How to Have All of the Fun and None of the Stress on Your Next Vacation
March 5, 2020
Does the word “vacation” conjure images of stretching out on a pristine white beach and gazing out over aqua-blue waves rhythmically lapping shore while you sip a snappy pink drink?
Maybe you love to roam the nooks and crannies of other countries, exploring new tastes and traditions while you rub elbows with the locals?
Or perhaps an adventure with the kids closer to home is your plan for this year?
For lots of folks, half the fun of vacation is the dreaming. Thinking about where you’d like to go… pouring over exciting photos… scheming how to pack the most fun possible into the time you have.
And with Google at your fingertips, your next amazing vacation is just a couple of clicks away.
Or is it?
We all want our vacations to be perfect. After all, with all the time and money we spend on them, an unenjoyable day seems like a major waste. But are you planning your vacation the right way?
Why planning your vacation on your own might not be such a great idea
Important details are easy to overlook: If you travel outside the US, you’ll need to have documents, such as visas and passports. Some countries are easy-going about visas, so they can be had within a few weeks. Some require months – many months. In addition to documentation, there will be deposits and deadlines and other information required. If you’re not current with all of the details, it’s easy to miss a deadline, and there goes the vacation.
If you're handling vacation planning this year, these are just some of the details you'll need to track:
- Everyone's names are spelled correctly on all documents
- You have everyone's travel documents, passports, and visas well ahead of time
- All reservations are checked, confirmed and paid
- Dates and times for air travel are all correct for all parties
- All seat assignments have been secured
- All frequent flyer and TSA information has been included
- Dates for accommodations are correct and correlate with air travel
- Special requests and VIP program numbers have been entered for air and accommodations
- Air and accommodations have been reconfirmed several days ahead of travel
- Dates and times for ground transportation are correct and correlate with air and accommodations
- Confirmed travel insurance is in place
- Special services are confirmed and in place for special needs travelers
- All excursions, tours, and attractions are confirmed
- A detailed itinerary is in hand
- All information on packing, restaurants, tipping and destination information is in hand
- Travel advisories and assistance are accessible and checked wherever you'll be vacationing
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are literally hundreds of details to handle for a trip with any amount of complexity, or if you're traveling with a group of family or friends.
Miss one small detail and it could upend everything.
One that trips up many people is this: “Do you have enough time left on your passport to get you home?” You need to make sure your passport is good for six months after your return home. Should it expire during travel, it can be a long and difficult process to get it replaced. And you’ll be stuck wherever you are until it’s done. Not a good way to spend your vacation.
Long-distance planning opens opportunities for miscommunication: When you’re the one doing the vacation planning, you’ll be talking to a lot of people to iron out details like those mentioned above. Even a fairly simple vacation requires a lot of decisions, and each one presents a ripe opportunity for mistakes and miscommunication with the folks on the other end of the reservation system. And, unfortunately, with most of those companies, the mistake will be considered your mistake, and you'll be charged a fee to correct it. You may even have to start over with a whole new reservation and the costs that go along with it.
It's easy to go way over budget before you realize it: Overspending is not something that’s fun to deal with later on. But it can be difficult to say no when you’re caught up in the excitement of the moment. This is the time to have a set budget and let cooler heads prevail. Especially if those cooler heads have inside knowledge that will let you enjoy those fun things and still stay within your budget.
It's easy to fall into doing the same ole, same ole: When you’re doing all of the planning, for comfort and expediency, it’s common to stick with what’s familiar. But vacation offers the most fun when you step out of your comfort zone a little and try new things. That's not to say you shouldn’t enjoy the comforts you’re used to, but your experience will be so much more memorable if you shake things up a little.
You're unfamiliar with the destination: By far, the most problems for travelers happen because they are trying to plan trips to places they’ve never been before. Planning travel to strange area – even if it’s in a pre-arranged package -- can lead to disappointment and frustration. Guidebooks and Google can offer only so much information, and often it’s just not detailed enough or current enough.
Wouldn’t it be better to talk to someone who has access to partners who know the area firsthand, and can provide tips and tricks you won’t find in a brochure? After all, if you’re going to all the effort and expense to have a wonderful vacation, why not make sure it’s the very best experience?
Putting heads together with a travel advisor can remove difficulties like these, ensuring an easier, more enjoyable trip. But why stop there when you can do so much more...
Partnering with a travel advisor can make your vacation a much richer experience
You’re less vulnerable to Murphy’s Law: Murphy’s Law says that anything that can go wrong, will. In the world of travel, there are so many variables that can go wrong and seeking to control them is a recipe for disaster. Some of the things that can take a wrong turn include a flight delay, the hotel can’t find your reservation, the airline loses your luggage, someone in your entourage gets sick. All these things are completely out of your control, but they can be handled quickly and effectively by your travel advisor back home.
And all it takes is a phone call to put things right. So much better than trying to battle through them on your own from the ground, when you’re travel-weary, disappointed and emotional.
You can live in the moment: It’s common to want to pack all of the fun you can into limited vacation time, and that often leads to over-commitment. Having to constantly be mindful of the time you have left to spend at an attraction dampens the joy of experiencing the moment.
A professional travel advisor will give you realistic timelines and help you build flexibility into your schedule so you can enjoy each experience to its fullest. She can also provide ideas for amazing experiences that you wouldn’t normally be able to find on your own, making your trip that much richer and more exciting.
You can pivot on a dime: Once you’re on the ground and getting familiar with an area, you may discover you want to hop on over to a nearby town for a couple of days. Changing hotels, arranging transportation and shifting your schedule at the moment can be challenging and incredibly time-consuming on your own.
Before you know it, you’ve lost a whole day on itineraries and reservations when you really wanted to spend it exploring. This is when your travel advisor can really pave the way. Let her manage the details, while you manage the fun.
Finding the right travel advisor
Like any business, travel advisors come in all shapes and sizes, experience levels, and specialized interests. Some love to collaborate with a client and design very unique experiences. Some prefer to place clients with pre-packaged plans.
We recommend working with a travel collaborator. As a whole, the travel industry is making a massive shift away from being "order takers" (expecting the client to tell them what they want) to being travel collaborators who provide unbiased advice, and design travel around the client instead of trying to fit the client into a pre-fabbed trip.
At Travel Cafe, we aim to be that collaborator. A true partner in your travel planning. We'd love to brainstorm travel ideas with you! We'll take the time and effort to learn who you and your travel companions are: your individual personalities, tastes, interests, and traditions... what you've loved -- and didn't love -- about past vacations... how you like to travel.. your favorite way to R&R... your idea of a dream vacation... plus we'll share lots of tips to make your trip more fun and meaningful wherever you go.
Still want to go it on your own? No prob!
Now, all that being said, a lot of people really love to handle their vacation planning on their own. Great! It really is fun and that’s why we love doing this for a living.
But even if you’ve already started your plans and find yourself getting stuck at some point... getting brain fog from falling into the Google black hole... getting overwhelmed with details... or need help in any other way... just give us a call.
We’d love to help you with all those pesky details so you can focus on having the time of your life.
Give us a call at 406-259-0999 or drop us an email in the form to the right, and let the fun begin!