Summertime tends to be when most people take time off to relax, but the following tips and tricks for a successful vacation are helpful for any time of year. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spur of the moment trip or one you’ve been thinking about for a very long time. Following this simple outline will should make your vacation a less-stressful experience.
Planning the Adventure
- Maps – Paper maps seem to be a thing of the past, due to the ease and availability of GPS, but they are still a great tool for planning a trip. A road atlas or state maps enable you to mark out the route with a highlighter. These are excellent teaching tools to, if you have kids or need to teach someone how to read a map. You can’t always depend on technology to get you where you need to go. Most states will mail you a map or two for free!
- Route – Choosing your route will depend on what you want to do along the way or how quickly you wish to get to your final destination. Using paper maps or virtual maps online, determine how far you wish to travel each day, unless you’re flying to your location and then it will be a matter of where you are going to stay once you get there. Having your nightly stops planned out, especially if you are traveling with little ones, is one of the top tips and tricks for a successful vacation.
- Travel Books – These are very useful, but can sometimes cause your trip to run longer than usual. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though! I traveled from the northern Midwest to the southern part of California one summer and basically bounced from one exciting US landmark to the next. I would find the travel books for the state I was in, see what sites were along the road I was traveling on and stop at each one. The I-90 through South Dakota is definitely the best…Corn Palace, Wall Drug, the Petrified Gardens, Mount Rushmore, and the White Prairie Dog Village near the Badlands.
- Reservations – If camping isn’t your forte, then make sure to have your hotel reservations in advance. During peak travel season, it can be difficult to secure a hotel room at the last moment. There’s nothing worse than having to sleep in a car full of people and luggage after a long day on the road.
- Family Friendly – When traveling with your family, the trip tends to be more fun for everyone if each person gets some input on where the destination should be or what to see/do along the way.
- Funds– In order to take a trip, I generally have to save money over a period of time. The amount you need to save will depend on the type of vacation you’re are looking for. Emergency funds are a great idea as well. Whether these be in the form of a savings account or travel insurance is up to you. I like to have both, when possible!
Learn more: Tips For Preparing Financially
What to Take On Vacation
- Clothes – Even if you know the type of climate you’ll be in, it’s a good idea to take along an assortment of clothing. Think about what you might be doing on vacation too. Will you be hiking? Going out to a fancy dinner? Spending time in a rainy environment? Being ill-prepared in the clothing department can make for a miserable trip.
- Toiletries – You might think you’ll be able to pick up some last minute items along the way, but don’t count on it. I always make sure to have at least the following items with me: toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, handy wipes, baby wipes (great for adults too!), and travel-sized bottles of soap, shampoo, and conditioner.
- Snacks – For me, these are an absolute necessity! I take along an assortment of treats: nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, and anything that doesn’t need to be refrigerated that I can snack on as I travel. Having snacks on-hand also prevents me from picking up a bunch of junk food along the way.
- Accessories – I have a small ditty bag I put all my accessories in, so I don’t have to go hunting through my luggage for them. These include: my camera, GPS, the cords to charge these two items, as well as my cell phone charger, and any other type of electronics I need for my trip.
- Entertainment – Take along whatever types of entertainment you or your family enjoy: CDs, DVDs, books (either audio, digital, or good ol’ paperbacks), card games, or travel games for the car. There are plenty of ideas online for travel games or make up your own.
- Medications – When it comes to prescription medications, always take a bit more than what you should need. You never know if something might delay your return and you don’t want to be without necessary medications while on your trip! It’s very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to transfer a prescription to a pharmacy out of state or out of the country.
- Emergency Equipment – A first aid kit is good to have on-hand. It can be as minimal or as fancy as you’d like it to be. I always try to carry some bandages, alcohol pads, ointment, and some baggies or small trash bags at the very least. Sometimes a couple of doses of anti-motion-sickness pills (or ginger candies), ibuprofen, and aspirin are great to have for long trips on planes, boats, or on winding roads.
Learn more: Make Your Own Customized First Aid Kit
Make Vacation Enjoyable
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Laugh often
- Relax as much as possible
- Take time to enjoy the scenery
- Have fun!
I always find myself making a list before I travel. I write down what I need to do before I leave, items I should pack in order to leave, and what I’d like to do while I’m on my trip. I’m all about the lists!
Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, these tips and tricks for a successful vacation might be helpful. How do you prepare for your vacation?