People are always talking about taking their “dream vacation” — but largely what people mean when they say this is that every detail of the trip was planned flawlessly, everything went according to plan, and the service and food were stellar.
But what if the key to having the best vacations of your life has as much to do with how you approach traveling as it does with where you go and the number of stars on your hotel?
Here are ways you can make the most of your next adventure.
1. Take responsibility for enjoying your vacation. Sounds weird, right? Especially since we often think an enjoyable vacation means that nothing goes wrong. I mean, what if your flight is late? What if they lose your bags? What if the hotel shower has terrible water pressure? What if your passport gets stolen? What if you get seasick — or worse? If you resolve to be the one who decides if you enjoy your time, then you get to decide how you’re going to respond to each situation and what you’re going to make of it. Is it going to be a catastrophe that ruins your trip — or fodder for an exciting story at your next dinner party? Of course, you can always avoid some of these headaches by planning your trip with a travel advisor. Many (including us) offer 24/7 assistance, so if you’re ever in a pickle your travel planner will be there to lend a hand.
2. Take yourself less seriously. Traveling is an act of vulnerability, especially if you’re headed someplace where the language, food, and culture are vastly different from your own. You don’t have to be an expert; you don’t even really have to know what’s going on. If you make a mistake, the world will not end. The more easily you can laugh at yourself, the more positive the experience will be -- plus it’ll make you a better travel companion!
3. Stay curious and humble. The world is full of surprises. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be amazed by what you discover. Ever wonder why it’s so much fun to see regular everyday “boring” things through the eyes of a kid? They don’t know that they’re supposed to be “cool” and avoid looking silly in front of others — they just experience everything as if it’s the most amazing thing that’s ever happened. And you know what? They’re almost always having way more fun than those of us over 30. As adults, we have the choice to let go of cynicism and embrace wonder.
4. Trust more and be more generous. Anyone who loves to travel will tell you this: the world is mainly populated by good-hearted people who will extend help and hospitality when and if you need it. While it’s always wise to be aware and educated on potential scams and dangers depending on where you travel — the truth is, 99 people out of 100 will gladly help you out of jam and will go out of their way to show you the best spirit of their culture. Open up a little and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
5. Let go of your attachment to The Plan. Perhaps above all, being a great traveler means you have to be flexible. Things don’t always go according to plan — and wonderful things can happen as a result. Think of the “wrong” turn you took that brought you to the most breathtaking vineyard you’d ever seen, or the cancelled day trip that led to a day of meandering through spice-scented streets where you had the best curry of your life. In the most significant ways, like all of the rest of life, the most valuable and memorable parts of traveling can’t be planned. That is the enduring beauty and draw of striking out on a new adventure.
A common thread among these resolutions is the ability to let go of anxiety, relax and enjoy yourself. Hiring a Travel Professional is one of the best ways to avoid the most stressful parts of travel altogether. I can do all the planning, handle all the details, and you get to focus on enjoying yourself. I will also be on call for you while you are on your trip to handle any complications or emergencies that may come up. Let me take all the stress out of organizing and leave all the fun to you, reach out for a free consultation today!
Whether you’re going for a couple of weeks or even for months together, there are some foundational things that are critical to making travel with someone else successful. Ashlea Halpern is an editor at Traveler magazine who recently spent a year globetrotting with her boyfriend. Here are some of her best tips for making it work so you can come back from your journey stronger than ever.
Be clear on what you’re good at and what you’re not good at — and play up each other’s strengths. You might be awesome at small details, or you might be more of a big-picture kind of person. Either one is fine, of course — but be honest with yourself and your travel companions about where you excel. Use your gifts to help make the trip better, and let your travel partner do the same. If you hate navigating and you’re no good at it, then don’t insist on being the one to find the hotel at 11pm in a city of ten million people. Find another way to get that done. When you see yourself and your companion get more done when you balance each other out, then differences don’t have to be catastrophic.
