This year, don’t just plan to check destinations of your bucket list. Resolve to become a better traveler. Here are seven travel goals to get you started.
Put social media to work: Before you book your flight or hotel, scour social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. You may be able to find discounted airline tickets, score miles or upgrades, and enter to win free vacations. Start with our Facebook page or @ShermansTravel on Twitter. Then, include your favorite airlines, hotels, and related travel sites in the list of accounts you follow. You might even consider tweeting what you’re looking for in terms of price or needs -- companies constantly scan Twitter, and one might just reach out with the deal you want.
Stop obsessing over reviews: TripAdvisor, Yelp, and similar websites can be extremely helpful when you are planning a vacation. We want to know that the photos on the hotel’s website are misleading or that most reviewers felt a museum was overpriced. But, by sticking to Yelp’s 10 highest rated Vancouver restaurants, you could miss out on the eateries where the locals go. Use reviews as a guideline, if you must, but leave some of your vacation to chance.
Read before you go: Guidebooks are great, but if you really want to get a sense of the country, read a book on its history, geography, or culture before you go. Don’t limit yourself to non-fiction offerings. Novels can serve as entertaining introductions as well. At the very least, do some online research before you go to learn about the capital city and major geographical points; the name of the local currency; what language (or languages) its people speak; and any unusual customs you should know.
Travel light: With baggage fees higher than ever, traveling light has become a necessity. This year, vow to pack only one versatile pair of shoes and to rely on color-coordinated separates that can be mixed and matched. Unless you plan to wear one on the plane and at your destination, ditch coats and opt for layers, and when packing, roll your clothes instead of folding them to squeeze more into your carry on.
Get lost: We understand wanting to make the most of your vacation time, especially if you don’t think you’ll have a chance to ever visit again, but don’t overschedule yourself. In fact, plan to get lost. Spend an afternoon exploring an area without an itinerary—pop in an interesting store, people watch from a bench in the plaza, spend an entire afternoon wandering through a museum.
Start a conversation: While you’re slowing down and taking in a new culture, make a point to talk to a local. Not only can you learn a little about the community and its people, but you may also hear about a restaurant you have to try or an off-the-beaten adventure worth taking. These experiences can take your vacation from “great” to “extraordinary.”
Give “braggies” a rest: There’s nothing wrong with posting pictures from your vacation online, but you can definitely cross the line with too many “braggies,” photos meant to make family and friends jealous. By all means, post the photo of your family in front of the Eiffel Tower -- just maybe ditch the snaps of your every meal and the beach view from your balcony.