Whether you’re planning a full-on getaway to the Caribbean islands or if it’s a quick weekend road trip to the next town over, I’m sure we’re all in agreement that traveling sparks that wanderlust part we all have inside of us. Although glamorized through photos and videos, a lot of planning and scheduling goes into trips, no matter how long or short it may be.
I recently went on a VERY short 3-day trip to New York City and let me tell you, it was just as tantalizing as before. One thing I found to be extremely undeveloped was just the entire preparation for the trip itself. Many things could have gone a lot smoother If had I pre-planned for certain things, and so I present my top ten tips to traveling for anyone planning on vacationing anytime soon. This guide will make any vacation run smoother and create a sense of stability during your time of relaxation.
- Travel in groups of 4 or less. As much as I loved every single person I went to New York with, traveling with a group of 15+ people was hard in itself. Small decisions, like where to eat for dinner, took more than 20 minutes to decide and getting on and off subways was like a fire drill, making sure each and every one of us was accounted for. Keep the group small for easy mobility.
- *Sub-tip! Try as best as you can to travel in even numbers too. More often than not, people will want to go off in different directions and it’s always nice to ensure that everyone has a designated buddy to turn to.
- Save your money. I know this almost goes without saying, but saving as much money as you can before a trip will leave you stress-free throughout the trip. Prior to mine, I didn’t save as much as I had hoped and when it came time to leave home, I constantly worried about my dwindling bank account after every purchase I made. I was supposed to be on vacation and here I was, still worrying!
- BRING WATER. I packed 5 water bottles for the 3-day trip knowing full well it will only last me maybe halfway through the trip. It only lasted me 12 hours. Being in a room with 4 other people, we’re all going to get thirsty, especially if all we’ve been doing is exploring and walking around. The second I announced I had water, each of them asked for one, leaving me with only one water bottle. Thankfully there was a small general store nearby where we bought 2 gallons of water, but even that only lasted until the night before we left. Bring as much water as you can or prepare to spend extra money on something that should honestly only cost pennies to buy.
- Hit up, at least, one museum. Wherever you’re going, try to visit at least one museum, if possible. There are so many things to learn from them, it’s almost a shame if you let that opportunity pass you by. Many museums in my hometown are chock full of interesting artifacts and information. Now just imagine what other cities and countries have in store!
- Get a nice hotel. Now I’m not suggesting dropping 10 grand on some presidential suite and calling it a day (but if that’s your prerogative more power to you). However, make sure the hotel you booked is nice and comfortable. The hotel my group stayed in was THE ABSOLUTE WORST. Our bathroom door handle was completely broken and even our shower was just repulsive. Other group mates can attest to their own horror stories as well. Granted we weren’t in the hotel much, but come on. For what we paid, I expected a bit more attention to cleanliness and detail. Save yourself the trouble, check which hotels are rated the best and go for it. If you’re in doubt, major commercial hotel franchises are always a good idea.
- If you’re traveling with a bigger group, coordinate with each other. A group text or a small meeting can do wonders in keeping everyone in the loop. During my NYC trip, some people were unfortunately left out in certain outings because there just wasn’t enough communication between us. Don’t fall into that and make sure everyone is aware of what everyone is doing. Who knows? Your original plans might dwarf next to a friend’s plan and could lead to a really fun group outing!
- Get a little drunk. As long as you’re of age, getting a little tipsy one night of your vacation can take the edge off of a day filled with sightseeing and lots of walking. However, don’t get this confused with getting hammered. You don’t want to spend part of your vacation hungover and wanting to just stay in bed the whole day. That’s wasting your precious time in a new environment. You want to find that happy medium.
- Souvenirs aren’t as necessary as people make it out to be. Yes, it’s nice to have some item of remembrance toward your vacation, but I found that the most precious memories I had of my time in the Big Apple were just the pictures and videos I had. Sure, my t-shirt and fridge magnets made great additions to my house, but they are nothing compared to the hundreds of photos capturing small quirky moments I had with my friends.
- Know the tipping culture. Depending where you’re going, tipping may or may not be a thing. Make sure to look into it before leaving. Where I’m from, tipping is technically optional, but you become almost ostracized if you don’t, and on top of that you choose how much you want to tip. However, in NYC, some restaurants already included the tip in our total. It was confusing, especially for a group of 7-10 people wanting to split the check. Look up how tipping works and make sure you’re not getting gypped because you’re new in town.
- My all time number 1 tip to traveling… Be a tourist! If you’re vacationing, you’re most likely going somewhere new, so be a tourist! Take those tourist tours, take pictures of anything and everything and forget about the stares from any natives! I did a red double decker bus tour and even though I was grouped up with a lot of foreigners, a lot of New Yorkers stared, I was having a blast…and I’ve got the pictures to prove it! You’re in a new place and you’re most likely never going to see those people again. Let the locals make fun and point while you have the time of your life.
Traveling is always a wonderful experience and prepping for it can be overwhelming, but the overall payoff of spending a little extra time constructing a well thought out travel plan will create an even greater experience for you and your travel mates. Happy vacationing everyone!