Feel free step out of your comfort zone, but be clear about your boundaries. Yes, traveling is all about expanding and learning, and it’s good to try all kinds of new things. But don’t be afraid to set limits. If you absolutely do not want to go skydiving, don’t do it — but if it’s someone else’s dream, offer to be there cheering them on. If you really want to try roasted beetles, go for it! But if your friend refuses, respect that and move on. There are plenty more adventures ahead to enjoy together.
Find small certainties within the chaos. So much of travel is uncertain, but that’s what makes it exciting. You’re in a new place, surrounded by things you might not recognize, trying to navigate through language and cultural barriers. If you’re traveling long-term, you know the agony and exhaustion of flight changes, train schedules, taxi rules, late nights, early mornings. Fatigue can make you vulnerable to illness, impatience, and arguments. Take an honest look at yourself and identify one or two things you need to do every day to keep you grounded. Is it a good breakfast? A great cup of coffee? A reasonable bedtime? An afternoon walk? Time with a good book? Then, to the best of your ability, try to honor those needs, even when everything is up in the air.
Compromise with your travel partner — if they’re an early riser and you prefer sleeping late, find a way to meet in the middle -- or try to accommodate those natural tendencies. Maybe they get up at six and read the paper or work out while you snooze for an extra hour. These small concessions will pay huge dividends later on when the time comes where you have to make sacrifices due to schedules or other needs.
It’s okay to spend time apart. Especially if you’re an introvert or even if you’re travelling with your partner. You might need alone time to stay sane, or you might just want to spend an afternoon exploring and adventuring on your own, talking to new people, doing different things. It’s okay! It’s normal to get sick of spending weeks at a time in close quarters with the same person. A little pre-planned, cordial time apart might be the exact thing that helps you be at your best together.
When things get tough, stand together. It’s normal to bicker about small things. Everyone does. But when there’s something major, remember that you are a team. Hold off on blame, engage empathy, and get to work — together.
Don’t forget to be silly. Laughter has saved many relationships, whether you're with your partner or your best friend. It brings us back to what matters. It helps us take ourselves less seriously. It reminds us that it’s more important to be connected than it is to be right. Recognize when your travel partner is trying to lighten the mood, and don’t be afraid to let go and be goofy together. That time when everything was going wrong, and you stopped and realized how ridiculous it all was, and you laughed so hard that you both had tears rolling down your cheeks — that will stay with you forever. Go with it and you’ll have some incredible memories to look back on.
If you’re ready to embark on the fun, crazy adventure of traveling with your favorite person, give me a call! I’d love to help you make it the best experience yet. You can reach me by clicking here.
When I was a kid, the image that came to mind when I heard “bed and breakfast” was one of an old house filled with antiques, soft four-posted beds, a wandering cat or an old sleepy dog on the property, maybe run by a sweet elderly couple. It felt like being home while on vacation.
While this image certainly has its own kind of rustic charm, it should be said that the bed and breakfast has evolved significantly in the last several decades. In fact, many B&Bs today provide all of the plush luxury of a hotel — plus the added bonus of more privacy, more personal attention, and lovingly made home cooked meals, often in the tradition of the country or region where you’re staying.
In these unique spaces, you don’t just get a plate of pancakes and some coffee in the morning. You can get multi-course meals with complimentary wine service in the evenings, plus easy accommodations for dietary needs. You can find top-of-the-line spas, in-room fireplaces, gorgeous swimming pools, breathtaking views, and peaceful grounds to walk. Just like at a big hotel, you can choose to interact with other guests, or you can opt for private room service. You can be in the heart of a busy city like Amsterdam or Chicago, just steps away from main attractions — or you can rest in total quiet in the green Irish countryside or overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Perhaps best of all, when you stay in a B&B, you are one of a handful of guests staying in a place that is owned and operated by someone who is personally invested in your experience. You’ll feel personally taken care of — which you are. As one happy reviewer put it: “The thing that made our stay was the personal touches. We now have a problem, though – nothing else will compare!”
If you want to jump start your imagination with some unbelievable photos, you can check out this 2016 Traveler’s Choice Awards for B&Bs.
And when you’re ready for your next romantic, cozy getaway, I’d love to help you plan it down to the last perfect detail. I might even be able to find you a place with a friendly old dog if you like. Call or email us today and we’ll get you started.