5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF TAKING A VACATION

Health

Americans leave a lot of vacation days on the table. Vacations are not only beneficial to our health but also for maintaining sanity and stability in life. While so many of us envision lazing in the sun on the beach rather than working in the office, there are lots of health benefits of taking a vacation that just traveling to one of the most popular spots in the world with a friendly climate. Vacations makes you feel alive and free from the daily stress of life. According to the 2009 International Vacation Deprivation Study by Expedia, over 30% of Americans do not go on vacation for fear of losing their job. So what exactly are the benefits of taking time away from work?

Relieves stress

Chronic stress causes a lot of health implications to our bodies and reduces performance levels both in the home and at workplace. In order to effectively manage the destructive effects of stress on our body, it is advisable to take a break from daily stress and take a vacation. Escaping from our normal life gives the body a chance to repair some of the health damages caused by stress.

Prevents heart disease

One of the major causes of high blood pressure and heart disease is stress. It is however, proven that taking a vacation will help reduce the risks of heart disease. Reports by the Framingham Heart Study in 2010 shows that people who travel more often are on average 40% less likely to die from a heart disease.

Stay focused

Everyone needs to unplug at some point in life to maintain a healthy life and stay focused. Chronic stress is not good for the busman health as it can disrupt the activities of the brain and makes us lose concentration. Working all year round can make people have difficulties concentrating. One of the best ways of combating chronic stress and concentrating while working is taking vacation.

Improved productivity

Upon returning from a week-long vacation, you will find out that your productivity level will be fostered with a great feeling. Vacation is a great way that allow people reconnect with themselves, feel refreshed and concentrate more while working, thus increasing productivity level.

Prevents illness

Stress can cause severe damage to your immune system thus making your vulnerable to varied degree of illness such as cold, headache, joint pain, flu and even cancer. There is no better way to prevent such illnesses than getting far away from work.

5 TIPS TO CREATING PERFECT GROUP VACATION

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If you have a core group of friends or family members that you spend quality time with, then planning a group vacation will further build the bond and love you share with your loved ones. All you need to do is plan properly and encourage constant communication between parties. With these in place, then you can create one of the most memorable group vacation of all time and your friendship will grow stronger after the vacation is over. Here are some of the best tips to create a flawless group vacation.

Proper Plan
One of the things to do when putting together a group vacation is proper planning. Bring all parties together and discuss on extensively on the parameters of the trip including where, when and how to go, things to do, what to pack, type of trip (hiking, beach or skiing) and much more. The next thing is appointing one or two persons, either by voting or volunteer, who will be in charge of the trip. The individual will be saddled with the responsibility of providing detailed information on the latest developments such as hotels, flight or restaurant reservations to the other group members.

Destination
Another great factor to consider when putting together a group vacation is choosing a perfect destination. Opt for a destination that everyone would really love to explore. This can be easily done by coming up with an idea you feel everyone would enjoy and take a vote.

Create a unique Facebook page
Nowadays almost everyone has a smartphone with a Facebook profile. One of the easiest ways of communication to other group members and have them actively involved in the group is creating a Facebook page. This page also offers great opportunity for participants to upload and share photos related to the trip.

Budget
The next step is coming up with a budget and even create an account where participants can deposit money. This will make plans for the trip go smooth and easy. With this, you can easily make reservations for hotels and restaurants without having financial issues.

Put things in perspective
When planning a group vacation, it is important that you engage in activities that will involve every member- rather than focusing on individual activity. Make sure the aim of the trip is accomplished which is to spend quality time with each other and get to know more about yourselves. On the other hand, you don’t have to be too rigid. You can decide to give some few hours of freedom for participants to explore the area on their own and at their own pace.

Why Don’t Adults get a Spring Break?

Spring Break

As most of us know, Spring Break is that time of the year where students plan to burn off some steam from school & exams. But we often forget about the parents that have to take off from work or arrange for their children to spend time with other family members, if they aren’t already in daycare.  But most daycare providers close down as well.  Over the years, I often wondered about what most of the adults; like myself do.  If anyone needs a Spring Break it should be us, right?

