Jul 24, 2012

Travel Tips: Planning your vacation

Since I've been planning my trip to Paris, I've gotten so much information about travel and what to do when going to Europe, so I thought I'd share some of what I've learned (and am learning) with you.

First I want to share some tips about planning your trip. These are some of the things that I've found can help when you want to go out and get traveling.

Get your passport.  If you even have the far off idea of wanting to go somewhere apply for your passport. The earlier you do this the better, since it can take up to two months to get. Here is the official goverment website through the US State Department. Beware of all those other websites trying to guarantee your passport super quick, you can do the same thing yourself and save yourself all those extra fees they're trying to charge you.

Research, research, research. This is the biggest part of the process, but well worth it. If you are going with a tour, research all of them and get their promotional material, so you can see what they are like. Get yourself a good guidebook (and make sure it's a current one) and study up on your destination. I started out reading Europe Through the Back Door which my brother gave me for Christmas last year. This started me out in getting totally psyched for my trip and gave me tons of invaluable tips for getting ready. And obviously, don't underestimate the internet. I found great info on everything from hotels to flights to planning on Trip Advisor. And the Trip Advisor forums are full of great info from fellow travelers.

Buy your flight on a Tuesday. I've seen everywhere that Tuesday is the day to get the best prices on flights. This will probably be one of the biggest expenses for your trip, so keep a lookout for the prices so you know what to expect. The Bing Travel site will even show you how the prices fluctuate and if now is a good time to buy. I didn't buy on Bing, but used it more as reference. Check all of the major travel sites (Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz, Hotwire and all the others too) to see which one will give you the best deal for your flight.

Learn the language and customs (at least a bit). Be respectful of where you are going to visit and try to learn at least the bare minimum of their language: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, bathroom. It's also good to learn a bit about the local customs and culture. Did you know that in France its customary to say, "Bonjour Madame/Monsiuer," when entering a store--not just walking in and browsing like in the US, and smiling at strangers in the streets is seen as rude?

These are just a few tips that I hope will help when planning your trip. Do you have any tips that helped you when you started planning your trip?

I hope to have a few more "Travel Tips" features in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for more.


  1. How did your trip go, Diana? I’m sure you had few difficulties, considering your preparations. And it was very smart of you to research about Paris, by the way. :) Although it is such a well-loved place with a culture popular to everyone, there are still things that only the natives know. It pays to be street-wise. ;]

    1. Hi Exie! It went really well, I can't wait to go back. Doing your homework for this really pays off. Learning about the culture and how the French act and how people will react to you really did help. I have to say that I fell more in love with the French after going there. I can't wait to go back.