Friday, August 1, 2008

Travel Tips

I'd like to say I could plan a vacation and then relax on that vacation but honestly that's not my personality type. I admit it I'm OCD and proud of it, I mean we've all got our quirks right? At least mine isn't the stinky, gross, or type that can hurt people. So when I plan a trip, something I do quite often. I like to plan trips and daydream of traveling to places I'm sure we'll never go to because of time or finances but at least a girl can dream, and a girl with ocd can plan! I've got planned vacations to Alaska, Las Vegas, Disneyworld, Italy, Hawaii, Mackinaw Island, Seattle... anyways that's here nor there. I posted earlier about finally getting to take a vacation getaway Big Cedar Resort outside of Branson Missouri and I thought I'd share some of my tips for planning vacations. (Trust me I've got our 3 days planned out for every hour.)

Starting Points
Whenever I start to plan a vacation I always check out the top two travel guide sites to get advice as to their recommended activities, restaurants, hotels and itineraries.

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After I check out those sites I hop on over to the
best forum in the world for learning how to bid and break into Priceline and Hotwire. They have each state broken down into their own section as well as areas for top travel sites. Here you can research the going rates for bidding on hotels, see the amenities legends for hotels and learn the star ratings based on city zones. The community members are helpful and can aid you in scoring great hotels for deep discounts.

 span class=I usually end up doing a little research on the rates and what hotels are available and then get great hotel reviews.This site is extremely helpful because you get real customer reviews and pictures of the hotels. It lists the going rate (usually from places like Priceline) as well, so you can compare the rates from what people are getting through BetterBidding vs standard deals.

After doing this research I hit up all the well know travel deal sites, Priceline, Hotwire, Orbitz,, Travelocity, and Expedia. Search for my hotels or destination and compare the prices.

Flights & Rental Cars
If we need a rental car I quickly look up the current rates at my preferred company and then head over to another great forum, especially if you have frequent flyer points/miles. They have a great section for rental car discount codes to use when renting a vehicle.
Again if we're driving and after we've scored a great deal on a rental car I check this great resource for gas cost estimates from AAA.

Attractions & Activities

Once the flight, car, and hotel have been secured, I'm free to start googling activities and restaurants. While many hotels have preferred vendors or affiliations with restaurants and can offer discount pricing, I have found that more often than not you can score better deals for activities outside of your hotel's concierge or resort. I would recommend starting with your destination's town website, tourism website or chamber of commerce website. From there find out your desired activity, google the activity and location for local providers.

For great food finds I recommend checking out the experts advice. The foodnetwork and the travel channel are great resources for top notch restaurants as well as finding cheap eats.

Shows like $40 a day; Giada's Weekend Getaways; Diners, Drive-ins and Dives; Have fork will travel; Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels; Rachael's Vacation; Road Tasted; and Roker on the Road all serve up a great resource for fabulous food fare at your destination.

The travel channel serves as an excellent guide for cuisine with their shows Food Paradise and Taste of America. But their advice doesn't just pertain to shows, true to their name they are one of the most knowledgeable sites regarding all aspects of travel. So be sure to check out their guides , ideas and forums.

So now you have your flight, car, hotel, activities and food. You're all set and ready to hit the ground running on a well planned, every detail secured, ocd kind of girl's vacation. Now's the time to hit the mall to pick up some great vacation clothes and accessories!

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