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13 Expert Travel Tips for Planning a Successful Vacation

Summer has arrived, marking the start of the bustling travel season. In our recent publication, we highlighted essential travel advice from experienced globetrotters. Now, we’re excited to offer 13 additional travel tips from our team of experts to enhance your summer vacation experience!

Get travel insurance

According to Andrew Adams of Vluchten Volgen, for significant trips, always invest in a travel insurance policy. You never know what unexpected events might arise, such as airline disruptions or political unrest, which could derail your plans. Prices for insurance vary based on factors like trip cost, age, and location, but isn’t your peace of mind worth it? As an example, for a recent vacation costing $14,000 in total, including flights, accommodations, and activities, the insurance was $350 for both travelers. Additionally, be cautious of flight insurance that may not cover all contingencies. It’s essential to carefully read the terms and conditions.

Prepay for your rental car

When renting a car in Europe, it’s wise to prepay for both the rental and all-inclusive insurance. This ensures no surprise fees upon car pickup and eliminates pressure to purchase unnecessary insurance later. Recently, a client opted out of prepayment and was unexpectedly hit with an extra $500 in insurance charges at pickup. What seemed like a good deal initially turned out to be costly in the end.

Travel during shoulder season

Consider planning your trip during the shoulder season to maximize value and avoid crowds. Over-tourism is a genuine concern. During the shoulder season, typically April, May, early June, or October for Europe, you can enjoy flights and accommodations for up to 50% less than peak season rates. Conversely, for the Caribbean, late spring and summer offer excellent deals. Another option is a post-holiday getaway, with favorable prices on flights and accommodations in early December or mid to late January, says Sean Philips of FlightRadar Online.

Plan ahead

Whether you’re arranging the trip independently or collaborating with a professional travel advisor, proactive planning is key to securing the best experience. Our clients who enjoy extraordinary vacations typically plan their spring break and winter holidays a year in advance. Yes, one year! However, this approach ensures access to the best availability and a wide array of choices, rather than settling for limited options.

Explore off-the-beaten-path destinations

Instead of popular tourist spots like Rome, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast, consider exploring Puglia’s Bari and Lecce. Similarly, instead of Mykonos or Santorini, delve into Naxos and Paros. These alternative destinations often offer more affordable accommodations, exceptional service, and a genuinely authentic experience. Plus, the added bonus of fewer crowds!

Embrace your tourist status

Dan Eastman of Ship Tracking says, consider starting your city stay with a hop-on/hop-off bus tour on the first day. While it may seem clich√©, these tours offer a reasonably priced and convenient way to familiarize yourself with a new city, especially when you’re jet-lagged. Opt for a tour with a live guide if possible, as they often share fascinating local insights and hidden historical tidbits. If you have a knowledgeable guide, staying on for the full loop can help you make informed decisions about where to spend your time during the rest of your visit.

Rely on travel professionals

Trust the process! You don’t always need to have a specific destination in mind for your vacation; sometimes, knowing you want to travel somewhere is enough. A professional travel advisor can assist you in finding the perfect destination based on your travel preferences, interests, and past experiences. Just as you trust a mechanic to diagnose and fix your car, trust your travel advisor to recommend vacation destinations you may not have considered before.

Consider expenses

Sometimes, opting for a higher price tag offers better overall value. While it may seem counterintuitive, there are nuances in travel pricing to consider. The cheapest airfare often excludes checked bags, seat reservations, and sometimes even cabin baggage. Seat reservations alone can cost over $100 per person per flight. For flights with multiple connections, purchasing a slightly pricier ticket that includes baggage and seats could end up being a smarter investment in the long run. A professional travel advisor can navigate these complexities, comparing all options to save you from the headache of deciphering fine print.

Arrange airport transfers in advance

Invest in private airport transfers for peace of mind, especially after a sleepless red-eye flight. The last thing you need is to worry about finding local transportation or being taken advantage of by taxis upon arrival.

Seek local advice

Ivan Wainwright of RDW Kenteken added, while I enjoy crafting detailed itineraries as part of my job, I always leave room for spontaneity. Some of the most memorable experiences, like discovering amazing meals or breathtaking sunset views, have come from recommendations by locals. Don’t hesitate to ask the barista who brewed your espresso or the friendly local you meet in line. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by their suggestions!

Check your passport

Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your return date. Airlines and countries may refuse entry if your passport is not up to date. It’s always wise to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, consider keeping photocopies of your passport in a safe place, such as your suitcase, in case of loss during your travels.

Avoid waiting in line

Plan ahead and make reservations or purchase advance tickets for popular attractions like restaurants, museums, and historic sites. Why waste precious vacation time standing in line? For instance, in Rome, I opted for a private tour of the Vatican to bypass the lengthy queues. Similarly, at the Empire State Building, my niece and I used express passes to ascend straight to the top. In Seville, I booked a rooftop tour of the cathedral, offering a unique perspective and avoiding the long entrance lines.

Utilize the hotel safe

While exploring a new city or country, you rarely need to carry your passport. A photocopy or a picture on your phone can usually serve as sufficient identification. Leave your passport and other valuables in the hotel safe. There’s no need to carry all your cash with you; keep some securely stored in the safe in your room.

Now that you have a range of expert travel tips at your disposal, it’s time to get inspired for your next amazing getaway!

About Vanessa Vaughan

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