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Planning (And Optimizing) An Amazing Vacation With Friends Without Going Bonkers

Planning (And Optimizing) An Amazing Vacation With Friends Without Going Bonkers

The most anticipated time of the year is vacation season. It doesn’t matter how old are you or if you work or not, a vacation is something everybody looks forward to — going skiing, camping on the lake, going on a hike, or the famous sunbed-cocktails-sea-partying-until-you-drop style of trip. We all love holidays for many reasons, and if you are able to go on vacation mode every now and then, consider yourself lucky.

Even though it brings many benefits, and it is necessary, planning a vacation can be painful and boring. Especially if your plans are not realized because of various reasons. It takes time to figure out how to choose between countless options, decide which route to take, or which place to stay, simply because the hospitality industry is booming.

Let’s try to optimize the process, bring more joy and relaxation into our lives, and avoid that so-many-options-I-don’t-know-what-to-choose nightmare.

Choosing the destination & transportation

    Image Credit: Luke Price, Flickr

    The first step in the planning process starts with a simple question: where do you want to go? This is the question you need to ask yourself. Before answering it, you need to be realistic and to think about your budget. Although we all want to travel and explore distant and exotic destinations, it is not always possible to do so. Decide how much money you can and want to spend and the planning can begin. Have your friends’ budgets and preferences in mind; the best practice is to have a meeting where you guys discuss and make a decision on where you’ll go.

    Once you know the destination, you should decide whether you are going to travel by bus, car, or plane. This selection should be based on your budget (again) and what you find most satisfying. Many people choose to travel by plane. It’s easy to understand why: the trip is comfortable and it saves time.

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    Luckily, these days very affordable tickets can be found online. There are apps like Justfly that can help you book flights, hotels, and car rentals. There is also another way to pay less for the plane ticket: many airline companies offer discounts for buying tickets in advance. You just need to search the web and be patient.

    Traveling by car is ideal for families or a group of friends on shorter distances. The time spent on the road is perfect for bonding and creating new memories. Traveling with friends or family is a good choice for safety reasons as well. If the driver gets tired, someone else can take over. Another advantage of traveling by car is that you can make your own route and visit many places, which is impossible with commercial transportation (unless you book an excursion).

    Traveling by bus can be the least comfortable option, but it also has its advantages. You don’t have to worry about driving, the road, or the fuel. You just arrive at your destination (hopefully not too tired).

    Choosing the sites you’ll visit

      When your destination is chosen and your hotel and transportation booked, the first batch of weight is off your back. Now comes the second part of holiday planning — you need to know what you’ll see and do on your holiday.

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      There are two types of people: the ones who “go with the flow” and ones who plan where to go. Even though I’m not against spontaneous life and holidays, here’s a question:

      Who do you think has more problems on a holiday, a planner or someone who just goes with the flow?

      Of course, the second group tends to encounter more problems because they don’t know where to go, how to prepare for certain activities, what they should bring, the prices of fares and tickets, which times they can visit certain attractions, etc. In these situations, “easy-goers” usually spend time planning and deciding what to do on the go, deducting time from their holiday.

      I don’t think you want this, right?

      Find a balance. You can at least get to know the destination, its biggest attractions and admission times and fares (I’ve found myself in front of closed museums and monuments way too often), how much time is necessary to get from the point A to point B, and the overall expenses for almost everything. Sites like Numbeo, Lonely Planet, and TripAdvisor can help you in preparing.

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      Choose your company

        Image Credit: Denali National Park and Preserve, Flickr

        If you want to have a perfect holiday, choose your company wisely. Imagine this situation: chilling out in a perfect destination, completely relaxed and calm, feeling like you don’t have a single worry in the world, and suddenly you hear the voice of your workaholic friend talking about office stuff.

        It kills the feeling, right?

        When choosing travel companion(s), it is important to think about the personality of your friend(s). For example, your best friend is someone with whom you can talk about everything, share your deepest secrets, and laugh all night, but your bestie might like to sleep until the noon. On a vacation, this can be a problem, especially if you are planning to get up early every morning to go sightseeing, sunbathe, or just have an early breakfast. You will have an obligation to wake your best buddy every morning, and he or she will feel the same way. You will start as friends but might end up more like frenemies.

        The worst part – packing

          Image Credit: cmor15, Flickr

          For many, packing is an annoying activity that needs to be done before the trip. It tends to be exhausting and unnecessarily dramatic.

          Packing can a nerve-racking activity for many reasons. The first major problem is picking the right clothes. In most cases, there are two scenarios: either a whole wardrobe is packed or barely anything is packed. A lot of people tend to overpack, but there is no need to overpack; it can be avoided.

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          The best way to pack and avoid these two situations is to do your research about the destination, plan what you are going to visit and do, and then make a list of all the things you will need. When you put everything on paper, you’ll be more efficient and you’ll optimize your packing to utilize 100% of your packed stuff.

          Can planning be fun?

            Image Credit: Marc Kjerland, Flickr

            Although you might want to get out of your work lifestyle and chill out, going on a holiday without plans can be troublesome (or simply won’t be as awesome as it could be). It is possible to plan and optimize everything without getting bored or tired.

            Let your imagination run free and think about all the wild, unexplored, and exotic destinations that you can visit. Invite your friends, open a bottle of wine, and plan the route of your trip together.

            If you can’t agree with the choice of the hotel, destination, or transportation, vote — make the game out of it. Life is about the little things, so get the most out of it.