Well, I asked a several of my friends how did they feel on this subject and I was astonished at the answers I got. They had never even thought about Spring Break for themselves.  I know for most adults we are so stuck on going to work and living the same routine life we’ve always lived.  But if one year you decided to do something out of the norm.  Try Spring Break for yourself.  I suggested to my husband next year we are going to do Spring Break.  Matter of fact, I will make a plan to try to break as often as the kids do.  Why not, we deserve it, right?  Nah, maybe not taking that many breaks because who’s going to pay the bills. HaHa

Spring Break tends to be the most promising time of the year for hotels, resorts and sunnier destinations to end their first quarter strong.  Florida and Cancun seems to be the #1 big hit amongst college students from my experience.  Budget playing a crucial factor when students are planning their Spring Break for most do not work while they are in school so they have limited financial resources. We are also aware that many of the popular resorts will not let anyone under the age of 21 to check-in to their properties so often older siblings or college mates will tag along to chaperone.  I will definitely look at areas that don’t attract the Spring Breakers, just out of curiosity.

So remember when you child states that can’t wait for Spring Break you have to chime in as well and say, “Me either.”  That will throw them off just a little. But you get my drift.  It’s time for us adults to enjoy life a little and take some much needed breaks to regroup or just relax a little.

 

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5 Tips from a Travel Insider

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As you know in this day and time, there are a lot of you who like to take charge and plan your own travel or pretty much do things for yourself. So we took a moment to list 5 Tips from a Travel Insider that will point you in the right direction.

1. Keep in mind that engines like Orbitz and HotWire are at the mercy of the airlines and hotels that put the deals on their website but if you don’t see what you want you can always call a travel professional. They have access to different systems than your online engines most of the times.

2. Speaking of traveling, when purchasing airfare it’s always best to look for rates either on Monday evening or Tuesday. This is when the airlines release their discounts after the weekend sales were unfavorable. So make sure you check back if you had a long weekend of searching and nothing seem appealing.

3. Another little tidbit. The best time to fly would be Saturday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Saturday you’ll find cheaper fares instead of Thursday to Sunday or Friday to Monday.

4. Our all time favorite is the new TSA Prescreening check-in. You don’t have to stand in those long lines when returning from your vacation. This has made it so easy to come back and slide you card to avoid the headache of going through customs. Make sure you apply before your next vacation.

5. Last but not least, forgot your charger at home. No problem. Most hotels or resorts are able to help. Normally they have a variety of chargers on hand from previous travelers leaving them behind. Hotels like Sheraton’s Ballantyne would lend you curling irons – also other items that clients may have left behind.

Hope these insider tips has given you some informed information to a smooth travel experience on next vacation.

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Tips on Group Travel

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Group Travel comes in all shapes and sizes- luxury travelers, adventure, 65+ and students.  Usually led by a tour director.  Group travel offers many perks such as: pre-planned itineraries, all-inclusive pricing for hotels, meals, flights, cultural experiences and other opportunities to socialize with members of the group.  Some groups can be restrictive meaning you have a tight planned to stick to.  Not allowing you to explore a destination on your own. Be very careful in choosing a group tour that will suit your needs.  If you desire to be less restrictive than an easier flowing schedule may work for you; one in which you can have some downtime away from the other members of the group.  But safety first, definitely let someone know where you are exploring.

Be open-minded when traveling with a group there are lots of cultural elements to experience.  Being shut off to new explorations will keep you from fully enjoying the group travel experience.  Group travel offers unique amenities you may not enjoy as an individual traveler such as ATV cruising, camel riding in the dessert or club crawl.  Enjoyment of activities have increased amongst group members.  The level of excitement is a huge factor because most travelers have reported they wouldn’t have participated in any of the activities if it wasn’t for the camaraderie of the group.  Friendships are amongst many of the benefits one can walk away with along with always having someone to travel with.  Being able to travel with someone is a huge one for many in groups.  Not saying traveling alone isn’t a good thing because sometimes you do need time away to reflect or decompress from everything and everyone.

