Sometimes half the fun is getting there, but other times, the journey can wipe you out before you reach your destination. Fortunately, there are ways to optimize your vacation so you don’t need a break from your break when you get home. Here are some ways to minimize travel hiccups and maximize travel fun.
Rent a Car Instead of Driving Your Own
While it may feel cheaper to use your own vehicle for travel, if you are going a long way, it will put a lot of miles and stress on it. In addition, an accident caused by unfamiliar roads, weather conditions, or driving culture can be devastating. Renting a vehicle often is less stressful and ensures you have a road-ready vehicle that won’t break down.
If you are renting, be sure to get temporary car insurance through your own carrier if possible instead of the rental agency’s offered rental insurance, which can be more expensive.
Temporary car insurance helps maximize your vacation quality because it provides peace of mind while driving, as you know you will be covered in the event of an emergency. It also lessens the stress that would come with a more expensive rental policy. In addition, every state except for New Hampshire requires drivers to have auto insurance for the vehicle they drive.
Roadside assistance coverage is especially useful for minimizing extra travel that could be necessary if your car breaks down or gets into an accident.
Get Walking Gear
Regardless of where you go, you will likely have to walk a bit unless you have a disability or physical need for a wheelchair or similar mobility device — and we’ll talk a bit more about that below.
To prepare yourself for walking, however, you need to prioritize your feet. While you likely walk every day and don’t consider regular walking to be that dangerous or difficult, often walking on a vacation can be much more tiring. New locations, unfamiliar streets, and multiple sites to visit or walk through can wear out both your brain and your feet.
Make sure you have sturdy walking shoes and consider investing in a good trekking pole, even if you will only be walking within a city.
Traveling While Disabled
If you have a physical disability, one way to minimize unnecessary detours due to disability-unfriendly terrain and transportation is to plan as much of your trip as possible ahead of time.
U.S. hotels and cruises are required to be ADA compliant, but not all countries require these sorts of accommodations, and you shouldn’t assume that just because a vacation itinerary claims to be ADA compliant that it is. Do your research and call ahead of time to learn the details of your route and what will be provided at specific destinations.
Also, check the customer service policies and reputation of airlines you fly by to determine whether they are disability-compliant.
Airlines in the USA are also required to provide accommodations, but if you need a wheelchair while onboard a plane, you want to request it at least 48 hours before your trip. Your own wheelchair will not be available to you if you need to use the bathroom on the plane, so if you will need assistance in getting to the bathroom, be sure to contact them ahead of time.
Again, in all cases, it helps to call ahead to ensure your needs will be met. Also, be sure to select the box that indicates you will need assistance while booking flights online, regardless of your airline.
If you are not allowed to bring a service animal on board a plane, request to speak with the Complaint Resolution Official (CRO). U.S. airlines are required to accommodate service animals, but again, airlines in other countries may have their own guidelines.
Traveling With a Pet
Traveling with a pet can be complicated, even if they aren’t a service animal. A pet can drastically expand your travel time and make it difficult to get to where you need to be. Before you decide to take a pet with you on vacation, make sure you really need to. An animal that is too stressed to stay in a kennel will also be too stressed to stay in a tiny cage inside a car or airplane.
Discuss what your pet’s health and stress needs will be with a vet before your trip, and try to get your animal used to traveling in carriers for long periods of time before your trip. This will streamline the process.
Sometimes, the best way to minimize travel time is to plan breaks. Your animal is not used to traveling like you are and will need breaks and chances to stretch its legs. Letting them rest may actually help your overall vacation quality, even if it cuts into time, and will drastically reduce time spent calming or nurturing a stressed or sick animal.
Some animals can be brought on board planes as checked baggage or carry on, with some exceptions regarding size, weight, and breed. However, due to COVID-19, some airlines have stopped allowing pets to be checked. Make sure you do your research ahead of time to prevent untimely delays and itinerary changes.
Traveling With Kids
As with most other tips on this list, planning ahead is again the best way to minimize travel delays when traveling with children. Give yourself at least 90 minutes for a layover and possibly more to let your children get a brief respite. If you want to have the shortest travel time possible, then be sure to get your kids plenty of rest beforehand and upon arrival.
Remember that kids often need to use the restroom at inconvenient times. Plan for snacks, though you should also encourage them to drink liquids. If you are flying, make sure they go before you leave for the airport.
Ironically, the best way to minimize extra travel time is to plan it in. You will need extra time to handle mishaps, and being able to take time and not rush will make you feel more relaxed, maximizing your vacation enjoyment. Think of the journey as part of your vacation time, and try to enjoy it.
Take advantage of child discounts and pre-book everything you can in advance. Make sure you know the exact destinations and check-in times, but also give yourself buffer space in case of timing issues.
Make sure you bring plenty of entertainment for long trips. If you are driving, bring along some songs to sing in the car or a list of fun road games to play. This will minimize stress and potential arguments between children while driving.
While you should pack plenty of snacks, your goal when traveling with children is to pack as little as possible. Go without things that are necessities at home. Your children will not need nearly as many toys, gear, and other familiar items as you think they do. It is likely that you will need to carry your child in addition to your luggage, so make it as easy on yourself as possible.
Deborah Goldberg researches and writes for the auto insurance comparison site, BuyAutoInsurance.com. She loves to travel and find ways to save money and time on vacations.