Barbara’s idea of a dream vacation is “someplace where the maid turns down my bed and leaves mints on the pillow, they bring me drinks with umbrellas in them, and sun-bronzed surf gods fan me with palm fronds.” Her sister Chrissie’s idea of a dream vacation is to get as far as possible from places like that.
How can each sister enjoy a trip to her tastes? More importantly, how can each sister experience a journey that deserves a write-up in an in-flight magazine, not the police blotter? The answer is simple: research and planning.
The wise traveler asks for recommendations from friends with similar tastes. Putting out a message on a social networking site can elicit exciting ideas as well. An online search for the appropriate type of travel — luxury, adventure, working vacation, etc. — is another source of great destinations.
Travel agents can offer ideas about places travelers might never think of on their own. Booking the trip through a reputable travel agent can be one of the simplest ways to ensure a trip that’s memorable in the best possible way.
Surfing the internet can provide ideas. Looking up “most luxurious resorts” or “creepiest places on earth,” depending on personal tastes, will produce a rich harvest of articles and lists. Luxury Travel, for example, tantalizes readers with lavish descriptions of the sumptuous Romanov, Dostoevsky, and Faberge Suites at the St. Petersburg Grand Hotel Europe. Cracked.com, on the other hand, takes ghoulish delight in tales of the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic and the Gunkanjima ghost town island of Japan.
Once the ideas are narrowed down, another search for the destination, with words such as “reviews,” “travelogues,” or “stories” will bring travel tales. Reading these carefully will steer the holiday-goer toward uniquely delightful sites, and away from troubles such as innovative thieves. Well-known online travel guides, such as Lonely Planet and Fodor’s, also provide up-to-date information and first-person reviews.
Local news is often helpful. Many cities offer online newspapers or tourism bureaus that provide information about events to enjoy or road construction to avoid. Tourists who sign up for email alerts from their home country’s embassy in the destination country will keep abreast of political unrest or health concerns that make for great news reporting but lousy vacations.
Transportation is another issue. Checking with airline, airport, and embassy sites before travel can ensure the most current information on new luggage and carry-on restrictions or specific local scams.
The April, 2010 issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology noted that spending money on memorable experiences contributes to long-lasting happiness. A well planned vacation, suited to personal tastes, will bring lifetime benefits to the satisfied traveler.
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