For weeks you have been reading blogs about round the world travel, backpacking in the Amazon and volunteering to help disadvantaged monkeys on a private game preserve in Kenya. You have watched every episode on the Travel Channel with Anthony Bourdain eating street food in Borneo and the most expensive Hotels in the world. You have researched all the travel tips and dreamed about that next vacation.
While we all like thinking about it, the reality is most of us just take our yearly vacation. You bought your tickets, looked at a hotel, booked it online, searched Google for what to do when you got there and now you are ready to take that 2-3 weeks and forget the office, the commute, the boss and just kickback and enjoy yourself. For 2-3 weeks we run off somewhere, cram as much in as we can, take as many pictures as possible and return exhausted to the job you couldn’t wait to leave behind. Instead of the usual here are a few travel tips to help you enjoy a better vacation.
First off, don’t over plan. Go ahead and check out a guidebook or two but don’t rely on them to plan your every move. If it is listed in a guidebook, whether it is a tourist attraction or restaurant, then chances are it will probably be overcrowded and over priced. Instead stay flexible and keep and eye out for bargains, talk to the people that live there and ask them where would they eat or what sights and attractions the area has that are really good.
Start off your vacation by just relaxing. Don’t be too eager to jump in and hit all the tours in the area. You just got through packing, making sure everything was taken care of at home, you fought the lines at the airport and the delightful airline meal. Now unpack, relax, order a drink at the bar or sit by the pool and decompress. Remind yourself that you don’t have to put up with the daily commute, the job or anything else. Your on vacation.
Spend some time out exploring the area. Go ahead and spend the day walking around, check out the shops, cafe’s and various areas away from the main tourist zones. I am not advocating back streets at midnight in Rio here. But take a side street or two, take the train and check out that nearby town in Europe or take a walk down where the local fishing boats dock. You will discover some great places, meet some great people and have the opportunity to capture some really good photos. When you get home you will have that memory of the time you stopped to have a drink and learn the game of bocce ball from some old guy or some other memorable moment.
Plan to do a couple of special things while your on vacation and spread them out. Those things that when you look back a year from now will stand out. For instance, your in Cancun. Schedule a trip to the Mayan ruins and a deep sea fishing excursion or diving trip. If your in New York, schedule a Broadway play or a special night out. Save one of the most memorable activities for a day or two before you leave. Resist the urge to jump off the plane and rush to see the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels. Doing something memorable just before you go home will help you take that special time back with you and make it even more memorable. Wake up early, pack as much as you can then make that last day special. When you get home you will be more relaxed, have some great memories and be energized just long enough until that next vacation.
What about you? Do you have any travel tips you have that you want to share?