1. Make an agenda
This may sound silly because you're on vacation but think about it, what are you gonna do when you actually get to your destination? You want to go to the beach, Disney World, shop, try out that one restaurant your friend told you about, etc. Well, when are you going to do all this and how are you going to get there? It helps so much to sit down with your travel pals and make an agenda. That way everyone is on the same page and you know what each day is going to hold! I personally love Google calendar because you can share it with everyone that is going on the trip with you and it syncs to your phone. That way you can always be aware of what's next!
2. Research your sites & restaurants
For me at least, this part is actually fun. You can discover a lot about a city by just looking up fun things to do there. Use sites on the internet like Yelp, Time Out, and Zagat to help you find good restaurants. You can even Google fun things to do in that city and so many lists will pop up. Another option is if you're going to one of the cities I have a city guide for take a gander at my guides! My favorite option for finding actual sites to visit though is using books. I love the 36 Hours books by the New York Times and the 1000 Places To See Before You Die books. From there I take whatever I've heard of or haven't heard of but really wanna see now that I read about it and add it to my agenda!
Some people love adventure based trips that are jam packed every single day and others love relaxed trips that are complete break from reality. Decide what you want out of the trip you're currently planning and make your agenda accordingly. For me, I love the jam packed adventures, but for mine and Caleb's honeymoon, we're not sure that's what we want. We want to take a bit more time in Italy to enjoy each other and the atmosphere rather than running all over the country to see every single little thing. However, in California and New York, you best believe that's what we did! It all depends on the person AND the trip.
4. Strategically plan your agenda
Okay I'm sure about to lose some of you Type B people now, but hang on and hear me out! The reason I suggest strategically planning your agenda is because you might make a plan for yourself that is too hard and then you don't get to see everything that you wanted to see. You want to pick a restaurant that you want to go to that is near a site you want to go to. Make sure you're not having to go all the way up Manhattan to get to dinner when you've been exploring lower Manhattan all day. If you plan to go all over a city in one day, you're going to waste too much time getting from place to place and you're gonna run out of time or just get too tired and give up. DON'T GIVE UP! Plan accordingly ;)
Obviously if you decide to go somewhere on a whim this isn't possible, but if you do know you're going somewhere far enough in advance, make your dinner reservations a month ahead of time. It may sound excessive, but I know for a fact there are places in Chicago that you need to make them 2 months in advance. You found that restaurant or were recommended that restaurant for a reason, because it's amazing. Make sure you're going to get to go by booking a table with plenty of time. Same thing for if you're going to an event that requires tickets (concert, musical, sporting event, etc.) You don't want that fun event to sell out, so grab em while they're still available! A month was actually not even enough time to buy tickets for Alcatraz. We wanted to go on the weekend right when we got to San Francisco, but nope, they were completely sold out! Being proactive to ensure you're going to get to go to something extraordinary is worth it.
To see more trip photos make sure to visit mine and Caleb's Flickr account!
Do you have any great tips for when you plan your trips? I would love to hear them if you do!