Travel Planning: Why My Opinion Matters

Free roaming chicken family in Bahama Village ...
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I was reading an article on a blog recently about the top 5 tips from locals when planning your Key West vacation and I had to laugh. Why? Well, for one thing, I am a travel agent and plan a whole lot of different kinds of trips for all types of people. One thing that draws people to Key West year after year is the laid-back atmosphere. Yes, the island is crowded in the winter, certainly more so than in the summer, but tips like “Make dinner reservations before you get here” is not so helpful.

So, here are the tips I read, followed by how I would advise you to actually do things:

  1. Book your air travel through a local Key West site or agent. Yes, I like to make commissions, too, and I can often get airline tickets cheaper through a wholesaler than you can get online, but just because I am in Key West doesn’t mean I get airline tickets at a better rate. Go ahead, use your travel agent in Minnesota if that is who you know and trust.
  2. Look at your activities a week or two before your arrival and book them before you get here. Tour operators love this one simply because they will have guaranteed business even if the weather sucks. Check the weather a few days before you arrive, then make plans. You don’t want to pay $50 per person for a sunset sail on the one day we are going to be having a cold front.
  3. Download a Key West map and start to get the lay of the land. Key West is a 2 mile by 4 mile island. You will most likely explore less than half of that (the rest is not so interesting for visitors). I am confident that most people can make do with the map from their hotel once they arrive. No need to study for days ahead of time. You won’t be quizzed. Plus, half the fun of traveling is getting lost and the subsequent adventure of finding where you are going. Google maps has largely destroyed this aspect of my vacationing life.
  4. Make your reservations before you get here. If you have your heart set on going to particular restaurant on a specific day and time, sure, call a week in advance. Usually a day or two will suffice for making your reservations. I am as picky as a person can get when it comes to where I am dining, but there are so many great choices here, there is no need to stress about it.
  5. Plan secondary plans ahead of time as well. This is the one that made me laugh. Plan your backup plans? Really? You are on vacation. Let loose a little. Go with the flow. If your first plans fall through, wing it. Again, this is how good vacation stories happen. You wouldn’t want to get home only to tell people that your vacation was really boring and went exactly as planned.

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