This time of year I’m inundated with people asking for my vacation planning advice – I own a regional vacation site and offer free consultation. The problem is information overload. Vacation web sites contain so much information that people get overwhelmed with the confusing number of choices and decisions – it can be disheartening.
I’ve developed a few questions I get people to think about and answer that really gets them realistic about vacation planning for their destinations and accommodations.
So here are the questions and advice I give to people touring my specialty region – New England – but I know are relevant to vacation planning almost anywhere.
HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR VACATION?
If you’re flying in to a central airport allow the first day to pick up your car and drive to your destination. Take time to settle into your accommodation, get orientated and scout out for a relaxing dinner location.
Similarly on the last day, you should allocate for driving back to the airport, dropping off your car and getting through security to catch your flight. So if you’re planning on seven vacation days in the area – now you’re down to five for touring and sightseeing.
DO YOU PREFER TO TOUR OR STAY IN ONE PLACE?
This is an important question for you to answer as touring requires more vacation planning but also offers the chance to see more of a region’s diversity.
If you prefer to be based at one location then it makes the lodging choice easier. But there may be no one place centrally located for destinations and attractions, so you need to ensure where you stay is close for all the things you want to see and do. Check with a regional map and calculate distances. I can’t tell you the number of people that think they can drive from New York to the Maine Wilderness in one day and still have time to hike a mountain.
Which is a nice lead in to…
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO SEE AND DO?
Don’t try to see and do everything, or the vacation will just be one big blur. Be realistic on just how many attractions you can enjoy and not be exhausted at the end of the day.
So write out the things you like to do and see. Do you like excitement and plenty to do at night or enjoy a quiet village atmosphere? Are you a history and museum buff, or attracted more to the scenic beauty of an area? Do you like to hike in the mountains, or doze on a beach?
Once you’ve chosen a few themes they’ll help make your vacation planning easier by zeroing in on a realistic area to cover during your stay, depending on whether you’ll be housed in one spot or touring around.
WHAT DO YOU WANT IN ACCOMMODATION?
Are you looking to lodge at a Four-Star resort and spa or a campground near a lake?
The one thing these two extremes have in common is reservations. You can’t expect to turn up in the height of summer or a popular seasonal time and hope to find a room. Do some quick research to find out what’s available in the region. For example the New England region is famous for its Country Inns and Bed and Breakfasts – a type of accommodation that suits couples and singles, but not necessarily families with young children.
I always urge visitors to book their accommodation early in their vacation planning – even before their flights.