This post brought to you by Marriott Rewards Premier and United MileagePlus Credit Cards from Chase. All opinions are 100% mine.
November is fast approaching. This is when the majority of us begin planning and booking our next major vacation—especially around the holidays. (I’m soon on my way to the USA and Central America for a bit of a winter escape.) When planning some of my recent travels, it really got me thinking about how to get the most out of your holidays in order to have the best vacation possible. Life goals.
How To Get More Out Of Your Holidays
1. Use social media to your advantage
It’s easy to stick to the itinerary suggested by your favorite guidebook, but you’ll find this will only lead you to the most popular tourist attractions in the area. Of course, tourist attractions are always worth visiting but one way to truly experience the destination you’re visiting on a deeper level is to use social media to find out about cool things to do when you’re in town and as a way to connect with locals.
One of the best sources for information are local city blogs. They usually feature event listings for food & drink festivals, movie screenings, art gallery openings and more. Simply do a Google search for something along the lines of “best [city name] blogs.” For example, if you’re looking for what to do when you’re planning a holiday in Berlin, run a search for “best Berlin blogs.” You may notice that this will bring up my Hipster Guide to Berlin, which features plenty of cool and alternative things to see and do in the city.
Another way to find out what’s happening in your destination is Meetup.com, where locals create different events for like-minded people to meet up on particular topics. If you’re a foodie type, you may find pop-up restaurant events or if you’re a fitness lover, you may discover a group of locals planning to run through a park.
Twitter is another great resource—and one of my favorites. Search for active Twitter users in the city you’re visiting, follow them, and begin to interact. Send him or her a tweet, asking questions like “What’s your very favorite thing to do in the city?” They may respond with a tip that would never be featured in a guidebook. If you’re feeling really brave, you can even ask the person if they’re available to meet while you’re in town.
Instagram is another platform where you can use a similar approach to discover cool things to do and also, connect with locals. Do a location hashtag search to see photos posted by people (both tourists and locals) and see what the city has to offer. As with Twitter, leave a comment on their photo or send them a direct message to get more tips!
2. Don’t be afraid to get lost
Sometimes the very best places are discovered completely by accident. Tuck your map and guidebook away and let yourself meander aimlessly and slowly through the town or city you’re visiting without the pressure of a scheduled itinerary. You just might stumble upon hidden street art. You may find yourself on a quiet residential street watching locals go about their everyday business. The beauty is not knowing what will happen and where your day will take you. Some of my most memorable travel experiences have come from practicing this art of “getting lost.”
I’d even suggest wandering into a random coffee shop or bar and chatting up the staff or other guests. Ask for tips about what to do in the area. Plus it’s a good way to make local friends!
3. Take a break from the internet and unplug
While the idea of being internet-free may scare most of us who are phone-dependent (I’m totally guilty), one of the best ways to get the most out of your holidays is to shut your phone off for a while.
Whether you’re travelling solo, with friends, family, or a special someone, this will help you focus on your vacation and really enjoy the moment. You don’t want to spend your time buried in your phone, watching what everyone is doing at home. The whole purpose of a holiday in the first place, is to escape reality.
Fortunately, you can still take photos with your smartphone and even use Google Maps offline.
4. Take advantage of rewards programs
Another great way to get the most out of your holidays is to take advantage of rewards programs, either by cashing in on existing rewards points to book a flight/hotel stay or by cashing in on various promotions to earn even more rewards for the future.
Marriott Rewards Premier and eligible United MileagePlus (including Explorer, Club, and Presidential Plus) Credit Cards from Chase are now running a Double Stay, Double Go promotion. Marriott Rewards Premier cardmembers earn double points on United purchases and United MileagePlus cardmembers earn double miles on Marriott purchases.
With promotions like this, you can maximize your holiday travel by booking your next trip home or getaway using rewards programs and special offers. With over 4,000 Marriott Hotels and 362 United flight destinations around the world, there are plenty of options in almost every destination.
Be sure to visit the Double Stay, Double Go website before November 30, 2015 for more details.