Category: Travel and Vacations

Vacation Planning 101: Everything You Need to Consider

You’ve finally found some free time in your schedule, and you’re ready to start vacation planning! Where do you begin? There’s much to take into consideration when planning for a vacation. 

You’ll need to start by knowing what type of vacation you want to experience and where you want to go. Once you determine those major details, you can then begin planning the vacation as a whole. 

In the guide below, there are several helpful steps to take when planning a vacation. Continue reading below to start the planning process!

Become Familiar With the Map

A great starting point is to become familiar with the map of the area you’re planning to visit. Get to know all the different routes and locations around your vacation destination. Becoming familiar with the map of your destination can help you throughout the planning process. 

What places are nearby? What activities are more further out of the way? Use markers and highlighters to mark different locations you want to visit and routes you’ll take to get there. 

Create an Itinerary With Expenses

Now that you have a map in hand, you can start to create your itinerary. Your itinerary should include the dates and times of the places and things you want to do. It’s also wise to include all expenses with your itinerary as well. 

For example, if the family wants to go horseback riding while there, fit this into your itinerary and then include how much it’ll cost. This will help you plan financially. Don’t forget to consider a few summer vacation games to play with the family as well. 

Not everything you do on vacation needs to cost money. There are plenty of fun, inexpensive activities as well. 

Leave Room For Flexibility

Although having an itinerary to follow is important, it’s also essential to leave room on your itinerary for flexibility. Sure, you want to plan out each day so there’s always something to do and someplace new to explore. However, you never know what might come up while you’re there. 

What if you and the family are driving around town and find a nature park you want to stop by and explore? Do it! Don’t get too caught up in following an itinerary that you forget to be spontaneous. 

Research Your Destination

It’s never a bad idea to research your destination as well. Researching your destination can tell you a few things like what to pack or how to prepare for the environment. You can conduct research online or even by reading guidebooks. 

The more you know about a destination, the better prepared you’ll be and the more relaxing and enjoyable the vacation will become. 

Vacation Planning Starts Here

Your vacation planning starts right here with this very guide! Be sure to keep all these helpful tips in mind when you’re planning your next vacation. These tips can help you save both time and money during your travels. 

For other helpful and money-saving advice, continue to visit on a regular basis!

7 Reasons to Book Your Vacation Right Now in Advance

It seems like everyone on the planet is itching for a vacation right about now. After months upon months of being locked up inside, a change of scenery is just what we all need. 

The problem is, if you don’t book your vacation in advance, you can miss out on that. You may be forced to stay right where you are, staring at the same four walls. And no one wants that. 

The solution is simple: advance booking. Booking your vacation early is the only way to guarantee that your travels plans will actually follow through. Here are seven reasons to book your vacation right now in advance. 

1. Lower Prices

The cost of travel expenses only goes up as the date of your vacation creeps closer. Between flights, rental cars, or hotels, it’ll be far more expensive if you book it last minute. 

When you book your own vacation package early, you can quickly snag the low prices. You don’t need to suffer financially if you book in advance. 

2. Reduce Stress

Booking everything last-minute can send your stress levels skyrocketing. You’ll be frantically trying to find lodging, activities, transportation, and will have no time for relaxation.  

Planning ahead can take all that stress away. It’ll give you peace of mind and more downtime to actually enjoy your vacation, as you should. 

3. Secure Your Spot

Another benefit of advanced booking is that it guarantees you a spot. If you wait too long, spots on planes or in hotels can fill up quickly, especially if you’re traveling to a popular destination. 

If you want to know how far in advance to book flights, booking planners like Marriott Vacation Club Booking Windows can help. They can help you find information on available resorts and provide great travel tips. 

4. Increase Happiness and Excitement

Turns out, planning in advance improves your mental state. Studies show that planning your vacation can make you even happier than actually going on it. 

Giving yourself something to look forward to will increase your quality of life. It’ll give you more motivation and energy in your everyday life since there’s something that you’re working towards. 

5. Flexible Cancellation Policies

Booking in advance means that you’ll have much more flexibility when it comes to cancellation or change policies. If an emergency comes up and you need to change or cancel your flight, it’ll be far messier if you’re doing it all last minute. Advance booking gets rid of that mess. 

6. Lots of Deals

You’ll have access to more and better deals if you book your vacation in advance. Often, deals are only for a limited time, and if you’re booking your flight last minute, you won’t be able to take advantage of them. 

