18 travel tips for booking the perfect vacation

What's your perfect luxury vacation? Our travel tips will help you find the best private, tailor-made trips.
What's your perfect luxury vacation? Our travel tips will help you find the best private, tailor-made trips.

Daydreaming about the perfect vacation? Whether you're a seasoned jetsetter or just an occasional traveller, one fact remains: you're more likely to snag private, tailor-made trips if you do a little planning on the back end. Luckily for you, there are loads of useful resources right at your fingertips. Here are our top recommendations for booking the perfect holiday

1. Get inspired

Perhaps poet Derek Walcott put it best: "I read; I travel; I become." Nothing quite sparks our wanderlust like reading. If you aren't sure where to go on your next holiday, try browsing some travel blogs for expert tips and recommendations. Whether you're drawn to luxury travel, adventurous getaways, or somewhere in between, chances are there's a well-versed blogger out there writing all about the nitty-gritty details.

If it's more in-depth knowledge you're after, travel guidebooks are another great place to start. Ones that are done well blend gorgeous photography and thorough research to bring rich travel narratives to life. A solid guidebook reveals more than just local hotel listings and generic restaurant recommendations, it gives you an authentic glimpse into the culture and feel of a new place; almost letting you try it on for size before booking committing to a trip.

For others, nothing inspires travel more than social media. Instagram and Pinterest are especially travel-friendly, with the latter providing endless streams of links and images; all organized however you see fit. Want to create one digital travel board for Costa Rica and another for Sri Lanka? Pinterest lets you do it in a snap, laying out your resources in a visual way.

While Instagram, on the other hand, is relatively link-free, the images are absolutely divine. If you choose to follow travel-centric accounts, your feed will be brimming with dazzling images from all over the globe. Pay attention to the ones that catch your eye; they'll help you narrow down your next destination.

Once you're inspired and you know where you want to go, get the experts to plan and book it for you. Insight Guides' local experts do just that, making taking a trip hassle-free. Simply submit a trip request with where you want to go and we'll go the hard work for you.

2. Follow airlines on social media

Keeping up with your favourite airlines and luxury travel companies on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can pay off in the form of exclusive discounts and last-minute promo deals. The same goes for their newsletters. Sign up and see what happens. (You can always unsubscribe after your trip.)

3. Determine your ideal trip

If you ask two different strangers to describe their dream holiday, you're going to get two very different answers. This is because each individual has their own idea of what blissful travel looks like. If you're having trouble zeroing in on a specific destination, try shifting your focus to the type of trip you'd love to have.

Stressed out and in need of some rest and relaxation? A spa or wellness-centered trip may equal the perfect private vacation. And while some are pining for family fun in the city, others crave an off-the-beaten-track solo adventure. Either way, let your desires guide the planning process. Once you know what you want to do, again, get the experts to sort the details for you. When submitting a trip request with Insight Guides, skip the destination but simply tell us what you want to do on holiday. 

4. Get ahead of jet lag

Nothing dampers a luxury vacation like jet lag. Try stopping it in its tracks with some easy preventative measures. Adjusting your bedtime a few days before departure can go a long way (go to bed earlier if your travels will take you east; later if heading west). Other expert travel tips include tweaking your diet, staying hydrated, and skipping naps, if possible.

5. Think about timing

If you're a wine lover, there's no better time to visit the vineyards of Tuscany than September, right before the harvest. This is when visitors can pick ripe grapes right off the vine and get an insider look at the whole process of wine-making.

Details like these are exactly why you want to think about the best time to plan your trip. Do some legwork ahead of time to find out the best months to visit. For example, did you know that winter in the northern hemisphere is actually the best time of year to visit Ecuador? Or that Christmas in Australia equals sun-drenched skies and beachy barbecues?

Another thing to ask yourself is if you're looking to visit a place at the peak of tourist season. Some travelers prefer the hustle and bustle, while others would rather visit a new place during the off-season when the crowds are thinner.

