I'm linking up with Shay and Erika today to share a monthly Workin' It Wednesdays post and this month is is how I plan and prep for summer vacation! Let's be honest, I vacation all year long because I do not have children; however, I have a lot of insight into traveling during the summer as well. Although, some tips definitely apply all year long.
1) First of all I think it's important to acknowledge that summer vacations generally cost more, as do spring break vacations. Undoubtedly resorts and airlines all know that families utilize their summer break from school and price gauge. Because of high prices and the crowds of families, I tend to slow down my traveling a bit. But, never completely. It depends on your family status (married, with or without kids, single, etc) and if you want to be around families or not. For instance, I am all about cruising. I love to go on cruises! But, for the best prices you need to go when school is back in session and avoid school holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break or you'll pay significantly more. So, in summary, if your desired destination is a hot spot for families during the summer then just accept that you're going to spend more on it. If you can wait to visit said destination when school is back in session you'll be much better off. And less crowds.
2) Make a list of places you'd like to visit. I keep a list on my phone as well as am always pinning ideas to my travel board on Pinterest. By keeping your desired destinations handy, you can easily spot check periodically for flight deals. More often than not, the price of airfare is what will determine if I proceed with the next step of planning any trip. Your list can be broken into categories if you'd like but you'll know without that organization whether it's a beach vacation, ski vacation/cold climate, exploration, relaxation, safari or whatever other intended type of vacation spot. You can start your airfare search based on which type of place you want to go and if they all prove to be too expensive then you can either move on to the next type of place or search online for the best "_________" to see in "________" (month). This will provide you with more options that may not have been on your list already. Example: best places for fall foliage in October, or best US beaches to visit.
3) Check the average temperatures and weather for your destination in mind. It will be an estimate of course, but will help you determine if that's what you want. For example, I will be visiting Boston and Cape Cod soon. I wanted a coastal trip, but I don't have to have warm temperatures and lay out in a bathing suit. If I had, then I would know that their average temperatures in May are 60's as highs and 40's as lows and would have opted for a more tropical coast. I rarely care about what the weather will be like as I am an avid lover of cold and rainy weather so traveling to places in their "off peak" seasons do not hinder me one bit. And because of this, I tend to get better pricing on everything because it's not the top tourist travel time. Example: places like Italy, Ireland, and England tend to be cold and rainy in November. If you do not want to walk around those countries in the cold rain, then you would avoid that travel time. But, rest assured you will spend more during peak travel months.
4) Once you've narrowed down your destination and airfare (if needed), then you can begin your search for a hotel/resort/Air BnB. This can be a tedious task, but it can also be fun. I use Trip Advisor to read about everything, but especially hotel and restaurant rankings. You can read real reviews and see traveler's photos versus the hotels' stock photos. Check the hotel websites to see if they have any special offers because they frequently will, especially in non-peak travel times. Example: a lot of hotels/resort offer a free night's stay if you stay a minimum number of nights. Each one varies, but it might be 3 nights and get the 4th free. This may determine if you want to shorten or extend your trip, which can potentially then alter your airfare. If there's nothing on their website then you can price them out on other sites like Hotels.com or Expedia.com (or whichever your favorite is), but take the time to call the hotel and just ask if there's any incentives they offer for booking directly with them. You never know!
5) When you've picked out your lodging, one of the last pieces to the puzzle is if you will need ground transportation while there. Some hotels include car service or a free shuttle service to/from the airport but you may want to get out and about more. Is this a trip that you will be driving a lot? Is the hotel close to a lot of sight seeing that you will walk everywhere once there, or perhaps only need to take a cab/Uber a couple of times? Is there public transportation that's cost effective and makes sense to use given you may have luggage? Example: in Portland, Oregon, the hotel we booked just happened to be across the street from the metro-rail that went directly to/from the airport for $2 each way. Had it been a long walk after getting off the the train we could have easily cabbed it. We rented a car for 2 of the 5 days we were there and had located a rental car company within walking distance of the hotel so that we didn't spend a ton going back to the airport to rent a car. These are the things to look into. But, had there not been public transportation easily available (like in Houston - booooo), then you may want to rent a car. However, again, if you're headed to a hotel that you plan not to leave then taking a cab, Uber, or a car service makes the most sense.
6) The last thing I look into are the tourist spots, activities, and restaurants. Again, I use Trip Advisor to look at top rated "must sees" and restaurants and evaluate what I want to do. This will aid you in your packing/prepping.
1) Because you've done your homework above on the average temperatures and weather, you can begin to make a general pack list weeks in advance (or more). This will helps calm my mind to get things sorted out early, knowing that I can switch things out right before actually packing as needed depending on the current weather forecast a day or two before the trip. I love to shop online because it's easy, convenient, and you can find great deals. The perk is that the items get sent to you in a timely manner, you can try them on at your convenience, and then return them if you don't like it or won't use it. This will prevent you from having to rush out to shop for last minute trip outfits, etc. and feel flustered when you don't find what you're looking for.
I use Pinterest a lot for outfit ideas, not only for new outfits for a particular trip, but also as inspiration on how to use what I already have in my closet but style it differently. You'd be surprised how much this can help!
2) Make a To-Pack list. I like to pack two to three outfits per day if I have packing space. As a female, I never know if I will feel like wearing what I've packed on any given morning and/or you may have an outfit for different activities. It's best to be prepared. Can I pack for 10 days in a carry on? Yes. I have. And I happily traipsed around Turkey and Romania recycling the same general outfits just fine. I'm just saying that if there's room, then I tend to over pack. Here is an example of how I organize my pack list. I tend to write it out, I've only typed it up to add to this post.
As you can see, at the bottom is where I list out the random things I cross off my list as I finish packing the night before/day of. Yours will vary depending on the type of trip you're taking. Things like toiletries and make up go in last and I always cross check that I have checked off my pack list before I head out the door. I tend to travel with snacks like a protein bar. You never know when you'll be hungry and not have access to food, much less food that is on your nutrition plan.
3) The night before departure, check the weather again! If anything has changed then you have time to adjust your packing. You can make those online order returns when you get back from vacation.
That summarizes how I plan and prepare for summer (and all) vacations! I hope you find this helpful and please share with someone if you do. Don't forget to subscribe below if you haven't already so that you do not miss out on any future posts!