Be flexible, as you know some things do not always go as planned.  And with large groups it could be a little challenging.  Unforeseen events can take place to throw your whole schedule off, like a city-wide strike on public transportation.  This can cause major upheaval but be patient.  The tour operates will figure out an alternate solution to get you back on track.  That’s the beauty of being in a group, hotels and resorts are more willing to accommodate because they desire building great relationships. Take time to ponder on your last trips and make a decision to at least try one group trip.

When thinking about your next travel plans consider a Group Trip you will never look at travel the same way.

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Create your own SCANDAL! The Hottest Hotels in Washington DC – Part 2

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Here are some more hotels to add to the list of Hottest Hotels in Washington. Renowned for being the capital of the United States, Washington DC is a very popular destination in North America that attracts millions of tourists annually from different parts of the world. As the seat of the United States Government, a trip to Washington DC is a must for every traveler especially fun seekers. This magnificent capital city is home to hundreds of incredible attractions, monuments, great shopping and amazing hotels. Whether you are planning a vacation to Washington DC with family and friends or on business trip, you will definitely find an exotic hotel accommodation that best suits your needs. There are plenty of luxury hotels in Washington that offer easy access to world class attractions including parks, museums, nightlife venues and monuments. Residents are hospitable and friendly. Fortunately, finding luxury hotels in the city is not as hard as it seems to be. However, when it comes to choosing an accommodation, it always matter to every individual’s preference. If you are looking for the best 5 star hotels in Washington DC that offers great hospitality and comfort like no other, then you should consider choosing from the list of luxury hotels listed below.

Four Seasons
Located in the beautiful Georgetown neighborhood, Four Seasons is one of the leading 5 star hotels in Washington DC. Are you visiting the city for vacation or business? You can relax in one of the fully equipped rooms and enjoy a wide range of rejuvenating spa services. Featuring 222 fully equipped rooms, comfortable guest rooms, illuminated public spaces and great ambience, Four Seasons is most likely a top choice among business travelers and tourists looking for a relaxing, comfortable place to stay. The hotel is divided into two sections namely the East and West wing. All rooms come with amenities such as minibars, air conditioning, deep soaking tubs, comfortable bed, flat screen TV and much more. The hotel has 6 presidential suites including a Royal Suite beautifully designed with bulletproof glass for additional security measures. Four Season is also home to some of the most exotic restaurants in the city of Washington. Breakfast is superb as guest can choose from a wide range of items including lemon ricotta pancakes and egg white frittatas with fresh berries. For dinner, enjoy handcrafted cocktails served by friendly, experienced bartenders and great tasting meal prepared by seasoned chefs. One of the major reasons why people retreat in this hotel is its unmatched attentiveness and high quality service. Renowned for being one of the best spa hotels in the United States, Four Seasons is definitely a place to be!

Park Hyatt
Located in the gorgeous neighborhood of Georgetown, Park Hyatt Washington DC offers a sleek modern escape for all kinds of guests. Built in 1986 and renovated in 2006 to give it such breathtaking look, Park Hyatt features 216 room well equipped with great amenities that ensures a memorable stay for guests. It has lovely public spaces, spacious rooms (the smallest being 408 sq. ft.), professional service and offers great dining options. It’s just so nice and comfortable that it keeps attracting tourists and business travelers not only in the United States but from different parts of the world to enjoy matchless service and hospitality. With close proximity to the National Mall and other interesting attractions, Park Hyatt boasts a fitness center, a spa, meeting space, business center, 24 hour room service, concierge service, high speed internet rain showers in the limestone bathrooms, and Blue Duck Tavern – an onsite restaurant which is loved by locals and tourists alike!

W Washington DC
W Washington DC Hotel has close proximity to the White House and several top attractions including Lafayette Park, National Aquarium and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The hotel’s rooftop bar and terrace offers stunning views of the city and its environs. The 317 rooms are beautifully designed and equipped with state-of-the-art amenities to suit visitors of all kinds including leisure travelers and business travelers. Modern convenience at the W Washington DC Hotel include DVD players, direct-dial phones, iPod docking stations and much more. Each rooms offer stylish decors and comes with mini bars, tea/coffee makers, LCD Televisions, toiletries, air-conditioning etc. Regarded as the city’s oldest hotel, W Washington DC Hotel combines Italian Renaissance with a col modern twist. The hotel is perfect for everyone!