Stop wondering, “how far in advance can I book a flight?” Find a deal and book right now! 

7. Get Time Off Work 

It’s much easier to get time off from work if you talk to your boss in advance. Asking for time off last-minute won’t exactly put you in your boss’s good graces. 

But if you plan ahead, it makes your boss’s and coworkers’ jobs easier, as well as reflecting well on you as a worker. It shows that you’re organized and prepared. 

Book Your Vacation Today

When you book your vacation in advance, you get a better, more relaxing trip as a result. Vacations are important for your health, so you need to make sure that you don’t miss out on the great benefits of taking a holiday. 

Read more articles to get quick facts and great info on vacation, travel booking, and more! 

4 Tips to Plan a Costa Rica Vacation

Are you planning to jet off to the land of the Ticos for a vacation?

There are fewer countries as gorgeous as Costa Rica. It’s got the rainforest, the ocean, and countless cultural sights you won’t want to miss. 

If you need help to plan a Costa Rica vacation, this guide is for you. Here are four tips for planning the perfect getaway in this beautiful Central American nation!

1. Keep an Eye on Your Belongings

While Costa Rica is quite a safe country, you do run the risk of running into pickpockets when you’re out and about. Keeping tabs on your belongings will help you stay safe on your trip. 

First, never leave valuables within view in your car. Secondly, don’t leave bags unattended while purchasing tickets or using restrooms. Finally, know that most thieves work in crowded places, so keep your belongings extra close in these places.

It’s best to leave your valuables at your Costa Rica Villa while traveling. You can find some safe villas here:

2. Eat the Food, But Don’t Drink the Water

There are so many amazing dishes in Costa Rica that you’ll often find yourself struggling to decide on what to eat in Costa Rica. And, while you definitely want to try as many of the local flavors as you can, you don’t want to drink the water. 

Tap water tends to have bacteria in it that can cause traveler’s diarrhea or typhoid fever. Play it safe and stick to bottled water while traveling in Costa Rica. That way, you can avoid a trip to the doctor on your vacation.

3. Book Organized Tours

It’s true that you can explore Costa Rica on your own without a tour guide, but this won’t give you the best experience. The reason for this is that many of the coolest attractions are quite far out of the city centers. 

When you book an organized tour, you’ll be able to safely get to faraway sights that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. Plus, you get the insider knowledge of a local Costa Rican!

4. Be Prepared for Rainy Days

While we’d all love to imagine a vacation that offers clear, blue skies, that’s simply not realistic. And, it’s especially not realistic when you’re visiting Costa Rica. 

Costa Rica’s rainy season lasts from May to November and can mean that you’ll run into frequent downpours. In fact, some restaurants and hotels actually close during the rainy season on the country’s Pacific Coast. 

Regardless of the time of the year you visit, however, you’re likely to experience at least a few rain showers. Bring a good rain jacket and waterproof shoes to make your vacation as comfortable as possible. 

Plan a Costa Rica Vacation You Won’t Forget

With these travel tips, you’re ready to plan a Costa Rica vacation that you won’t soon forget. Get ready to book the perfect getaway to this incredible country.

Did you love learning about how to plan a vacation to Costa Rica? Be sure to check out our other guides full of vacation planning tips and tricks!

5 Simple Ways to Save Money When Taking a Cruise

Taking a cruise is one of the ultimate vacation plans. They often offer something for every member of the family. They also often offer bundle deals to help save you money. 

Even with these bundles, it’s very easy to overspend while taking a vacation cruise. But we can help you save money on your next trip with these five simple tricks. 

1. Timing Is Everything 

Most cruise lines offer great deals after they first publish their itinerary. This can sometimes be up to two years in advance. Which gives you plenty of time to plan and save up. 

The greatest deals are often seen when cruises have lots of cabins to fill right before departure. If you know you want to go on a cruise and have no particular destination in mind, this could be your best option. 

2. Know What’s Included 

Many bundles that are offered by cruise lines are not really all that inclusive. Be sure to read all of the fine print and the exclusions and tally up the individual cost of each boat. You can now use that to compare the boats side by side. 

You can also check out cruise reviews in advance, like this one about viking cruises Mediterranean. The more know what to expect the more money you can save. 

3. Stay Loyal

If you plan to take multiple cruises once you find a cruise line that you love, stick with them. Most cruise lines offer a return-customer program that offers discounts for loyal customers. 

