It’s Workin’ It Wednesday.
The second Wednesday of every month, Erika and I host a link up where we talk about how we’re workin’ it in certain areas of our life (and then ask you to share your advice/tips/tricks on the subject too).
So far this year, we’ve discussed these topics:
PLANNING/PREPPING FOR YOUR SUMMER VACATION!
Okay, so today, my partner in crime (a.k.a. Erika) is actually in China getting ready to pick up her new baby girl (insert jazz hands here!), I’m doing this link up solo.
Now, if you’ve been around here for a while, you know that Erika and I plan vacations for a living through our travel agency, so this topic is near and dear to our hearts. As a travel agent and as a seasoned traveler, I’m big on planning and prepping trips in advance. Now, there’s a fine line because you can’t plan them too far in advance (or a lot of your planning becomes irrelevant by the time you actually depart and/or pricing/availability is not ready), but I don’t like to wait until the last minute either (because things get booked up/prices skyrocket!).
So, here is my own little guide for how far in advance you need to plan certain trips (again, this is only my guide that I used based on experience)…
Walt Disney World: 9 months before you depart
Cruises: 12 to 18 months in advance is ideal (cabins book so quickly!!)
International land vacations (like Europe, Australia, etc): 6 months in advance
Domestic land vacations (like NYC): 3 to 6 months in advance
Beach destinations (Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, etc): 6 to 9 months in advance
Ski destinations: 9 to 12 months in advance because things book up very quickly during this limited season
Based on what I see day in and day out, those are my ideal time frames. They are not set in stone…just my preferences. Of course, there are always exceptions, but I find these to be solid time frames.
I’ve mentioned before that Andrew and I plan our trips about two years in advance…and by that, I mean that we select our destination. We have four trips coming up this year and we planned them all more than 12 months ago. Now, we didn’t start booking them until we were within the time frames above, but we knew where we wanted to go.
I like to plan in advance where I want to go for several reasons:
1. It gives me time to research/scout out the area so that we make sure that really is where we want to go.
2. It gives us time to save/delegate funds for each trip.
3. It gives us time to start watching airfare to the destination and look for trends (that way, we know when to buy tickets because we’re looking at the prices constantly and can tell when they’re at their best prices).
4. We are type-A planners and this kind of vacation planning just works for us 😉 .
Okay, so let’s take our trip to Washington D.C. as an example of how we plan/prep for a vacation. We didn’t realize we loved traveling over spring break until spring break of last year…so we only planned this one 12 months out because that’s when we decided spring break was a great time to travel. So, here’s when we planned everything:
March 2016: Decided to go to Washington D.C. in March 2017
October 2016: Booked an AirBnB for us to stay in while we were there
December 2016: Bought airline tickets (after watching the prices for about 8 weeks, we realized that then was the time to book)
January 2017: Started researching activities, places to visit and making dinner reservations
February 2017: Made a packing list of things we would need and started buying essentials
One day before we departed: packed
I really try not to pack until the last minute. If I have a solid list, and know that I’ve purchased everything on there that I didn’t already have, then I don’t feel compelled to actually pack until one or two days before leaving. We have some great packing tips and tricks you can see here:
City Trips Packing List
Cruise Packing List
Disney World Packing List
Ski Vacations Packing List
Adoption Packing List
Plus, I also have some posts on these trip topics too…
My Inflight Routine (basically how we sleep on long flights)
Traveling with Kids
So, that’s a little look how we plan for our trips. We select our destination early, we look at flight prices over an extended period of time, we budget/earmark money for the trip in advance and we pack at the last minute 😉 . But how do we prep for vacations that we’ve already booked? Like this summer’s vacation? Well, here are a few tips about that too…
1. We keep our eye on the weather to make sure we’re packing correctly. Stroller covers for rain, umbrellas and a jacket are things that you’re so glad you have if you need them when traveling.
We always make sure we go over the weather with our clients before they depart because you wouldn’t believe how many people just assume that because they’re going to the beach that it will automatically be sunny and warm. It is sunny and warm most of the time, but unfortunately, sometimes, it’s cool, cloudy and rainy.
2. I love the dollar aisle at Target before a trip. I can find so many inexpensive things on that aisle to take with us and most of it, I don’t bring back home. Buckets and shovels for sand, stickers and coloring books for long flights, cheap little totes that make the perfect beach bag (and can be tossed before you head home so that no sand ends up in your suitcase), inflatable beach balls and more. These items cost a pretty penny if you by them at your resort/on board your cruise…so I always try to bring them with me.
3. Back when I had babies that needed diapers, wipes and formula, I used Amazon to ship some items to my hotel once I had arrived instead of packing all of it in my suitcase. Thanks to the wonder of Amazon Prime, you can have all of that delivered to your hotel room (domestically) instead of lugging it from home.
And a few other random little tips for you…
1. If you’re sailing, make sure you book your cruise excursions in advance. We don’t always do excursions and many times, we do our own and not the ship’s, but we always plan that out before our trip. Once you’re on board, things are typically all booked up and you’re very limited.
2. I love using the website opentable.com for my meal reservations. It’s easy, it’s free and it’s very convenient. It’s also easy to change/cancel reservations should you decide to eat somewhere else.
Whew! That’s it for my tips. WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS?! Please comment and share!! We can’t have too many tips for making travel easier, right?! And if you blogged, make sure you link up below!
Next month, our topic is keeping your kids entertained all summer and then coming up this year…