A Travel Guide for Reducing those Vacation Horror Stories

Oh, the thought of going on holiday. The very idea of traveling now seems like a long-ago dream for many. Nostalgia hits hard, as soon as the warm weather hits, and with the COVID-19 lockdown, you may be itching to have sand between your toes, with a delicious cool beverage in your hand, as the sun sets across the ocean. Alright, so not every travel day ends so perfectly, but when you think back to the last time you set out for a foreign land, it seems like each day went so perfectly. Right? 

Or, maybe not. 

If you’ve ever had your luggage lost, misplaced an important piece of ID, or come down with food poisoning, maybe not every day of your holiday was quite what you expected or planned. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you might feel slightly reluctant to book your next holiday. Instead of travel horror stories though, you can make the most of your lockdown time to research how to make the most of your next vacation. Let’s go over some of the ways to ensure you have a fantastic voyage. 

Plan without over-planning

One of the greatest takeaways of traveling often is to try to limit your expectations for the best possible trip. When you have a plethora of expectations, it is inevitable that some of them will end up not being met. Instead, if you can reduce your expectations, you’ll be happier overall. So, how you actually do this, though? Well, the more you travel, the likelier you’ll be to not set such high expectations. However, other key tips are to simply reduce the amount of planning you do. For type-A personalities, this can be a struggle, especially for those who not thrive in spontaneous circumstances. Instead of trying to plan every detail, you can have a general idea of the things you may want to see or places you want to eat instead of scheduling every single waking moment. 

Plan to relax 

If your holiday doesn’t include relaxing, you may find you need a vacation after your vacation. So, plan to have at least one to two days per week of travel as recovery or relaxation. This might mean leaving your schedule completely open or booking a spa experience. For a fun idea, try booking a couple’s massage on the beach; many resorts in beach areas offer these. If you’re not a resort-type traveler, and instead like to backpack, explore, and book country cabins to stay in, then pack your Kindle reader or a good book, and simply rest on those days. You might be surprised where the day leads you on your “relax” days since you’ll be able to be more spontaneous. 

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Don’t pack the cute shoes 

Limiting how you plan doesn’t mean not planning at all. Instead, it means planning smartly. Check out these traveling SMARTY tips for some awesome suggestions like packing an empty water bottle and downloading Google translate before you get on the plane. Where planning comes in handy is when you are figuring out how to keep your wallet safe, what shoes to wear on long walking days, and how to pack light so you can bring home some goodies from the country you’re visiting. 

This leads to a key point in traveling: pack smart. You know those sandals you really want to wear? Now is not the time to break them in. If you’re going to a place where you’re going to be sight-seeing, pack the comfy trainers. 

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Avoid traveling in a large group 

If you have a group of ten friends, or a large family, sitting in an airplane, all sipping on mini cocktails sounds like a blast. However, there are some significant problems that can arise when you travel with large groups. 

Keep your friends by traveling separately

The surest way to make a good friend a distant acquaintance is by bringing together a group of people on your travels. There are a lot of different traveling personalities from the constant on-the-go person, to the I-want-to-see-every-museum person, to the pool-lounging friend. Guess what happens when you try to coordinate all these people into a two-week expedition? You guessed it. It doesn’t go so smoothly. 

If you’re the person who loves learning while traveling, you’ll be in for a rude surprise when you find out your bestie wants to sit by the beach all day while drinking mojitos. Keep travel groups to fewer than six people, unless you’ve traveled together before without issue.. 

Traveling together? Discuss ahead of time. 

If you do want to travel with a large group, make sure that you’re on the same page as far as how you want to split up your time. Other suggestions are to go with an intended purpose. If, for instance, you all love scuba diving, try booking a place in Cozumel where you can all engage in the same event. 

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Be honest with each other. If you want more alone time, tell your travel partners. Don’t like French food? Don’t go to France together. It is better to be honest than to find out you have made an enemy out of a friend, and have wasted your travel time. 

Group travel: cruise time

The one time that a holiday in large groups can work fairly well is when you take a cruise, but with COVID-19, that’s probably not on your top list of things to do right now. (If it is, an Alaskan cruise is life-changing!) The reason for this is that each stop is fairly regimented, so it’s easy to depart from the ship, explore together, and head back together. Once you’re back on the cruise ship, you can each go your separate ways until the next stop, either by seeing shows, sunbathing, or playing some craps. Cruises are definitely not for everyone, but if you’re thinking of going somewhere with a large group, this may be an ideal situation. Everyone can have their own cabin, as well, so there are no weird financial issues of trying to make sure everyone is paying their share at a cabin. Let’s be honest: nobody wants to argue about who-owes-who, so booking separately has huge advantages. 

Consider “bigger” vacations less often

MIni 3 day holidays can be just what the body needs, but if nothing else, COVID-19 has taught us that much of the travel we do could be reduced. If you’re always planning your yearly holiday at the same place, year after year, why? There are countless areas you can visit! If you simply stay at the same place each year due to budget constrictions, consider skipping your yearly holiday and replacing it with a bigger travel experience every couple of years. 

Increase your budget

The advantages of skipping this year’s travel is that you can put that saved money towards a more expensive option later down the road. If you go on a week vacation each year, you budget for that one week, right? This likely includes everything from boarding, to food, and train and plane tickets, and even renting cars. Now, if you skip this year’s holiday getaway, your budget can for all intents and purposes, be doubled next year. That might mean you get to spend two weeks at your intended place, or you can simply go somewhere you wouldn’t be able to normally afford. 

Yes, the very obvious downfall of this is simply that you don’t get to travel as much. However, you can still take time off and even go for short road trips that will cost you less, and opt for larger vacations every several years. 

Increase the time spent 

When you stay at a location for five days, you’re a tourist the entire time, right? If, instead, you can rent an apartment and even work remotely for a week or two of the month, you can learn so much about a place. You’ll simultaneously be saving money by cooking in the apartment, rather than eating out the entire time. This clearly is a very different way to travel and to be honest, not everyone has the ability or opportunity to do this.

This can absolutely slow down how quickly you move though and can provide you the opportunity to not feel rushed. If all of your vacation horror stories are because you rushed through museums, left your luggage in the back of a taxi, or ran out of a restaurant forgetting that you left your change at the table, this type of travel may be perfect for you. A holiday should not be stressful. When you’re rushing from place to place, things get forgotten. Slowing down by being in one place for an extended period of time can help reduce that. 

Traveling after Covid-19

Traveling after the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be an interesting learning experience if nothing else. Since nobody is quite sure how it is going to play out, take your time getting back into the swing of things, and try not to rush into a vacation simply because you’re longing to see new places and faces. 

While it’s fun to talk about traveling again, take the time to plan a great getaway for next summer, with a small group of friends. Oh! Don’t forget those walking shoes.