Story originally appeared on www.hiltongrandvacations.com.
No matter what’s going on in the world, I’m almost always in vacation planning mode.
“As an Elite Premier Owner with Hilton Grand Vacations, I’ve had more than a decade (15 years, to be exact) to refine my process.”
The result? A stress-free vacation that runs smoothly.
Here are my vacation planning tips based on what I’ve learned over the years.
Start Planning Months Before Your Vacation
Review your options. I have an ongoing bucket list of travel destinations ready to go. I keep it updated to reflect new properties opening, and with Hilton Grand Vacations’ ever-growing list of travel destinations, it’s even more fun to update and plan future vacations.
Start the booking process early. Think 9 to 12 months, depending on the popularity of the travel destination. This tip helps lock in the dates and suite size you want.
Insider tip: If you have a lot of points, book multiple dates or destinations at the same time and narrow it down. As long as you start planning your vacation months in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to make your final decision and cancel the other bookings without issue.
Hit the internet and do your research. See what’s new and fun to do and read restaurant and activity reviews on sites like TripAdvisor.
Insider tip: Join Facebook groups or like Facebook pages of local businesses in the destination you’ll be visiting to stay in the know.
Start tracking transportation prices. Making reservations early helps guarantee the best prices for flights and car rentals.
Insider tip: If you need a car rental, reserve it as soon as possible. You can always cancel and rebook car rentals at no cost.
Practical Pre-Vacation Planning Tips for a Couple of Weeks Out
Do your monthly accounting. Use the post office’s free mail hold service, so neighbors don’t have to grab it. Sign up for electronic statements and pre-pay bills online, so you can truly unplug and relax while you’re away.
Book reservations. Book your must-do activities before you arrive. Some of the more popular activities fill up weeks in advance. These reservations include dinner reservations at hot new restaurants, so you are not eating at odd hours.
Insider tip. Sign up for Open Table. You can cancel or change reservations for free, and if you have an account, you can earn free cash towards future meals.
Get your travel bag ready. Save yourself the “night before scramble.”
Locate and pack the following items ahead of time.
- Electronics (Remember to charge them, too.)
- Camera batteries
- Spare phone chargers
- Travel day must-haves (i.e., travel reads, neck pillow, water bottle, etc.)