            I wish you many happy (and well-planned) holidays this year!

            Featured photo credit: yoppy via flickr.com

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            Dejan Kvrgic

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            Last Updated on November 17, 2019

            20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

            20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

            Saying, “Thank you,” can be difficult to do. Some things just demand a little something extra because of the magnitude of the favor or the depth of appreciation involved. But what can you do to say thank you in a meaningful way? Sometimes you have to get a little more creative than just firing off an email. Here are 20 creative ways to say thank you that your friends and family will remember and cherish!

            1. Make a gift bag.

            A unique, homemade gift bag with a custom label or a note is a simple but heartfelt way to show your appreciation for the wonderful things your friends or family have done for you.

            2. Give a toast.

            Many people fear public speaking more than death, giving this particular thank-you a little extra meaning. Composing a sincere, eloquent toast and delivering it is a nice way to show appreciation that truly comes from the heart.

            3. Write a poem.

            “Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uh, you could write that...but why not put a little extra zing in it? Find out what their favorite kind of poetry is: haiku, free verse, iambic pentameter, and so on. (Google them if you don’t know what they are.) Then write one that expresses why they deserve your thanks…and why you’re glad to give it!

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            4. Create your own labels.

            There are a number of websites that offer custom gift labels. Find one that fits your personality and that of your friends and create a personalized thank-you label!

            5. Give a gift card.

            Sometimes choosing what to give a friend can be tough. A gift card is a good way to get around this problem. As always, be sure to include a personalized note or card thanking the recipient for their friendship and help.

            6. Send a letter.

            Snail-mail is a largely lost art form. Don’t worry about how long the letter is, though. What really matters here is that you took the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings sincerely and honestly!

            7. Use social media to send a special message.

            If someone’s done something you think the whole world should know about, why not put out a social media blast? Use your blog, your Facebook, your Google+ account, and your Twitter to spread the word about why this person’s someone your friends will want to know too!

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            8. Make your own digital greeting card.

            While an email isn’t always the best way to go when saying thank you, a digital greeting card that you put time and effort into creating can really brighten someone’s day! Make the card reflect the recipient’s personality and compose a short message of thanks for their generosity.

            9. Make a YouTube video.

            Sometimes, actually hearing someone say, “Thank you,” can make all the difference. Why not take it a step further and create a special video of thanks for your friends, family, and those special people who helped make your day so important…or who helped you through that rough time?

            10. Deliver cookies or candies.

            Making something yourself is a fun and delightful way to say thank you to someone. Create a sampling of baked goods or homemade candies and decorate them with a simple message, or make them so they form letters! (Think Valentine’s candies, only situationally appropriate.) Attach a thank-you note or label and surprise those special people with the gift of your time and creativity.

            11. Make surprise gifts for guests.

            There’s no need to wait until “later” to send a thank-you message. Why not do it at the time? Create little gift packets or bags for your guests with surprises inside. This is a great way to say thanks to the people who attended your event, and make sure they won’t want to miss the next one!

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            12. Put together a flower basket.

            Whether you prefer fresh or artificial flowers, assembling a flower basket with a thank-you note is an excellent way to brighten someone’s day and show you appreciate them.

            13. Take a picture.

            Sometimes capturing the moment is the best way to put a smile on someone’s face. Have someone take a picture of you receiving that special gift or opening that surprise package and send the giver a copy with a quick but sincere note to say thanks!

            14. Repay their generosity by paying it forward.

            The best gifts come from the heart, and the best way to repay a gift is to pay it forward. If your friend has a special cause they care about or something they believe in passionately, why not make a donation in their name or volunteer some of your time to the cause? This will mean more than any number of cookies, candies, or thank-you notes because you’re taking your friend’s love and spreading it around to others.

            15. Do something special for them.

            Take them out to dinner. (See “make a toast.”) Give them that movie they’ve been wanting forever. Cook them dinner and give them a present when they arrive. Any of these are good options for showing someone you really appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

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            16. Reciprocate their help.

            Everyone needs help sometime. Whether it’s holding their hand through a particularly traumatic incident or helping them replace the alternator in their car, being there when they need it shows you remember what they did for you and how much it meant. It also shows that you’re willing to be just as good a friend to them as they were to you!

            17. Be there for them.

            Not every thank-you gesture has to be a grand public spectacle. Sometimes just giving them a place to come hang out when they’re lonely or showing up to offer them a sympathetic shoulder means the world to a person.

            18. Listen to them.

            Listening is almost as lost an art as the handwritten letter. When your friend or family member needs to talk, listen to them. Ask questions when appropriate, but just letting them know you’re there and paying attention to them to the exclusion of all else for a little while is a great way to say thank you for the times they listened to you.

            19. Say it in another language…or two…

            A simple thank you is great…but why not spice it up a little? Instead of just saying, “Thank you,” write or make a video of you telling them thank you in different languages. Some examples might be, “Gracias! Merci! Danke schoen! Spasibo! Mahalo!” and any other ways or languages you can think of. (The ones listed above are Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hawaiian, in case you were wondering.) If you want to really get tricky about it, say a short phrase in each language that conveys why you’re thanking them!

            20. Show them some love.

            A simple touch, a hug, or helping out when they need it without being asked may be the most powerful gratitude message you can send. Offer to take the dogs for a walk, sit for the kids for a few hours, or run to the grocery store so they don’t have to. The little things are often the most important and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send a note, but sometimes your simple presence and willingness to help is all that really matters.

            Featured photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via unsplash.com

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