Five tips toward a better vacation
May 2, 2012 • Nick Barnowski, Editor in Chief
Filed under Feature
With summer drawing near, many families are preparing for a special trip that will take place during our three month break. Even though the busy spring break season has passed, summertime can always turn airports and hotels into a convoluted and chaotic atmosphere. Here are five tips that will hopefully turn a vacation into a dream trip.
(1) Try to stay consistent
While many simply look for the best deal on airfare, hotels, and rental cars, there are advantages to sticking with one or two companies to do business with. Cost is always going to be a prevalent cause for concern, sometimes using the same airline or hotel chain can work out well in the long run. For example, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program gives points based on number of flights and on their flights’ fares and fare class. If you travel a lot, these miles can add up where you can cash in on big rewards.
(2) Use smartphone apps
In this technology-based world, smartphone apps can be instrumental in making your travel plans a success. Many airlines, such as Delta, JetBlue, and United Airlines, have iPhone or Android apps to make travel day a breeze. Delta’s “Fly Delta” app allows users to sign in with their SkyMiles account, thereby allowing them to check in from their phones 24 hours before their flight. It can also let travelers check their flight status and track their bags. These services can be really useful, especially when it wasn’t too long ago where everything had to be done at the airport. Hotel chains such as Marriott also offer useful smartphone apps. These apps can help people find open reservations, use their rewards points, check their reservation status, and have city guides on hand.
(3) Pack smart
Packing may be the activity that stresses travelers out the most. When dealing with rental cars, TSA agents, and loading/unloading from hotel rooms, it’s important that people pack their clothes efficiently. While it may seem unnecessary to some, actually filling out a packing list, much like a grocery list, will ensure that everything needed is ready to go. Purchasing a nice and reliable set of luggage is also necessary, because often bags can break or zip up with difficulty, causing more headaches. If traveling my airplane, check with the airline and see what the maximum weight checked bags can be. Check with the TSA website to see which items you can carry on and which ones you cannot. Try different packing techniques, such as rolling your clothes up or bundle your clothes around a central item in your luggage to save space and reduce wrinkling.
(4) Protect yourself with added security
This is important, especially if you’re traveling out of the United States. It may seem simple, but a rubber door stop can provide additional security within a hotel room. A secure bag or purse, such as one made out of resistant materials, can help prevent crime or theft. Emergency contact info such as your name and phone number can help in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself before hand with where local hospitals and police stations are, just in case. Lastly, a RFID blocking wallet will block identity thieves from obtaining your personal information via a passport or wallet.
(5) Put together an itinerary
While it’s fun to do things spontaneously, especially on vacations, you should be at least somewhat organized when it comes to your travel plans. Fortunately, this process is dead simple. A site such as TripIt can easily collect all of your itinerary needs such as flight information, hotel reservations, and rental car plans. Either forward confirmation emails to TripIt to enter the data in manually, and a comprehensive itinerary is available for use. Having this information on your laptop, cell phone, and your person is very important.
Traveling can be very stressful, but being prepared can be the difference in a vacation success story or one to forget.