Several years ago on a family vacation, we went to a resort in Hawaii. To me it was incredible.
The rooms were oceanfront with large balconies. There was a pool, a second salt-water pool, and we had a private beach. It may have been the nicest place I’d ever stayed.
There were ping pong tables outside, surfboards at the beach, and more. I was so happy; I didn’t know what to do first.
Unfortunately, my mother did not share my excitement. She did not swim. She did not play ping pong. She had no desire to play on the beach or in the ocean.
My dad checked to see what other amusements were available. Soon, we were on the sugar cane railroad and touring a small scrimshaw museum. The next day, we left the resort because if mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.
What would have improved the trip? Better planning.
Before you leave on your next trip, think on some of these:
What do you do in your room while traveling? Do you spend a lot of time in your room, or is it just a pit stop between adventures? This may affect how much you want to spend for your room and what amenities you want at the hotel.
On a safari, do you want to safari by day and return to five-star accommodations at night, or are you up for a tent in the jungle with no running water?
Another big consideration is children. Are you traveling with kids or do you want to pretend they don’t exist? Some hotels are more kid friendly which is great unless you were planning a getaway without kids. The driving beat of loud music from a night club below you can be frustrating when kids are trying to sleep. On the other hand, kids shouting and playing in the pool right outside your door can also reduce your satisfaction.
Room service is fun, but do they have anything you can eat on the menu? Does a simple continental breakfast in the morning meet your needs? Maybe a nearby restaurant is all you need. Think about your plans. If you think you’ll need a restaurant in your hotel, make sure there is one. Check the hours, the menu, and the prices before you make your reservations.
What do you want or expect the hotel to have? If you want an exercise room and specific equipment, ask ahead of time. How about a swimming pool or Jacuzzi? Should there be a game room for the kids? Do you want a bar and live music? Does there need to be an airport shuttle? Is breakfast included? These are questions to ask before you get to your destination. Here’s a small piece of advice. If you have made or are thinking of making reservations online, don’t hesitate to call the property first. Ask if the pool is open. Ask about hours. Don’t be frustrated on your trip because they didn’t update their website and the pool is closed. Make a call or send an email.
Where I’m from, everybody drives. There is no strong bus, train, or even taxi infrastructure. When I used to make reservations for clients in major cities, they were surprised when a hotel didn’t offer parking, or if they did, there was a fee. The opposite applies to people coming from places with strong transit systems to a less urban setting. Do you need a rental car?
Do some research. I have some wisdom about trains I’ll put in a future post. But, don’t go on holiday just to feel trapped or strapped for cash because you didn’t check out transportation in advance.
I once planned a trip to Washington, D.C. My destination was the White House and everything touristy. I found a decent hotel online that looked like it was next to the train station. It wasn’t. Every night, I took a cab from the train station to my hotel because the one mile between the two did not include sidewalks, trails, or otherwise. It was a waste of money each night because there were minimum charges for the taxi, tips, etc. Ask questions before you go.
Alright, we’ve thought about accommodations, amenities, and transportation, but the big question remains. What are you going to do at your destination?
I have a friend who is visiting every Major League Baseball stadium. Obviously, this means she travels from April to October. Stadiums may be downtown like Coors Field in Denver or further out like Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Before she heads to a game, she’s got to arrange tickets, make sure she can get to the venue, and select accommodations convenient to the game.
This is important; if you’re going for a specific event, make sure you have your tickets or reservations ahead of time. Here’s a tricky one. If a place says it will be open for Spring Break, make sure it’s your Spring Break. Different schools have different schedules.
Finally, check out your destination for some alternative ideas. If part of your plans fall through, know of something else you could do. This is always a good idea in case something you thought would take all day doesn’t. Don’t sit and watch cable in your hotel room. You could have done that at home without the travel expense.
Keeping these things in mind can help make a trip go more smoothly. Plan wisely and travel…a lot.