Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
Have you ever taken a vacation that you looked forward to taking but then it turned out to be just ok? Have you ever wished there was someway you could make your vacations better? Luckily, there is one really easy way to improve your vacations-no matter where you go. Read on to find out how!
What Can Go Wrong?
Before we get into how to improve your vacations, let’s talk about what can go wrong when your traveling. These things basically fall into one of two categories: things out your control and things within your control. But, regardless of whether they are within your control or not, there are some things you can do to minimize the damage.
Things Out of Your Control
Unfortunately, there are some things that can go wrong that are simple outside of your control. These include weather, delayed planes, and traffic jams.
While you can’t control these things, you can control how you respond to them. So, when they happen, don’t get mad. Just accept them as part of the adventure and figure out how to work around them.
Things Within Your Control
There are also a lot of things that can go wrong which are completely within your control. They include arguing with your spouse, running late, and making a wrong turn.
Because you can control these things, you can prevent them from happening with proper planning and some patience.
If you tend to argue with your significant other when you are traveling, check out our tips for stress free travel with your spouse.
The Key to Improve Your Vacations
So, are you ready to know the one thing that will instantly improve your vacations? It is research. By taking the time to research your trip, you can make it so much better!
Trip research should not be limited to just finding flights and hotels. There is so much more you need to look into. The more you research, the better your trip will be.
When my husband and I first started traveling together, we didn’t do any research. We simply booked our flights and hotels and went. And every trip, we ran into snags that caused us to argue. And every one of these snags could have been prevented with some research.
Over time, we learned that the more we researched our trips, the better they were.
Below are some of the things that you should research before leaving on vacation and how they can improve your vacations.
Regardless of whether you have a family full of picky eaters or adventurous ones, you should spend a little time researching restaurants at your destination.
Look at menus, prices, and operating hours. If you will be traveling with your kids, check to see if they have a kids menu. Make a list of restaurants you would like to try. Make note of the location, name, and how far they are from your hotel or activities you will be doing.
This will improve your trips by having restaurant options at your fingertips when you get hungry. It will prevent you from standing around trying to decide where to eat when everyone in the family is starving.
It will also ensure you find a place to eat that will please everyone in the family.
My son is a super picky eater. So, I always research restaurants and make a list of those that have something on the menu that he will eat.
Not only does this mean he will like each restaurant we eat at as much as my husband and I do, but it also makes ordering for him much faster because I already know what he is going to want to eat before we walk in.
When it comes to researching what to do on your vacations, you should look at overall options and specific details on the things you decide to do.
First, look at everything that is available to you. What things would your family enjoy? Are there some must-do’s that you are planning your trip around? Are there activities that you never knew about?
As I was doing my research for our trip to Fiji, I discovered TerraTrek Tours. It was a self-driven dune buggy tour through the rainforest. It turned out to be one of the most fun things we’ve ever done on vacation.
Then, once you have decided on an itinerary, find out the details on each specific activity. Look at prices, operating hours, and locations. Check out if there are any restrictions on ages. What days are they closed?
By knowing the particulars of all attractions in advance of your trip, you won’t find yourself surprised by anything.
You can also avoid disappointment by getting your hopes up for something only to discover when you are at the entrance that your child is not old enough to participate.
Sometimes, researching activities can also help save you time by allowing you to buy tickets online in advance. And sometimes, your research will lead you to a discount that can save you money.
It is always a good idea to research available transportation options at your destination before you leave home.
Are there plenty of public transportation options? Do you need a rental car? Are the attractions you want to do within walking distance of your hotel?
Knowing these things in advance can help you plan better so you won’t be stranded. It can also save you money by letting you skip the rental car if public transportation is available as a cheaper option.
While you can’t control the weather on vacation any more than you can at home, knowing what to expect can help you better plan for it.
Knowing the forecast for your trip will help you make better decisions on what to pack. It can also prevent you from being miserable on vacation because you brought the wrong clothes.
More than once, we have been caught in the rain on a vacation without any rain gear because we didn’t check the weather before leaving home.
General Lay of the Land
You should also research the general lay of the land of your destination. Look at an overall map. Take note of where your hotel is.
How far is it away from the attractions you will be doing? How long does it take to get to the airport? Will you need to take a ferry or any other type of special transportation. Is there parking near all of the places you will be going?
The more you know about the general layout, the better you will be able to navigate you way around during your trip.
On a trip to San Jose, California, my husband and I did not do any of this research. We spent a good chunk of our trip lost and roaming around aimlessly. We also did not realize that there were no restaurants close to our hotel, which also made our trip worse than it should have been.
As you are researching your trip, check to see if there are any special events or celebrations going on while you are there. This could be anything from a baseball tournament to an annual fall festival.
These may be things that you want to check out, or they could be things you want to avoid. Either way, it is good to know about them before you arrive so you can be prepared for more traffic, fuller restaurants and hotels, fewer seats on flights, and potentially higher prices.
Rules, Regulations, & Restrictions
The last thing you need to research in order to improve your vacations is any rules, regulations, and restrictions that you may encounter on your trip.
These include any governmental regulations regarding entry into a foreign country, restrictions on your all-inclusive package, rules about what you can bring aboard your flight, and anything else that could negatively impact your trip if you are caught unaware.
Many times, when we were living in American Samoa, I saw people be denied entry onto the island simply because they did not have the proper documents. Usually, these sorts of things are totally preventable with a little bit of research and advance planning.
You definitely don’t want your vacation ruined by a rule or regulation that you should have been aware of but weren’t because you failed to look into possible issues.
Research is definitely the easiest way to improve your vacations. The more research you do, the better prepared you will be and the better your overall trip will be.
A little bit of research can save your whole family a lot of heartache on your actual vacation. So, take the time before you leave to make your trip as smooth as possible.
For general travel tips, see how to pack for road trips like a pro, how to save time on road trips, how to maximize your comfort on long flights, how to plan an epic vacation, how to take amazing vacations on any budget, and tips to avoid overpacking. Happy travels!
P.S. Are you ready to take that trip you’ve been dreaming of for years? Our FREE worksheet, “How to Turn Your Dream Trip Into a Reality” can help! Grab yours in the box below and start planning today!
Plus, as a bonus, you’ll receive our weekly email newsletters full of trip ideas and inspiration!