The simplest way to make the best of your vacation

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There is a smartphone app that generates a map of the nearest public toilet when you desperately need a place to squat. There are numerous travel review sites that offer first-hand reviews of everything that has a reception and a bed. There is even a website dedicated to dogs traveling with globetrot, with travel guides focused on dogs and a collection of dog friendly beaches.

In today’s world of species-specific information and travel advice overload, it’s easy to forget the most basic (and free) ways to improve our travel experiences. You don’t need a smartphone or computer to positively change the way you travel. Below are five simple and refreshing ways to make the most of your trip and make your vacation more enjoyable and less stressful.

  1. Slow down.

One surefire way to turn your vacation into an epic disaster is to create an itinerary with lots of activities, or not to make an itinerary and just expect to see and do much more than your two-night getaway can do. to manage. Very high expectations can be disappointing. The solution? Always take a route (see some tips on how to create the perfect route) and, when you do, follow the old cliché: less is more.

The “slow ride” trend is a step in the right direction. A slow trip is a way to spend more time exploring fewer destinations, creating a more intimate travel experience. This is the type of trip where you take the time to visit all the old churches, cobblestone alleys and pocket cafes in your city, instead of following a whirling schedule that allows you to sleep five hours a night. Get helpful tips on planning a “slow” getaway for the Art of Slow Travel.

  1. Don’t trust critics too much.

I admit. I’m addicted to TripAdvisor. And I found great places by carefully studying online comments. But my obsession with reading reviews of everything, from a new modern restaurant to an isolated B & B, can sometimes backfire.

I recently spent a lot of time researching the perfect restaurant for lunch while traveling to Greenwich Village in New York. But when I arrived at the restaurant I selected based on a horde of positive reviews, I was not satisfied. I looked at the estate’s vast dining room, its pseudo-ethnic interior adorned with cheap paper pagodas and lamps, and immediately understood that this place was … a chain.

I have nothing against restaurant chains. Sometimes I look for American channels in foreign countries when I want familiar flavors or I’m curious to see if the menu is the same. But it was not what I was looking for. I was looking for something exclusively in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood with a variety of distinctive culinary gems of international renown. The restaurant chain’s reviews were extremely positive, but none mentioned that this establishment was not exclusive to the Village.

It would have been better to encourage him, ask a local to suggest a good place or read the displayed menus until he found something intriguing (it was during lunchtime on Sunday). , and as he was looking for a casual place, he wouldn’t need a reservation).

  1. Hire a guide.

The idea that guided tours are unfavorable to independent travel, an activity for amateur tourists, is, at best, a silly mistake. Hiring a guide may be the best decision to make on your next vacation.

During a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park, in Costa Rica, I took some nature walks without a rainforest guide and saw very few wild animals. I wanted to save money and thought I was smart enough to identify my own endangered squirrel monkey. I wasn’t there, I saw an obvious iguana basking in the middle of the beach and that’s it.

After I joined a guided group, it seemed to me that lazy people and monkeys were hanging from each branch. Animals tend to hide reasonably well when people are walking on forest trails, and hiring a guide is the key to identifying wildlife on nature-oriented travel.

Tour guides can add a lot to almost any type of vacation. In particular, it is a good idea to hire a guide when you are at your destination for a short period of time (such as on a cruise ship) or when you are in an exotic location where you do not speak the language. Discover 10 more reasons to hire a guide in When do you need a guide?

  1. Take the road less traveled.

Unexpected crowds can ruin a well-planned vacation, like salt in a slug. The line to the Anne Frank Museum lasts three hours, and the next thing you know, you missed your lunch reservations, are late for the show you planned to attend and are sweating, are stressed, hungry and constantly. about to attack your fellow traveler.

The best solution for this is to travel in the middle of the season or in the low season, when possible. The weather will probably not be ideal; It’s the opposite. But prices for airline tickets and hotel stays will be low. And above all, you can see more in less time.

If you have to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras or fly to Edinburgh during the summer festival season, get ready for the crowds by planning ahead. Before your arrival, call the attractions you want to visit and ask how long the wait will last. Plan your visit for lunch or dinner (note that standard meals vary according to local custom. In Spain, for example, dinner time is 9 pm or more). Buy quick access tickets online to save time. And bring a guide or magazine to browse while you’re in line.

  1. Be courteous.

What advice would you give to someone planning their first trip abroad? We recently asked this question on our Facebook page, to which Deb Bortel Crosby replied: “Patience! Remember that you are in his country, so don’t expect things to happen as you are used to. Don’t be the “ugly American” who demands that things be like in the United States. “

We are listening to you, Deb. Traveling can sometimes be maddening. The combination of language barriers, cultural differences and lack of sleep can devastate your natural calm, increasing the exchange of anger with an unresponsive flight attendant or a fight with an aggressive street vendor. But in addition to reinforcing the imperfect reputation of the American traveler, giving up your ways of traveling will make things more difficult than they should be. You will find that locals, TSA employees, tour guides, concierges, waiters, flight attendants … and, well, almost everyone who comes your way will be extremely helpful, as long as they offer a smile and some kind words. Make a serious effort to recover when things get tough. Take the main road.

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  • I have spent some great time there, too. You post returned me to this awesome road-trip that me and my girlfriend had back in 2011. Keep up the good work John, looking forward to your new posts.

    • Your road-trip was awesome, too. I have heard some stories on how you swim with dolphins. Sea was warm, sand was there – heaven on Earth.

  • Just a quick note on this road-trip diary – beaches that we visited where completely abandoned and wild.
    There was no water so we could\’t make any shower. We have to wait for return home.

    Beside that, we had really really good time here and I wish that one day you visit this magic place, too.