Vacation State of Mind

A vacation only really begins after the work of planning for the vacation is done.

As I reflect on the many family vacations we’ve taken over the years, I realize that the best ones were the result of a fair bit of organization and upfront planning.

I’ll use a short trip we took last summer as an example.

Ever since our youngest daughter Kayla could read, she wanted to “travel the world in Maine.” For those of you who are not familiar with Maine, there are numerous towns named after distant countries sprinkled throughout the state.

The most important step in planning for this trip was to find a good map. As it turned out, we only had about 36 hours to fit the trip in, so we studied the map in advance and plotted the route we could take that would allow us to visit as many “countries” as possible. Our goal was to travel to each town, search out the town’s welcome sign, take a photo to chronicle our visit, and move on to the next one.

I’m happy to report that, due to our advanced planning, we were successful in visiting all 9 countries, I mean towns… listed on this famous directional sign, which we also found.

You can travel the world in Maine.

Planning for this rather simple trip was a good warm up for the trip to London we are currently planning.

With a trip oversees, the added challenges of selecting lodging, packing efficiently (I am only allowing each of us a single suitcase), and purchasing tickets in advance all come into play.

There are numerous opportunities to save time during your vacation with some careful planning beforehand. Consider these suggestions:

  1. Prioritize the sites you want to visit. Again, it will be a short trip to London for us, so we are organizing our available time on a chart that divides each day into morning, mid-day and afternoon/evening. After identifying what we want to see, we filled in our chart, creating a schedule for visiting each site.
  2. Ask for recommendations.   Pick the brains of your friends and family who have taken a similar vacation. The Internet is great, but researching can be time consuming and misleading especially when looking for lodging. Getting hotel and restaurant recommendations from a trusted friend not only saves time, it creates peace of mind. (Once the list is narrowed you can compare your impressions with www.TripAdvisor.com)
  3. Avoid the crowds. The “fast pass” idea isn’t only for Disney anymore. Look for opportunities to purchase entrance tickets in advance, especially if an option is offered that allows you to go to the head of the line.   You may have to pay a small premium, but it’s probably worth it.
  4. Keep a vacation folder. Use this folder to gather all your e-tickets, hotel reservations, maps, and other information you will need to take with you. It’s most efficient to keep everything in one place until needed.

Whether you’re traveling across the state for a few days or out of the country for a few weeks, upfront planning maximizes your vacation state of mind and hopefully minimizes disappointments during your trip.

Ta Da Tip of the Month

Are you planning your next family vacation? When you do, here are a few suggestions to consider.

  1. Plan your route before you leave home.   Don’t wait until you arrive at your destination to decide what you want to do. Vacation time is precious, and with a little planning you will make the best of every moment.
  2. Pack light. Take with you only what you need.   What I often do is lay out on my bed what I think I want to bring. Then I put half of it back in my closet, making sure each piece that makes it into my suitcase coordinates with the others.
  3. Use checklists. Keeping track of everything you need to remember before leaving home can be challenging.   This site allows you to customize your very own checklist. Try it out: http://www.independenttraveler.com/packing

Designing your family vacation in advance reduces stress of the unknown and allows you the freedom to explore and soak in all that there is to offer. Ta Da!

 

2 comments to Vacation State of Mind

  • Somehow I missed this post in July. We are in the middle of planning a trip to Portland so this will be very helpful. A simple thing like creating a folder for the trip will make a big difference. And the best advice ever is to pack light; put half your clothes back in the closet! it’s so true. I love it!
    Thanks Diana,
    Say hello to Lord Grantham!
    Chris

  • Thanks Chris. Hopefully I can get the rest of my family to comply for our trip too!

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