Either way, planning your trip ahead of time can payoff big time in this regard. For those with a more spontaneous spirit, however, booking a lesser-known destination at the last minute can also be a fun way to inject a little novelty into your holiday.

6. Let local experts and luxury travel companies do the heavy lifting

Let's face it, who has time to plan an entire trip on their own? Connecting with luxury travel companies and local experts is one of the absolute best ways to create private, tailor-made trips that are packed with authentic experiences. This is because they know the lay of the land like no one else, offering up recommendations that travelers will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

Think about it, who knows the local restaurant scene better? A blogger who's visited there a couple times, or someone who actually calls the place home? 

(If you're not sure how to go about connecting with a local expert, let Insight Guides give you a hand; our secure platform bridges the gap and is backed by a no-quibble, money-back guarantee.)

7. Avoid travelling on holidays, if possible

This goes without saying, but prices and crowds will both be elevated if flying at the start or end of a weekend, or during a holiday or big school break. Fuller flights also translate to fewer options, which can reduce your flexibility. To sidestep this, some experts suggest flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday whenever possible. 

8. Take the day off work after returning home

Pre-holiday, it's easy to say that you'll jump right back into the swing of things after your trip. But as most of us have experienced, it isn't always so easy to snap out of vacation mode and back into your daily routine. Instead, arrange for one additional day off after you return. Do laundry, go food shopping, unpack, and take some time to relax before heading back to the demands of work.

9. Read up on your destination before travelling

There's plenty happening around the world that can directly impact your travel plans. Do be sure to read up on travel alerts, new security measures, travel restrictions and so on before heading off. (In the wake of the Zika virus hysteria, for example, many major airlines were offering refunds.) If everything looks good to go, it's still wise to find out where your country's embassy is located should an emergency arise.

10. Pack light

Having more luggage makes you more likely to misplace a bag. It's also inconvenient to lug around loads of suitcases and baggage. (This is especially true if you're travelling off the beaten track.) Instead, opt for lighter luggage and avoid all those checked-bag fees in the process.

11. Check your phone rates before you go

Contact your mobile phone service provider to clarify what your plan covers while out of the country. This will help prevent an unexpected spike in your phone bill upon your return.

12. Keep important documents safe

Safeguard the documents that would be a nightmare to lose. This includes passports, confirmation codes, driver's licenses, and the like. (Taking a photo of each one and then emailing it to yourself as a backup is a smart move.)

13. Let your bank know you'll be travelling

Before heading to the airport, alert the bank of your upcoming travel plans. This will prevent them from shutting down your credit or debit card when foreign charges pop up on your account. Handling the problem after the fact is a much bigger headache, especially when you need access to your money.

14. Make sure all your travel documents are valid

When it comes to passports and visas, make sure all your documents are up to date and valid beforehand. Also check that nothing is set to expire during your trip.

15. Pack all necessary medications

As you get closer to your departure date, take stock of all the medications you regularly take. Do you have enough to see you through your trip? If not, head to the pharmacy and load up. Other meds to throw into your suitcase include allergy relief medicine, fever/pain reducer, and medication to relieve an upset stomach.

16. Check on your electronics

The electrical outlets may vary from one destination to the next. Prepare ahead of time and pick up any adaptors you may need while abroad. This includes phone chargers, hair dryers, laptop chargers, and so on.

17. Brush up on the language

Knowing a few key phrases can go a long way. Brush up on frequently used terms that you may need while out and about during your travels. It may seem old-school, but a pocket-sized dictionary is always good to have on hand should your mobile phone fail you.

18. Share your travel plans with people at home

Before leaving the country, do be sure to let someone at home know what your plans are (especially if you're travelling alone). Share your itinerary with a friend or family member, along with hotel information and phone numbers. Should an emergency occur, it's important not to be totally and completely off the grid.

Ready to take off on your next holiday? 

Start planning your next private customised vacation. Our local experts are ready to create your experience from scratch!

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