Although many students consider summer to be an escape from learning, vacation travel provides many teachable moments. Like a classroom syllabus, your journey will include stepping stones and milestones rooted in the basics:
Identify the goal or purpose
Is this trip for business, pleasure, leisure or some combination? Will you be scoping out potential colleges for your next educational chapter? Your answers here will likely determine how long you’ll be away, how you’ll travel, types of lodging and more.
Determine the destination
This will influence every other step along the way. If it’s a one-stop trip, there may be a one-stop solution, like an airline that provides lodging or ground travel services. If there are intermittent stops, it may be more of a road trip. In either case, you can use a nearby library or online tools to research the associated logistics.
Again, another single variable with potentially big impacts. A father/son or mother/daughter trip will be very different than an all-family vacation, changing your lodging from a single hotel room to perhaps an Airbnb. If travelers have special needs or disabilities, account for those as you plan.
Consider the budget
Is there a budget? Most will have one. While this can be a moving target, knowing the general amount and other variables will train you to seek cost-effective solutions. We all can’t fly non-stop at 10 a.m. and return at 10 p.m. to avoid sleep disruptions or inconvenience. Accordingly, you’ll want to learn the give and take of costs vs schedules, best days to travel, how to set up alerts, become aware of cancellation or change fees and the fine print about trip insurance.
Expect the unexpected
Plan for the must-haves, like-to-haves and doesn’t-really-matter aspects of travel. If it rains at the beach, are you watching Netflix in your hotel room just as you would at home, or, are you quickly pivoting to see a site, visit a university or otherwise optimize your resources? Savvy travelers have a Plan B to respond to bad weather, mechanical breakdowns, overcrowding or other uncontrollable factors.
Use apps and other technology to your advantage
Websites like Expedia and KAYAK, or an app like Waze, can be especially helpful. Gone are the days of bulky paper maps and coupon books. Bookmark your transit, lodging and sightseeing destinations to save time – which is irreplaceable – and money. Capitalize on food, drink and admission specials. Get familiar with geofencing, where a smartphone has the ability to attract discounts from attractions you may have been considering.
Be an active participant
By definition, trips are an escape from the day-in, day-out of home. Use technology as a tool, not as entertainment, and instead enjoy your new surroundings. Take in the sights, discover new interests, visit museums and observe the nuances of alternative cultures or communities. Try to imagine if the locale you’re visiting might be a place where you’d enjoy living someday.
By using foresight and a few tools of the trade, you can have not only a memorable summer trip, but an experience to learn from for many years to come.