This could be discounted cruises, free services on the ship, or discounted shore experiences. These could help you save some serious cash during your vacation. 

4. Unplug 

When you’re in international waters internet coverage can be scarce and highly expensive. Most cruise lines charge between $.50 – $.75 per minute of coverage. However, there are usually cafes in the ports if you have to check your emails or update your social media.

Not to mention, unplugging from electronics can be a good thing. Especially while on vacation. 

5. Don’t Buy the Beverage Package 

Unless you’re planning on drinking more than $50 worth of alcohol a day, we’d suggest you not get this package. Drinks typically run in the $5-$7 range, so it may be better to just buy as you go. 

More Ways to Save When Taking A Cruise

Always prepare a budget when planning a vacation. Do your research on the areas you plan to visit and know the average cost of what you will need while you’re there. Doing this can help you know how much extra you can spare after covering the necessities. 

Also, use a travel agent to help you find the best deals. They can even help you find locations you’ll love based on your interests. 

We hope you enjoyed this short guide to saving money taking a cruise. Don’t forget to share these tips with your friends and family on social media. We also have other great articles like this one to help you save money be sure to check them out, too. 

The Ultimate Guide to Glamping

Did you know that more than 7.2 million households have started camping in the last five years in the United States? If you are more of a glamper than a camper then we are here to share everything you need to know in our glamping guide below. Planning a glamping trip is going to take a bit of planning to ensure you have the best experience possible. 

Keep reading to learn our top glamping vacation tips. 

1. Accommodations With Structures and Floors

When you are planning your glamping experience you want to look for accommodations that have floors and a structure. If they don’t then this is not glamping, it would be considered camping. Glamping has a sturdy structure where you feel a bit secure from the elements and the bugs. 

Some experiences such as glamping zion will have their accommodations feel really comfortable and homey with great linens, pillows, and possibly a throw rug. 

2. Ambiance

Glamping is all about the ambiance. Look for a place that takes care of the small details such as strings of lights, lanterns, cute pillows, chairs, tables, and other decorative knick-knacks that add to the experience. 

Some places will go the extra mile and add things like bathrobes and shower shoes to give you the experience and feeling of luxury glamping.

3. Bedding

When looking for the perfect glamping place to stay check how their sleeping arrangements are. Glamping means you should be sleeping comfortably – not on a cot or an air mattress. The key is to have a comfy bed along with comfortable sheets, blankets, and pillows. 

4. Climate Control

If you are planning on glamping in a state where the weather is too hot or too cold, you want to ask if they have climate control in the unit you will be staying in. Some places will have air conditioning if it is too hot and others will have some type of heater if it is too cold or electric blankets on your bed. 

5. Bathroom

Using a porta potty is not considered glamping, you want to choose a place that offers a real toilet and hot running water so that you can shower and be comfortable during your outdoor adventures. Some accommodations will have their own private bathroom and shower attached or close by. 

Others will have a separate building that you can go to take your showers and use the toilet. Some glamping hosts will go the extra mile and provide you with soap, shampoo, and other bath essentials. No matter the bathroom that is available it should be immaculate and clean to give you the feeling of “glamping.”

Time to Put Our Glamping Guide Into Action

We hope that now that you are aware of our top tips in our glamping guide, you can have a memorable glamping trip and enjoy the planning process as well. 

Did this article come in handy today? Please keep browsing the rest of this section for our latest travel tips and tricks. 

How to Visit Anna Maria Island While on a Budget

Travel and Leisure Magazine recently crowned Anna Maria Island Florida as one of the state’s most charming towns, describing it as a hidden gem. 

Even the recent pandemic wasn’t enough to keep tourists away from this quaint destination, with Anna Maria Island reporting a much lower decline in visitor numbers than other mainland destinations.

Are you keen to discover what all the fuss is about? Do you have a tight travel budget? Here’s how to plan a cost-effective trip to this popular seaside destination.

Finding Affordable Anna Maria Island Accommodation

Right now, many Anna Maria Island Resorts are still offering discount prices to try and boost tourist numbers. So, book your accommodation soon if you want to benefit from low 2021 prices.

If that ship’s sailed already, there are still plenty of savings available during the quiet fall and winter seasons. You could also benefit from last-minute deals offered by Anna Maria Hotels.

