Planning a Vacation with Friends? Read this First

This photo shows three women jumping together on the beach

A colleague recently returned from a much-anticipated vacation, and on her return, I asked if she enjoyed her time off. She paused a little too long before her reply, and weighed her words carefully.

“It was just ok,” she admitted. “The hotel was gorgeous and the setting was really beautiful. But … my friends and I really got on each other’s nerves. By the end of the trip, I was so ready to leave.”

 Her post-trip report got me thinking – it’s awful to have a vacation feel like wasted time (and, not to mention, wasted money). And in my many years writing about travel, I’ve heard about so many vacations going sour because the group of travelers hadn’t quite gelled as anticipated. In addition, with Americans getting such limited time off each year compared to our global counterparts, it’s imperative that we make the absolute most of our downtime for overall satisfaction, rejuvenation, and well-being.

Part of doing so is choosing the right group of people to accompany us on our vacations – and if we can’t choose all of our companions, then we can still make sure that we communicate trip plans and expectations with the whole group well in advance. In this case, honesty isn’t just the best policy – it’s also an excellent way to manage assumptions, curtail miscommunications, and minimize disappointments – thus preserving your vacation time and money spent (and maybe even your friendships in the process).

The next time you plan a vacation with friends and/or family, here are three check points to address well in advance…

Read the full story over at Ecosalon.

Photo courtesy Parapluie via Flickr Creative Commons

Should You Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card?

A free trip sounds too good to be true, right? In most cases, the promise of anything free requires a healthy dose of Grownup skepticism. But change “free” to “loyalty rewards”, specifically in terms of travel rewards credit cards, and we’ve got a different story.

Keep that skeptic hat on, though, because all cards are not created equal. And whether you can benefit from them depends entirely on you: specifically, your Grownup values, spending habits, and ability to pay off your balance each month.

If you’re interested in getting a travel rewards credit card, here’s how to get started.

Read the full story over on the Society of Grownups blog.

How to Put Together a Realistic Travel Budget

This photo shows a stack of vintage suitcases

Travelers often ask me about how they can save when planning a trip. Like the myth of travel bests, there’s no stock answer I can provide—the best way to budget for a trip is to really consider what you value when you travel.

Think back on your favorite trip. What stands out as particularly memorable? Was it an incredible hotel? A fantastic meal at a gourmet restaurant? Get really specific, zeroing in on what you especially loved. With your favorites in mind, you now know an area to budget—and maybe even splurge—for your upcoming vacation.

Conversely, think about a less-than-pleasant travel experience. Maybe it was a low-end hotel, an overrated pricey restaurant, or a rental car that didn’t suit your needs? Was it an area where, if you had spent a little more money, you would have had an improved experience? If so, you now also know an area where you’ll want to allocate a little more of your travel budget. If not, you’ve got an area to cut back—or something to avoid entirely on your next trip.

Let’s take a look at the major expenses of any vacation. Keeping your values in mind, let’s address where you should splurge or save.

Get the full story on the Society of Grownups blog.

Photo courtesy Natasha Mileshina via Flickr Creative Commons

Where Should You Go on Your Next Vacation?

This photo shows a man leaning out of a van window

I’m not a night owl. When I travel, I like to have early starts and active days, where I’m out exploring a destination’s cultural landmarks or outdoor trails, capped off with a low-key evening centered around a fantastic meal.

So a few years ago, I begrudgingly found myself in Las Vegas on a business trip, a destination I never would have sought on my own. My days were spent in business meetings, my nights in mixer events at nightclubs or casinos. I was ready to write it off as a one-and-done trip, when a few colleagues invited me to go hiking on our one day off.

And suddenly, I was enchanted with Nevada. Here, about a 35-minute ride from downtown Vegas, were landscapes utterly unfamiliar to my East Coast sensibilities: red rocks, ochre sands, sweeping cliffs, a few scrubby trees. After the buzz of the Strip, I relished the fresh air and quiet, as well as the chance to connect with my colleagues in a setting that appealed to me. It placed everything in a new light, and made me realize my first impression had been limited (and that I was too hasty to judge).

The next year, when I went back to Vegas for another conference, I was more prepared. I didn’t have time for a hike, but I prepped for what my schedule would accommodate: In my downtime, I sought out a cooking class, took long walks down the Strip to get “outdoor” time, and had several delicious meals. And I realized: Few destinations will disappoint if approached with the spirit of adventure and discovery.

Get the full story over on the Society of Grownups blog.