This article originally appeared on Ohio Superintendent Network on May 13, 2019.
In case you need another reason to start planning a vacation here are 5 statistics according to Travelocity that prove you need it (and you know that Gnome knows EVERYTHING):
- 94% of planned vacations give employees more energy back at work.
- 85% of people who planned time off say they’re happier at home.
- 82% of managers say time away improves morale.
- 30% more people will get an increase in pay if they take 11+ days off. (I am pretty sure they do not mean consecutive days.)
- $236 billion were lost from the economy in 2016, due to unused vacation days.
Okay, it’s decided. Now let’s get planning. Here are a few travel apps/websites to get you started:
Travel Guard – planning a vacation ahead of time can be daunting for many. Especially those with ailing parents, wondering if a hurricane will take out your hotel or uncertainty in the job market. Getting travel insurance to protect your investment is smart. We have purchased AIG insurance through Travel Guard on all our international trips and have had to use it multiple times. Four times for lost luggage – on one trip they lost it coming and going! How is that even possible? Twice, sadly, due to the death of a family member; three times due to a hurricane or blizzard that interrupted our trip and just once for a clumsy misstep and a badly twisted ankle. Most health insurance policies do not cover you outside of the USA. We recommend that you buy the minimal policy that will cover you in case of any number of mishaps that could apply to you and your family. It’s like an umbrella – if you have it, hopefully, you won’t need it.
We started using VRBO, Home Away and Airbnb a couple of years ago, and have not only saved money, but have found some real gems. This type of accommodation is not for everyone. If you enjoy planned entertainment, room service and all-inclusive (a.k.a. You don’t want to make any decisions at all on your vacation except what drink the cabana boy is going to bring you) then this type of accommodation will not be for you. If you want the ability to live more like a local and shop in a grocery, hang out in a living room or by a private pool with friends, plan your own entertainment and be more self-sufficient, then it may be a perfect fit.
Some pointers are to study the exact location of the home/villa/apt/condo in relation to what you want to do on your trip. There is nothing worse than booking something that says “Ocean View”, but is not on the beach, and then not having a car to get to the beach.
Look closely at the photos. Make sure they are showing a neat and tidy place. Use the map on the site to see what is around the home or unit. Google maps can help you refine it even more.
Once you narrow it down start reading the reviews of others that have stayed there. Words like “up and coming neighborhood” can mean “Bring a weapon.” Was the host responsive and helpful to past guests? Is there a washer and dryer to cut down on clothes you need to pack? Can you park the car at night and walk to dinner? What activities do past guests recommend?
To get the most out of a trip we often tack onto a conference. You already have a flight, just add a couple of days to do some touristy things. A perfect example is the GIS Show is in Orlando, this year conveniently, is right after the Gasparilla Pirate Parade in Tampa. That makes for a fun weekend getaway! Or go to Disney – I heard they shut down It’s a Small World for two months to make the seats wider – guess it is not so small after all…..whatever you pick take advantage of the fact that you are already there and it is winter in Ohio!
Sometimes we pick our next vacation spot by a cheap airfare to that destination. A free travel site I like is Scott’s Cheap Flights. You can sign up to get alerts for cheap flights from airports you have selected. They use Momondo and Google Flights to find these cheap flights. You then can go directly to the website of the airline offering the flight and use money or miles to book your flight.
Now, as that little Gnome says, – “Go and smell the Roses!” Consider this a prescription for your health and overall sanity!