Making the Most of Your Vacation Time

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Travelers across the globe have the opportunity to maximize their allocated vacation time. From taking advantage of long weekends to money-saving ideas on booking flights, here are some handy tips sourced from the TripAdvisor Travel Forums.

Research and plan in advance for a stress-free holiday

Spend at least 10 minutes of research for every four hours of vacation time you intend to take. This equates to 60 minutes (one hour) a day. You will have insight into what is available there, a better understanding on how to organize your daily sightseeing, upcoming events and dining schedule. You will have a game plan for transportation and other logistics and be aware of health, safety, security, visa and other important issues that may concern you.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, BradJill)

Also, an enjoyable vacation is directly proportionate to the research and reasonable expectations you choose to create beforehand.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, stranieri_divertenti)

Book flights during the off-peak period

The cheapest day to book flights are Tuesdays, generally about 50 days ahead of departure. Another tip is to travel between 6pm and midnight when flights are typically cheaper than those leaving early morning. Air fares tend to be at their most expensive three days before travel and Friday is usually the most expensive day to fly, so try and avoid both if possible.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, BradJill)

TripAdvisor Flights searches hundreds of flight websites to find the best deals and shows how travelers can save money by choosing alternative dates and nearby airports.

Travel during the shoulder season

Shoulder season is the period between peak travel and off-peak travel periods. Traveling from April through May and mid-August through October are ideal times to head to Europe when the weather is still warm.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, Travelholic23)

Find out the low season and high season, local school holidays or festivals, etc. and always check the weather. Hurricane season in the Caribbean, rainy season in Asia, blistering heat in North Africa, etc. You can either pick up a bargain at those times or avoid them. If the rates are lower than normal don't just jump for joy and book. Check why the rates are low.
(Top from TripAdvisor forum member, Toopaz)

Avoid the first few weeks of summer

Don't travel in the first few weeks of school summer vacation - they are the busiest and most expensive. Planning on taking the family over to Europe during the (northern hemisphere) winter is a perfect time since it's during the off season. There are some great bargains to be had, and many destinations that are usually overrun with tourists are fairly quiet.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, emel49)

July is the one month that is reliably "summer vacation" for schools in the United States, generally speaking. Your mileage may vary, of course. Keep in mind some schools in the US are year round schools for a variety of reasons.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, Underdog_SPP)

Understand your travel style to determine the length of stay in a destination

If you enjoy exploring and/or leisurely, relaxing visits, visit fewer total number of places and stay longer at each destination. If you like active and focused pursuits and/or enjoy seeing the best a place has to offer but prefer to move on after the highlights, visit more total number of places and stay shorter periods at each destination.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, BradJill)

Stay at family-friendly hotels for free perks

Search for a hotel offering extra amenities or ample room size, both vital when planning a family trip. Even expensive hotels that rely mainly on businesses and conferences will drop their prices, which is a bonus as many have indoor swimming pools that are perfect to entertain the kids. Fee-free perks including complimentary breakfasts can help family travelers save money in the long run, so always consider what's being offered before a room is booked.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, mcpinder)

Recognize what is important to you and budget appropriately

Planning and keeping track of travel expenditures will help you recognize, research and narrow down the important things that you are willing to spend on during your vacations. Budgeting appropriately helps maximize your vacation experience as you will get the best bang for your travel buck.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, traveler11223)

Keep an open mind while traveling

While you may have planned all the details thoroughly, things may happen during one's travels. Keep an open mind and continue exploring the areas - who knows you may end up in unique and pleasant small towns with lovely little shops, weekly markets and fascinating museums.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, Avanti_SG)

Remember that sometimes it is the little moments like sitting in a garden or cafe when you see something really cool, or meet some really interesting people that become those "big" moments.
(Tip from TripAdvisor forum member, jperrin2011)