It’s difficult to define what exactly makes some vacations memorable and what makes others fade away into obscurity. To make sure that you are getting the most positive experience for your money, follow these tips to taking a vacation that you’ll be talking about for years to come.
Leave Time to Anticipate
No matter whether you are looking at cruise packages or planning a cross-country road trip, the anticipation of the event is part of the fun; therefore, it makes sense to plan your trip early. Some special occasions such as a 25th wedding anniversary or a 50th birthday deserve to be planned over a year in advance. Having the extra time leaves you with plenty of days to research the sights, watch the travel channel, talk to friends who’ve been there and buy special event tickets to popular attractions well before they sell out. Planning early also allows you to talk about your trip with your travel companions and share your itinerary with others which heightens the anticipation.
Don’t Over Plan
Of course, there are some hot ticket items that you must see. You don’t fly to New York City and skip the Statue of Liberty or cruise to the Caribbean and never set foot on the beach, but that doesn’t mean that every single moment of every single day needs to be planned. The best vacations have one or two highlights per day with plenty of both free exploration time and simple downtime. If one of the purposes of vacation is to relax away from your busy life, then don’t schedule an 8 AM tour every morning. Give yourself permission to sleep in. Allow yourself to nap in the afternoon, so you can stay out late dancing or stargazing.
Take Lots of Pictures
Your close friends and family will good-naturedly look through all your pictures even as they’re thinking, “Why so many close-ups of wildflowers?” or “Wow! Another building.” You should take as many pictures as you want but understand that only some of them will be worth showing to others. The most interesting thing to look at is other people, so include yourself and your traveling companions in as many pictures as possible. Next, take snaps of unusual sights that you can’t see from home. Finally, include pictures of what interests you the most such as architectural details of old buildings or the sunset. When you get home, cut down your photos to just the ones that are really spectacular or remind you of a great story from your trip. Share this curated set and keep the rest for yourself. Your friends and family will thank you.
You probably don’t need any more keychains or refrigerator magnets, but that doesn’t mean you should pass on all souvenirs from your trip. Instead of something that you can readily buy at an airport gift shop, save your money for a market and look for something that is useful or beautiful and locally crafted such as a hand-woven basket, an embroidered shirt or a piece of art. It’s better to spend money on one meaningful item rather than on lots of trinkets that you don’t need.
Keep a Journal
No matter what you might think, you’ll never remember everything you want to about a trip. Keep a small notebook handy to jot down notable people and places you encounter. It will be fun to go back through your notes when you and your traveling companions reminisce about your wonderful trip.
End on a High Note
The night before you leave, plan something special. This can be a fancy dinner, moonlit tour or a show. Don’t front-load all of the exciting parts of your trip, or you may find yourself feeling blue as the vacation comes to a close. By saving something really great for the end, you get to continue your feelings of happy anticipation all the way through to the last day.
Taking a vacation can really help you reset so that you can get back to work when you get home. Focus on making yours memorable so that you can go back to that