Another way to save is by skipping the fully-inclusive stays altogether and opting for a self-catering stay. You’ll find a huge variety of beachfront properties to choose from and some will even allow you to bring your pet along. 

Often, traveling in a larger group can help you save even more when renting a house since you can split the costs between more people.

Accommodation set back from the beach features lower rates than oceanfront properties. Yet, due to the small size of the island, you’ll still enjoy easy access to all the best things to do on Anna Maria Island.

Free Anna Maria Island Activities

You’ll find plenty to keep you busy on Anna Maria Island and many of the best ones are free. Here’s where you can go for an affordable day out on the island:

Anna Maria Island Beaches

Seven miles of gorgeous white sand beaches are a top drawcard for all who visit here and there’s an Anna Maria Island beach for everyone.

Manatee Beach is a popular spot if you like mingling with the crowds featuring a playground, sports equipment, and lifeguards on duty. Families flock to Coquina Beach, while the more romantic seek out the lovely sunsets over Bean Point Beach. 

Natural Attractions on Anna Maria Island

The island’s a nature lover’s paradise with plenty of unspoiled areas waiting for you to discover them. De Soto National Memorial Park is an excellent showcase of the island’s natural attributes as well as some snippets of its history.

You can walk the well-marked trails, try your hand at fishing, or board a kayak to explore the waters. Camp Uzita holds regular living history events where you can get into the swing of things in full European armor and your dog can even earn their BARK ranger tag for good behavior.

Other nature preserves in the area include Neal Preserve, Perico Preserve, and Robinson Preserve. 

Free Admission to Museums

Some of the most interesting places to explore on Anna Maria Island offer free entry on certain days of the week. These include:

  • The John and Mable Ringling Museum – free admission on Mondays
  • Anna Maria Island Historical Museum – free on Wednesdays
  • Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy – Thursday admissions are free

If you’d like something a little more upbeat, you can join in the free Sarasota drum circle on Sunday evenings. Remember, the Anna Maria Island trolley offers free rides wherever you want to go on the island.

Eating on Anna Maria Island

If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, you’ll save a lot of money come mealtimes. You can pick up wonderful fresh produce at one of the Islands’ popular farmer’s markets.

The best ones are:

Bridge Street Market

You’ll find Bridge Street Market on the south end of Anna Maria Island. This popular destination stocks gorgeous local art, sculptures, and photography along with a range of fresh ingredients for your next meal.

The market’s on the go every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm, from November through April. 

Beach Market

Coquina Beach sets the scene for Beach Market, where you’ll find an interesting array of food and goods. This quiet market’s family-friendly choice and socks a huge range of local produce, baked goods, homemade beauty items, crafts, and jewelry.

You can visit the Beach Market on Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm from November through July. 

Bradenton Farmers’ Market

Don’t miss this bustling market along Old Main Street from October through May. It’s on the go every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm. This community event features cooking demos, local art displays, and plenty of delectable homemade food.

Anna Maria Island Restaurants

No vacation’s complete without the occasional culinary treat and you’ll find no shortage of options in this island paradise. You’ll find some of the best seafood in Florida in this part of the world so don’t miss a chance to try some out.

Prices run the gamut from expensive to budget options, so you’ll need to do some research and read some online reviews to find the best beach cafe for affordable, satisfying meals.  

Bonus Savings Tip

You can never have too much spending money when you’re on vacation, but it’s difficult to budget when you’ve got so many other things to pay for. Try this simple savings tip to ensure you’ve got some extra cash to spare during your trip.

Find a big jar and place every five-dollar bill you get into it. Every time you withdraw cash, take an extra fiver for the jar. You won’t notice the small difference at the time, but all these five-dollar bills add up over time.

By the time you leave, you’ll have a nice amount of money to spend on extra treats and souvenirs. 

More Tips for Taking it Easy

Anna Maria Island offers a wealth of enjoyment and relaxation for the whole family. So start planning your vacation now, while prices are low and tourist numbers are still subdued. 

If you’d like some more ideas for saving money on everyday living, read our blog and find out how you can afford life’s little luxuries.

7 Factors to Consider When Booking a Vacation

You’ve ensured those precious vacation days off from work this year. Now, you’re ready to unwind and create lasting memories over a few days or a few weeks. Or are you ready?

Vacations are perfect for anyone, from couples to families with young children or friend groups. But they can also be disastrous on varying levels if you don’t plan appropriately.

