Decide where to go on vacation

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO?

Some travel tips were meant to be one-sentence items on a check-list. Others are stories that have to be told. In that sense, this post actually is two posts in one: a practical travel guide, as well as an ongoing personal opinion about how to travel well, no matter how much or how little of it you’ve done. As a lifelong traveler, I’m committed to making travel a better experience for my fellow travelers. I have to be honest with you: Of course I want my articles to be helpful. But as someone who travels for a living, you travelers out there are the company I keep on any given day. Naturally, I want you all to be well-prepared and happy, not ill-prepared and cranky. By the time you’ve finished reading this post, my goal is for you is to be traveling lighter, smarter, saving more money and having a much better time in the process. Almost every great travel tip begins life as some traveler’s embarrassing moment. Trial and error is just part of the process of acquiring useful skills, though it can be humbling at times. Continue Reading after few pics…

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The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City, in the United States.

My philosophy is this: We all pay for our mistakes, so we might as well get something positive out of the transaction. The good news is, we can. We travelers can learn plenty from our mistakes. The even better news is, we can learn from other people’s mistakes so that we don’t have to make them ourselves. I believe in learning from mistakes. I also believe in not making them in the first place, and I recommend this strategy to all travelers. It saves time and money, and it’s easier on your nervous system. Avoiding potential sources of stress is one of the great secrets of traveling happily. But it’s only part of the big picture. I believe that anyone who is compelled to travel, for any reason, has a lot to gain from becoming what I call a traveler of good common sense. Being a traveler of good common sense means different things in different situations. It can mean thoughtful budgeting before you go on your vacation or knowing how to pack for a two-week trip using only carry on-size bags. Sometimes it means keeping your cool in a difficult situation. And sometimes being a traveler of good common sense is as simple or unglamorous as knowing that, in a pinch, a 5-cent resealable plastic bag makes a perfectly fine in-flight toiletry kit. But we’ll get to all of that in a moment. First, we have to decide where we’re going.

Some travel tips are specific to a given situation — use wheeled luggage, apply early for your passport, don’t flash large amounts of cash around — while others can be applied to a variety of situations. I have isolated key characteristics of the many common-sense travelers I’ve met in my years of traveling. Here’s the short list:

  1. Foresight
  2. Thrift
  3. Patience
  4. Humor
  5. Courtesy
  6. Flexibility
  7. Spontaneity
  8. Vigilance
  9. Calm

Dream big, plan well and start early

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when dreaming about a trip becomes planning a trip. There’s usually a fair amount of overlap between the two. Good planning is just the practical side of dreaming. If you want to make your travel dreams come true, plan well and start early. There are lots of cost-effective, creative ways to do this, and I recommend a combination of approaches.

Before you start the car or start spending money, start your imagination. Most travel begins as a destination fantasy. What’s yours? It could be a white sand beach straight out of a travel magazine photo. Possibly you picture yourself at an outdoor café in Paris sipping red wine, people-watching and catching up on your reading at your own pace. Perhaps you crave the view of Victoria Falls as seen from a 300-foot bungee-plunge from the zenith of the Victoria Falls Bridge to just above the waterline of the Zambezi River. Some of us like the experience of being in transit as much as the idea of any particular destination. There’s no question that moving scenery can inspire great feelings of personal freedom and possibility, whether it’s seen in passing during a pleasure drive across the United States, from the observation car of a train anywhere in the world, from the deck of a cruise ship or through the clouds at 30,000 feet above sea level.

10 things to do early while travelling

Different tips for different trips. Not all of these may apply to your journey. But once you know where you want to go, here are some things to get a jump on:

  1. Obtain or renew your passport.
  2. Get time off from work.
  3. Book your transportation.
  4. Reserve your accommodations.
  5. Budget! Calculate costs as accurately as you can and make a trip budget.
  6. Start saving for your trip.
  7. Gather information about your destination (books, guides, maps, online research, etc.).
  8. Talk to a travel agent (even if you don’t book your trip through one).
  9. Obtain an international driver’s permit.
  10. Have a medical and dental checkup. Make sure all prescription medications are up to date and filled. Find out what shots/ immunizations your destination may require.

But wherever our pre-departure flights of imagination take us, the destination is never exactly the way we first pictured it in our mind’s eye. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes worse always different. So how do you create the best possible odds for realizing your best-case travel scenario? It all starts with two essential ingredients: imagination and good planning. They go well together, and you need to get started early on both of them.

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