After months (or years!) spent saving money and accruing time off, you’re finally ready for an international getaway. Maybe you’ve got a destination picked out, or maybe you’re employing the trusty spin-the-globe-and-see-where-your-finger-lands system. No matter where you’re going or who you’re bringing along, here are some suggestions to help you get the most from your next vacation.
Use Face-to-Face Resources
These days, online resources are so vast that we could spend days on end plumbing their depths for information on our destinations and still not reach the bottom. But rather than invest too much time reading the reviews of people you’ve never met (and whose opinions, therefore, you may not trust), rely on face-to-face resources. Get recommendations from friends and family before you leave on your trip. Ask the staff at your hotel or restaurant waiters for their favorite meals, activities, and more.
Studies have shown that we experience a positive surge in our moods in the months before our vacations. Be sure to book far in advance (at least six months) so you can spend that time anticipating the adventures you’ll have! Don’t plan every minute, but research your destination and enjoy the process of selecting your preferred activities.
We all want the perfect vacation, but rarely do things go exactly according to plan. Embrace the unexpected, and prepare for the possibility that you will encounter at least a few obstacles along the way. Print out a map of your destination in case your phone battery dies or you have no reception. Bring along photocopies of your passport and credit cards in case the originals are lost or stolen. Being flexible and willing to stray from a predetermined travel plan helps you adapt more easily to your surroundings—and, in turn, enjoy your international experience.
Take a Vacation from Your Duties
It can be easy to fall into your daily chore routine on vacation, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Obviously your parental responsibilities don’t stop while you’re traveling, but you should try to find some opportunities for downtime. Budget for a night or two of a hotel babysitter, or tag-team kid duties with your partner so you can each have some time to yourself. Taking a break from your duties also means turning off your work phone and letting your work emails wait until you’re home.
Try not to let social media influence how you spend your vacation. Just because Instagram may be bursting with images of the Eiffel Tower and London Bridge doesn’t mean that you have to visit those locations if you don’t want to. This is your vacation—do and see what interests you.
Interact with Locals
Just because you may not speak the language of your destination doesn’t mean that you can’t communicate with the locals! A smile will get you far, as will a few simple words like “Please” and “Thank you.” Translation apps are another great way to help you connect despite the language barrier.
A big part of being open-minded on your vacation means challenging yourself to try new things. Say yes to unfamiliar cuisine, or face your fear of heights with a ride on an aerial cable car. Experiences like these will help boost your traveling confidence and increase your sense of fulfilment while on vacation.
Due to what’s called the “recency effect,” people tend to remember recent events more vividly than those that occurred toward the beginning of the trip. Because of this, if you can only splurge once on vacation, do it at the end. Reserve a table for you and your traveling companions at a fancy restaurant, treat yourself to an all-day sightseeing excursion, or upgrade your seats for the flight(s) home. (Let your go-today agent know at the time of booking that you’d like to upgrade!)
Ready to head off on your next incredible adventure? We’re here to help!