Apr 8, 2014

Vacation Planning


I find planning a vacation just as enjoyable as the vacation itself. My girlfriends have grown accustomed to agreeing to our next destination then pretty much just showing up the day before vacation knowing that there's a laminated trip itinerary waiting for them to peruse during the flight. I love the research, putting the pieces together, and finding the perfect balance of relaxation and activities. Even more exciting for me is preparing a great vacation for a group of different personalities and making it enjoyable for all of us! Here are a few of my vacation planning tips!

One of my many vacation itineraries!

Know your area
Doing a little research beforehand goes a long way! Take the time and figure out what the main attractions are in the city. Find out where all the hot spots are and more importantly where all the locals hang out. I like having a balance of touristy must sees and local hidden gems when I visit a new city. TripAdvisor and Yelp are my go-to's when researching recent travel reviews. Nothing is more helpful than your fellow travelers reviews! Also, reach out to friends and family to find out their experiences in that area. Travel tips from locals is my favorite way of getting to know the heart of a city. One of my favorite memories was shucking fresh oysters at Tomales Bay Oyster Company during my stay in San Francisco. Only a local would have been able to suggest such a unique must see when visiting a popular tourist city.

Fresh oysters from the bay in San Francisco.

Know your fellow travelers
Take the time to figure out what the group wants to see and do. I've planned trips for a group of 2 to almost 30 people! Find out what everyone wants to see, do, their likes and dislikes. Are they going to be up for a hike in the morning? Or would they prefer a champagne brunch? Are they early risers or late sleepers? All that will greatly affect your trip planning. Have something in mind for everyone. Whether it be a restaurant, fun activity, or visiting a monument you think they would enjoy. I keep a pretty simple outline when I vacation with my girlfriends. Our trips usually involve good food and fancy drinks. Since my girlfriends are all pretty active and always down for a good hike or excursion, I always try to find time for that if the destination offers it. Lastly, the ladies always love a good spa day! Isn't relaxation what vacation is all about? Happy girls, make a happy trip!

Ziplining in Cancun, Mexico.

Make a plan, but don't make a plan
I'm infamous for my itineraries. Make a specific, but flexible plan. My main goal when creating an itinerary for a vacation is to have endless amounts of options at anytime of the day. I'm not necessarily creating a minute by minute agenda for the group, but mostly a list of options we can pick and choose from. My biggest pet peeve during any vacation is standing around wondering what to do next or where's the best place to eat. Keep a laid back attitude when you're the planner of the group. You can try to plan something minute by minute, but just like life vacations never go as planned! Don't be afraid to steer away from anything you have planned to check out something unexpected. The unexpected always makes for great memories! Check out any local events many cities offer, it's a great way to explore what the city is all about and meet locals with hidden treasures to reveal about their beloved city!

Stumbling upon a street festival in Downtown Napa.

Be prepared
When going on vacation make sure you know exactly how to get from place to place. If renting a car is the best option make sure you also keep in mind parking fees. Many areas that are flooded with tourists tend to have a hefty price tag when it comes to parking. I like to study the transportation system that the city offers and have the number ready for local taxi companies. It comes in handy on those afternoons when you all had one drink too many! Wherever I travel I'm always prepared with ideas of where to eat, drink, shop, and how exactly to get there. I like to have an idea of things to do separated into groups of location and price range. I'm all about a fancy hot spot for me and my girls to wine and dine. But I'm also all about hitting up a few food trucks for some elotes or local specialties. Keep places in mind for a happy hour with an ocean view and a dive bar with throwback classics to end the night. Vacations can start running a pretty high tab so be sure to have places in mind that fits everyone's budget.

Nothing like fresh fruit and chili for a snack on the beach in Santa Monica.

These are just a few of the things I always keep in mind when planning my vacation. Hope this helps many of you get the ball rolling now that summer is right around the corner! 
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