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Planning Your Vacation Activities

There’s times when you don’t want to do much on vacation other than sit by the pool. Other times, you may really want to get out and about a bit and discover some of the local area. Here’s a few tips:

Plan ahead
Popular vacation attractions can get busy quickly.  Some may require reservations months in advance before you even start your vacation.  Make sure to do your research and find out how far in advance you need to get tickets or make reservations.  Some vacation attractions only allow a set number of visitors each day.  Some are only open certain days of the week.  You can never start planning too early.  For example, in New Zealand during peak tourist season, you may have to make reservations a day or two in advance for the Shotover Jet, a wild jet boat ride through the slot canyons of the south island.  In Washington DC, you need to reserve almost two months in advance, just to go to the top of the Washington Monument.

Go early
If it’s a major vacation attraction, you should go early.  Going early allows you to tour the place before the crowds descend later in the morning.  Going early can allow you to take your time, not feel rushed and also get some good photos without 100s of people wandering around and getting in your way.  Plus, in warm weather climates, you can beat the heat.

Read up
If you’re planning on an all day visit to a large tourist spot, read up on it before you leave home.  That way, you’ll make sure to plan your visit to see the things you want to see.  At the Louvre in Paris, you could spend a week and not see the entire place.  If you have 3 hours, you certainly want to make sure you see the main things you have an interest in.  We went to Pompeii a few years ago and we could have spent a week or two there if we wanted to really see everything.  Instead, we had a half a day.  We mapped out the things we really wanted to see and hired a guide.  It made all the difference.

Talk to your hotel concierge.
If you like being spontaneous or just had a change in plans, ask your hotel concierge to help you plan your vacation activities.  Most good concierges have connections or alternate resources to help you plan what you want.  We’ve done this from time to time and it’s worked out very well.  For instance, you may have planned sitting by the pool all day, but what are you going to do if it all of a sudden decides to rain?  A good hotel concierge will be very knowledgeable about the area.  Once you tell them your interests, they should be able to easily arrange something for you.

Festivals & Events.
Before you leave, check your destination for certain festivals and events that may be happening during your stay.  Whether they’re well known or not, it might be a great way to spend a day doing something unexpected or relatively unknown.  On a recent trip to Thailand, we discovered a “New Moon” party on a nearby island.  Luckily a hotel employee overheard us talking about things to do and mentioned it to us.

Last modified: January 5, 2014