Unless you are an anomaly, your first several excursions will include countless mistakes, half-witted behavior, and lack the knowledge needed to have a stress-free, mostly error-free journey. You’ll probably feel somewhat uncomfortable, and/or possibly concerned about what to expect during your travels. Reading material such as ‘Five Tips for New Travelers’ will help you transition your first several excursions from feeling like an amateur that can barely crawl to an amateur that is just starting to walk. The more you know, the more you’ll grow, and the sooner you’ll start to run.
1- Cash and Credit Cards
You need enough cash to survive in an emergency. Your credit card could be lost, stolen or placed on hold. It’s a good idea to notify your credit card company prior to your trip so they don’t put an unnecessary hold on your funds. This often happens when there are transactions at multiple locations away from home. If traveling to a foreign country know the exchange rate and how to convert currency.
2- Research, Research, Research
“Fail to plan, plan to fail.” There is much truth in this saying. Researching your next travel destination should begin with figuring out the best time of year for traveling to your desired destination. Most likely it will be too hot or too cold during certain months. Search for popular attractions, if that is your thing, and decide which is right for you. Too many people are sheep and do the same thing everyone else is doing. You know what you like. Plan on seeing and doing what interests you, and plan on doing what makes you happy. If traveling abroad, know the customs for that area, this can save you from being faced with many problems. You don’t want to disrespect the people of that region or break laws that land you in jail (especially in Mexico). When I plan a trip, I select all the restaurants ahead of time, this gives you time to read reviews, look at menus, and make reservations if required. Basically, research everything you will be doing on your vacation, including where you will stay and how you will get around. I even research the best place to watch the sunset and know when the sun will set during my trip.
Make reservations somewhere safe and within a reasonable distance from desired attractions. When booking online, read recent reviews. Decide if you only want to stay at places that offer free cancellations; this has been a big concern for me lately with my father being in his late 80’s. My plans could change at any moment. Read the fine print, usually listed under “other fees” on most online booking sites. Many places are not upfront with their parking fees, resort fees, etc. I have seen many parking fees in excess of $30 per night (and that’s not valet), and resort fees of $200 per night. You won’t be charged these fees on the booking website, they will ask for the fees upon check-in. This practice is extremely irritating, and is the first thing I check. If the hidden fees are too high, what seemed like a good deal certainly goes right out the window. When checking into a hotel ask if your room is available on the top floor and away from the swimming pool, this should provide for a quieter stay. Selecting a hotel with a free breakfast buffet is a good way to save money.
Fly or drive? Not really a concern if traveling to foreign destinations. If not, for many it comes down to how far and how much time the traveler(s) will have. My wife and I often fly anytime the drive is over 8 hours, we don’t have time to spend the day, or majority of a day driving. It would be great to take a long road trip, and it will definitely happen for us when life responsibilities allow. Driving allows you to see other places of interest on your way. Flying can be expensive but arriving quickly to your vacation paradise, rested, and not fatigued from driving all day, certainly has its advantages. Book your flight early, especially if going to a popular destination. As availability decreases, and prices increase. Research the TSA regulations regarding luggage and personal items. When flying to our destination I like to rent a car, it’s probably cheaper to use Uber or perhaps a taxi, but I like to drive, and the freedom to come and go as desired. If renting a car, check with your insurance agent to see if you have coverage. Don’t buy unnecessary insurance from the rental company.
5- Time Management and Prioritizing
A detailed itinerary is a must for me. It saves time and prevents over planning or under planning for that matter. Everything from when to wake up, leave the house for the airport, and everything in between is included. Put in a buffer for unexpected delays, like traffic or long lines waiting to see an attraction or perhaps a meal taking longer than usual. After researching what you want to see and do, make a list prioritizing the most important ones. Allow ample time at each destination and enough time to travel between them. Have a logical itinerary that minimizes travel distance and back-tracking. Don’t have an itinerary that contains too much to do in one day, vacations should be relaxing and refreshing, not stressful.
With these helpful new traveler tips, you’ll be running in no time.
Happy Travels Friends!