6 Travel Hacks for Your Next Vacation

Everyone loves a good vacation. Traveling can provide new experiences and create lasting memories. But preparing for a trip can be stressful, and venturing far afield carries potential pitfalls. Could there be ways to make your journey easier? Check out these six hacks to make any trip a breeze.

1. Pack Lighter and Smarter

It’s easy to overpack, but carrying around extra stuff is cumbersome and makes it more likely you’ll lose something. Fortunately, there are many ways to pack a little lighter for a vacation. Select items in one color family so you can mix tops and bottoms and bring fewer pairs of shoes. And resist the temptation to pack additional garments. One or two spare items are helpful in case of emergency, but do you really need nine outfits for a three-day trip?

Clothes are not the only way to reduce bulk while packing; you can also lighten your wallet for safety and convenience. Carry only your favorite credit card (get those miles!), and one debit card, and limit cash to $50 or less. You can keep a spare card in the hotel safe in case of loss or theft, but otherwise, you’ll appreciate your lighter pockets.

2. Use a Travel Agent

Looking to take a great vacation but don’t know where to start? A travel agent may be a great resource to help you plan. Just because online travel sites make it easier to book your own travel doesn’t mean there’s no place for expert advice.

Not only do travel agents specialize in planning great trips, they can also give you greater insight into your destination. They can save you money by providing access to special promotions for your destination and even exclusive deals. If you want a great adventure without the stress of organizing everything, a travel agent may be for you.

3. Start Planning Early

When it comes to a stellar vacation, the earlier you start preparing, the better. One advantage to organizing early is getting a better deal on hotels. Booking a room at the last minute will leave you with less choice and a higher price tag. Looking for something a little homier? You’ll have a wider selection of Airbnb or VRBO accommodations at your disposal if you get a head start.

The same is true for flights. Tickets for domestic flights are cheaper if you book one to three months before departure — two to eight months when flying internationally. So if you are looking for a good time at a great price, start looking sooner than later. Getting your travel details nailed down early will also ease your anxiety so you can spend more time getting excited.

4. Vacation in the Off-Season

When planning ahead, don’t be afraid to think bigger picture. You can score even better deals when you time your vacation for off-peak seasons. With fewer tourists competing for flights, hotels, and restaurant reservations, you’ll avoid paying inflated prices.

Perhaps you don’t care for crowds or looking like a tourist when you go out. Those are further reasons to consider scheduling your journey during your destination’s off-season. Fewer travelers mean shorter wait times for popular restaurants and attractions. You’ll also find it easier to avoid mob scenes, which will help your trip feel calmer. Someone looking for a low-key getaway will find peace in this advice.

5. Take a Social Media Break

Speaking of finding peace, consider leaving social media behind while on your trip and embracing mindfulness instead. Vacation is about having fun while escaping everyday chaos, but it’s just as important to rest your mind. Taking a break from social media is a great way to stay present in the moment. It’s also a valuable security precaution, as you won’t be advertising your absence from home.

Of course, you can post as many beautiful pictures as you like when you return. Your friends will be equally wowed by the beach views or mountain vistas after the fact. But during your precious vacation days, take advantage of the pause to enjoy some un-Instagrammed “you” time.

6. Prepare Well When Traveling With Kids

If you’re road tripping with your children, your goal is to create happy memories with them. Being realistic, however, car trips with kids can be stressful. Fortunately, there are ways to make everyone a little happier on a family road adventure. Pack plenty of activities for kids to do in the car, and don’t forget extra batteries or chargers for devices. Make frequent rest stops so that everyone can get out of the vehicle for some space and exercise.

To avoid the dreaded “I’m bored” or “Are we there yet?” every 30 minutes, try playing some car car games. From the license plate game to 20 Questions, these perennial favorites will help the miles pass quickly. By preparing ahead, you’ll keep everyone happier on the to and fro parts of the trip.

Taking some time from your busy life and going on vacation is a welcome way to relieve some stress. Whether you’re exploring new destinations or relaxing at your annual summer retreat, use these easy tips to create special moments with your family.