We all work so hard for our vacation time that we often have very high expectations when planning our trip, only to be let down when things don't go exactly as expected. It's impossible to prepare for every possible contingency, especially given all the variables that come with vacation travel. Careful forethought and planning can increase your chances of coming home with great happy memories and maybe a little extra money in your pocket.
Here is some advice for saving hassles and saving money on your next vacation.
Plan Together: There likely is one person in your family who takes the lead when it comes to making decisions, but when it comes to a vacation, it's important that everyone be a part of the planning process. Choose a location that appeal to everyone, so that each of you shares in the happiness equally, and so that no one person gets all the blame if things don't work out.
Local Conditions: Be aware of any effects the local topography or climate may have on you. If you are sensitive to altitude or to humidity, or to other attributes of your destination, consult with your physician.
Do Your Homework: Books, magazine and websites are a good place to start your research, and get first-hand accounts from friends. Never book a vacation based solely on a location's brochure or advertisement, as they contain information that's far from objective.
Pack Wisely: Don’t pack so much that you will end up lugging around heavy suitcases. Dress conservatively—a wardrobe that is flashy may attract the attention of thieves or con artists, while clothing that is very casual may result in being barred from some tourist sites overseas. Include a change of clothing in your carry-on luggage.
Last Minute Savings: It's becoming increasingly popular to book vacation packages at the last minute, hoping for discounts on unsold airline seats or hotel rooms. Cruises are a particularly good choice for this tactic, as they don't like to sail with empty cabins, and may offer them for a fraction of the original price.
All-inclusive: If you really want to travel without the hassle of making all your own plans, try an all-inclusive resort. Such vacations can spare you the need to make even the smallest plans, offering you everything from travel arrangements and accommodations to meals and entertainment.
Expect the Unexpected: Weather is the one thing you can never have any control over, so always pack at least one item of clothing for weather conditions opposite to what your research suggests. For instance, if the weather in Hawaii is sunny and warm when you get on the plane, you should still have a rain poncho in your luggage, just in case.
Health and Evacuation Insurance: Make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage while abroad, including coverage of medical evacuation (not covered by most domestic policies). Note that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
Seek Medical Advice: Talk to your physician about the activities you have planned and your general physical condition, any immunizations that might be needed, and medications, whether prescription or over the counter, which you might need for your trip. Carry a letter from your attending physician, describing your medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic names of prescribed drugs.
Maintenance on Equipment: Have maintenance check done on any equipment you will take with you, to ensure that everything is in working order before you leave. You may want to research the availability of wheelchair and medical equipment providers in the areas you plan to visit.
Carry Written Plans: Carry with you your written itinerary and directions of where you wish to go. These can be shown to people who might be able to help you if you are lost. Another useful tool is a point-and-conversation guide.