I wouldn’t give myself the title of “travel expert”, but I do feel like I should have been a travel agent in my previous or next life. I absolutely love finding flights, booking rental cars, hotel reviews, food must-eats, activities, etc! Planning ahead of time helps with my anxiety and helps ensure I don’t say “I wish we would have had time to do this” at the end of the trip. There’s always going to be room for flexibility but if you have 90% of the trip planned, it helps with ensuring you do everything you want, no matter where you go!
My Biggest Tip
If you are going on a big trip such as Alaska or Hawaii where you know you will be driving to various locations, I recommend printing a map of the area off and writing directly on the map. This helps keep my head on straight and gives me great visibility into where I need to book a hotel in proximity to the majority of the events on the trip!
Travel and Hotel
I use Expedia for virtually all of my flight planning. The rewards, points, and customer service are top notch. Plus- I love that I only have to use ONE app for flight information and not multiple if flying multiple airlines. You also always have your travel information saved on the app for each time you book (TSA number, frequent flyer, birthdate, etc). Additionally, they offer great bundle deals on flights and hotels and rental cars if you book together. I have also found that the prices are usually within $1-$5 of the prices if you book directly with the airline. I also love that I don’t have to enter my information each time to access my flight schedules like you do if you book directly with the airline and use their apps.
When it comes to hotels, I also make sure I filter by “map” and then also specify on the filters that a fitness center / gym is required. Once that filter is applied, I scour the images of the hotel and property to ensure the gym on site is more than just a broken treadmill and 3 mismatched dumbbells. The gym is an important aspect to our life so I don’t mind spending extra $ for a nice gym. This not only saved time on vacation but relieves a huge headache as you then don’t have to worry about finding a gym that will accommodate drop ins with a daily fee. As stated above, proximity to activities is huge for me to minimize time wasted in the car.
When it comes to rental cars, I typically book directly though the rental car facility ONLY if they offer a rewards program. This allows you to skip the line ahead of time as you upload all of your documentation in advance. This can save upwards of an hour at busy airports and the last thing I want to deal with after a flight is standing in line at a rental car counter.
Activities, Food, and More
Let’s talk food. I know it may sound weird coming from a “fitness” person, but I am a huge foodie at heart. When it comes to travel, I love exploring and trying new foods and new restaurants. In order to find the best, I will look on Instagram for “____ foodie” accounts. So if I am traveling to Maui, I will look up “Maui foodie” or “Maui eats” and dive into the posts they have shared! Again, goes back to the map, I will add all of the places I want to go to the map and label the places!
As far as activities, YELP and trip advisor will be your best friend. The reviews are extremely helpful on both platforms! I also have booked activities through the “find things to do” feature on Expedia!
I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who likes printed maps in addition to digital GPS apps!