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Expert advice

The One With Our Vacation Planning Tips

The most memorable vacations begin before you leave (and include Hilton Grand Vacations)

Jessica M
Small Boat on a bay with city skyline

Everyone has a slightly different way of traveling; therefore, everyone has a different way of getting ready for a trip.

For some, planning follows the same rhythms each time. Others might pull an all-nighter preparing for the next morning's departure. Regardless of your planning style, the things you prepare before traveling can make all the difference in your experience after you arrive. 

For me, preparing is part of the fun! I enjoy the prep-work, and I believe it can make your vacation a better one. 

A Hilton Grand Vacations Explorer at a United States National Park 

I want to share my step-by-step vacation planning tips to do before you travel.

Gather Your Documents

After choosing your location and book your dates, evaluate what documents you need. Your future self will thank you.

Do you need a visa? Are you up to date on travel-specific immunizations? You don't necessarily need to take care of it right then, but knowing what you need, and how long you have until you must do it, makes for stress-free travel planning. 

Assess Travel Necessities

Travel necessities vary depending on where you'll be traveling. For example, if you’re going overseas, you'll need electrical adapters. For a ski trip, you'll need specific clothing and possibly gear - unless you have Hilton Grand Vacations to help coordinate activities.

Will you be doing laundry? Whether you'll be using a machine or handwashing in the sink, you'll want to make sure you have soap. 

I like to make a list of these trip essentials, so I know if I need to buy anything ahead of time, and so, I don't forget to pack them! As a bonus, making a list of these travel must-haves will save you money. 

Woman packing suitcase  

One time, I had five hairbrushes because I could never seem to remember to bring one and always had to buy one while we were on vacation. Now, "hairbrush" is on my list, and I remember to bring one. 

Consider Your Ground Transportation

If you plan to fly, it's important to consider how you’ll get from the airport to where you'll be staying. If you're in a foreign country, you might not be taking a taxi or Uber to the hotel. Research whether it makes sense for you to rent a car, and if you do, if you'll need to pay for parking.  

Perhaps where you're going has a first-class mass transit system allowing you to save on costs. Knowing how you'll get around ahead of time will save you some stress upon arrival.

Talk to Friends or Family 

Ask friends and family (calling all Facebook friends!) if they have recommendations for places you'll be traveling. Word of mouth is priceless. You'll find out all sorts of cool things to do and places to eat that you may never have thought of before. Also, they can tell you places to avoid going or areas that might be popular but are overrated.

Plan your Itinerary

I don't like to have a full day-by-day plan for every trip I go on, although some people do. But I do find having a general idea is helpful. If you’re visiting a new city, make a list of all the things you want to do then break them up into sections based on geography. 

A public transit cable car  

You don't want to waste all your time taking the metro all over the entire city each day.

If there are certain places you where you want to eat, plan to go to those places when you’re already nearby. I also find that having an idea of what I want to do each day helps me maximize my time between relaxing and exploring, rather than spending all my time trying to figure it out. 

Doing your research help you know what you should purchase ahead and what can wait until arrival as well as give you time to see if you find any great deals for those places as well.

Amp up the Anticipation

Get to know what makes the place you are going special. I love finding out what some of the classic foods and drinks are that are unique to my destination. It's always good practice to be mindful of the local culture. 

I even try to make some of those foods and drinks before going to help me get even more excited. I suggest you watch a movie or read a book about the location of your trip. If you're like me, you'll get more excited to see or read about your destination. 

If traveling internationally, I try to learn a few keywords in the local language. Learning simple words like hello, please and thank you are a sign of respect. Moreover, it enhances the travel experience to be able to connect with locals in their native language.

Hopefully these tips help increase your excitement and ease stress for all your upcoming travels.

Read Customize Your Next Vacation: Myers-Briggs Style for more inspiration on planning your next adventure. 

Jessica M

Jessica is a brand-new Hilton Grand Vacations Club Member as of this year, when she made her Home Resort at Hilton Grand Vacations Club on Paradise in Las Vegas. She likes to travel with family and friends, but she also flies solo. She’s here to share her tips and tricks that she’s learned along the way so that more people like her can “see more of this big, beautiful world!” A native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, she enjoys venturing out to faraway places to soak up as much local culture as possible by tasting the local flavors at hole-in-the-wall hotspots and exploring neighborhoods and landmarks. Most of all, though, you can find her happily spending her time on the beach where she loves to hit the waves via any variety of watersport.

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