Imagine this: you’re starving and you’ve just sat down at your favorite steakhouse. It’s your Friday night date with your spouse, and you couldn’t be more delighted. You’ve ordered bone-in ribeyes, grilled asparagus, and—your personal fave—the lobster mac-n-cheese. With a 2011 Jordan cab swirling in your glass, you begin to unwind and relax (instead of rehashing the week’s drama). Feeling the pangs of hungry anticipation, you light up when your entrée appears.
Unbelievably, you are missing the center of your steak! It’s as if a cattle prod pushed straight through your cut! And the lobster mac? Half a cup has been unexplainably scooped from the center of the dish! What is going on here?!?!?!
Of course, in a situation like this, the restaurant would be called to account for the missing product. It’s obvious when you aren’t given what you’ve paid for when the “what” is an object, that is. But what about something a little less tangible? What about your time? How would you feel if you went on vacation, only to discover that significant chunks of your time had gone unaccounted for?
I told you a few weeks ago about how I realized assembling furniture simply wasn’t a productive use of my time, that I was better off sticking to vacation design. When I work with clients, I look for ways to maximize their minutes while on vacation. Below are seven ways YOU can reduce time-sucks on your next vacation.
1. Skip as many lines as possible!
This begins in the airport. Global Entry and TSA pre-check are major time-savers in the airport! And when you’re visiting those massive sites like the Colosseum in Rome or the Louvre in Paris, you can (and should) secure your VIP entrance ticket before you ever leave the States. Sure, you’ll still have to wait in the security line, but one line is always better than two. Many U.S. sites such as Pearl Harbor and the National Archives offer the opportunity to reserve your entrance time in advance ($3 fee usually applies). Visit www.recreation.gov for more info. This is true of countless landmarks and important sites all over the world—the ticket may cost money, but advance reservations usually do not. Remember this: minimizing the time spent standing in lines will save you hours and days, plus maximize your enjoyment of the trip. This is real, actual time taken from your vacation and it brings me to my second tip…
2. If you can buy it/reserve it/plan it in advance…do!
One feature I offer my clients is to serve as their travel concierge—before they even leave! It cracks me up when I offer to go ahead and purchase tickets/entrance passes/etc. to things they know they want to see…and they answer me with, “oh, you don’t have to go to that kind of trouble. We’ll just get them when we get there.” Say whaaa? You mean you want to spend actual minutes of your actual vacation standing in a ticket purchase line instead of having me buy them for you?? Okie dokie. But that, my friend, is a #timesuck!
3. Pack less than you think you’ll need!
Ok, I am a relentless packer. I can’t quit. I buy the cubes and the bags and the hangers and all the things. Then I pack wayyyyyyy too much into way too many bags and I always end up hating my life. Don’t be like me. I’m trying to change, honest. Try your best to carry on. While I don’t believe this always saves you money (you might have to buy what you didn’t pack), it does save so.much.time. Time in line to drop your bag. Time at baggage claim. Time getting into and out of cars and up and down stairs. Time unpacking and re-packing. Time deciding between your four maxi dresses and six pairs of sandals. If you can’t stick to a carry-on bag, I get it, but at least keep it to one suitcase per person, ok? I promise, everything you need will fit with just a little bit of strategic packing!
Oh, and for the love of monogrammed Pottery Barn awesomeness, please don’t have your young children shlep their “own” bags all over Europe!
4. Make a good game plan.
A lot of people say, “I just want to go with the flow” or “I don’t want to spend time organizing my itinerary.” Look, I’m all for spontaneity, but if there is so much as ONE reason why you are visiting a certain destination, you need a GAME PLAN. And if you already know that you have LOTS of reasons for visiting a particular location, you better have a daily GAME PLAN. Take Paris, as an example. If you just “go with the flow” and decide to visit the Louvre on Monday, you’ll encounter significantly higher crowds than you would on Tuesday, which will make for a long, ugly day of….wait, what were you going to see at the Louvre? Oh, that’s right. You don’t know because you didn’t make a GAME PLAN!
5. Pre-arrange transportation.
I know I may sound like a broken record here, but the fact is, you (or your favorite travel professional) have more time and access to figuring things out before you are on your trip! How many horrendous taxi stand lines have you stood in outside the airport? I bet if you had priced out that private airport-hotel transfer with a reputable company ahead of time, you would have found out (a) it costs less than you think it does, (b) you would rather have someone waiting for you than you waiting for someone.
*Having said that, I avoid “shared” transfers at all costs. Shared = you + 12 of your closest friends crammed into a minivan getting dropped off one at a time.
6. Don’t oversleep.
I’m not saying you have to wake up with the roosters at your Italian agristurismo, but sleeping in on vacation will cost you brilliant ocean front sunrises, the intoxicating aroma of fresh-baked Parisian baguette, the mad rush of Romans at an espresso counter, and the cranking open of downtown storefronts. It will cost you the most honest glimpse of a place you can get. With regard to your time, you don’t just lose the time spent in bed—you lag for most of the day. Why? Most of us will say that our most important routines take place in the morning. Whether that means coffee and a newspaper, perusing social media, or going for a jog, getting your day started off right will keep you feeling your best and moving efficiently throughout the day. This means more enjoyment and fewer time sucks!
7. Don’t be a slave to the schedule!
Yes, you read that right. A game plan—no matter how detailed—needs to serve at the pleasure of the traveler. If you want to make the absolute BEST use of YOUR time on vacation, don’t waste it staring at a clock or a map. You just might miss your favorite part!
I hope you found these tips useful! Try them out before your next vacation. I guarantee you won’t be sad about all the time you save!