be present. Have you ever sat in a restaurant and seen a table full of people all on their cell phones? Don’t let unwanted guests distract you from your vacation. Posting photos on social media can be fun, but don’t waste time surfing the internet on vacation. Turn off your phone and shut down your laptop. If you have to work while on vacation, set aside time to check your email, make necessary calls, and then unplug.
To summarize my advice for a good vacation,
• Plan a good time
• Avoid high season
• Stay in accommodation you will enjoy
• Forget about perfection
• Do something different
• Remember it’s not about money
•To be present
Keeping these tips in mind when it comes to vacation time will help you make the most of your precious free time. Enjoy your trip and make it memorable.
Cami Miller is a business coach and partners with leaders at all levels to develop strategies for success. Contact her at [email protected]