In 2018, over 760 million vacation days went unused by employees in the US. Not only are you losing out on money by not using those days, but you’re also missing out on the benefits of regular vacations, like stress relief and improved productivity.
When you finally do decide to use some of those days and take a trip, it’s important to make sure you have a great vacation. A bad vacation will make you less likely to take the days in the future.
You’re in luck, though, because this guide will help you make sure your vacation is one for the ages.
1. Plan Ahead (or Outsource the Planning)
For many people, part of the fun of a vacation is the planning. Reading reviews, looking at pictures online, and perusing restaurant menus and making reservations can get you really excited about the trip.
However, if planning isn’t your jam or your time is limited, outsource the planning. A travel agent can be hugely beneficial to you, as they’ll have insights into your particular destination as well as contacts and discounts for things like hotels and excursions.
The best part is that travel agents generally don’t cost you anything, so you can outsource the planning and enjoy the benefits without any cost to you.
2. Be Flexible
While planning ahead is important, sometimes you need to be like Elsa and just let it go. Things can and will go wrong. You might totally change your mind about something you have planned already.
Don’t be so rigid or tied to a schedule that you don’t leave any opportunity for spontaneity. If you get a recommendation for something not on your travel itinerary, you want to be able to adjust your schedule as needed.
Remember: this is your vacation and it should be enjoyable. Don’t let an itinerary dictate your every move.
3. Have a Travel Bucket List
Most people have a travel bucket list of places they want to visit or things they want to do in those destinations. Sit down with your travel partners and decide the must-see things or must-do activities.
Check out the NYC bucket list for some ideas of what to include. Even if you don’t get it all in on this trip, you’ll know what you want to do the next time you visit.
As much as you can, unplug from work and real life. If you can totally shut down email for the duration of your vacation, do it. Chances are, your place of employment will survive just fine without you.
If that’s not possible, set a certain amount of time each day to check emails and stick to that. Don’t check them throughout the day. Do it once and then be done until the next day.
Make sure work knows that they shouldn’t contact you unless it’s an absolute emergency, and again, if you can delegate this responsibility to someone else, do that.
Don’t let your vacation turn into a “working” vacation.
5. Don’t Rely Heavily on Reviews
Online reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions can be very useful, but take them with a grain of salt. Some people are extremely difficult to please, so if you really want to experience a landmark, try a restaurant, or take a tour, don’t let negative reviews put you off.
If many good reviews are tainted by a few negative ones, use your judgment and give it a shot. Reviews can also steer you wrong. Just because everyone reviewing a location loves it doesn’t necessarily mean you will too.
Paralysis by analysis can be a real thing if you spend an exorbitant amount of time reading reviews. Sometimes you just need to wing it. You might be pleasantly surprised and stumble upon the best meal or experience of your trip if you do this.
6. Get Off the Beaten Path
It might be tempting to hit up all the most popular tourist sites and stick only to those, but if you do, you might miss out on the local culture. Try to get off the beaten path to check out restaurants, cafes, or other landmarks that aren’t overrun by tourists.
Ask your taxi driver, guide, or servers or bartenders about their favorite places to go. Locals will give you recommendations that you won’t likely find in any travel guides.
7. Be Aware of Your Vacation Style
Are you a lay on the beach or by the pool and read for 7 days type of vacationer? Or do you need activities from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed? Recognize what kind of vacationer you are and keep this in mind as you are planning.
If a relaxing beach vacation isn’t your style, don’t book it (or at least balance it with activities). Keep in mind the vacation style of your travel partners as well. Traveling with friends or your spouse might necessitate some compromises if you have different vacation styles.
Have a Great Vacation and Start Planning the Next One
Use these tips to have a great vacation, one that is so good you’ll start planning the next one before you even get home.
Vacation days are a benefit to employees offered by employers, and by not using them, you’re missing out. Use those vacation days so you don’t lose them. After all, even if you save them all up, you often can’t cash them all in if you leave.
Are you convinced that you need to use those vacation days? Are you confident that you can plan a memorable vacation? If you found this content useful, make sure you come back for new and valuable content regularly.