Recently I wrote about the 7 biggest mistakes I’m made during travel, mostly international, but not exclusively. This episode will cover the best decisions, in my humble opinion, that I’ve made that greatly contributed to a fun and exciting travel experience and the lack bad outcomes.
Hire a travel agent when you want an “over the top” experience and you haven’t done or been there before. I did this for our 40th wedding anniversary and my only regret is that I didn’t make the trip longer. Every aspect was top notch and vetted by our agent. We had detailed instructions and tips to make things even more enjoyable. She highlighted side trips that she knew we would really enjoy.
Duplicate everything since you never know when you made need a prescription for medications or eyeglasses, copies of credit cards, passport, contracts, rental agreements, reservation acknowledgement, alternative phone system or equipment. Extra cables and battery chargers along with extra batteries. I can’t tell you the number of times a lost or misplaced item wasn’t a problem because a duplicate was available. In addition, batteries run out at the most inopportune times so always carry spares and spare chargers. I know it adds weight, but life goes smoothly on when you have a handy replacement or alternative.
Read travel blogs to find out the latest ideas, rule changes, and secrets to getting a better seat or a better price. I religiously read tripadvisor.com and flyertalk.com where they have discussion groups on all sorts of topics and cities. As a result, I’m a top frequent flyer on one airline because of the tips I’ve uncovered reading these discussions and getting my questions answered by community members. Since I’m a frequent traveler to Italy I consistently read initaly.com. It’s a huge website. On YouTube make sure you view Rick Steves and Walters World for outstanding videos and suggestions.
Get to the airport early so if lines are long, or you’ve forgotten something you have time to run back and pick it up. Airport lounges and even walkway seating are improving in most major airports. Certainly, airport dining is getting better and airplane service has gotten sparser. I know it’s expensive to eat and drink at the airport, but arriving early gives you some additional relaxing time or you still make it to the plane if lines are long.
Verify all reservations a few days in advance. You never want to show up somewhere, be it the rental car agency or the B&B only to be told there is no reservation. I keep a folder on every major trip in my Yahoo email account going back to 1999. Recently I booked a B&B that we last visited in 2008. The owner didn’t ask for a deposit and I believe it was because I was forwarding our last confirmation email from 2008 to make a new reservation nine years later. It also helps when you want to refer another person to that great experience that you kept your confirmations.
Make new friends and stay in touch. Our travels have taken us many places. We’ve developed friendships with tour members, accommodation owners, restaurant owners and workers at various establishments. Facebook and email have helped us keep in touch and experience more joy with our interactions electronically and in person. It also helped us on return visits when our friendships are renewed and expanded.
Keep a journal or blog to record your thoughts and feelings along with your pictures. These days you can create a picture book and add in writing your experiences to share with others and with yourself. It is so fun to reminisce about previous travels especially if you are visiting others who might be contemplating a certain trip or your meeting up with people in your blog or book.
I hope you’ll have some great travel experiences this year and in the future. Since I’m a planner, I’m urging you to plan. These tips should help.