You’ve decided to go on vacation but that’s only the first step in planning an amazing trip. Here are some great steps to help you plan the vacation of a lifetime!

Choose a Destination: When choosing a destination for your vacation, make sure that all parties agree on the destination. Whether it’s a beach trip to Cabo San Lucas, a ski weekend in Breckinridge, or even a girls’ weekend in Las Vegas, it is important to make sure that everyone is in agreement of where you are going on vacation and the intent of the vacation. The vacation could start on a sour note if someone thinks they are going to be lying on a beach for 5 days when really they will be volunteering the entire time.

Accommodations are Key: Make sure you do your research about where you are going to be staying. There are many sites on the internet that rank hotels. You may want to try such sites as or if you are looking for a condo, a good site is These sites provider user feedback and what is great about that is that you get actual guests opinions about the hotel, motel or condo and not a bias company opinion. However, these companies are great to get an opinion on the hotel, make sure you shop around so that you can get the best price. Some companies may have exclusive deals with specific hotels giving them a better price per room.

Also when choosing accommodations, check to make sure you are getting what you want. If you want an all-inclusive resort, make sure that the hotel you are looking at offers that package; don’t just assume that since it’s in Mexico or the Dominican that they are automatically all-inclusive resorts. Make sure you check to what is included especially if you are traveling out of the United States since you’ll be out of your comfort zone to begin with. You wouldn’t want to have someone believe that they will be staying in a posh hotel when really they are staying in a hostel.

Bundle if Possible: When you are ready to book your hotel, plane tickets or rental car, make sure you book them all at one time so you can take advantage of package deals. Many times when you book everything through one site, you’ll get a discounted rate for bundling the entire vacation through that site. Although, the best advice I can give is do your research and shop around. A great site to help you do that is, they will show you prices from a variety of vacation planning sites like Orbitz and Priceline, but once you find your flight, hotel or car rental, make sure to go to the actual providers website and check to see if they are offering for cheaper directly through them.

BONUS TIP: If you are just booking plane tickets, look at booking 1-way flights through different airlines. This gives you more choices and possibly better prices and this works especially great if you have a more flexible travel schedule.

Plan Ahead and Have Back-Up Plans: The weather doesn’t always cooperate with your vacation plans so make sure you plan ahead and pack accordingly. Make sure you check out the weather forecasts and do research for activities that you can do indoors in case of inclement weather. Museums, bus tours, indoor water parks, and even visiting historic sites like churches, mansions or castles can be great rainy day activities. So in essence, it is important to be flexible on vacation and have back-up plans just in case Mother Nature decides to rain your parade.

Protect Yourself: When booking your vacation do not solely depend on electronic copies of itineraries, confirmation numbers, and flight information. Print out hard copies to bring a long with you or keep a handwritten account of important information. There may be times when you need your flight or hotel confirmation and you do not have access to the internet to retrieve the information and they are not able to find your flight or hotel booking.

Bring additional identification with you on vacation if available. If you happen to lose your driver’s license while on vacation, good luck being able to board your flight home, so come prepared with state or federal issued ID, military ID, passport, or passport card. That way you can make sure that if you would lose one form of identification you are covered with a backup.

If you are going to be out of the United States and plan on using a debit or credit card, call the provider and inform them that you are going to be out of the country and that suspicious charges may show up during your time away. This just covers you from having your financial institution put a hold on your account leaving you with no way to get any money or charge anything to the account.

These are just some simple tips to make sure that your dream vacation doesn’t turn into a nightmare. As I said previously the key to having a great vacation is to be prepared, be flexible and be informed. Happy Travels!

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