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Great Wine Destinations Around The World

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Europe is the biggest producer of wine, making it one of the finest wine destinations on the planet. In fact, European wine production accounts for more than two thirds of all of the wine production in the world today. However, just because they produce the most, doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other great places to consider. Below is a list of 5 great wine destinations all across the globe.

  1. Napa Valley, California

For an amazing grape getaway, visit the California wine country, Napa Valley. Filled with comfortable caverns, picturesque wineries and more than 50 kinds of grapes, this picturesque getaway, which is only 66 miles north of San Francisco, remain a great wine destination. California wineries have since grown to the degree of their European predecessors.

  1. Barossa Valley in Australia

Barossa has been a large player on record for Australian wine regions. This area is famous for its tasteful and elegant Shiraz wines; Mataro and Grenache grapes also find themselves on the vines of this great region. The Mediterranean mixture of cool, moist winters, and dry and hot summers contribute to the rich and full-bodied wines of this region. Make it a point to visit!

  1. Germany’s Baden Baden

Baden, the warmest and sunniest area in Germany, offers wines to suit a wide range of tastes. The mix of Swiss and French flavors creates a number of intriguing wines. From the spectacular landscape of the wineries here as well as the distinguished cuisine of the area, the eclectic nature of the food and drink will have you planning a trip back before you have even finished your first trip.

  1. Mendoza, Argentina

Found 700 miles west of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mendoza, is immediately identifiable by the dramatic peaks that rise over 20,000 feet in altitude, carpeted by tens of thousands of vineyard acres. The region has always been known for its asado, the Argentine barbecued meat, but over the last 15 years, this desert has cultivated the best of wonderful grapes and wine. Mendoza’s substantial grapes like Cab Sauv, Bonarda, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Merlots constitute the red wines, while the white ones are made from Torrontes, Sauv Blancs as well as aromatic Chardonnay.

  1. Tuscany, Italy

Chianti is the initial word that comes to mind -pleasing red wine that match so flawlessly with pastas and meats. Amid the gradually sloping hills of Tuscany, full of medieval houses and fortresses, are acres of grape vines with wineries open for tastings and tours. This really, is Old World wine culture at its finest; wine-maker’s wines are kept in very long, vaulted cellar basements carved out of the stone. Even if you cross-off a few other great wine destinations, never cross Tuscany off!

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Those are just five of our favorite wine hot spots, but where is your favorite destination for the drink of the gods?

Romantic Destinations Worldwide

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Whether you are planning an exciting couple’s escapade or a honeymoon, there are many romantic destinations worldwide to suit your taste. If you and your lover are seeking somewhere with that perfect ambiance for your next vacation, read on because we found some of the most romantic destinations in the world:

 

    • Venice – A ride in the gondola truly symbolizes the magic and romance of this city. Ride down the canals with your lover and enjoy the sites of Venice. Dine in stylish Italian restaurants by the canals and get lost in old brick passages while you stumble upon Italian squares and churches. Venice is definitely the place that can make you fall in love again.
    • Seychelles – These Indian Ocean islands located off the coast of Africa were home for some of the most amazing people in the world. It’s extraordinary, out of the way location makes it an incredible place to spend time with your loved one. There are many spas, golf courses, tropical drinks, and fishing trips ready to make your romantic trip unforgettable. Honeymoon here and you may never want to leave.
    • Maldives – These 23 small coral islands are barely above ocean water and the reefs in the area are teeming with life. And yet, even though they bustle with ocean life, they are quiet and secluded.
    • Tuscany – Villas, vineyards, and historic Italian towns, this entire place billows with a sense of adventure and love. Stay in cozy villas, eat the finest food, and bike through the amazing vineyards to drink the top class wine.
    • Bruges – This medieval city in Brussels may not jump to the front of your mind as a romantic destination, but the setting of the place will take you back to a simpler time that feels just right to reconnect with that special someone. The town has certainly protected its history to our benefit allowing visitors to walk through the ancient city lanes hand in hand and relax at sweet cafes filled to the brim with charm and love. A step back in time- perhaps this is the way every romantic getaway should feel.

