With summer coming, chances are the beach is on the agenda for your next vacation. Planning the trip and getting there can be difficult, but these are five things I've picked up over the years that make the process easier.
1. Set up deal alerts now in order to find the best price.
Getting the best price is important, you don't want to get buyer's remorse. Set up deal alerts on travel websites like Hopper.com to track the prices over a few weeks to make sure you're getting the best deal.
One other thing you can do is to search for flights using the private mode on your browser. Some sites use tracking codes that alter the available prices, and these don't work in private browsing mode.
Tip: Data shows the current best time to book your flight is 54 days out and the best day and time of week to book is Tuesday at 3pm ET.
2. Research travel and "point hacking" sites to find other ways to get to your destination.
Travel hacking and points websites often have deals you might not have known about. They can also help you use travel loyalty programs to fly or lodge for practically free using points and miles.
One resource I like is UpgradedPoints.com, mostly because they go into a lot detail in their articles to help you understand how "points" work and to minimize your cash outlay.
Many travel hackers work their magic by using credit cards to earn loyalty program points and benefits. One of the popular cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earns extra points for travel and dining expenditures. Currently, it has a generous sign up bonus that is worth at least $500.
Even better: many of these cards come loaded with travel insurance to protect you in case anything goes wrong like a delayed or cancelled flight.
3. Plan your packing lists well ahead of time to ensure you don't forget anything.
Everyone hates packing, but it becomes a lot easier when you plan out what you'll need ahead of time with a packing list.
People can often forget the essentials for a beach holiday. These include swimsuits, sunscreen, sunglasses, sunscreen, beach towel, snacks, sunscreen, and hats. Did I mention sunscreen?
Consider bringing waterproof containers or DIY containers for storing cash, cards, and personal items in order to protect them from the elements or thieves. If you're going to be in the water, try making a keychain from a cork so that it floats if you drop them. Pinterest has many ideas.
4. Alternatively, plan to pack light and get needed items at your destination.
Vacations are meant to be relaxing, and if you're stressed about every part of the trip then you likely won't get much rest.
Instead of worrying all day about packing and trying to think of everything, pack enough clothing to wear everything twice and just get what you need at your destination. This saves you the trouble of having to pack multiple bags and allows you to travel light with just a carry on.
Traveling light saves you money too. A checked bag to a domestic location costs $25 to $35 or more, depending on the size and weight. By leaving those at home, you can save $50 per person or more.
The savings on bags can then go towards needed items at your destination, and you'll save time and have a more relaxing experience.
If you're set on bringing a checked bag, you could research other travel rewards cards out there to find one that offers free checked bags and additional travel benefits.
5. Decide on what electronics you really need before you go.
In our electronics driven world, it can be hard to decide whether to bring the phone, laptop, tablet, or all of them. This is one area that pays to plan ahead.
What do you really need for a beach trip? You'll likely want your phone, and perhaps some speakers if you'd like to listen to tunes. A tablet or Kindle might be nice if you're going to read books while laying out.
Vacation is a time to disengage, not keep up with emails and browse the internet all day. Leave the electronics at home and just bring the minimum amount of devices and chargers you need.
A couple of tips:
- Bring a portable charger for your phone if you are worried it will die when you need it. These have become cheap and can also save frustration.
- Pre-load a Google map of your area to your phone before you go in case you lose service or are going international. You could even do this and keep your phone on airplane mode if you want to "disconnect" but have access to a map.
Final Tip: Enjoy your trip and plan for issues
No trip goes 100% perfectly, and you should not expect yours to. Plan what you can, and take the rest as it comes. Your vacation is a time to relax and enjoy yourself!