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Traveling is one of the great experiences of a lifetime, giving you the chance to explore the world and expand your horizons in new ways. Though it can be intimidating if you do not do it very often, there is no reason for it to be overwhelming. Armed with some basic information and insights, you can move boldly into new territories and embrace the differences in a meaningful way.
The foundation of a great trip is a destination that will be meaningful for you. Choose a place that you have a real desire to visit, regardless of what the reason is. Never choose a city or country just because it is “popular” or because others you know have been there. Think about what you as an individual actually like to do, and pick places that allow you to participate in those things. Don’t limit yourself to your comfort zones, however; leave some room in your planning for learning new things and trying activities that may be challenging to you.
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Start early with planning and research. There are multiple tools at your disposal these days, the most effective being the ability to explore places on the Internet. You are no longer dependent on a travel agent’s opinion of what you would like. You can do the research yourself, viewing photos and reading reviews. Be sure to check out user reviews on independent websites, rather than just promotional information on hotel sites.
Reserve and purchase airline tickets well in advance to ensure the best routes, prices and seats. Book hotels early, as well, and guarantee them with a credit card. Check the cancellation policy and make sure that you have the ability to cancel within a few days of arrival, with no penalties or fees. This will give you the chance to keep an eye out for other deals or specials before you depart.
If you like to dine out and know of popular restaurants in the city you will be visiting, make reservations ahead of time. The same goes for tours and activities, if they are popular ones. You will often find discounts for purchasing entrance to activities online in advance, especially for theme parks and museums. Look for discount deals with collective sites such as Groupon, where you can save up to 50 percent on meals, shows and activities.
Before you leave, plan for everything that needs to be done in your absence. Either ask a friend to collect your mail, or put a hold on it at the post office. Put a vacation hold on newspapers, and ask a neighbor to water your lawn. Arrange boarding for pets who will not be accompanying you. Remember to turn off gas, heating and cooling units before you leave. Always give photocopies of your itinerary to a trusted friend or family member, as well as a copy of your ID and credit cards. This can be invaluable if yours get lost or stolen.
Approaching travel will a solid plan and some forethought can leave you free to actually relax and enjoy the journey. Do yourself a favor and implement the ideas here into your vacation planning.