I recently took some time away from the office, spending a week with members of my family visiting both New York City and Las Vegas.
We scheduled a couple of tours and knew it would be a little hectic with only a couple of days in each location, but it was a new experience and I really hadn't been out of the area for than a few days at a time in a while.
With every new experience, however, there are lessons to be learned.
So, here are a few of my own tips based on a few of my observations from this most recent vacation.
Do: Try to fit in as much as possible while on vacation, especially if it's somewhere you've never been. One idea is to make a list of things you would like to do before going on the trip. That way you can get to the spots you really want to see and avoid those you don't. It was my first time in Las Vegas, for example, so everything was going to be new. I had been to New York before, so I didn't really need to see Macy's or Times Square, for example.
Don't: Fill your trip up with so many activities you wear yourself out to the point of exhaustion. A vacation is supposed to be about getting away from your everyday stresses and taking in a different environment. It does no one any good to just replace the regular stress with new types of stress and then come home wishing you had more time off.
Do:?Look up, and even reserve, a tour while on your trip. It can be a nice way to see your destination and hear a little bit from the people who live there. In New York, we went on a tour that put us on a water taxi down the Hudson River to Battery Park, walked up to the 9/11 Memorial and through the Financial District and then over to the Southside Seaport before hopping on another water taxi and going out toward the Statue of Liberty. It was a nice, little jaunt and only took a few hours to see some new spots in the city.
Don't: Get on a tour that includes sitting on a bus for 10 to 12 hours of your day. While out west we took a tour from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. We got on the bus shortly after 6 a.m. and were dropped off at our hotel sometime after 11 p.m. I don't know that we got to spend a whole two hours at the canyon itself, although the view was still spectacular.
Do: Try to take some time for yourself while on the trip, even if it's just for an hour or two. We all need a little "me" time to relax, collect our thoughts or just do something only we want to do. It's good for everyone involved.
Don't:?Carry your phone around in a way you're not going to be able to hear it. While in New York, I went for a walk in Central Park for what ended up being around three hours. Despite the more natural setting, it's still New York City and can be loud in some spots. My family was trying to reach me, but I couldn't hear my phone, and, as a result, almost missed being able to see a taping of "Late Night with David Letterman."
Do: Pick up a few items to help remember your little adventure, whether it be a T-shirt, a shot glass, or even just a bunch of photographs you take along the way.
Don't: Pack any foods you've purchased while out of town into your carry-on luggage. Leaving New York, the security line was held up because someone had a couple jars of jelly and a few other items in their bag. Most of these things can go in your checked luggage. If there's any doubt, see if you can have it shipped home.
Do: Find some way to relax and keep yourself occupied on those long flights. We dealt with a few two to three hour trips in the air, and trying to take a nap doesn't always help. Take a book to read, maybe.
Don't: Try to cope by drinking a bunch of alcohol and then standing and walking up and down the aisle of the plane. It makes people nervous and you're likely to wind up meeting with security as soon as you land.
Also, it's not a good idea to spill beer on anyone while on the plane, especially not off-duty flight attendants from Cambridge, Ohio (or anywhere else for that matter). This wasn't me, by the way. There was a guy on our flight from Houston to Pittsburgh, and it was definitely unnerving for many of us. The flight attendant in question ended up sitting with my sister for a while afterwards.
Do:?Remember to have fun while on your vacation. Enjoy yourself, whether it's checking out the nightlife, playing a few games, visiting a few local restaurants or meeting up with some friends who are in the same town.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)