We’re barely more than halfway through January, and already many of us are longing for summer. If you’re looking to escape to warmer temperatures, consider these tips offered by area travel agents for planning the perfect winter getaway.
Think about the type of vacation experience you want to have and what locations fit the bill. Generally, Mexico, the Caribbean and Florida top the list of most popular getaways when it’s cold, said Matt Lennon, manager of The Travel Authority in Columbus.
If you’re considering an international destination, Australia and New Zealand are among the more unique locales this time of year, since it’s their summertime right now, Lennon said. Just remember when traveling outside the United States you will need a passport.
Don’t have a passport and you don’t want to wait the four to six weeks to get one? No worries. There are some destinations outside the United States you can travel to without one, such as the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, said Lori Smith, of Destinations Travel Agency in Columbus.
Do some research before packing your bags, Smith said. If you have a destination in mind, she recommends checking out visitors guides and websites to find out what activities are available and the cost involved.
“You would hate to go somewhere, get home and learn you’d missed the best attraction there,” Smith said.
Think ahead. The further in advance you book your trip, the better off you’ll be, Lennon said. Not only will you have better pick of accommodations, but your wallet will thank you.
Book your hotel and airfare together whenever possible, Smith said. And instead of scheduling your vacation during the ever-popular Thursday to Monday time slot, make reservations for Monday to Friday.
“If you can move your days around, you can offset the cost,” Smith said. “You will save a couple hundred right off the bat for the exact same trip.”
One advantage of scheduling your trip as a package is you know the total cost before you travel, Smith said. Packages ensure everything is paid for or you have an idea of the anticipated cost upon arrival. All inclusive resorts operate exactly as their name implies, Smith said. Even your tipping is included, so your only out-of-pocket expense would be souvenirs.
If you’re not keen on booking with online travel sites, such as Travelocity and Orbitz, or you’re simply undecided about what you’re looking for in a vacation, consult with a travel agent.
“An individual may have a general idea where he wants to go, such as somewhere with a beach, warm weather, etc., but is looking for recommendations,” Smith said. “We try to help decide this based on his requested activities, budget and time frame.”
The upside to working with an agent is you have someone to talk to, not a computer screen, Smith said. You also have someone to contact if a problem arises before, during or after your trip.
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