There are so many different styles of travel out there! Some experienced travellers will tell you to ditch the itineraries and just live in the moment, while others will tell you that booking every detail of their trip in advance is key. So what should you do when you’re going to a new destination? Be spontaneous? Plan every minute? In this post we’ll give you an overview of how we travel – the things we like to plan out ahead and the things we leave to chance.
Pre-departure Research & Booking
Research your Destination
We have found that the best balance for us to have a worry-free vacation is to do tons of research about our destination beforehand and book our hotels/flights. Some people say that this takes the fun out of travel, but we really don’t think so! By researching everything there is to know about our upcoming destination, we are able to avoid wasting precious vacation time online at a Starbucks trying to find out what there is to do in any given location. Instead, we’ll know exactly what we want to see and when these attractions are open. Better yet, we’ll read other travel blogs that contain precious tips and tricks about these places! This also allows us to determine whether we should buy tickets to attractions in advance, like when we went to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, or if we can be flexible and go when we feel like it. We’ve avoided waiting in so many long lines because of this!
FamiliarizeYourself with Local Culture & Customs
Pre-departure research also gives us the opportunity to learn more about local customs and culture before we arrive. That way we are far less likely to do something that may be offensive to locals! For example, did you know that it is considered extremely rude to speak loudly on public transportation in Japan? We didn’t either! Now we won’t look like fools when we ride the subway in Tokyo 😉 For our research we like to watch YouTube videos of expats living in the country we’re visiting, as well as travel blogs (which we find through Pinterest). Reading a guide book is also really helpful! Our top recommendation are the Lonely Planet guide books.
Book Hotels & Flights
Lastly, we like to book all of our hotels and flights/modes of transportation in advance (if possible). Once again, because we only have a limited amount of time when we travel we don’t want to waste it in front of a computer trying to buy a flight or worse, stranded at the airport/train station/bus station because the ticket we need is sold out. Booking in advance also allows us plenty of time to compare routes and prices in order to get the biggest bang for our buck. As for hotels, we have a very similar approach. We like to know where we’re staying in advance so we always have a place to sleep. This also allows us to shop around for the best price and read reviews. We’ve found that if you were to just show up, you are gambling with what you get and are at the mercy of the price they impose on you. So far we haven’t stayed anywhere that was super sketchy and we’ve been able to snag some great prices!
Spontaneity While on Vacation
Go with the Flow
Now that we’ve told you all of our secrets for pre-departure planning, what does our vacation actually look like once we are there? Well, it’s pretty ‘chill’ so to speak. By doing all the research in advance and making a list of all the things we’d like to see (and marking where they are located), we tend to just go with the flow. That is, we’ll see how we’re feeling that day and decide if we’re up for just some walking around or for an epic white water rafting experience. So, aside from our pre-booked activities, our schedule is pretty free for spontaneity!
Don’t Make Reservations
What about restaurants you ask? We also make a list of restaurants that look really yummy/get great reviews, as well as a list of must try local foods. This way we’ll know if we’re in a particular area that we have a solid restaurant choice on hand. As well, if there is a renowned restaurant that is a must on our list, we’ll try to make a reservation a few days before we’d like to dine there. This can be done before your departure or once you get to your destination, depending on the popularity of the restaurant and your flexibility.
And there you have it! Our carefully crafted balance of research and spontaneity for the ultimate carefree vacation!
What is your travel style?
Do you have any tips you’d like to share?
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