Let me first start of by saying I am not a travel agent, I just love to travel. I am not bragging in anyway when I say where I’ve been, I just love to travel. Each destination I’ve been to, there’s been a reason or purpose. From a person who’s been to corner states of Maine, Alaska, California, Florida and place in between (Including Hawaii), I feel pretty confident in saying this… know what you want to see. Do you want to see mountains? Experience city life? Feel like driving or just taking a subway everywhere? Are you going alone? Who’s coming with you? Can they walk blocks or driving is the option? And what can you afford? Asking question like this will not only help you with your trip but avoid altercations with whomever your traveling with.
Where to Go and When
Nearly every trip it’s my brother and l (usually my best friend tags along) but this year it’s just us. We are looking to spend less as possible. We are looking for dates in August because not only is it just before school starts but it’s not too hot and will cost less than June or July (summer months). One of the best times to travel is the off-season when everyone is at school/work. If there’s no getting around it then book ahead. Planning sometimes months in advance can save you some money.
Deciding where to go can be hard. We’ve been to pretty much seen every popular destination we could think of: New York, Los Angles, San Francisco, Seattle, Orlando, San Diego, Toronto, Niagara Falls and other cities that aren’t as popular. Except there is one popular city we have yet to see… Chicago. So this year we are heading to Chicago. I’ll be honest I’m not that interested in going more so my brother but seeing as how I’ve never been ‘why not’. When deciding where to go with other people it’s best to compromise, you’ll save drama and the headaches. After all this is a vacation not another day at the office so enjoy yourself.
Do you want to escape the heat? See a beach? Play in the snow? Ski? See the big city? Get some quiet time in the country? Or just realize with shopping and maybe the spa? Are you adventurous? Hiking? Want to see a dormant volcano? Or be able to relax at sea, say in a cruise? Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s something you want to do.
Cost of Travel/Foreign Transactions
I feel this is a very important step that should be side by side with where to go. Let’s be real, we’re not all movie stars and can afford the trip to Paris every month. Nor can we afford to go on vacation every year but keeping in mind what you can spend will help you from breaking the bank. Knowing what you want to spend is a great first step. Are you looking to spend less than $500? $1,000? $4,000? When booking a trip I like to check for discount codes and my newest favorite (which the jury is still out on) Ebates. They give cash back on websites such as Expedia and Southwest Vacations. Not only will you be saving if you book early but you may even get cash back.
Now I can only speak about my experiences when I talk about foreign money and transactions. When considering purchasing foreign currency the best bet is checking with your bank. I was able to purchase money from Wells Fargo at no-cost. Before you head to the bank…call; some banks have money on hand depending on the country. Other times you will have to wait a week or two before it comes in (foreign money). Also ask the bank about buying back money. I was surprised to learn that my bank didn’t buy back change, so I made it appoint to use all my change or as much as I can because I’d be left with it in the end. Unless you’re keeping it as a souvenir or intend it use it later on a trip back get rid of it but again check with your bank.
My bank also offered a debit card. Basically it’s an additional account where you transferred money too and would use that account for any transactions, which of course there were fees involved but check with your bank if that’s a route your interested in taking. You never know when you may need cash. Credit cards are much easier to deal with to a certain extinct. Most charge a fee for foreign transactions so check with them on the fee per transaction.
Trust me when I say this, taking a person who doesn’t really walk didn’t make neither trip to New York and England a very good experience. I’ve been to New York two times (third in a couple of weeks) and if you don’t want to walk everywhere, you’re in for a rude awakening. Find out what the preferred method of transportation is. Look for the public transportation routes where your hotel is. I relied on Google Maps for directions when it came to London and Paris… when I had wifi. When I didn’t have wifi a good ole map was the method in getting places. When renting a car, take inconsideration the cost of renting a car plus the gas. If this isn’t something you can’t really afford then I suggest finding a city that relies on a subway or other forms of public transportation.
Whatever you decide to do make sure it’s what you want. Take a deep breath and enjoy your trip.
**This is my own opinion with my own personal accounts/experiences.