Why? Where? Who? What? When? HOw? in that order...
Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Dying for a getaway but not sure where to start? Don't begin your travel plans without first asking yourself the six most important questions.
"...step into the mind of a child and ask yourself the very famous question...Why?"
First things first…You need to step into the mind of a child and ask yourself the very famous question…Why? “Why am I planning this trip?” “Why do I want to go?” “Why do I need to make it a priority?” The answer to these simple questions will help you answer so many more, especially in the WHAT, WHO & WHEN categories.
Do you just need some time to unwind and step away from the noise of your life? Can you imagine yourself laying on the hot sand with the faint sound of Bob Marley playing in your ear? Can you feel the ocean breeze on your neck as you bring the rim of a salty margarita glass to your mouth? If that’s the case, I hear you LOUD and CLEAR. Sing it to me Bob!
Maybe you’re dying to be intellectually and emotionally stimulated. Does your heart want to explode at the idea of walking down cobblestone streets that were laid and traveled on hundreds, if not thousands of years before you treaded on them? Can you feel the chill that would go down your spine as you enter a dark ruin or candlelit church older than seems fathomable? Oh man, I’ve been there and the sheer reverence I’ve experienced, has literally brought tears to my eyes.
Maybe it’s a little of both? If so, even better! Once you figure out your WHY, everything else will fall in to place.
“The most important thing when deciding where you'll stay; LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.”
Now, I’ve traveled a lot and have had my share of hotel NIGHTMARES. From bugs and pubic hair in my bed to sharing walls with what seemed like a pack of dancing elephants and snoring giants, I’ve experienced it all. I have learned in my years of travel, that no price is too high to ensure my health, safety and sanity. I used to think, “I’m barely going to be in the hotel room. It’s just a place I’m going to sleep after a long day of sight-seeing, so who cares what it looks like?” NOPE! Not anymore! The reasons I listed above are just some of the gross things that have since changed my mind. Yes, most of my time will be outside the hotel room, but that said, now I stay, a "clean somewhere", that I can wash my day off, get a good night sleep and get ready to tackle the next. A place with killer views, pools and dining, is a HUGE plus!
Now when I say no price is too high, obviously that’s not completely true. Unfortunately, Four Seasons and Hotel Danieli (Venice) have not called offering me a room “on the house” in exchange for a review of their grandeur. Not yet at least :) When deciding on a place to stay, I typically hit up Trip Advisor or Airbnb. It really all depends on the type of trip I’m planning, who I’m going with and what the agenda will be. The most important thing when deciding where you'll stay; LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.
I’ve learned that when staying in a city I’ve never visited, I LOVE being in the heart of town. I want to be walking distance to all of the action; great shopping, museums, eats, drinks, and of course nightlife. Unfortunately I have learned the hard way that trying to save a few bucks a night by staying “just a little farther away” is NOT worth it! For example, a few cousins, my sister and I take a “Cousins Trip” every September to celebrate their birthdays all landing on the same two days (I know what you’re thinking, what about my lonely birthday in June? That’s exactly what I’m saying!). Anyway, last year we had the TOTAL pleasure of visiting Boston. None of us having visited Boston before, we were kind of shooting in the dark. Of course I did my research when finding our cute house and in my defense, the reviews were great and it was decorated adorable. It was literally just across the street from the train station so getting into downtown would be a breeze, or so we thought. That said, it took anywhere from 30 minutes to and hour to get anywhere and when traveling in the evening, an Uber or Lyft just made more sense. The money that we spent on transportation could have easily covered the cost of a place right in town. Not only could we have saved a few pennies but more importantly, time sitting in a car or on a train. Although those late night conversations with our drivers after a few drinks have been ones for the books (“Mark Wahlberg…Where are you?”...inside joke). Now don’t get me wrong, riding the train or subway in a foreign city is part of the experience and I strongly suggest you “do as the locals do”. But when choosing a place to rest your head, make sure it’s somewhere you can easily come back for a quick rest, drop off your shopping bags, freshen up, or even better, use a private bathroom. You won’t regret it.
“Remember that who you choose to travel with could make or break your trip."
Obviously who will be attending your trip determines where to stay and what to do. Maybe you and your girls are ready for spa treatments and shopping by day and letting your hair down by night. Or you and that someone special want to order breakfast in bed, followed by a day of exploring and sunset martinis. What about a weekend with the kids on the snowy slopes and endless hours of snow angels and hot cocoa? Better yet, have you ever treated yourself to a trip with the most important person in the world, YOU? Imagine waking up when you want, eating what sounds perfect to you and doing WHATEVER the heck you feel like doing? I recently took a trip solo and it was absolutely perfect (See blog post titled, BOULDER)! Remember that who you choose to travel with will make or break your trip. It’s ok to be picky. You are making a good investment for this memory, so make sure it’s not with someone you think will muddy your experience. Again, BEEN THERE / DONE THAT. We were walking down the Las Vegas Strip and she was in tears, literal tears by the scene displayed around us. Just because you and one of your closest friends share clothes, food and boy banter, DOES NOT mean you will travel well together. If flying solo is not your thing, find a travel buddy that you know you mesh well with and start dreaming together.
