The following are things I’ve experienced on my trip and a retrospective on how I prepared for this trip and how I could have improved.

Travel Planning Best Practices

The best strategy is to use a platform that centralizes all the tools you need for your trip: calendar, documents, notes, etc.

I use the G-Suite Apps so most of the apps I used involve Google: Keep, Calendar, Gmail, etc)

This simplification of having all your tools provided by one source helps minimize logistical decision making and overall provide a better, smooth travel experience.

The following are a couple best practices to help improve your travel experience:

Plan Your Vacation Timeline

Flight Departure Times: Flight arrive 12/23/18 – Departure 1/3/19 [2 Weeks]

  1. Carnival Cruise – Bahamas [4 Days]
    1. Expedia Bahamas Cruise  Itinerary 12/24/18 (Monday) – 12/28/18 (Friday)
      1. Cruise leaves Miami on 12/24/18 16:00
      2. Cruise comes back to Miami at 12/28/18 8:00 am
  1. Florida National Parks 12/28/18 (Friday) – 12/30/18 (Sunday) [3 Days]
    1. Garden Inn of Homestead Drop luggage off at the hotel after cruise lands
    2. Biscayne National Park 12/28/18 (Friday)
    3. Everglades National Park 12/29/18 (Saturday)
    4. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park(Optional)
    5. Check out hotel by 7:00 am to go Miami Station (1 hour – LYFT]
  1. Orlando, FL 12/30/18 (Sunday) – 1/1/19 (Tuesday) [3 Days]
    1. MegaBus to Orlando (Sunday) [Arrival]
    2. Days Inn Wyndam Orlando, Downtown
    3. Disneyland Orlando (Sunday) (12/31/18)
  1. Downtown Miami Exploration [1/1/19 (Tuesday) – 1/3/19 (Thursday) [3 Days]
    1. MegaBus Orlando to Miami [17:00 departure bus]
    2. Runaway Inn Hotel Miami
    3. Miami International Airport 1/3/19 (Thursday)

Plan Trip’s Overall Expenses

This should be the 2nd thing you plan for your trip. Without having a proper budget, you are prone to overspend.

When you plan your trip budget, always plan your expense in these 3 tiers: ideal, realistic, and stretch.

Your ideal budget will be the less total $$$ expense you intend to spend.

Your realistic budget will probably the amount of $$$ you will spend.

Your stretch budget is something you want to avoid at all cost.

Having these 3 numbers in mind will help you stay on track with how much cash you plan to burn at any part of your trip.

Of course, you always try to stay on course and spend close to your ideal budget initially.

Then when you are on your trip, you will keep course for your ideal budget, but leave some gap up to your realistic budget.

On trips, you can control your expense on variable expenses like transportation, food, etc. But you will sacrifice comfort and time in the process.

Put Everything On Your Calendar

What should you put in your Google Calendar?

  1. Hotel reservation addresses
  2. Add action items and other details under Description
  3. Alert notification before the event transpires
  4. Share your calendar with your travel companion or other people

You should use your calendar to plan these activities and events:

  1. Hotel
  2. Commute and transportation time (with the right ETA time calculation represented in a time block)
  3. Restaurant bookings
  4. Event bookings: like Disney Show events, etc
  5. When you plan to wake up (you should also set an alarm along with it also ;] )
  6. Flights you have to make

Things To Improve Upon

Research on Hotel Area Safety

Safety and wellbeing are more important than the actual $$$ you spend. The difference between a safer hotel and area might just be a couple $.

In those situations, you should always plan the extra money to upgrade or book a better location or hotel.

Doing a quick Google search on the zip code, city, region, or search the hotel with “is it safe?” can save you a lot of heartache and anxiety on your actual trip.

Less Is More

Depending on the purpose and goal of your trip, this may vary, but I realized the older I am getting, I prefer the “less is more” approach.

This means, reducing the amount of activities you do, places you visit, etc so you can focus on key events and activities that can bring the greatest enjoyment, while not expending a lot of energy.

Think of this as the minimalism of traveling.

Do a Item Check-Off Before Leaving Accommodations

We’ve lost our GoPro Hero 7 at a Days Inn when we rushed out the door and did not check our belongings.

You can use Google Keep and create a checklist of all the important belongings like passports, cameras (like a GoPro), wallets, and more.

We went snorkeling in Biscayne National Park but since we lost our GoPro… There’s no memory left.

Summary

Overall, it was a fun trip but extremely tiring. I don’t think I would go back to Miami again, too humid and warm for my liking.

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