Simple Tips For Avoiding Stress & Getting The Most From Your Vacation

It’s rare that I take a trip and don’t see someone who is supposed to be on vacation and yet they’re in a foul mood. Certainly there are times when traveling can make one angry, but many of the pitfalls that vacationers encounter can be prevented.

Here are ten tips for making your next vacation stress-free and fun. Believe it or not, the majority of the time I see people having issues on a vacation it falls into one or more of the categories below and could easily be avoided.

10. TREAT PEOPLE HOW YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED – I know this sounds like common sense, but often people immediately jump into red-hot anger mode instead of analyzing the situation and tempering their response accordingly. I’m certainly guilty of this. But I’ve also seen first-hand how the person who approached the front desk clerk or airline employee with kindness and a low voice saw their problem resolved quicker (and often better) than the person who flipped out.

9. READ YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS – That pretty little booklet that arrived from the cruise line or tour operator isn’t just something to put in the bathroom reading rack. It contains IMPORTANT information about the vacation on which you just spent a large chunk of your savings or kids college fund. Ever watch THE AMAZING RACE? Many teams wind up losing because the didn’t read the instructions. Don’t let this happen to you, whether you’re racing for $1 million dollars or just vacationing.

8. USE A TRAVEL AGENT…ALWAYS – I once heard a great analogy at a travel convention: “You might look at WebMD for info but would you do the surgery yourself?” There have been several instances where one of the PCT gang has been traveling and encountered someone with an issue and they booked themselves. In most of those instances, it took them hours if not days to fix problems that a good travel agent could have solved in minutes. So ALWAYS use an agent, preferably one of our great certified travel consultants.

7. YOU CAN’T CHANGE THE WEATHER – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen travelers complaining at an airline ticket desk or a cruise line’s shore excursion desk because the weather is bad and they want them to “fix it.” While I can completely understand the frustration of a storm delaying a flight or canceling a much-anticipated tour, there are completely logical reasons for these changes. First and foremost is safety. Bottom line: It’s understandable to be upset, but to blame anyone or any company for bad weather is just not logical or fair. Weather is also another great reason to consider travel insurance, especially during Hurricane Season for those living on the Gulf Coast or cruising in the Caribbean.

6. DON’T BE “THAT GUY” – We all want to have fun on vacation, but to me it crosses a line when your “fun” is at the expense of others or causes another to be uncomfortable or hurt. I once dined at the Chef’s Table on a cruise line with a group of very drunk people who all knew each other. The men in the group spent the entire dinner making crude remarks, playing with their food, tormenting our poor waitress and even trying to ruin the magic tricks performed by our own private magician. Their childish antics were clearly making everyone else at the dinner uncomfortable, not to mention the staff. This type of behavior leads directly into the next point…

5. YOU ARE NOT ALONE – Unless you’re on a private yacht or island or in a secluded hut somewhere in the jungle, you are most likely vacationing with others. Whether you’re at Walt Disney World, on a cruise ship, at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or touring Europe, there will likely be others that are not a part of your group trying to enjoy the same vacation. Yes, you paid just as much as they did. You deserve a great time. But it is both smart and considerate to keep in mind that others must use the same facilities, attractions, equipment, etc. as you. A little consideration of those around you will guarantee a better experience for both your party and theirs.

4. ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME – I know…you’re on vacation. You don’t want to be rushed. But that’s not what I’m suggesting. But know how long it takes to get from point A to point B and plan accordingly. Walt Disney World is a great example. I can’t tell you how often I hear of guests who have an 8am restaurant reservation in the Magic Kingdom but don’t leave their resort hotel until 7:45. Even at a hotel on the monorail, it’s unlikely you’ll make it on time. Being late can also have larger consequences, like missing your cruise ship or plane’s departure time and being left behind. It happens. Also be sure to keep an eye on your iPhone or smartphone – they can sometimes automatically adjust to local time and throw you off. Make sure you know the correct time (especially when cruising).

3. PLAN AHEAD – Some folks love having a full itinerary when traveling, while others prefer to just wing it. Neither is the wrong way to do things, but I always suggest that even when traveling without a schedule, have a general plan or idea of what you want to do. Check a local calendar for holidays or local events that might cause closures or crowds. We always suggest pre-booking anything that is a “must-do” on your vacation so you don’t miss out.

2. ASK QUESTIONS – Unsure of an important detail of your trip? Ask an expert – your travel agent, your hotel concierge, a local. A message board is not necessarily the best source of info and be wary of review sites too, both positive and negative. Go to official sources like any of Premier Custom Travel’s certified travel consultants or the supplier websites. And trust me – you can’t ask the dumbest question we’ve ever had, unless you’re asking about the salinity of the toilet water on cruise ships or what time Disney starts the 3 o’clock parade. And even if you do want to ask THOSE questions, we’re happy to answer.

1. GET MISTAKES FIXED IMMEDIATELY – If something does go wrong with your vacation, tell someone in charge right away. The vast majority of our customers experience no issues during their trips, but I’m amazed that many who do wait until they return to address the problem. I want to hear about their experiences, both good and bad, but once they have returned it is too late to fix the problem and give them a positive outcome during the trip itself. And most of the time, these issues could have easily been addressed and fixed if someone had just known about them. Why suffer when one phone call or trip to the front desk could solve it?

I hope these tips help you have a more enjoyable getaway. If you have additions to this list, please send them to me at and I’ll include them in a future blog post.