With the holiday season in the rearview mirror, college students like myself are preparing to make the trek back to school where, inevitably, we’ll be asked the same question some 30 to 40 times.
“How was your break–did you do anything fun?”
To some, the holiday break was just that–a break. Time to relax, cast aside responsibilities and binge watch Netflix on their parents’ couch, only standing to lumber to the fridge for another plate of Christmas leftovers. For these people, it’s satisfying to answer “it was good, uhh, I didn’t really do too much.”
But for those of us who were fortunate enough to turn winter break into a vacation, that same “it was good, uhh, I didn’t really do too much,” answer is a wake up call that should signal that your vacation might have gone to waste.
Far too often, that’s exactly the case. People my age are complacent to take a vacation and get little done. Fly to the Caribbean, for instance, only to spend most of the time lounging on the beach, soaking up the sun and eating pizza without really experiencing everything that a foreign country can offer someone.
Don’t get me wrong–I know that relaxation can be a beautiful, wonderful thing. And I’m not here to tell anyone that they’re doing vacation wrong–do what you want–I’m only here to say that people often only scratch the surface, failing to recognize the potential for a vacation to become so much more.
Do Your Research
People our age are chided more than our fair share for the time we spend with our eyes glued to our phones. Why not try to turn that habit away from checking your Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat and into doing some valuable research on the country or city you plan to visit?
There are some obvious places to look, like TripAdvisor and Yelp–but the importance of deviating from the mean can’t be stressed enough. Try lesser trafficked websites like TripHobo or TripTurner to help you plan your next trip.
Talk To People
One of the most effective means of discovering which sights and sounds are worth the hype and which are okay to skip it by talking to people who have been there. Scouring the internet can only take you so far–personal experience from friends and relatives can go much further.
Plan Each Day
This is where your research will culminate–the thesis of this article: planning out your trip is a vital step. At the risk of sounding like a dried up old man–planning out your vacation is the key to making the most of your trip. When I visited Abu Dhabi for Christmas with my family, we were meticulous, strategically planning out every day to maximize the sights we saw, foods we ate and culture we appreciated. Planning might seem to some to suck the life out of the the creativity and free-flowing characteristics that seem to define the Millennial generation. In actuality, the opposite is true–by planning out your days and evenings, you’re effectively increasing every opportunity you have to experience what the country you’re visiting–and the world–has to offer.
The next time you’re looking to take a vacation, plan it out. Do your research and prepare for an immensely different cultural experience while you do your best to immerse yourself on your vacation. Most of all though, soak it in and enjoy it.