It is officially summertime, and you may be planning a quick local getaway, or a vacation out the country. Either way, it is best to be prepared for various situations. You won't always be prepared for every thing that can happen while away, as some things are out of your control or unavoidable, but there are things you can do to make your planning and vacation easier.
#1. Make a plan, and budget.
Don't take trips that you can't afford trying to keep up with the Jones's. Save, and go where you will be comfortable. You don't want to spend an arm and leg on flight and hotel to a nice place, and end up having to stay in your room the entire time because you now don't have spending money. It can happen. Things come up, it has happened to me before where I had an unplanned expense right before a vacation and struggled to do the things I wanted to. But it hasn't happened a 2nd time.
Do your research on your destination, hotel, Airbnb, surrounding area, etc, and weather. I booked a hotel once, and it seemed nice and renovated, had good reviews on their website. Then when looking at google and yelp closer to my trip, recent reviews and photos were terrible, but luckily was able to find something else. You also want to make sure you are close to the activities, or that there is transportation available. You don't want to be stuck in the mountains in Denver after 7pm if your staying downtown....
#3. Make a list.
The thing that helps me most, is writing things down. I have a general list for packing saved in my notes on my phone. Everything from a toothbrush to jewelry is included on my general list. I then make sub notes when I am gong somewhere specific and need to pack things like ski goggles, or a swimsuit, or something for a special event I may be attending. It doesn't hurt to write down every little thing and check off as you physically pack each item. I add items to my list, on my phone, as soon as I think about them so that I won't forget, even if it is a specific top I want to wear, or a pair of shoes. Think about how many times you've forgotten something as simple your toothbrush, lotion, or contact solution? (I will include my recent list I made for the Bahamas trip I just took).
There is nothing wrong with just winging it, especially if you are in a city with entertainment at every corner. Chances are, most places are not like that, so it helps to make an itinerary and book activities in advance. Check to see what your hotel or airbnb host offers, check groupon, eventbrite, tripadvisor, or ask someone who has been to or lives where you are going. So many resources out there and people just don't do the work. If you are not a planner, ask a friend to help, or find a travel agent. Most of the time they are free, and will get a commission solely from referring or booking for you. Having an itinerary reduces stress, arguments, and gives you more time to enjoy yourself rather than wasting time trying to find something. And along the way, you can always change things as you go, or meet some new friends with recommendations, but at least you have an idea of what is available.
#5. Stay smart.
If you are unsure, don't go. Stay safe no matter what. Be careful who you talk to and what information you give out. It may seem harmless when people ask where you are from of what you do, and most of the time it is, but sometimes people can have ulterior motives. If you are looking to the locals for specific things, be careful because you could be setting yourself up and you don't want to be stuck anywhere with no money or ID, or passport. Make copies of your ID and passport also. Carry an extra charger or battery port, calling card or be able to use data on your phone if out the country just in case. Know who and where to go for emergencies, pay attention to your surroundings. Although vacations are fun, you may run into danger anywhere so it is best to just keep your guard up; be open to new things, friendly, positive and most importantly alert!