If you haven’t realized it by now, I am a planner. There is nothing I love more than a color-coded document or an itinerary broken down by the hour. Any time I think about a trip, my planning gears get spinning. From where to stay to where to eat, to what to do, I want to make sure I plan the perfect vacation. So far, I have made it to 25 states (soon to be 26) and three four countries. The older I get, the more I hope to increase both those numbers.
So far this summer, I have three trips in the works. For each of these trips, I have spent hours digging into those cities (posts to come) to find things that I + the friends accompanying me will enjoy. From finding good travel deals to finding the best spots to eat, I hope to plan the perfect vacation – I guess three perfect vacations. You may not be *as* into planning as I am, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan the perfect vacation, too! The tips below should help you plan out your trip.
Getting to a destination is one of the worst parts of traveling. From the cost to delays to irrational fears of flying, getting to a destination is rough! Luckily there are a few things you can do to at least find a good deal. If you already know where you want to go, you can sign up to get deals from sites like Airfare Watchdog or even directly from the airlines. If you’re more open, Scott’s Cheap Flights sends out great deals to random locations (and specific ones if you pay their small yearly fee). The deals they boast is amazing.
Other ways to save on travel are to use reward points. In just a few months, I have racked up over 70,000 flyer miles from my American Express card – you can get 40k + a $50 statement credit just for signing up + spending $1,000 in your first three months. The miles are with Delta so there are tons of options. I can’t recommend this card enough if you want to travel. If Delta isn’t your jam, other airlines have similar cards. If you’re really looking for a deal, lower budget airlines like Southwest + Frontier are for you. They don’t have as many options, but you can’t beat the price. Another super budget airline is Allegiant, but their safety record is spotty AT BEST + I’m not willing to risk it.
If flying isn’t your thing or is too pricey, there are other options! Take an epic road trip. Personally, I’ve always wanted to take the one from Elizabethtown. There is also the extremely affordable Megabus + Amtrak. I’ll be taking the train to Chicago this summer! It’s a longer ride, but much more scenic + affordable.
Figuring out where to stay is crucial to plan the perfect vacation. Just like finding a house or apartment, you need to consider what is a must-have for you. Do you need a certain number of beds? A kitchen? Pet-friendly? All these things matter. A website like Hotels.com is a great way to find good deals + filter with your needs. Hotels are also another place you can use points. There are credit cards out there that offer points with Hilton + Marriot the same way they do with airlines. Any time you stay in a hotel, you should sign up for their rewards program. You never know when points will come in handy.
Another popular option is using Airbnb (save $40 if you’ve never used it before) or a similar service to skip the hotel option. Staying in someone’s home or rental property is usually a much more flexible + cost-efficient option than a hotel, PLUS you can save your favorites to a wishlist so you don’t forget them. I usually ask local friends or crowdsource my fellow Skimbassadors what area is best to stay in, set my budget, and then pick the cutest home. Whether you stay at a hotel or an Airbnb, check the reviews! This will give you some inside scoop you’ll probably want to know.
This is where I shine✨. When I plan the perfect vacation, the things we do are obviously vital. The first place I go to plan is Pinterest. Whenever I see a quality pin about a destination I want to visit, I pin it to my travel board. If I don’t have any or many pins about a destination, I search Pinterest using different keywords about where to eat/drink, what to see, and what attractions are free. I again crowdsource on social media asking local friends, my fellow Skimbassadors, and searching on Instagram. This helps me see what other people enjoy + get personalized recs. Airbnb also now offers experiences, similar to Groupon (another place to find great ideas/get deals).
Once I have ideas, I write down everything I want to do + pair down. I look at factos like cost, time investment, whether or not I can do them elsewhere, season, etc. This helps me narrow down my list to restaurants + attractions everyone will enjoy + special to that locale. Then I try to spread things around in ways that make sense – like not putting all your expensive food places on the same day. In Chicago for instance, I tried to group things by neighborhood so we aren’t running around the city all weekend.
If after reading this post you’re panicked about planning, try Pack Up + Go! The service plans your travel + accommodations for you. You don’t even know where you’re going until right before your trip. They include a weather report, city guide, and curated recommendations on what to do while you’re there – this may honestly be my dream job!