One thing that is definitely a trend for me over the years has been excitement over an upcoming vacation. It doesn’t matter if it will be a long major vacation or a short weekender, if traveling is in the future, I am happy.
The actual planning for vacations is one of the best parts of the whole process. I usually start some planning, even if just a little bit, as early as the destination is decided. I should say at this point that it has been just since the birth of the internet that I have enjoyed the process so much. Before I was able to get online and research as much as I wanted to, I seem to remember that not much planning could go into a vacation at all. If one knew how to find vacation packets from various places, it was a huge help, but such things were not always available.
It is rather comical now because I am sitting here wondering just how people made vacation plans before internet and I can’t come up with much of anything! Did we call the information operator and ask for the chamber of commerce in our destination area? And then ask them to send us brochures? I really can’t imagine how it was done.
To take that thought a step further, if we got the brochures, did we have to make reservations at the one or two hotels that paid to advertise there, or did we never make reservations at all? I’m not sure I can imagine myself calling an operator and saying “Hi, could you tell me if there are any Hampton Inns within 5 miles of Seattle?” It just doesn’t sound practical. I guess I would have gone to Seattle and hoped there would be an empty hotel room somewhere!
Things are so much easier now. I can start planning for any given vacation as soon as I know it will be happening. I research the place on the World Wide Web. I pull up information about the place’s history and hot spots, hotels and restaurants. I usually know before I leave the house where I will be sleeping and eating, and whether there will be plenty of things to do or if boredom might set in.
Sure, it takes time to compare hotels or print out menus from the best restaurants, but it has saved an incredible amount of time that would have been spent after arriving.
One thing that is very important to do online is to search for coupons. Many restaurants and attractions offer discount coupons that are to be printed out directly from your computer. It may not seem like a lot, but if you have discounts for many of the eateries and attractions you will be visiting, it adds up rather quickly. Some hotels offer a discount (generally 10% is what I have seen) if you book your room online.
There are many online places where you will be able to see reviews of any given vacation spots. This is better than looking up the individual websites because the reviews come from other travelers. I have had many good experiences with this type of web site. If other people have complained about a certain hotel, for instance, chances are that I wouldn’t have been very comfortable there either.
I have utilized some really great restaurant tips from those kinds of sites as well. I concentrate on the places where people say they have great meals rather than the places they didn’t like. I make note of the places that were not enjoyed, but I often print a few menus out from the places that were highly reviewed. I keep things like that in a binder and it is a great time saver. It allows travelers to decide before leaving the hotel where they will be having lunch or dinner and it is much better (at least in my own case!) than driving around a strange city trying to find dinner.
When it comes to attractions, coupons are usually for a certain percentage discount, but sometimes they offer an admission free or at half price for every paid admission. The money saved with this little bit of research can be quite significant. If you did not have an opportunity to research online, try to find the chamber of commerce or a visitor center when you arrive at your destination. Even the “smaller” tourist destinations often offer coupon booklets.