Choose a Destination/Book a flight
This is an interesting phase for me. I can be so incredibly random with my choices sometimes. Often my trips are planned around events, festivals, certain times of year to avoid being a grumpy butt in hot weather, Ed Sheeran concerts…the list goes on. The beautiful part of social media is you can search through thousands of posts and find that one picture that makes you say, I must go there. That is almost always how I find my destinations. On Facebook, I’m a member in MANY travel related groups. I have learned of so many amazing places from these groups.
When my destination is chosen, I spend the next eternity on Google Flights looking for the best deals on flights. When I find it, I book directly with the airline. I’ve often pondered a career in aviation just for the flight benefits. Pro tip: I will often use Google flights to find a destination as well. You can enter your dates, and origin airport and it will provide an interactive map that will help you choose a destination by price.
Next step is booking somewhere to stay. Sometimes if I am going to a destination for an event, I will do this step first in order to secure my best choices close to the event. Typically what I will do is go on to the Hyatt or Hilton app and immediately book the cheapest refundable options. When you have and keep hotel status you get perks like upgrades, free meals and free drinks. I book the refundable rooms so I have plenty of opportunity to change my mind.
If there are no properties to my liking through Hyatt and Hilton, I then revert to Hotels.com. I like this website (let’s not forget to NEVER book “hotels.com vacations“) for a few different reasons. 1) Almost all properties have a free cancellation option. 2) You can earn free nights 3) I like to enter a point of interest then sort the hotels by distance. This is incredibly helpful for literally everywhere.
Spend eternity on TripAdvisor
The most labor intensive part is researching the area and planning your itinerary. I always start with TripAdvisor. I find their “top things to do in —” section incredibly helpful. From there I search the forums for real life questions and answers. I have posted many times, and have always received helpful responses.
I also enjoy reading reviews on everything from hotels, restaurants and tours. This helps me narrow down my options and nail down step 4.
Set a loose itinerary with wiggle room
I like to have a plan and back up for all my days. I almost never stick to it strictly. Things like weather, crowding, ticket availability and funds can change things up. I keep a MUST DO list in my head and try to knock those out first. Often times you’ll meet locals or other tourists that have recommendations for you, so you’ll want to have some room in your schedule for the unexpected. Or you could take a wrong turn on a drive or hike and tack on a couple of hours you weren’t expecting. (both have happened to me–more than once)
With any adventure, whether its in your home state or a 20 hour plane ride away, always be grateful when you get the opportunity to travel. Always keep an open mind and heart when travelling and let that be your guide.
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