I’m back with part two of Vacation Planning, which I’m calling Where to Stay. In case you missed it, click HERE to read the first installment of this series.
In part one, the goal was to determine what your idea of the perfect vacation is, what kind of experience you want, and where you want to go. Then we discussed how the weather, the season, and how the timing needs to be factored into your trip. So, what’s next?
The Next Step
What have you decided on? A multi-city travel itinerary, tropical island, or country? Now is the time to do your research. I always turn to Trip Advisor first. This is the link for the travel forum. Find your location, and navigate from there. I get so much information about where I am going on Trip Advisor. When we went to Cancun several years ago, I read about Jungle Spa near Puerto Morelos. An American ex-pat who’d moved to Mexico learned about a local custom where generations passed down the art of Mayan therapeutic massage. She started Jungle Spa as a cottage industry for these women to help support their families. The reviews of the spa were excellent. So, I scheduled us for massages through their Facebook before our trip. My husband still talks about what an incredible massage he had there.
Did you decide on a cruise? Cruise critic is a great place to start. You can research different cruise lines and read reviews of cruise ships. One of the areas most helpful to me is the forum boards that they have on general cruising information, specific cruise lines, and ports of call. When we decided to take our first cruise in 2007, I had no idea which cruise line to choose. The cruise critic site really helped me find which cruise line best suited us. For instance, we wanted a smaller ship with more adults and fewer children, excellent service, and good food. Cruising is a great way to wake up in a different country or city every morning. You can see so many ports of call in just a week-long cruise.
Puerto Morelos, November, 2016
Where to Stay?
So, where do you want to stay? A hotel, resort, condo, or vacation home? One of our favorite types of resorts are all-inclusive. An all-inclusive resort, for those of you who have never heard of one, is a resort where the cost includes everything. All meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, activities, and entertainment. All-inclusive resorts are very popular in Mexico and the Caribbean.
Condo Resorts or Vacation Homes
When we go to Hawaii, we generally stay in condo resorts. We like the spaciousness of condos, the choice of grilling on our lanai in the evenings or eating out, and taking our own beverages to the pool. We’ve stayed in some lovely resort hotels in Hawaii, but usually only for a few days of our 10 day stay.
My favorite website for booking condos or vacation homes is VRBO (also known as Home Away). If a property I’m interested in has a professional management company, I always go to the company’s website to compare prices before booking through VRBO.
A few tips: read the reviews, chose properties that have reviews, and compare the total costs before you choose one. The charges can vary greatly from one rental to another. An example is that one may waive the cleaning fee for stays of a week or more and the other property has excessive booking fees. Compare total costs.
If you’ve decided on a hotel resort, then I recommend reviewing hotels through websites like Expedia or Costco Travel. I’ve personally booked trips through both websites.
Costco is great if you’re a member and are booking your airfare and hotel together. What I like about Costco is that they fully vet the properties listed and hold them to high standards. They do have a more limited number of hotels and resorts, though.
Expedia has a wider range of hotel and resort options. They also offer more airline options, too, if you are booking both airfare and accommodations. And, they don’t require you to book both together. I usually narrow it down to three or so hotels/resorts, then read reviews on multiple websites, including Trip Advisor.
Why I Do the Research
Hopefully I warned you in part one of Vacation Planning that I take planning a vacation pretty seriously! Unless I’ve stayed somewhere previously, I never book a vacation impulsively, without doing research. I have high expectations, so I want to ensure that I’m choosing wisely.
You’re almost there. Stay tuned for the last installment! That’s when I’ll share the plans from the Maui vacation we took last fall. Oh, and I’ll let you in on what I’m looking at for our next trip.
Ready to read more? Here’s the last part of Vacation Planning HERE.