Growing up it was clear that vacations were not always relaxing for my dad, after a day of navigating both travel and new surroundings he always seemed to visibly relax once we were all checked in and settled. I, on the other hand, have been know to pick up on short notice, taking advantage of last minute deals in a more fly by the seat of my pants situation. I'm no stranger to hostels and can find a cheap meal almost anywhere.
We all have different vacation styles and thrive in vastly different situations. Some go wherever the wind make take them trusting that things will fall into place while others might book months in advance carefully creating schedules and itineraries that tend to every detail. Often we find ourselves traveling with someone who might not share our style. Here's our breakdown of the different travel styles, how you can make the most of each and how to compromise (just a little.)
1. Last Minute vs. Booking Ahead
For some, half of the fun of travel is the spontaneity of it. Others carefully book ahead to avoid the stress, keep from losing out and to get the best deal.
How to make the most of it: Research how far in advance you should book a ticket to actually get the best deal since earlier isn't always better, and try to be flexible with your travel dates as flying out midweek is almost always cheaper than the weekend. If you enjoy being spontaneous, keep an open mind and look out for flight sales. If you are flexible on your dates and destination, you can take advantage of airlines' last minute deals on underbooked flights. Staying flexible even once you get up to the gate and allowing yourself to be rescheduled if it is overbooked can also earn you a free future flight.
2. Creating and Itinerary vs. Going with the Flow
Doing your research and creating a schedule means you are more aware of what's around you and are much less likely to miss out on any local attractions. If you leave yourself open to whatever comes your way on the other hand you are bound to have a unique adventure.
How to make the most of it: Educating yourself on what is around you is never a bad thing, but try not to schedule every last minute—and if something comes up, be open to it. For the more go with the flow types, having at least a loose plan for your day can be beneficial; learn about the area and choose a starting point for your day like a local cafe so you can get out and get your bearings. If there is a concierge or information desk where you are staying, ask for a few good recommendations.
3. Hostel vs. a Luxury Hotel
Hostels have been the broke college student's lodging of choice for decades and for good reason. Not only are they affordable, but many are in beautiful locations (inside a lighthouse, for instance) and are a natural meeting ground for people from around the world. On the other hand, bunk beds. Luxury hotels boast amenities like a bathroom that is actually attached to your room, nice, freshly pressed sheets and room service.
How to make the most of it: Checking out alternatives to big chains can be a great compromise for both the comfort and the price-point driven. Check out boutique hotels, local bed and breakfasts and options like VRBO and Airbnb to find your ideal situation.
4. Visiting Landmarks vs. Exploring off the Beaten Path
Iconic landmarks can be trip-defining moments, and nearly everyone will ask if you saw then be it the Eiffel Tower or a Giant Rubber Band Ball. Checking out lesser known spots, however, lets you explore like a local, and avoid a lot of crowds and overly inflated prices in the process.
How to make the most of it: Try to do just a little of each. Landmarks are considered such for a reason (although you really only need to see them once). Offset the cost by finding out in advance if there are any free days or discounts for visiting at off-peak times. Coupon booklets like Citypass will often let you buy tickets for local attractions together for a pretty generous discount. To find the best local spots, try reading travel blogs and checking out local websites. Printed guidebooks like "The Hunt" are also great for exploring cities like a local.
5. Relaxing vs. Active Travel
For some, the entire point of going on vacation is to relax—all they want is to escape the everyday and lay out on a beach somewhere. Others get antsy just thinking about lying still when there is so much to see and explore.
How to make the most of it: Keep in mind what your hoping to get out of the trip when you book your destination; a trip to Mexico is more conducive to relaxing than a trip to, say, Germany. Wherever you stay, try to do a little of each—you don't want to come back from vacation feeling like you need, well, another vacation, so make sure you log some downtime.