There are countless articles floating around about what to pack, what to wear and what to buy before embarking on your summer vacation. However, one thing many people neglect is the other forms of planning that many trips require. While these pre-trip steps are very simple, they can save loads of time while on vacation. Using these five tips, you can make your vacation even more eventful and exciting:
1. Buy or borrow a travel guidebook.
While reading a travel guidebook does not sound like the most exciting way to plan your trip, it often will show tourists many other sightseeing opportunities other than the most popular (and often most populated) travel sights. Most books will often give readers the best times to visit sightseeing locations to avoid large crowds. For international travel, I strongly recommend Rick Steves’ travel guidebooks. These books focus on specific countries and include maps, tips, the best (and sometimes even secretive) locations to visit, and ways in which to beat the crowds.
2. Make a travel itinerary.
This schedule does not have to be extremely specific, just enough to have some sort of outline of your day-to-day activities. Often times, people get to their destination without a plan on what to see first. This can cause unnecessary spending, wasted time and frustration. Avoid the hustle and do some research (many of this information can be found in a guidebook) on destinations and places to see before you leave. Block areas on your calendar to visit your top places and then use the extra time to be spontaneous.
3. Download local apps.
Many cities have apps that allow you to see the best events happening in that area. Download a few of these before you embark and enjoy some local entertainment. For North American trips, try the app “DoStuff” which includes events listed by local influencers from 20 of the largest cities in North America. For international travel, “Like A Local” will point out the best places to visit that are not filled with tourists and large crowds. The app is comprised of locals posting events to attend and sights to see.
4. Make copies of your passport and other important identification items.
Just in case you end up losing your passport, ID or some other important identification, make one or two copies. It’s unlikely, but things like this could be very easily stolen or lost. Make a copy (and also leave a copy at home with someone you trust) so that you can prove citizenship when you return home…unless you love the destination too much…in that case…shhh, just stay. (But maybe write home sometimes, people might get worried…).
5. Briefly study public transportation.
Not all public transportation services are created equally. Some are underground, some are above ground, some are trains, and some are comprised of other unique ways of getting around the town. The most important thing is to know a few of the routes around the location that you will be based in. This way, you are not left awkwardly standing in a swarm of people with a map, completely outing yourself a tourist (believe me it’s humiliating). Know your way around a bit and travel with ease.
Lastly: take pictures. However, remember that you are on vacation for a reason and that reason is to enjoy a new experience is a different location. So do not spend all your time getting the “perfect” picture, I bet there are already many of those online. Instead, soak up the moment and be completely present while on vacation. Take a few shots, and then submerge your mind in the experience and create memories to bring your photo gallery to life.