Ten tips for a perfect vacation

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, October 31, 2009

Recently I was asked for some tips on how to plan a perfect vacation. Here is my short list.

1. Ask yourself what you really want out of this trip. Is it relaxation only or will you be bored after one night at a remote island resort? This answer helps select the proper location to vacation.

2. Are you truly exhausted from your job? Do you need rest and relaxation? If so, a cultural jaunt to three cities in seven days is not right for you at this time.

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3. Do you have a dream destination in mind? Is it based on real facts or is it based on your fantasies of what you hope this place will be like? You might be letting yourself down if you’re just keeping your fingers crossed that a place will be fabulous.

4. Is your dream trip based on the fact that your neighbor, sister, co-worker just came back from there and you’re just a tad envious?

If you’re paying big bucks for your vacation, go where you want to go; don’t make your selection based on what you want to brag about at the country club.

5. Sort through all the deals that are out there with skepticism.

Be sure you’re getting a great room and not some tiny hole in the wall overlooking the dumpsters in the parking lot because you’re paying just $99 a night. Believe me, those rooms really do exist. Frequently in hotel speak this is panoramic view room category.

Opt instead for the deals that include free breakfasts, transfers from the airport and a room upgrade.

Those add ons have real value and may be worth the $50 or $100 more you spend per night.

6. Consider reserving a room on a Concierge or Club floor.

For a bit extra, this amenity will likely provide you with free breakfast; afternoon tea and cocktails in the evening, as well as a service that’s dedicated to making you feel comfortable.

These perks also have value if you’re traveling with a child whose dining habits tend toward small portions or, if you yourself are a grazer and like a little drink now and then.

7. Be wary of some of the photos you see online of the hotel you’re interested in. A telephoto lens can make a tiny room look large in cyberspace.

8. Be aware of added fees and taxes. Some cities have tariffs that add nearly 20 percent per night onto a room bill.

Certain hotels have resorts fees starting at $15 a day that include services that are matter of fact, such as using towels by the pool and picking up the phone to make a local call, in other words, stuff that should be included in your room rate to begin with.

9. Read customer reviews on sites like TripAdvisor but take them with a grain of salt. Some information can give you tremendous insight but other tidbits may be generated from a single bad moment at a hotel.

10. In the end I suggest that you go to a trusted travel agent. They can provide information based on the fact that they’ve actually been there.

They can tell you if that fabulous cruise cabin is located below the high energy disco that will generate a lot of noise at 3 a.m. or if a resort with a famous name is resting on its laurels and hasn’t been renovated for 20 years.

They can also get you excellent upgrades and help you sort through all of the deals that are out there.

Don’t leave your precious vacation time to fate. Get the services of an expert just as you would with an attorney or accountant.

Hopefully this helps. Still got travel questions? Email thetravelprofessor@gmail.com.