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Are Other Subway Systems Better Than New York Subways?

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When you think of the public transportation system in New York you likely think of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, better known as the Subway. How does the New York Subway system compare to some of the others around the world? Since there are several transportation systems worldwide, for today’s purposes we will focus on the most popular ones in the world including those in Chicago, Los Angeles, London (aka London Tube), Tokyo, Paris and Mexico City.*

In terms of cost, London’s single cost rides have the highest fares with New York coming in as the second highest fare. The cheapest fares are in Mexico City. New York wins the race in terms of the number of lines running at any given time with 24 whereas the least number of lines running are in Los Angeles with just 6 lines. London has 11, Paris 16, and Tokyo has 13. Not surprisingly New York also wins in the number of stations with 468. Paris has the second highest number of stations at 384.

Interestingly enough, although New York has the highest number of lines and stations, they are not the most frequently used subway system. The winner there is Tokyo with approximately 3.1 billion riders per year compared with New York’s 1.65 billion. London has 1.2 billion annually and the lowest number of riders is in Los Angeles at 113 million.

London’s Tube is said to be cleaner and has a better design than New York’s according to Business Insider. However, what New York lacks in cleanliness and design they make up for with more room for more passengers as “the tube’s compact design makes it hard to squeeze onto some trains during rush hour.”

Still, regardless of looks and features, many tourists visiting other cities find themselves longing for their own system back home. Perhaps this is because there is “no place like home,” or maybe it’s just a simple matter of once you get used to one line’s schedule and policies you simply don’t want to learn how to use someone else’s.

Now, we want to hear from you. Have you been on the various Subway systems of the world? What was your favorite one to ride on? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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*Source for stats in post

Fifty Shades of Travel

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The movie and the book that caused many couples worldwide to consider trying out some new things in the bedroom may very well seem like yesterday’s news, but the movement for naughty and experimental play is still thriving as those who continue to get their hands on the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy can’t seem to shake Christian and Anastasia’s erotic tale from their minds. If you are like those looking for some sexy and kinky destinations to play out your fantasies here are three hotels you might want to consider for your next lusty, or should I say lover’s getaway:

The Don Q Inn– Located in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, this boutique hotel has rooms themed to cater to your wildest fantasies including the cave room complete with prehistoric setting, Caesar’s Court rooms 1 and 2 with Ancient Roman décor and Roman columns, Jungle Safari with a thatched jungle hut over the bed and the Northern Lights room with a full-size igloo built around the bed. Of course, the room that those seeking S&M and/or bondage might enjoy is the Mid-Evil room complete with a heart-shaped bed donned in shackles!

Cove Haven Entertainment Resorts – Located in the heart of the Poconos in Lakeville, Pennsylvania you can enjoy baths in a heart-shaped jacuzzi tub or a champagne glass tub. Drinking bubbles while you bathe in bubbles. Semi-romatic and semi-naughty, no? When you head to Cove Haven there is definitely love to be made!

Propeller Island City Lodge – To visit this hotel you will need your passport as it’s located in Berlin, Germany. Propeller Island City Lodge has often been reported as one of the most unusual hotels in the world, but it also has some rooms that scream kink. For example, their “Two Lions” room. This room features two cages in the middle of the room hoisted in the air on stilts and for the truly voyeuristic there is even a window you can open up for your own personal peep show.

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We’ve not even scratched the surface of the number of places you can tap into your inner most fantasies while on vacation. Want to know about more sexy and kinky hotels for your fifty shades of travel getaway? Give Cater 2U Travels a call today!

Is it Safe to Travel to Greece Yet? An Economic Update

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Because it feels like a world away, it’s easy to forget that Greece has been in a significant amount of economic turmoil over the last several years. This turmoil came to a head earlier this year when the country had no choice but to seek a bailout. Still, for most of the major tourist hot spots, tourism is still moving along with business as usual. There were moments of panic where demand for travel fell, but nonetheless Greece has remained a top destination for honeymoons, destination weddings, family escapes and more.

