Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Vacation Planning Tips

Sometimes I like to channel my inner Travel Agent and plan future/dream vacations.
I enjoy organizing logistics and costs, so it's a fun hobby for me.
I'm no world traveler, but I feel like sharing my point of view anyway...
Oh!  And before I get started I wanted to mention that one of my favorite places to research weekend getaways is the Southern Living Travel website.  
This is such a great resource for southerners looking for smaller scale trips.  It is where I found the City Loft Hotel in Beaufort AND Lakeview at Fontana in Bryson City, both excellent stays for us as a couple and ones that we would whole-heartedly recommend.

So, once we have decided where it is that we would like to vacation, these are my next steps.
I create a Pinterest Board for our vacation right away.
I search for any recommended spots, either through friends, family, or even blogs.  I do some initial blind searches for restaurants, boutique hotels, etc.
I start pinning away.
I pin anything and everything that looks good, I will curate it later.

Google Maps
I first use Google Maps to search hotels.  I always use “Street View” to explore the area before booking.  Once confirmed, I use the “Search Nearby” tool to find restaurants, bars, live music, happy hours, comedy clubs, etc.  At this point I have a second tab with Pinterest pulled up, and I’m searching for my Google findings as I go.  I will pin them and make a note for myself.
The Roger NYC Street View
Trip Advisor
From everything that I’ve pinned so far, I search for all of our options on Trip Advisor.  I eliminate anything that doesn’t look good from traveler photos/reviews.
Philly planning
At this point, our Hotel is booked and my Pinterest Board is organized with Dining/Entertainment/Etc options with good reviews and photos.  
From here we will start working on our Agenda!
We search menus, Facebook pages for weekly specials, you name it.
Next come the reservations and then,
None of these tips are revolutionary but I feel like it's an organized method to planning an awesome vacation, without falling into tourist traps or becoming overwhelmed.
Do you have any planning tips that help you vacation better?

Note: You can click on the "vacation" label at the bottom of this post for some actual vacations we've taken.
Also, this is an awesome tutorial on creating a custom Google map for your trip, especially helpful to those who use smartphones to navigate, aka, not us.

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