Plan Your Perfect Vacation (part 1)

Half the fun of going on vacation is the planning. It might start with a passing thought one day, then at some point it turns into a personal mission. Some travelers have already decided exactly what destination they want to visit, but many find it difficult choose with so many options out there.

How can you narrow down your vacation choices? Where do you start? Here are a few tips to help get you on your way.

First you need to decide on the type of vacation that interests you.

Popular vacations
  • Cruising
  • Fully Escorted Tour
  • Theme Park Holiday
  • Warm Destinations
  • Skiing Adventure
  • Soft Adventure
  • Educational
  • Family Travel
  • Backpacking

Let me break these choices down a little for you and maybe it will help in your decision-making. Of course if you are traveling with friends or family find a night you can all get together and discuss your interests. Ask your group and yourselves what you are looking to get out of your trip.

Do you want to lie on a sun soaked beach and relax your days away? Do you want to keep busy with sightseeing and activities? Are you looking for beautiful mountainous scenery and maybe see a wild animal or two? Visit as many destinations as you can in a short amount of time? Do you want bright lights and excitement? Maybe you need a trip where you won’t think about home, phones, TV’s, or stress.

But then again you may want a vacation where pampering is needed , where someone takes care of your every desire. If traveling with children what would make them happy? Theme Parks? A place they can meet other kids and make new friends? Hiking and Biking? Find out what excites you. Go with your gut because that will normally tell you what you want most.

These are just a few considerations to think about before plunking money down for your hard-earned vacation.

Two cruise ships in the ocean with a small fishing boat

Cruising, the perfect pampered vacation.

Cruising – Here are the perks of taking a cruise. 

Upside

  • Cruises can fit any vacation length from 3 days or more
  • Luggage delivered directly to your room
  • A cruise line representative will meet arrival flights if you have transfers to help get you to the ship
  • All food is included
  • No decisions where to eat
  • Delicious Food
  • You can order anything you want on the menu and as much as you want
  • Most ships have a casino, fitness center, swimming pools, Jacuzzi’s, spa with massage and saunas
  • Live entertainment from plays to world-class pianists included for free
  • Children’s programs with age groups in mind
  • Baby sitting
  • Room service 24 hours a day
  • Room steward 24 hours a day if needed
  • Cruises can attract most budgets
  • Visit many destinations in 1 vacation
  • Discounts for 3rd and 4th passenger in cabins
  • Discounts for children
  • Cruises now have Cooking Demonstrations, lectures from local experts to Harvard Professors, dance lessons, and if you have time computer classes.
  • Try a cruise that has rock climbing, miniature golf and yes, even surfing!
  • Ice Cream Parlors
  • Poolside Bars
  • Relax next to a refreshing pool in a comfy chaise lounge
  • Every need or want tended to
  • Daily schedule of shipboard activities delivered to your cabin
  • Choice of any destination in the world

Downside

  • Busy check in
  • Buffets are traditionally crowded and hard to find tables during peak times
  • Motion sickness, although wristbands, ear patches help. If you have a bad case the onboard doctors in the infirmaries have a shot you can take that works well.
  • Popular shore excursions could sell out. Book early on the Internet for most desired tours.
  • Too much food, you can gain 5-10 pounds if you are not careful
  • Alcoholic beverages can be quite expensive 

Note:

Tips are now automatically included at $10 per day per person 

 

Getting ready to get on a tour bus in Italy

Escorted Tours – Traveling with a group with an experienced, well-trained escort that will be there to help you throughout your trip. 

