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What You Need to Know Before Planning a Vacation

Although there are limitless reasons to travel the globe, most travelers leave home without a specific agenda in mind.  Staying informed is your best protection against something unforeseen ruining your vacation.

  • The first step for you is to decide why you want to go on vacation. This sounds so basic but it is the most overlooked and yet the most fundamental issue of a great vacation.  Is it to just escape the daily grind and relax? Is it to find adventure through close contact with nature? Maybe you’ve developed a specialized interest in sports like golf, hunting, scuba, or skiing, or are looking to pursue a culinary journey of exploration.  To clearly understand your own reason(s) is paramount. 
  • The second step is to decide if you want to travel alone, with a couple of friends or if you prefer the assurances of traveling in a group.   Naturally, the easiest way is to travel in a group and have the itinerary planned for you for every step of the way.  But those who prefer groups must be reminded that you never travel faster than the slowest member of your group.
  • Next you must set a budget.  It is more difficult than it seems because few people actually come home having spent less than their original plan.  In a group or package tour there are many expenses not considered when purchasing packages.  Even shipboard cruises can easily add another 100% of the all-inclusive price with items like tips (which have become almost mandatory), side excursions, drinks (including soda) and the list goes on.  Here are important factors to consider when choosing a destination and building an itinerary.
  • Gather current information.  Consider points of interest, holidays, and festivals to understand what you might be able to do while on vacation.  You are probably sitting at the computer right now.  What could be easier that to use google.com, yahoo.com, or www.ask.com?  There are more travel specific web sites that you can easily choose from under the BESTTIMETOGO.COM web site tab called travel links.
  • Look at pictures of the places.  Sounds simple but it is often overlooked.  Most bookstores and libraries have designated “Travel” sections to explore. Books and magazines with photographs are key because photos are less subject to interpretation by authors.  What could be easier than looking at a location specific web site right now? 

The computer can often provide truly current information while a book or magazine can only promise that the information was current no more recently than its publication date.  When choosing a travel book, make sure you find the most up-to-date version. Too many things may change in a year or two, including hotel and restaurant openings. If you can’t locate a book that is more current than the last three years, be forewarned that the information may be outdated. However, cultural holidays, religious points of interest, local cuisines and cross-cultural barriers tend to be current.

It is also a good idea to check out the national and local government-sponsored websites of your destination. These will list holidays, festivals, and other current events that may be of interest to you, or may be best to avoid. Looking at local newspapers of the area you are considering to visit may also yield the most current, and often the most accurate information about current events like http://newspaper-world.com. Scroll through the many websites it offers. Internet chat rooms and travel message boards can provide information from people intimately familiar with the places you’re considering, and may offer exceptionally current appraisals of hotels, restaurants, museums, and other attractions.  

  • Weather is very important to have some idea what to expect Too much rain, too much heat, or not enough snow can ruin an otherwise meticulously planned trip. There’s nothing you can do to make it cooperate with your travel plans. Your best chance at picking the right time to visit a destination is to always check in with www.besttimetogo.com. For long-range planning you can get a fair idea of what to expect climatically. Our easy-to-read historical information shows what kind of weather has occurred for the time of the year you hope to be at your destination.  As the date for departure approaches you can confirm the replication of weather patterns specifically for your choice of locations.
  • Find the best cost of travel.  This factor is seldom overlooked. The Internet has created a number of online airfare auction sites that help with airline fares. There are several comparison-type websites, like www.priceline.com and www.metafares.com that show a range of prices from many different companies. Amazingly, different sites will offer different prices for the same flight at different times. So checking back later can be a new opportunity to find something cheaper. If you notice a shortage of availability of flight seats, that may indicate a crowded time of year to be visiting. Maybe that’s your thing. But maybe you’ll want to book a trip a month earlier or later. This may mean cheaper prices on flights, hotels, and restaurants. Try to book flights and hotels where a liberal policy of allowing cancellations exists. Check later to see if new deals crop up and take advantage.  The same basic strategy applies for cruises and group travel.  Don’t hesitate to ask for a lower price.  
  •   For short distances consider different modes of travel. Especially overland travel; consider trains and buses rather than taxis, rental cars, and commuter flights.  It may be inexpensive, convenient, and oftentimes faster. They also allow visitors to experience life the way the locals do and can enrich your understanding of the culture. And don’t forget about the other very unique alternative modes of. Consider a vessel that travels along a waterway if it can connect from point A to point B. Depending on your destination, anything from scooters, rickshaws, or camel processions may be available and are transportation options that add color and variety to any traveler’s adventure.
  • Inflation can have a huge impact on your vacation.  Getting the best exchange rate for your money depends on knowing what money is worth here versus there. Many countries have serious problems with inflation and changing currency. Watch the travel section of major newspapers or look at websites like www.oanda.com to see what is happening to the currency compared to a year ago. If your U.S. dollar can get fewer Euros, for example, than two years ago then the cost-of-living as a tourist has increased. Destinations that are experiencing rampant inflation can be and  usually are great travel bargains.