Happy Friday Everyone!
Since B and I had such a great time in Fredericksburg last weekend I decided to do a post to share how I plan our trips and make the most out of our time.
There are so many tools to help you plan vacations now, but that can also be overwhelming. I want to make sure that we do and see a lot, but I am also realistic and know that there are things that will be missed.
The first step I take when deciding on our next vacation is checking my Pinterest. I keep secret boards with hotels and landmarks for cities that I know we want to travel to in the next year or so. I like to save things as I find them so I know I can always go back and reference. Sometimes I see a cute hotel on Instagram or someone I know stayed at a hotel and raved about it, so I save them to my pin boards. Pinterest is my favorite source of travel inspiration. You can find links to so many great blogs about locations, hotel information, and ideas for sightseeing!
The next step in planning a trip is determining time and budget. How long are you able to travel? Is this a quick weekend trip or will you be taking vacation and staying a good length of time. After you know how long, decide what you want to spend. If this is a vacation you have been dreaming about and want to do right, I suggest spending a little more. Spending more on a hotel for the right location or the best ambiance is worth it if you will be staying for a while. If this is just a quick weekend trip to see as much as possible, you can get away with spending a little less on accommodation and taking advantage of the things to do for free in the area.
After we have decided on a place and where we want to stay, we start to plan an itinerary. This is where I do a lot of my research. I start by googling the place and visiting their “visit this destination” website. This has all of the best restaurants, places to shop and historical sites all in one convenient place. Brian and I like to determine what type of activities we are really wanting to do. Is this a restful trip where we want to enjoy good food and relax? Or is this the type of trip where we want to be outdoors and do a lot of activities? I start compiling a list of things that sound interesting and then I use Google Maps to check locations and plan out a route. There is nothing more annoying than leaving one side of town to then go all the way back to where you started because you didn’t check locations. Making a “tour guide” will help you go to all of the places you want to see but not waste time in travel. This also helps us budget time in each location because we know we need to keep the day moving.
Once we arrive, we talk to the locals. Travel websites are great, but no one knows the best places to eat and visit better than the people who live there. I love talking to shop owners, waiters, people around town and asking them what they recommend we see. Most people are more than willing to help and will even take the time to mark up a map with the local favs.
I also use Instagram and search by geolocation and hashtags to see what the areas look like recently. Sometimes a place can look great on a website, but you never know how current the photos actually are and it can be so disappointing to travel all that way with high expectations vs. the reality. This also allows me to see what people are saying about the location and maybe even connect with them and get their feedback!
Even with all of my research and preparation, we miss things or we go places we probably could have skipped but it always helps me to plan ahead so we don’t find ourselves sitting around a hotel room thinking of things to do.
Do you have any tricks you use to plan your vacations?
Hope you have a wonderful weekend! xo Bryn