My husband and I are fortunate in that we usually take at least two vacations each year. The first is always to the same place where we honeymooned 20 years ago.
The second trip is always in the Fall, for a Cleveland Browns road game. But I can't start planning that trip until the NFL schedule comes out in April.
Which leaves me with nothing.to.plan.right.now. That just won't do.
So I need to figure out a quick little get-away for March or April, just to give me something to work on and get us out of the house.
A 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that many people experience a large boost in happiness (for 8 weeks!) just from planning the vacation. It makes perfect sense to me....I know I always enjoy figuring out where to go, where to stay, and what to see. The anticipation is almost as fun as the actual vacation!
My favorite trip-planning website is tripadvisor.com. It has tons of reviews and suggestions and advice, and I find it easy to use. I usually pick a destination and check out the hotel rankings. I read the forums to find out the best area to stay, then narrow my hotel choices down to 2 or 3.
Then I hop on to expedia.com to get prices. Next, I go to each hotel's website (often they are the cheapest!). I always check for Entertainment card or AAA discounts, plus I plug in my hotel rewards card number to see if that gets me extra savings. I have even used priceline.com when we weren't picky about where to stay---it worked out great in Nashville!!
After I have booked the hotel, I start to plan what we want to do while we're there. TripAdvisor is great for that, or you can get travel guides from the library (or AAA if you're a member). I usually have Dave look through what I've gathered and tell me some of the things he's interested in seeing, and then go from there. A lot of cities have passes for several tourist attractions at a discounted price, as well as passes for public transportation. I also check viator.com for discounts on tours. It's fun to figure out what we can squeeze into each day, how we'll get to each attraction, and which restaurants are nearby for us to try.
If we're flying, I start checking prices several times per day. There is a lot of talk that prices often are best about 2 months out, and go down on Tuesdays; I have found that to be true (although after I purchase the tickets, I stop checking). There have been times when I have had the hotel booked but the flights never worked out, so I just cancelled the hotel. I rarely pay in advance for a hotel...the savings don't justify the risk of having to cancel and lose the deposit.
So anyway, it's time for me to plan a mini vacay. You know, for that boost of happiness!! Any ideas where we should go??