It’s a new year, and many of you may have travel at the top of your list of resolutions. With gas at crazy low prices, you’re probably itching to hit the road. Before you go, check out these 5 travel planning tips to make the most out of your 2015 travel adventures.
I tend to be a bit of a dreamer – why take a trip all the way to just Savannah if you could also go to Charleston, and Asheville, and Memphis, too? Unfortunately, this results in a tendency to not making some trips a reality because I blow them a bit out of proportion. Choose a destination, pick top must-sees, and let the rest flow naturally. It’s okay if you don’t see all the sites – that just gives you a reason to return.
Plan to Avoid Plans
If you’re interested in seeing a city and aren’t there for big celebrations, then find the best rates by avoiding events. Long weekends like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day will obviously spike accommodation (and potentially gas) prices. Search your destination’s tourism website and check out the event calendar to make sure that your dates don’t collide with marathons, food festivals, fairs or music festivals which can make availability low and prices high.
You’ve probably heard that you should always ask for discounts…but seriously, ask. Restaurants, Amtraks, state fairs, ski resorts, and retailers such as Banana Republic, J. Crew and Top Shop all offer student discounts, plus it always pays off to ask about senior and AAA discounts. You can usually also get into cultural attractions such as art museums and theatre performances at a lower rate or even for free on certain days – call ahead to find out their discount schedule.
Never Pay Full Price
If you’re planning ahead, then a couple months before your trip subscribe to email newsletters from your destination’s Groupon or Living Social website. You might find great deals on an attraction you were already planning on going to, such as a bus tour of D.C. or an airboat ride in Florida. It’ll also help you skip the chains and visit locally-owned restaurants on a budget. Not a planner? Just get the apps and see if you can still grab same-day deals.
Live in the Moment
We love instagramming as much as the next traveler (are you following us @DrivetheNation?) but maybe 2015 can be the year of enjoying yourself, not taking selfies. If you want to document your travels, bring a digital camera instead of keeping your phone in your hand. This way you’ll take in the sites and enjoy time with your traveling companions rather than realizing that you have new notifications.