Upside

  • Air, transfers, hotel, transportation, sightseeing, and most food is included
  • No baggage handling
  • Experienced tour guide who takes care of everything from beginning to end
  • Information on history, present day and future on cities, towns and villages that you are visiting or even just passing through.
  • Chance to make new friends
  • Hotels are already pre booked for you
  • No driving or having to ask directions or getting lost
  • Comfortable air-conditioned motorcoaches
  • Someone to take care of unexpected problems
  • Recommendations for restaurants and optional tours
  • Most tours include breakfast, most dinners and some lunches
  • Entrance fees to sites are included
  • No waiting in long lines for attractions

Downside

  • Fast paced
  • Most tours are overnight stays; look for tours that have several 2 night stays if possible
  • You are with the group constantly
  • Not enough time to explore, but enough time to see if you would like to return

Note:

Tipping on last night is customary. Suggested tips are $8 per day, for exceptional service, tip a little more.

Some groups will pull money together to purchase a nice gift on top of tips

Riding a rollercoaster  

 

Theme Parks – Rides, Thrills and Chills!

Upside

  • Fun for the whole family
  • Quality time
  • Brings a stronger relationship with parents and kids
  • Great memories 

Which Theme Park?

Europe and Britain

Downside

  • Nonstop activity
  • Young children get tired and cranky
  • Sore feet and backs
  • Long lines

These are just a few idea’s to get you started on planning your next vacation. It’s good to take your time and do some research before booking your trip. Get to know the area’s you plan on visiting so you won’t miss a thing you like while you are there. Find the best restaurants through Yelp or Trip Advisor along with the best sightseeing reviews.

I have much more to say so stay tuned for more travel planning information coming soon.

20 Comments:

  1. Good to know – we almost always choose back road adventures with a little camping thrown in, much to the dismay of our kids, who would love a cruise or a theme park adventure. Maybe we’ll try something else one of these days.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      We love Back Roads too, its a reputable company with lots of options. I know what you mean about kids, its all about the entertainment. 🙂

  2. Can be difficult at times to plan our vacation when there are so many things to do! I don’t like to plan my trips too much, but having an idea of what you want to do is essential!

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Sometimes your best trips are the ones not planned, but once you get there its nice to find out the best places to see and of course a good restaurant or two helps every time.

  3. I tend to plan and my husband likes to go on the fly. But, it works out. We tend to go our own instead of tours just so its not too confining and we decide the pace. Tours are good if your not comfortable driving in a different country

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Exactly, tours are great for first time travelers where they don’t have to worry about driving, or trying to find their hotel or places to eat. It’s a great way to get comfortable with the destination. But going on your own you can do what you want, when you want, how you want and not be on any time schedules if you don’t want to!

  4. A well balanced article, especially with the cruising….as I usually only see articles that are positive (for obvious good reason). I cannot believe how many theme parks you’ve got noted there and you’ve only covered a couple of continents! So much info in here that is really helpful.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Thanks Kerri! I think I may do a few updates to include Australia-New Zealand too!

  5. I really enjoyed the theme park part of this article. I love theme parks and you have given me some brilliant ideas. I have been on a cruise before and I agree about your positives and negatives (including gaining weight form too much food!!).

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Hahaha! What is it with cruise line foods??? 😀 Thank you for your kind words too!

  6. Such important info , especially about tipping. I am often feeling lost as I don’t know what’s the “expected” tip % in a country/place/tour. So it helps if you know the ballpark/standard and you can go up/low depending on the services received.

  7. cool list of what you can expect

  8. Warm destinations are best for us unless we visit family and friends and then it can be anything goes!

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Isn’t that the truth, family can change even your best plans! And, couldn’t agree more, love those warm destinations especially when winter sets in.

  9. Thanks for the thorough post. Looking fwd to the rest of the series. I’ve notice with me, as time passes my way of vacationing has changed from escorted tours to backpacking to flashpacking and now it’s just whatever is most convenient being a single mom with a tot.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      You are an experienced vagabond now Theresa! Totally gone through the process and now teaching your little one the tricks.

  10. As frequent cruisers, I think your analysis is pretty accurate. We love to travel via cruise ship, but it is not for everyone. They are great vacations and you can often find some incredible deals to places like the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda. Well put together.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Don, you brought up something I completely forgot to list, the great bargains you can find if you take the time to look. Thanks so much for that tip!

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