After “I Do”: Planning Your Next Vacation

Spring is just around the corner and although there isn’t an official “Spring Break” for adults, this is a great time to start planning a getaway! Maybe, you haven’t taken a honeymoon, or you simply can’t remember the last time you went on a real vacation. Well, we are here to help! Grab a pen and paper and take note of our top tips for planning your next big vacation.

Dream Big!

You work hard, and it’s time for a little R&R. One of the best parts of planning a vacation together is the excitement of knowing how wonderful it’s going to be. Ask each other your ideal vacation. That way, you’ll know what you’re each hoping to do on the trip. Start with the biggest goals (Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef? Taking selfies during an African safari?) then try to incorporate as much of those ideas as possible.

Be Practical

Maybe you can’t swing a four-week stay in Santorini, Greece. Start to consider how much time each of you can be away from work or other commitments, then use that to help you both make a decision about where to go and what to do based on what is practical. It seems obvious, but so much vacation stress comes from trying to pack too much into your trip when it just isn’t doable. So, if you’ve only got a week, don’t try to see seven cities in Europe. Save it for another time.

Browse Before Booking

Before you book a flight, hotel room, or vacation package, check the price on each of the individual vendor’s sites. Oftentimes, cutting out the middle man and booking separately is cheaper than buying a package on vacation booking sites. Also, buying directly from the airline gives you more flexibility to manage your flights, and calling the hotel can result in unadvertised savings (especially during low season and if you are celebrating a special occasion). Remember, third party sites require full payment up front, so do your homework before spending.

Sometimes you won’t find your favorite or most convenient airlines on these sites. Southwest Airlines doesn’t list its flights with any third party vendors, while American Airlines is missing from some of the larger vacation booking sites. When in doubt, search your itinerary directly with airlines to ensure that you don’t miss a cheaper rate.

Consult a Travel Agent When Booking A Cruise

Don’t book a cruise on any of these consolidation sites. A travel agent specializing in cruises is always the better option because they have relationships with cruise lines, which means discounted rates; and they can score you deals on the cruise ship and with shore excursions. Most importantly, there are a lot of moving parts on a cruise trip (flight, transfer to ship, the cruise itself, etc.) and if one part goes wrong, an experienced travel agent can use his or her connections to fix it. Meanwhile, if you’d booked your cruise via an online site, you’d be stuck doing phone battle without a life preserver.

Do Your Research

Beware of hotels or airlines labeled “top picks” in your search results. These aren’t necessarily of a higher quality or better value. Instead, they are often a business partner of the booking site, and therefore get populated at the top of your search.

Create A Bucket List

No need for a down to the minute itinerary if that doesn’t naturally work for you two, once you lock down a destination, decide on the things you both really care about doing. If you’re clear and upfront about how you hope the trip will go, you can avoid either partner being upset or stressed because the vacation doesn’t go the way they expected.

Agree On “Me” Time

Everyone needs some alone time on vacation, make sure you’re on the same page so no one feels put-out. Then, be crafty about the scheduling. For example, maybe one partner goes out on the beach and the other gets a massage.

Focus On Both Of Your Needs

The most important tip that can make or break both the planning process and the trip; approach planning a vacation with your partner by embracing the compromise concept. When you’re picking a destination, you should both offer your top picks, then narrow it down. If there’s one part of planning that you absolutely can’t stand, like looking at reviews, encourage your partner to take that on with the understanding that you’ll handle something they loath in return. If you’re into relaxed vacations while your partner is more of the active type, you can go for a hike, followed by a lazy beach day, or even alternate taking an “active” vacation this time and a more lax one next time!


Timothy Whaley is a 3rd generation photojournalist. His father, along with his grandfather, a Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, passed down a love for telling stories through pictures.

Mr. Whaley has taken this passion and assembled a group of award-winning photographers who are dedicated to providing couples with excellence and care. Visit us at twaphoto.com to learn more.

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