The most difficult part of any vacation is planning the actual vacation. It is especially difficult if you have never been to the place you are going. I have successfully planned two trips abroad in the past two years. Both of those were to places that were new to me, some of them were a different language, and there was four of us going. We have successfully traveled to Japan, UAE, France, England, Scotland, and Iceland. Now that I have thrown out my credentials, let’s get started!
Research your vacation location before you travel!
I have mentioned researching in a previous travel tips post, but I am going to mention it again. If you have never been somewhere, then it will save you so much time once you arrive! Before you ever book a flight, hotel, or tour, you need to know where you are going. For example, I was in the middle of planning our 2018 trip, but I have never been to Ireland. I did a basic Google search for Blarney and Dublin. Pinterest is also a great option for this as well! After that, I looked at reviews, menus, and maps to see what would best suit my family. This vacation has members of my family ranging from sixteen all the way to eighty years old.
Finding a hotel that is centrally located is always a good idea when dealing with different personal restrictions. I am not particular with a hotel room, as long as it lets me sleep and keeps me cool, that is all I require. Read reviews about hotels! There have been some hotels that I have booked before I began looking at other guest’s opinions, and there are times I would leave. When traveling to different countries, it is also essential to check out the menu at restaurants. Not everyone has food that you would recognize. On the other hand, you may find something new that you love. It is always good to be adventurous.
Communicate with your vacation buddies!
Like I mentioned earlier, I have a variety of people traveling with me. Everyone from the age of sixteen to eighty years old is going away for two weeks. Since majority of us have travelled to Europe before, it has made this round so much easier. The remaining members of our time have not been to Europe since the war! Finding out what everyone is wanting to do is a huge help. Not only can it save you money, but it will ensure that everyone is having a great time.
Not everyone has the same ideas of vacation in mind. If you ask my aunt, she want to get as much done as possible, but my grandparents go at a far more casual pace. Since they have mobility issues, there are certain things we cannot do. Compromise is seriously going to be your best friend! For example, instead of going up into the Eiffel Tower, we are having lunch at Les Ombres which has amazing views of the Eiffel Tower, and a great menu as well!
Airfare and Transportation
We have flown on quite a variety of airlines. It usually is just whatever is the least expensive (isn’t that everyone?!), best reviews, and most direct flight. Skyscanner and Kayak are the sites that we look at when booking flights. Our go to airlines are Emirates, Icelandair, and now British Airways! These are for international flights, domestic we are a lot less picky! Like I previously mentioned, transportation is something you want to figure out before you actually arrive at your destination!
We choose to travel by public transportation, normally. It actually helps you learn the layout of the city you are in, and gives you the authentic feel of a local. In the past, we have purchased reloadable cards for the subway/railway. The Man in Seat Sixty-One is our favorite site for train guides, it gives you the most information, and in a way that you can really understand.
When looking at train tickets, you need to compare individual passes to a rail pass. The difference in these is pretty important. When buying individual passes, you are buying for that particular train, if you miss it, it is your problem. Having the rail pass allows you to reschedule trains, and find transportation that fits best with your plans.
Hotels and Accommodations
Most of us think that hotels do not matter when traveling, but you would be wrong. After walking around all day, you are going to want a great place to put your feet up. When booking your transportation, a lot of agencies offer coupons and discounts for their passengers. Booking.com is our go to site for research. This website lets you book for free, and you can continuously go back to check the cost. Make sure to look at the actual hotel website, sometimes the prices can be different. Start looking early! The helps you figure out your budget. Even if you are unable to book them immediately, they will eventually open up.
When choosing your hotel, think about the physical location as well. You can narrow a location down, and then view the hotels that are available. Booking.com has great review from real people. Those are the best way to really get a feel for a hotel, and also the area that it is located. Most of the time, people will give food recommendations, and any sort of public transportation around as well.
Tours, Sightseeing, and Exploration
We are not very adventurous when it comes to exploring new cities. That is usually partly because we all suffer from some pretty serious jet lag! While in London, we took a London Black Taxi Tour with Michael Churchill. Not only did he pick us up at our hotel, but he catered to what we wanted to see. He also threw in a couple of must see spots while we were in town. He even made us lunch reservations! Not only is it fun to explore the streets of London and to get an idea of what driving is like, but he tells you a ton of history and information along the ride. We already have him booked for our next trip! We did a similar tour in Kyoto, Japan with Taka who has a Private English Tour. Not only did we learn about the history of Japan, but he walked us through individual temples as well! Both of them are highly recommended in my family! We found both of these on TripAdvisor, so that is a great resource to check!
When it comes to must see attractions that the tours do not take us to, we usually use Viator to book our tours. We have had some issues in the past, but majority have been excellent. They are very well organized, offer a variety of activities for all ages, and allow you to really experience things that you may not be able to otherwise. We have taken the train to Edinburgh, visited Mt. Fuji, rode camels in Dubai, and taken a tour of Paris! Taking a tour or sightseeing is a little more fun than shopping all day too! Think about all of the great photos you will have!