After months of saving, you have finally scheduled your dream vacation. Your boss has given you the time off, you bought a snazzy new suitcase, and you are ready to shop for your travel wardrobe.
In order to get the most out of your well-earned vacation, it’s also important to do some research — both prior to leaving home and after your arrival. Sure, you might have an idea of what you want to do while you are away, but doing your vacation homework will help you enjoy your time even more. For example consider the following tips:
Just Google it
The search engine can be a traveler’s best friend, offering plenty of websites and articles devoted to your destination. Many sites go beyond the basics of a location and will offer inside tips and suggestions on fun things to do. For example, if you are going to vacation in Los Angeles, ApartmentGuide has a great article about the Top 5 LA Adventures. These include heading to the Santa Monica Beach and checking out the stars and planets at the Griffith Observatory. Even if you don’t have time for everything you read about, the research will help you make the most out of your vacation.
Don’t overpack your suitcase or your itinerary
As Independent Traveler notes, the best way to ruin a vacation is to try to pack too much. If you are heading to Oahu, instead of trying to see Pearl Harbor, Diamondhead and Waikiki in one afternoon, plan on one activity per day. This will leave you plenty of time to actually enjoy and experience the sights and attractions to their fullest, instead of looking at your watch every 10 minutes to see if it’s time to leave. This “slow travel” mentality also gives you time to discover unplanned treasures, like a delicious mom and pop café, a sunny beach with few tourists on it and a roadside stand run by locals selling beautiful leis. To get some ideas on great “unknown” spots, ask the staff at your hotel or a friendly server at a restaurant.
Look for live performances in casual venues
While you can probably spend a pretty penny at your destination going to a major concert, keep your eyes and ears peeled for live musical performances that are outside of the touristy areas. As Huffington Post notes, your hotel might put on a perfectly lovely dinner and concert, but do a little research to find out where the locals go when they want to listen to jazz or rock. Sitting in a small club surrounded by residents and tourists and enjoying a refreshing beverage will feel much more genuine than paying big bucks to attend a mass-produced performance.
Don’t pay too much attention to reviews
For better or for worse, the Internet is also chock full of reviews of pretty much every hotel, restaurant and travel destination on the planet. To figure out where you want to stay and eat, you might think that looking at these reviews is a good idea. However, it’s also possible to miss out on some real jewels this way — as well as end at a place that isn’t what you thought it would be. Look for hotels that are within your budget and if you have questions, give the place a call. Once you are there, walk around the neighborhood reading posted menus and find a restaurant that looks and smells terrific.