Do your Homework
Research your travel destination thoroughly before you leave on your vacation or business trip. A few travel tips can go a long way and save you time and money! The more you know about your destination will prepare you for all the options of accommodations, entertainment, dining, and the sights and sounds of the city your are visiting.
Search for the Chamber of Commerce in any areas you'll be visiting. Contact them about advice on places to go and stay. Most will provide a wealth of information. Don't be surprised if they provide you with maps, brochures on local attractions, and even discount coupons.
Search for the area's agency that's dedicated to tourism and travel. Here you'll get the opportunity to ask about free maps and brochures describing different attractions. If you tell them your route, they can suggest some side trips. And don't forget areas that you're just planning on driving through. You can find parks, zoos, specialized museums and halls of fame if you're willing to do a little research, and most are inexpensive compared with the big attractions.
Go to the library. Browse the travel magazines, specifically the advertising sections. Look for places in the general vicinity of your travels. By learning more about various attractions, you'll make better decisions on which places to visit and which ones to skip. Also, check the library for travel guides.
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Set a Budget
Now that you know where you want to go, make sure you can reasonably afford the cost of your vacation. Continue your research to now include the cost of the trip. Don't skimp on this, as the more research you do, the more accurate your projected cost will be.
Things to consider include:
- Travel Costs- These types of costs may include airfare, gas, rental car expenses, and airport parking fees.
- Accommodations- motel and hotel expenses. Don't forget to include any cost for parking (self and/or valet), tips for bellmen and baggage handlers, and the state and local taxes added to the room rate.
- Entertainment / Admission costs- Consider the cost of theme park admission tickets and any other venues that you may like to visit.
Pick a tentative target date for your visit and figure out how much you'd need to save each month to take the trip by the date you've selected. Give yourself a little leeway for unexpected emergencies. (At this point, if the amount needed to save is too much, either push back the target date, reduce the number of days or travel frills, or change your destination).
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Prepare and Get Organized
Preparing for travel is no easy task. Once you know your destination, you have to arrange everything for your trip. Everything from packing, airfare, car rentals and lodging must be done before you leave.
If you are looking for airfare, plan your trip at least 21 or more days in advance. Most major airlines will offer substantial discounts if you book your flight well in advance. If cost is a major factor, you can save on connecting flights with layovers in other cities. Get quotes from at least 3 airlines; you will usually find that some airlines are much cheaper than others. Also, you can check the fares for flights from other regional airports. Simply driving a few miles may save you hundreds of dollars. Don't forget to arrive at least 1 hour before departure on domestic flights.
Hotel / Motel
When looking for accommodations, a few cautions come to mind. Location is key for any hotel that you choose. If you are 30 miles out of town or away from your destination, you can add extra miles to your rental car or your feet will really hurt if you are walking. Check to see if the hotel has a guest shuttle from the airport; some hotels will charge you for this, so ask in advance. Make sure the hotel is also well known.
With so many choices of rental companies, the options can be endless. So are the lines when waiting to pick-up your car at the airport. In some metropolitan areas the wait can be in excess of two hours! Ask the rental company if they have a preferred status when renting a car. The preferred lines are usually very short; however, sometimes you have to be a member of the rental company. The insurance options can be overwhelming when renting a car, and the best way to find the best policy is to first, ask the rental company about all the options. Then call your insurance company and see what they will cover. This will help avoid "insurance option panic". Also be sure to check other options such as mileage and gas options. Make sure to do a walk around the vehicle and look for any dings and dents and obvious scratches on the vehicle. If there are, have the company note them on the rental papers.
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It only takes a few seconds to become a victim of theft anywhere. These safety tips should enlighten you and keep you safer!
- Always be aware of your surroundings
- Never leave your baggage out of sight for even a second, use locks on all of your baggage, and keep your briefcase/purse next to you at all times
- Keep your cash and credit cards in a a money belt or carry your wallet in your front pocket. Keep a minimum amount of cash on hand - use traveler checks in small denominations and write down the serial numbers
- Check maps in well lit areas with lots of people around
- Set the dead bolt on your hotel room
- Don't walk alone at night and stay on well lighted streets at all times. Don't venture into dark alleyways
- Inform others of your trip and check in with them on specified days/times
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