Folks have asked me to share some of my travel tips. Some of these are mine alone and others have been passed down to me or I have read about. All make traveling a little bit easier and less stressful.
It is not too early to start planning your trips for summer or holiday 2014. The earlier you book the better and usually the best way to save some money. I try and schedule all my flights at least 60 days in advance, and if I know I will be flying over the holidays and trying to use miles or want specific times, I will schedule 9 to 10 months in advance. I usually book a January trip in March or April.
I start out with my flights and use orbitz.com. I type in where I want to go and the dates. Then once a find the least expensive carrier, if I am a frequent flier I go to their website, if not I book on Orbitz. The reason I like Orbitz over Expedia or Travelocity is because they are based in Chicago. If you ever do have a problem you can understand the person you are talking to. I did have to call them once and they were wonderful.
I book the seat ahead of Steve's if possible so that he does not have to worry about someone reclining their seat all the way back on his knees. When you get to the airport or gate the kinder you can be to overworked airline personal, the better chance you have for an exit row or bulkhead seats. We try and arrive early to make sure that at least Steve has one for the extra room.
My number one rule is have an excel document where you list all the clothes and accessories that you plan to take. You just change the number of shoes, pants, tops, etc., for the length of time you will be gone for each trip. You will always take certain items so to me it is just easier to have them written down and then you can cross them off as you lay them out or pack them. Have another document that reminds you off all the things you need to do at home before you leave such as stop the mail and paper, notify the police, turn on some lights, etc.
I always check out tripadvisor.com before travelling. I want to know what the best restaurants are in the city and what the best sites are to the most travelers. This site is written by people that have been there and done that. I usually go to the hotels I am thinking about booking and check what people say about the hotel. They may tell you the hotel is nice but stay away from the restaurant or give you directions to another eating place that is close by. Businesses want good ratings on Trip Advisor so they will usually go out of their way to please you. We always say, "We came here on the recommendation of Trip Advisor." They assume that I too will rate the place when I leave and I do. They want to make your stay is enjoyable.