If you were among the many who feared traveling to Greece due to its economic conditions that is understandable. In times of uncertainty it’s a scary thing to leave the known safety of home and head into the unknown. However, traveling to Greece is still safe to do as long as you are cautious. Like with any country that is having any troubles the number one way to keep yourself safe is to stay away from that trouble.

For example, let’s say you were planning a visit to a museum and learned that there would be a protest going on at that museum. Odds are you would avoid that museum during the protest simply because of the risk that the protest could turn violent. You don’t abandon all museums completely, just the one where there is the potential for trouble.

It’s the same with Greece- So can you go? Yes! Just avoid the spots where the protests are happening. Don’t worry, there are plenty of places you can still visit and now might just be the best time to go because the Euro is closer in value to the dollar than it has been in a long time and because there is a significant push to get your travel dollars many places are lowering their rates in hopes of increasing bookings. Some restaurateurs are asking customers to pay in cash, but for the most part everything is still working the same way it did before the hammer came down.

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The Wi-Fi Craze and Why Some Hotels Stopped Charging

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If you have done any traveling in 2015 you may or may not have noticed that some hotels have stopped charging for Wi-Fi access. There are still several hotels charging for the use of the internet, so why have some stopped charging while others are still adding a fee for it?

Some hotels have simply added the internet fees into their standard room rates. No one likes to think about being nickel and dimed and adding an internet fee to a bill feels like just that. To offset this concern instead of charging $5-$15 per night for use of the internet it is actually hidden in your hotel fees.

You can trade “loyalty” for free Wi-Fi in some properties. You know those programs that hotels offer where you can get extra perks for frequently staying on their properties? Free internet is one of those perks.

The hotels that are charging you might not have an option about implementing the fee. Condé Nast Traveler did an article on this very subject in summer of 2014 that basically said owners and operators sometimes have a dispute over this issue leaving the operators to merely do as their told by the owners. “Most hotel brands don’t actually own the physical property where the hotel is located. Instead, they sign a management contract with the hotel’s owners, and then run the operations under the brand name. The owner has to commit to some of the hotel brands’ standards and programming (services, amenities, decor, etc.) but free Wi-Fi isn’t always on that list.”

In the most basic terms hotels that are still charging for Wi-Fi are doing so because they can. As long as people continue to pay the fees without bucking too wildly hotels will keep charging for it. The more people complain about it on customer services surveys, however, the more hotels are stepping up and either offering it for free or simply hiding it in their standard fees. In the end, Wi-Fi will never actually be free, but it always feels nice when it at least seems like it is.

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When is the Best Time to Plan Your Travel?

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Ready, set, go! Wouldn’t it be great if traveling for vacations really worked that way? You pick a spot on the map and you just pack and go! Sadly, that privilege seems to only remain with the rich. So, the question is how can the average traveler decide on the best times to plan their trips?

First, you will need to decide on the details of the trip, i.e. the destination, whether you want cold temps or warm temps, when you can get time off from work and your budget. Once you have these ideas in mind the real research begins. The good news is that if you are working with a reputable travel agent you can bring your travel wishes to them and they can give you ideas for your vacation, but ultimately the final decisions will lie with you.

Once you have the logistics figured out of destination, budget, timing etc… it’s time to book the trip. Still, a question of when to book remains. In most cases your best bet is to book as soon as you nail down your trip goals. The sooner the better because you will have the best options on rooms, flights and transportation to name a few.

In the event you are choosing to visit a destination during its busy or peak season booking quickly becomes even more imperative as the cheaper accommodations can sometimes get snapped up so fast you will be left with either the priciest options or none at all. The same thing often goes for holiday traveling- the sooner you book the more options you will have!

With all of that said if you can book six months in advance great, but up to a year is even better! Besides, the sooner you book the sooner you can start making additional arrangements if needed such as canceling your mail, booking a pet sitter, putting in for the vacation time at work- you get the idea.

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