How can you ensure your vacation is the ideal you’ve looked for? Continue reading to learn seven factors to consider before booking your next trip.

1. Where Will You Book the Vacation?

Finding a reliable place to book your vacation is essential because it takes a lot of guesswork out of it. Some people choose to secure each aspect of their trip independently, but this can be a hassle. Others choose to use a dedicated site (like DVC booking) because it can save them time and money.

Before choosing a booking agency, website, or individual itinerary, do your research. Look online and read reviews, local guides, and other helpful information you can find before booking anything. Otherwise, you may find yourself disappointed or in an unsafe location.

2. How Much Time Do You Have?

How much time you’ve slotted out of your schedule won’t only affect how many days you can stay at your vacation destination. It also factors into the vacation spots available. For example, if you only have three free days, you wouldn’t want to travel somewhere twelve or more hours away.

Remember to factor in traveling time to and from the destination when determining your available time. Twelve hours one way equates to an entire day of your time. When booking a hotel, keep this in mind when choosing the day of check-in or check out.

3. What’s Your Budget?

Some vacation destinations are naturally more expensive than others – even when booking in the thriftiest manner possible. Determine a set budget ahead of time and be careful not to go over it. You’ll enjoy your trip significantly more if you aren’t worried about the extra money you’ve spent.

Keep in mind that hotel costs or vacation packages don’t encompass all trip costs. Even “all-inclusive” deals don’t include everything, like souvenirs or additional excursions. At a minimum, the things you’ll want to factor into your budget include:

  • Hotel costs
  • Transportation costs (airplanes, boats, rental vehicles, and gas)
  • Food
  • Souvenirs
  • Excursion costs

There may be other costs, depending on where you go and who you travel with. It’s also a good idea to have a small emergency fund in case the unexpected happens.

4. How Well Do You Know the Area?

Consider whether you’re traveling somewhere new or somewhere you’ve been before. How well do you know the area? If the answer is well, you already have the knowledge you need to be safe and have a fun trip.

But what if you don’t know the area well?

Be sure to do your research because some places may not be what they seem. Ask others who’ve already been there about local customs, climate, and crime rates. Inquire if there’s anything else that may be important to know.

Also, consider the season in the area where you’re traveling. For example, you may be from the northwest US and are traveling to the southeast US. While it could be chilly where you live, the weather could be significantly warmer.

5. What Are You Looking for in a Hotel?

Hotels come with different amenities, different levels of comfort, and different sized accommodations. Consider the type of hotel you’d like to stay in before booking a vacation. Create a list of must-haves and things you hope for.

6. Who Will You Be Traveling With?

Your traveling companions need to be taken into consideration. Will you be traveling with friends, your partner, or your family? Will you be bringing along children or anyone who has special needs?

When traveling with other healthy adults, additional considerations may not need to be made. Those who are traveling with children or anyone with special needs will have to make sure the itinerary suits those companions.

For example, when traveling with children, you’ll want to ensure the trip is child-friendly. You should also limit walking or physical exertion per day if the children are young, as they can tire out quickly. If you plan to do any adult-only activities, you’ll need to ensure that safe, reliable childcare is available during those timeframes.

When traveling with people who have physical limitations, you’ll want to ensure the hotel and all excursions offer wheelchair access or easy access for those with canes. You’ll also need to ensure all walking trips are over safe pavement. This will limit the possibility that someone in a wheelchair may tip or someone using a cane may fall.

7. What Transportation Will You Use?

There are many transportation options to choose from. You’ll want to think about transportation both to the destination and while at the destination.

Depending on where you’re going and how far away it is from your home, you have multiple options available to and from your destination. Some people prefer to drive, while others would rather take a plane, train, or bus. Some people enjoy taking a boat when available, as it can feel like a mini-vacation of its own.

Some vacation destinations have a robust infrastructure with plenty of public transportation. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a subway, local train, bus, or taxi to take you anywhere you want to go. You could also choose to rent a vehicle, and doing so may be necessary for more remote locations.

More Questions About Booking a Vacation?

While a vacation is a perfect way to blow off some steam and create memories to last a lifetime, planning them is a lot of work. Before booking your next vacation, be sure to consider the seven factors above.

Do you have more questions about booking a vacation?

Read our other posts. You’ll find articles on vacation planning, destinations, and many similar topics to help you learn more on the subject.