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Tips for Planning Your Vacation

Magnifying Glass on Map
Allianz - Magnifying Glass on Map

Vacations are supposed to be fun, but planning a trip can be stressful. If you keep some simple tips in mind, though, trip preparation can be a breeze.

Stay organized

Trip preparation starts with detailed planning. Start by creating a checklist to track what needs to be done. Use a travel journal or spreadsheet to record all pertinent information. Maintain records of conversations you've had - write down contacts' names and record your confirmation numbers. Keep related emails together by creating a vacation folder in your email box.

Do your research

Research may not sound like a lot of fun, but vacation research can be. Be sure to check independent reviews and blog posts on websites like Trip Advisor for other travelers' perspectives on destinations.

Try something different

Consider non-traditional destinations. Plan a trip to Oahu instead of Maui or Honolulu, Melbourne instead of Sydney, or Milan instead of Rome. Looking for something really unique? Clean, low on crime and friendly, Iceland has become an affordable travel destination.

For ideas on things to do, turn to travel books. The Luxe series are small foldout books that review high-end destinations, and the Fodor's series is a trusted source for information.

Looking to save money? Book your airfare in advance. Remember, not all airlines have their flights listed on travel sites, so check the airline websites for deals and better options. Remember to plan for unexpected fees like checked baggage fees, tips, taxis and service charges.

Also, investigate local transportation methods. Subways, trolleys, cable cars and ferries can be less expensive than taxis, and offer more interaction with local culture. You wouldn't go to San Francisco without riding a cable car, would you?

Leverage the power of Google.
Google Maps is one of the best vacation planning tools available, giving you the lay of the land and showing you areas and attractions you may miss otherwise. Google news alerts keep you up to date on local events, as well as weather alerts, crime activity and more.

And because nobody knows what a city has to offer better than the locals, check out Google Blog Search to get inside scoop from area residents.

Get the gear. Use the apps

Travel planning apps for iPhone can keep you in the know. works with your phone's GPS to find restaurants and more based on your personal preferences. The iPhone Packing Pro app lets you create custom lists of travel must-haves so you're never trying to find a drugstore at 3 a.m. to buy a toothbrush. In addition to mobile apps, new improved-capacity suitcases help you minimize potential luggage check fees.

Buy travel insurance

Life is unpredictable. Flights are cancelled, passports are lost, accidents happen. Travel insurance gives you peace of mind knowing you're protected from unexpected travel mishaps. The benefits covered by travel insurance plans differ, so please be sure to review the policy coverage details.

Have fun

Vacations are a time to relax, sight-see, participate in cultural events or athletic endeavors and more. Preparation and planning can help you get the most out of your vacation by reducing stress and worry.

Nov 15, 2016