I get it, you’re busy and those all-inclusive 7 day vacation packages are alluring. But, there is a difference between taking a vacation like that and truly TRAVELING. ADVENTURE SEEKING. All consuming WANDERLUST. Absorbing the smells, sites, sounds, culture of a new area…. I know it all sounds good, but it gets overwhelming knowing where to start, where to go, WHAT TO DO!? Well, here are some starting tips to help you book an INCREDIBLE and UNFORGETTABLE ADVENTURE you will remember forever.
1. DON’T BOOK A RESORT
If LUXURY and PAMPERING is your thing, book a spa day during your stay somewhere, but SKIP the resort. Not only do they charge exorbitant fees, but you’ll be spending your days waiting in line for watered down drinks, fighting for a beach chair by the pool, or being awoken to the pitter-patter STOMPING of the toddler staying in the room a floor above you! Instead, look into a charming little bungalow on Airbnb or VRBO. If amenities are your thing, then look for a non-chain hotel that captures the local vibe of the area, that way you’ll still have access to a pool or gym and/or a restaurant or bar on site.
2. GET ADVICE FROM A LOCAL BEFORE YOUR TRIP
The perfect way to connect with someone before your travels, is through communication with your host at your Airbnb or Vrbo rental. If they aren’t a LOCAL, then they will still be sure to know about the safety of the area, local restaurant recommendations (and which are best for your age kiddos, if applicable), the best tours, and accessibility to all things (or have a referral to someone that does). A lot of times they will have trusted connections to people in town and will offer to make bookings for you. If they do end up going the extra mile and helping you with reservations, and/or advice on activities and tours, it’s nice to bring them a little trinket of thanks. I always love bringing our host a tee-shirt from our town in Southern California. You could also bring a locally made treat or even just have your kiddos draw them a picture! A specialized “thank you” goes a long way! (this also applies to any tour guides you have that were extra awesome!)
3. LEAVE SPACE IN YOUR ITINERARY TO EXPLORE…
I am a HUGE itinerary LOVER. I obsess over locking one in before every adventure we take…. But, I don’t BOOK us so solid we don’t have time to rest and explore. I usually leave the arrival day open for acclimation and jet lag recovery, and on the 1st full day I’ll book a half day tour, leaving the next day OPEN. I would say on a 6 or 7 day adventure, only book a maximum of 3 activities or tours. Leave the rest open for the other things you discover once you arrive!
4. PACK SNACKS
Whether you are traveling with your kiddos or not, let’s be honest… We all LOVE our fave snacks! I am a HUGE coffee addict. Sadly, if I don’t have it within 2 hours of waking each day, I can expect a nagging headache that won’t go away all day. So… I alway slip a can of cold brew in my checked bag, in the event I can’t stock up before my first morning there. It’s saved the day many a times! You can also pack power bars, fruit strips, or beef jerky sticks pretty easily and they will SURELY come in handy!
5. LOCAL FLAVES
This term envelopes ALL THINGS LOCAL to the area you are visiting. My husband and I came up with this on our Honeymoon in Jost Van Dyke, BVI. Every night a different local bar would serve dinner, and usually for only a short time frame. And they served one authentic, delicious meal (don’t even ask for a menu). The LOCAL FLAVES of the day… Ever since, we make it a point to experience, whenever possible, only Local-owned restaurants and/or always order “whatever the chef recommends” or the “catch of the day”! This has ALWAYS upped our adventure ante 500%. For one, the chef is usually super honored and excited when you give them full creative reign. And secondly, you’ll most likely have the chance to interact with the kitchen staff and chef (especially if you buy them a round of shots)! More LOCAL FLAVES! Also, skip the tourist trap souvenir shops, and instead hit up an art fair, or farmers market to buy your friends and family trinkets from local artists.
I cannot stress the amazingness of this enough… Once, on a visit to Mexico, we were on our way to kayak with our guide, and we asked him about all the trash we saw along the roadside. He told us about a group of Locals that gather every week to do a roadside clean up, and we asked if we could join! The next day, we had the greatest time PICKING UP TRASH! Yes. I kid you not. We met the greatest people, learned so much about the area, and even had the HONOR of being informed of some “locals only” beach hot spots in the area that were out of this world. I mean, let alone, just the overall feeling of accomplishment that comes along with volunteering. Ever since, we make a point to ask if there are any volunteer experiences in the area we are visiting. (This is especially amazing with kids in tow! Taking your kids on a travel adventure AND mixing in philanthropy will CERTAINLY earn you AT LEAST an honorable mention in THE GREATEST PARENTS OF THE YEAR awards!)
7. TRIP ADVISOR FOR THE WIN
Trip advisor is my go-to site to read reviews about every hotel/ experience/ area… I know it’s hard to read ALL the reviews, but after 10 or so, you may see a reigning theme. Especially if you “search” a topic you are interested in. For instance, I am TERRIFIED of heights. Like, incapacitating fear. It’s super inconvenient to say the least. Especially seeing how much I LOVE the thrill of adventures. So I leaned heavily on reviews for our trip to Costa Rica when I wanted to zip line. I could NOT wrap my mind around having to traverse up any super scary scaffolding to get to the platform. I could get from platform to platform within the canopy no problem, but for some reason canNOT make my knees work if I have to be responsible to climb any stairs. So… I would search “Heights” and “fear” in all the adventure company reviews, and found the exact information I needed to make my best choice! And guess what? It ended up being AWESOME!!!! https://www.tripadvisor.com/
Now get bookin’…
Good Lookin’. I think you DESERVE a good adventure, don’t you?