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Below you will find a few tips that I believe are key to making sure your vacation is a success. From leaving your home in safe hands to planning for that unsavory traffic you might run into. It pays to plan!

1. Look into Traffic and Transportation

Recently, a close friend of mine came to visit me in Los Angeles and I got to experience firsthand what lack of planning really looks like. You see, LA is notorious for its traffic, and if you haven’t planned how you are getting around, a simple trip to the beach could turn into an all-day event. Let’s just say he didn’t get to see nearly half of the things he wanted to see on this trip.

SF Public Transportation

To avoid this, I recommend you simply research the city you’re visiting and how traffic affects getting from place to place. LA is vast, with very little public transportation, so if you don’t have a ride somewhere you have to rely on things like UBER. If you’re going to Europe, you may want to look into taking a bike. There are also many biking tours in Europe you can go on too, so look into those if you’re a bit of an adventurer.

2. Organize Your List of Things You Want to Do

This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip. When you begin to plan the things you would like to do on your trip, it’s usually best to clump things together by the areas you will be in. This is especially true if you have certain times setup at different venues: restaurants, shows, etc. Referring to Los Angeles again, which I have over a decade’s worth of experience in, you would not want to go to Hollywood from the beach, then back again in a day. It would literally take up your entire day. No good!

Field Notes Journal

3. Allow Time for Spontaneity

No matter how much planning you have done before leaving on your trip, it’s always best to leave extra time for some spontaneity. You never know things you might happen across when out doing your other planned activities. If you planned a tight schedule, that amazing garden or restaurant you discovered might have to be skipped because you are rushing to your next activity.

4. Mix Up Your Activities for a Well-Rounded Vacation

This tip is left a bit vague, but that was on purpose. Everyone has their own version of the perfect vacation, all I suggest is that you try and make it well-rounded so that you can be open to new experiences. For example: ask your hotel advice. When staying at the Homewood Suites in Austin, we asked a local – our front desk – what were some of the hot spots we just had to try. Their suggestions were great, because it led us to activities we never thought about doing, but ended up having an amazing time and over-all experience because of them. These activities can range from outdoor fun, food exploration, and more!

Austin Panic Room

5. Leave Your Home in Good Hands

Have you ever left your home on vacation and felt like you forgot something? Perhaps to shut off a light, check the stove, or tell your mailman you’ll be out of town for awhile? As a travel writer, I’ve had this feeling far too many times. My simple solution is to have a nearby friend check-in while I’m gone. Since I get a lot of packages and mail, I have them come at least once in the middle of my trip to collect any parcels left at my door and place them inside for safe keeping. Just drop off your extra key before heading out on your trip.