So people always ask me how come I always maximize my vacation by getting the most out of my vacation time and doing my touristy things. So today I want to talk about the best way to maximize your vacation time and organize your travels. This would only be for those who are doing stuff when you go away. If you are going to a beachy area and / or just looking to relax somewhere without doing too much tourist things then this blog won’t work for you. So here goes:
2. Search all travel sites for best airfare and hotel
I searched packages (air and hotel) and I searched air/hotel separately, this time around, air/hotel separately was cheaper probably because of my mixture of cities I am visiting. Both cities came to about $1300 for me with air and hotel.
3. Now the planning starts
A. Google search top 10 places to visit in Paris/London: you will get tons of lists and you will know exactly where you should go depending on the reviews. My favorite lists would be from TripAdvisor.com website or Fodor’s website, but majority of the countries/cities you visit should have their own website. However, TripAdvisor.com would have reviews from tourists who have already been there so you can see their perspective. I think it is important and I find that majority of my opinion would match to the ones on TripAdvisor.com. Also, for ideas on where to go and what to do, this is an awesome book to use, believe me, you won’t regret it!!
B. 4 days in Paris / 5 days in London: Since I am going with a friend, I am also taking what she wants to do into account. For example, she wanted to do the Eiffel Tour but I didn’t, I just thought Eiffel Tour was for first time visitors and it wasn’t a big deal for me. So I put on a google calendar of all the things and time allowance that we will be doing (e.g. – we are landing at 6 am in CDG, Paris, We will go straight to the hotel to drop off our baggage, we should get to the hotel at around 7 am – 7:30 am depending on train schedule, so we should have breakfast around 8 am if any of the café’s are open, then 9 am would be going to Notre Dame since we are staying in the Latin Quarters, it would be a quick walk to Notre Dame from our hotel). Also make sure you allow yourself 1 day of half day of free day so you can do whatever you want to do like shopping or revisit a museum or going somewhere that is a maybe on your list. And same type of planning for London, I will go through all the visiting sites and then plan it with timing. You will see that you will actually following your schedules. And if you end up going overtime or nixing a site, that’s ok! For an actually excel spreadsheet that I have done for one of my previous travels, CLICK HERE.
C. Google Map: How I love google map! I love the fact that I can put all the places I want to visit on a map and save it as my own. You can put a star on the spot of all the places you want to visit and then be able to see how far they are from your hotel, airport, other visiting sites, etc.… How awesome is that?! It will help you be more organized and be more effective with the planning. I strongly suggest for everyone to take advantage of google map and use their save feature. CLICK HERE for an example of my Paris Map. You can also use google map for timing to see how long it take you to get from one place to another so you can maximize your timing. Why would anyone want to waste a minute standing around not knowing what to do while on vacation? I mean again, unless you have decided to just hang out and do nothing on the beach, otherwise I really rather use all my time for seeing the country I am visiting.
D. Buy all tickets online: a lot of tourism sites sell tickets online, even the venue itself would sell tickets online. Get them ahead of time! Why would you want to waste time standing on a line?
E. What to bring:
a. Wear comfortable clothes and maybe one thing that is dressy. My suit case:
2 pairs of Jeans (one pair on me)
2 pairs of comfy shoes (sneakers/uggs/boots and semi dress shoes, I will wear my UGGS to the Airport)
8 casual tops and 2 dressy (that’s for each day I will be traveling)
b. I won’t bring a lot of toiletries because the hotel will provide. I won’t bring a hair dryer because
it takes way too much space and seriously, I am no DIVA. You can always somehow make your
hair look presentable without a personal hair dryer. Do bring your own tooth brush/tooth paste.
If you travel with someone, you can discuss sharing something so you don’t bring doubles.
(Clearly this blog piece isn’t for DIVAs).
c. Bring your medication and Aspirin. If you are in a foreign country, you will not want to take their
meds because you really don’t know how you will react to them. I bought a super cute pill
holder with 6 compartments. I won’t use up all of it, but at least I have my meds when I travel!
d. Camera or use Phone to take pics and Universal Plug Adapter in case your hotel doesn’t have one!
F. Cell Phone: Remember to tell your phone company that you are traveling. It will be expensive but it’s important to have a phone to communicate with especially when traveling.
G. Register at the US embassy for the country you are going to online. Now days, you never know what can happen, so it’s a good idea someone knows where you are, especially your government who can help you when in need.
H. Your Passport: when you get to your hotel, if they have a secure place for you to put it in, go ahead and put it there along with extra cash you won’t use. Now, if you feel like you will forget, than think of a place where you can put these things safely.
I. Hotel business card: be sure to grab a hotel business card so you have an address. I say to grab a business card because it is something physical that you have. Let’s say you have the address in your phone, what happens if your phone runs out of battery? Or worst, you lost the phone?
K. APPS to download: definitely download maps of each country you are going to. I downloaded the Paris metro map and the London metro map. This will make it easier for me to move around without calling for a cab!
A lot of the planning is thinking ahead to avoid travel issues and delays. Of course if something you can’t help then there’s obviously nothing we can do such as traffic, etc.…. But I hope you get the gist of it. Feel free to put in the commentary area if you have questions on best travel practices or if I am missing anything, let me know.
The Style Gourmande