Summer officially starts next week. We know how busy you are and that you need a break. We came upon this article and think it will be helpful in giving you some tips to plan a much-needed vacation. You may already have the time off on your schedule, but haven’t gotten around to actually planning it.
You know you want to take a vacation, am I right!? So avoid the temptation to let your days off arrive with zero planning. Embrace work-life-vacation balance by maximizing your time off from work and life.
So what happens when your vacation dates are coming up soon and you have no idea where you want to go? Don’t fall into the “I’m too busy” trap. Repeat to yourself… “I am NOT too busy to plan a vacation.” Do it again because with our advice you will never again be too busy to plan your next vacation.
As promised, here is our top 7 ways to book a memorable vacation with minimal effort.
1. You can plan a trip while you commute
We all seem to have an Android or iPhone in our hands as we go about our day. And people love to download apps onto their phones. That is where mobile bookings come to the rescue.
All the major online travel websites offer smart phone apps (think Expedia, Booking.com, and Priceline) and are working hard to get you to book on your mobile device. They are improving the booking user experience with every app update. They all want to be able to say they let you book the perfect vacation in as few clicks as possible.
Plus coupons are offered all the time, giving you instant discounts. Shop around for the most popular travel booking brands in the app store. You will probably have to create an account and sign up for their newsletter to receive the best deals, but it is worth it.
OK so how does this save you time when you are too busy to plan a vacation? Simple! Use your commute time, your morning coffee time, or your lunch break (you do know how important it is to take a lunch break) to plan a vacation. Make your co-workers jealous by telling them you’re planning a tropical or exotic vacation on your phone.
Now you can book a vacation even while commuting or taking your regular break at work.
2. Cruises and all-inclusive resorts are no-brainers
Are you looking for the downright easiest vacation option? Look no further than a cruise or all-inclusive vacation to do the trick. Both tend to include all your food and drinks (at least non-alcoholic), plus scheduled “fun” activities for your entire family all day, every day. It is hard to go wrong, especially when you go with the recommendations of friends and family. Just ask them where they went by posting to your social media network.
Booking a cruise or all-inclusive resort takes minutes once you pick your dates and region of the world. For all inclusive places to stay, try conducting a Google Image Search to choose a vacation by photo. Type in “all inclusive resort” plus a city or country name (like Jamaica or Puerto Vallarta) that you are thinking about. Can you picture yourself on that beach or having a drink at the luxurious bar? Also consider booking directly with the resort as you might be given a better room or other special offers since they don’t have to pay a commission that way.
Besides the cruise lines you see on TV, try CruiseCritic for first-timer advice, ship reviews, and ports of call coverage. Simply select a cabin or room type plus a few optional vacation elements and off you go. You can book direct or leverage the help and advice of a travel agent (see next tip) if you prefer.
3. Outsource the heavy lifting to a travel agent
With the popularity of online do-it-yourself (DIY) travel bookings, you may have forgotten that travel agents stand ready to assist. There are fewer travel agents today than years ago, but they are more reachable online and off. You can choose to visit a retail travel agency or search the Web for an independent travel agent with expertise to match. Either way travel agents will always come to the rescue when you are too busy to plan your own trip.
Travel agents do not typically charge a fee except for booking airline tickets in some cases. Any small fees are well worth the time and stress savings.
A good travel agent will ask you a few questions in-person, by phone, or via email first. Without you lifting a figure, you’ll receive a list of the top two or three options – the best matches for your vacation wishes. All you need to do is choose one and pass along your credit card details. The entire booking process will be taken care of for you. Done and done!
4. Package holidays are one-click vacations
You don’t have to be an independent traveler with every trip. Even if you have never booked a package holiday in the past, give yourself permission to book a pre-made vacation this time. Tours and vacation packages come in various forms. The most common is to book a guided multi-day tour which includes accommodations, transportation, some meals, and of course loads of sightseeing and activities. The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) Member Directory is a good starting point.
The other one-stop option is to make a booking which combines airfare with hotel, some activities, and transfers. Besides receiving a package discount, you may also receive free admission tickets, transport passes, and welcome gifts. Today most of the major online travel websites offer one-click vacation packages which you can build in just a few clicks of the mouse. Besides Expedia, sites like Hotwire, Go-Today.com, and airlines such as Southwest give you an incentive to book all the pieces of a vacation together. Just look for the highlighted discount amount to find out how much you’ll save over booking airfare and hotel separately.
