Planning Tips for a good vacation

By: Paula Eder, Phd

Finding time for a vacation? Wonderful! Vacations can restore your energy and provide a fresh outlook. Now, how can advance planning enhance your time off?

Travel Time Tip #1: To capitalize on the best opportunities, clarify your priorities.

Vacations work best when you carefully assess and honor your priorities - not anyone else's. What do you enjoy the most? Front row seats at a performance? Discovering an out of the way treasure? Wildlife in pristine surroundings? Elegance, or roughing it? Zeroing in on your favorite options and on what you don't mind foregoing leads you to special opportunities that others might overlook.

You also enhance your vacation experience by selecting a mode of planning that suits you temperamentally. Maybe you enjoy tracking down the best deals on the Internet, and money you save by weighing multiple options will buy you more time at your destination. But if you'd rather hand the entire project to a travel agent who knows your preferences, that's fine, too. You might obtain special package discounts, and can use your saved time to ease your transition into your vacation.

After all, all the time leading up to and returning from your vacation is part of your vacation experience, too.

Treat yourself well throughout each stage. Then you can escape the "I need a vacation from my vacation" syndrome!

Travel Time Tip #2: Add up and factor in transit time.

You maximize your overall pleasure by valuing your transition time. When planning, examine your itinerary options, and estimate how much time you must spend in transit. Will you enjoy or just tolerate time between locations? Plan accordingly. Perhaps simplifying your travel plans would give you more time to relax and discover out-of-the-way treats. And varying your modes of transportation on a long trip can be refreshing, too.

Travel Time Tip #3: Prepare your pathway by paying in advance.

Make arrangements for performances, exhibits, ferry trips, etc., from the comfort of home, online or via your travel agent. Then you can simply show up at your destinations, tickets in hand.

Travel Time Tip #4: Use lists & pack light.

Good packing lists may spare you the expense of checking and the time retrieving excess baggage while flying. You will be spared the hauling and pawing through mounds of clothing and supplies, not to mention shopping for what never got packed. Pack these lists for quick on-site inventories. Also, consider including a quick chart to indicate what is packed where. (Especially handy if you tuck overflow items in your travel companion's bags. When traveling with kids, for example, outfit them with adult-sized carry-on bags and utilize their leftover space for your own items.)

Travel Time Tip #5: Streamline future preparations with today's notes.

Templates help recreate your successes. Why reinvent the wheel? Jot your notes in a notebook or in a file on your PC that specifies the steps for creating your trip. Jot down what you want to try next time, too. Your priorities and brainstorms will be ready to review and to save you hours of pulling things together, when you're ready for another vacation.

What is your next step to make the very most of your time while you enjoy your travel and leisure?

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