"Oh people, "what", is the fun & dreamy part?"
Now that you have your destination pin pointed and overnight accommodations settled, what are you going to do with yourself? Oh people "what", is the fun & dreamy part! The first thing I like to do is Google the location you’re visiting and see what some of the hotspots are. I have found that Trip Advisor is amazing. The reason I love starting there is because the reviews are from real travelers that will give real feedback. Oh my goodness, I have planned some amazing trips from the advice of the people that have gone before me. I also hit up Groupon. This is a great way to find discounts on local attractions and tours. If you’re going to a big city, from San Francisco to Philly or even Sydney to Dubai, the Go City Card is awesome! You can see multiple main attractions for a discounted price and skip most lines. You end up saving money and time. I’ve used this in New York and Boston and definitely got my monies worth. Oh and any city that offers the Double Decker Sightseeing buses or the River Boats…Do it! It’s the perfect way to see the city and all it has to offer. Once you know where you want to go you just HOP ON / HOP OFF and hit the ground running. Most of the passes you buy have a night tour as well. Seeing the New York City Skyline from Brooklyn at night or taking a boat ride on River Seine in Paris with the sunset peeking through the Eiffel Tower, is something every human should get to experience. PLEASE take my advice on this; when traveling, plan you trip ahead of time. Like, the sooner the better! A lot of the best tours; i.e. Summit of the Eiffel Tower or Lady Liberty’s Crown, book way in advance. Oh and booking tours in advance will save you so much time. The last thing you want to do is stand in a 3 hour line to get into the Vatican or Colosseum and teeter on whether it’s worth waiting. You will never forgive yourself if you visit Rome and not actually see the Sistine Chapel or amphitheater with your own eyes!
"So many places can be visited year round but when you go, all depends on what you want to do while you’re there."
So you’re planning a trip to Montana: Ok well what exactly are you wanting to do? Ski down the glorious slopes at Big Sky Mountain Resort or even better, do some dog sledding and be whisked down a mountain trail while overlooking the incredible snow covered Montana mountains? Wait, you don’t want to go during snow season? Ok well go during the summer and enjoy the splendor of Yellow Stone National Park or eat, drink and be merry on Main St in Downtown Bozeman. All of that to ask you, what is your vision for your trip? So many places can be visited year round but when you go, all depends on what you want to do while you’re there.
When planning my first trip to Europe, I remembered a line out of a movie “We hate Europe in the summer. Too many tourists.” movie credit, Fools Rush In. Thank You Matthew Perry and Selma Hayek! Gosh I wish I could look in my crystal ball and tell you exactly what the best week to plan your next trip but sorry, my powers are not super dependable. Not only do you have to think about other tourists but of course, weather. The best direction I can point you to is The Weather Channel or of course the ever so trusty Google. You can search the location you’re thinking of and it’ll give you weather averages for the month you’re thinking. Also remember that if you are visiting multiple destinations on your trip, weather can be completely different. For instance, when in Rome, I was exploring the city in light weight leggings and a t-shirt and the following week in Paris, I needed gloves, a scarf and a freaking parka. Weather can ruin a trip if you’re not prepared, so pack accordingly.
"Setting aside a little (or a lot) from each paycheck, will ensure how you are able to make your traveling dreams come true."
To make all this happen I would suggest a traveling budget. I'm laughing as I write this because I wish I'd take my own advice. Setting aside a little (or a lot) from each paycheck, will ensure how you are able to make your traveling dreams come true. Just because I tell you that I won't chintz on my overnight accommodations, does not mean I don't look for a deal. For instance, when I travelled to Venice I found a 4 Star Hotel on the canal that was under new ownership and had just completed a full renovation. Because they were trying to build their reviews I was able to book the room for $129 Euro/ night with a canal view. If you are a AAA or Costco member take advantage of those travel benefits, especially with rental cars. I've had so much success and have loved renting from Budget. On multiple occasions I've been upgraded FOR FREE just by asking!
Now regarding airfare, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Southwest Airlines. Not only because their customer service is killer, but also because you get TWO free bags when traveling and if you ever need to cancel or reschedule a trip, they're like "No Problem!". Not to mention the free wifi and shows on their app. Now traveling abroad is a different story, I love me some Delta Airlines. From my experience they have, by far, the best in flight entertainment and food.
Wherever your travel plans take you, be sure to live in the moment and take in all your trip has to offer. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Yes of course take pictures but don't be stuck behind the lens or on your phone so much you actually miss the experience. Again, laughing as I need to take my own advice.
Much love to you all and Bon Voyage!
- Lissette ( Settie )
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