Themed hotel packages are another form of package holidays that are gaining in popularity. While checking rates and availability at a B&B or a resort and spa, you may be offered several “special” room-rate packages. These might include gourmet meals, spa treatments, local attractions, romantic experiences, and family programs. So by only booking a place to stay, you gain an entire vacation package in one-click.
5. A big city vacation can be done spontaneously
When you are overwhelmed by the endless vacation possibilities, go with a big city trip. Choose a big city that you can easily reach by car, train, bus, or a direct flight. Next pick a centrally located hotel that fits within your budget. Most accommodations offer personal help on what there is to do once you arrive. So with this type of effortless vacation there is no need to plan ahead.
Big cities have an endless variety of attractions, events, history, places to eat, and neighborhoods to explore. You won’t run out of things to do. Just ask at the front desk and browse the tourist brochure rack for fun ideas. Or do what you do at home. Pull out your smart phone and scan Yelp, FourSquare, Google Maps, and browse to the local tickets and “What’s On” web guides to plan your city break.
What if the nearest big city is one you’ve visited numerous times? To make it fresh and new, take another approach. Pretend like you live there. Rent an apartment or a room in a house so you can stay in a residential neighborhood. That way you can shop nearby markets, dine out with the locals, and appreciate big city life for the duration of your trip.
Just like every place is worth visiting at least once, every place is worth living in – at least for a brief period!
6. Renting a beach or mountain home is easier than ever
Whether you prefer the scenery at the beach or in the mountains, consider renting a vacation home for your next bit of time off. You trade in life at your current home for a new temporary home away from home. Websites to search and book vacation homes and “holiday lets” are plentiful. Popular choices include HomeAway.com and VRBO plus HolidayLettings for European destinations. Some are managed properties in vacation-friendly communities. Others are individually owned so you deal directly with the owner. This type of vacation is a cinch to plan.
You also have upstart Airbnb as an incredible source for part-time vacation homes around the globe. Their inventory runs the gamut from empty rooms to apartments to entire homes that people rent out when they go away. These rentals are often lived in, but have more character than furnished time-shares.
Renting someone’s actual home is like moving into a new town without all the heavy lifting. You’ll appreciate the fully stocked kitchen to save money by cooking at home. Owners are happy to share with you their favorite places to eat, stroll, and be entertained. You may even make friends with the neighbors.
7. Choose a staycation to play tourist in your home town
When you find yourself not in the mood to travel far from home, a staycation (see definition of a staycation) is the best decision. Planning a stay-at-home vacation takes only a small bit of work since you can avoid the transportation and lodging decisions. The most important part of a staycation is to have an “on vacation” mindset. You may be at home, but you have to push aside and get away from your day-to-day routines and responsibilities.
Act like a tourist in your home town to maximize your staycation. Pick up a copy of the local events newspaper or browse the online version. Stop by the official tourist office to pick up brochures such as for walking tours, tourist attractions, and special events. This is your chance to experience workday daytime happenings – just don’t feel guilty about not being at work yourself. Take a class, try a hipster lunch spot, catch a matinée, be a sports spectator, and act like an “I’m On Vacation” tourist without leaving home.
Think about what nearby “tourist” attractions that you have never visited. Search the TripAdvisor list of “Things To Do” to find out what gets the highest ranking. How about those must-see attractions that you feel embarrassed to say you haven’t “done” in all these years? Add these to your staycation itinerary for sure. One warning… be careful to avoid the temptation to run errands by making a full day of being on a (stay-)vacation each day.
Have You Planned Your Vacation Yet?
Now that you have 7 minimal effort ways to plan a vacation even when you are super busy, which technique are you going to use to book your next vacation?
Vacation is all about the time you spend away from home and work. There are no wrong vacations, except for the ones you miss taking. Whenever you feel overworked and overstressed and have a vacation period coming up, you’ll have no excuse for depriving yourself and your family. Choose a one-click option, rent a home, call a travel agent, book a guided tour, embark on an all-inclusive cruise, or even take a staycation.
Which is your go to choice for planning a trip when you lack the time and energy? Add your thoughts in the comments below to share your time-off time-saving advice.