There’s an old adage among experienced travelers. It goes something like this: “Take half as much clothing and twice as much money as you think you need.” It’s sage advice. Traveling light has many advantages.
Traveling sounds easy but effective planning actually takes more time than one might think. The planning process may be the most complex part of your journey. Good planning follows a few important steps.
Choosing the destination
The first step is deciding where you want to go. Where you go will be determined mostly by how much money you have to spend. Road trips are great budget stretchers especially if you decide to camp and cook out along the way. Sleeping in a tent can be an adventure.
Sun and sand destinations are popular. Finding lodging near the beach can be difficult during the high season. So, if that’s where you want to go, start early. A year out is not too long. National parks are also great destinations, but again, you’ll want to start early. And if you’re headed to one of the many theme parks around the country, well, make sure you’ve got more money than you think you’ll need.
Going overseas? You’ll want to start planning early for foreign destinations as well. And, check out one of the many budget hotel sites to find the best price for lodging abroad. And, don’t for forget to check for known trouble spots. The U.S. Department of State has a list of destinations to avoid.
What to do about a camera
In days gone you’d see travelers walking around with large camera bags slung over their sagging shoulders. Today, most smartphones have all the camera that most travelers will ever need. They are capable of taking beautiful photos and stunning HD video. Many even have telephoto capabilities. And what’s even better there are incredible software packages like Snapseed that can make good photos great and turn the iffy shots into good ones. Many are free or just a few dollars. Taking great pictures has never been easier for travelers headed for any destination.
What else to take
Pack light. Most of us overestimate how much stuff we need to take. Take the minimalist approach. Almost anywhere you go in the world you’ll find spots where you can do laundry if you need to. Spending a couple of hours in a laundromat beats dragging around tons of luggage for a week or two.
Finding the best way to get there
Road trips are great for domestic destinations. You’ll want to make sure your vehicle is shipshape and ready for long days on the road. Make sure all suggested and required maintenance is up to date. It’s important to check the tires and make sure they’re good and properly inflated. Don’t forget first aid and emergency kits– just in case.
If you’re flying, take the time to scope out the best fares. There are many Internet sites that can show you the airlines with the cheapest fares at the times you want to travel. And, if you’ve got frequent flyer miles, double check to avoid the blackout dates that many carriers have. You’ll want to work at least three months or more out to avoid booking problems.
Other useful tips
- Be patient. Expect the unexpected. Whether it’s a flight delay, lost luggage, a broken ATM, or a hundred other possible challenges, stuff happens. Relax, there’s always a solution and people willing to help.
- Start early. If you want to avoid crowds and get into the most popular attractions, being early pays off.
- Stash some extra cash. Don’t carry all your money around with you. Take just enough for what you need for the day. And, don’t carry your passport around with you. Keep it safe in your lodgings. You can take a photocopy if you’re out for a day of sightseeing.
- Don’t plan too much. Leave time each day to do something unplanned. You want to come home relaxed, not tuckered out from filling each hour of the day with stuff to do.
All in all, taking a vacation can be what it’s supposed to be—relaxing. Just keep these tips in mind to help everything go smoothly.