Knocking out several stops on one vacation is a great way to see the world. Whether you're a history buff looking to catch several Revolutionary War stops, a beach bum in search of the perfect Gulf Coast beach or an art history major who wants to take in all of Michaelangelo's work, multi-destination travel can be the best option for you. However, unlike trips where you head to a resort or cruise ship, multi-destination trips take more thought and planning ahead of time. Here's how to get started:
1. Before you open up your laptop, grab a pen and paper.
Write down what you want to accomplish on this trip: is it important to taste local food, check out museums or sit on a mountainside patio enjoying cocktails? Also, include what your aim is: cultural enrichment, relaxation or maybe family time. Write it all down, so you can keep focused on what's important as you plan so you can return to your goals as you make decisions.
2. Start researching airfares, hotels and things to do.
Trip Advisor will give you reviews of attractions from other travelers, and you can filter searches with categories such as good for families and budget friendly. If you're thinking of heading out of the country, start your international research with the State Department travel-specific website. There, you can learn about visa requirements, embassy and consulate locations and what to do in the case of an emergency.
3. Research driving laws and license rules.
If you are planning on driving and renting a car during your trip, you need to check out driving laws and license rules for the place you're visiting.
The good news is that if your trip is in the U.S., your state-issued license is valid. Still, it's a good idea to look over rules of the road that may be different from where you live. Internationally, your license should work, but spending $20 with AAA to get an International Driving Permit is worth it, especially if traveling somewhere where you're not as comfortable with the language.
Your next area to research is what kind of car to drive when you're away from home. Whether you're driving your own car or renting, put some time into checking out what kind of car will serve you best. Will your trip include city driving or cover more rigorous terrain? Find the vehicle that best suits that.
4. Map out your itinerary.
One of the fears you may have about taking a multi-destination trip is not knowing where you're going, even if you have a GPS available. This is where Google Maps can come in handy for helping you find routes that are cost-efficient and fast—or scenic if that's what you're looking for.
5. Using your phone or your computer, you can map out every day of your trip.
Whether you're planning your drive through the Appalachian mountains or a train trip from Montreal to Vancouver, you can include every stop on a multi-destination trip. Even better, if you want to familiarize yourself with where you're going before you even leave your home, you can zoom in to street view and virtually walk down the street.
6. Make sure your cell phone plan is updated.
International travel can mean heavy data charges, so check with your carrier to see what costs you will incur. You also have the option of using your phone on an international cellular carrier for a short time. Follow these directions to find out what carrier works for your phone.
7. Stay organized.
When you're trying to pack several stops into one trip, you don't want to waste time in line to buy tickets, or rifling through your bag looking for an itinerary. You're already making the smart move by planning your trip in advance and using research and maps to prepare you. Staying organized means you'll have a stress-free vacation.
Your first step is to plan what you want to do on which day, and then look to see if you can buy tickets ahead of time. Print out those tickets and write the date and location on the ticket, or screenshot the ticket and save it in your phone's images. Either way, they will be saved and ready to go when you want to visit your chosen attractions.
8. Once you've made your plans, write an itinerary.
Be as detailed as you can be, and include items like addresses and phone numbers of destinations. Also detail the people you've talked to during planning, confirmation numbers for your flight, car/hotel rentals and vital information for international trips like passport numbers and embassy locations. This will save you the trouble from having to look it up while on your trip. Google Documents can come in handy here, especially if you're planning your trip with multiple people.
Once the itinerary is finalized, try to save it in a few places. Print it out, email it to yourself and your traveling companions and save it to your phone, too. Depending on what you want to carry with you, grab a sturdy folder or pick up a travel wallet to hold on to your important documents. This will help you stay organized for your whole trip.
And that's it! With these tips, you'll be well on your way to sticking the landing at every location you choose to visit on your first multi-destination trip.
Lead Image Credit: Pixabay