If you Google vacation tips you will find more lists than you will ever want to read. Some are very informative, some a very vague, and some just don’t seem to apply to your needs and family. You need the best vacation tips.
What I have put together is a list of what I believe to be the 5 most important tips you’ll ever need. With all the other tips out there, which can still be useful, I believe these are the core of a great vacation; the best vacation tips ever!
1. Turn Off The Devices!
Vacation is a great time for families to bond, but you can’t if everyone is glued to their smart phone, TV, tablets, and video games. Everyone is looking to escape on their vacation and sometimes these devices help, but make sure you set aside time every day to unplug.
Vacations are not made wonderful just by places you went. They’re made wonderful by the time spent with others. The laughs that were shared, the sand castles that were built together, the experiences that were shared (like someone catching their first fish), and the conversations that shared life.
One night you could have a board game night and pull out the old favorites. If your group is large have multiple games going at the same time. You could go to the beach, leaving your devices at the vacation rental. Try to spend at least 2 hours spending time together without the interruption of devices and you may walk away with a vacation with a family that feels more connected to each other.
2. Take Lots Of Photos.
While it may be fun to take photos to show off to your Facebook friend and Instagram followers don’t forget the take photos just for you. Vacations are an incredible time for making memories and one day you’ll enjoy looking back over these photos. They are the ultimate souvenir.
I’m not saying always have camera or phone out, ready to grab a shot. You want to create memories, but you don’t want to be a constant observer of your family’s memories without ever being a participant. Know when to be behind the camera and to put the camera down. While photos may be the ultimate souvenir, time spend together is more important.
- Take photos when you know you won’t be involved in what is happening, such as when the children are playing without the adults,
- Don’t pose too many of your pictures (although there’s nothing wrong with recreating a moment you barely missed).
- We you do pose be sure to get everyone tightly together. It looks more loving and it can be fun getting everyone to get closer to “look like you love each other.”
- Avoid using a flash. Just because it is dark doesn’t mean you can’t get great pictures that capture the moment. In low light situations a flash often breaks the mood and ends a moment.
Hire a pro for your family photos. While the cost may be $300-$700 it is well worth it to have professional photos of the family.
Don’t forget to share your vacation photos with us.
3. Compare Pricing.
Most people begin their search for the right vacation rental with thousands of properties to look at, but even once they narrow down their options by entering in a few preferences (how many bedrooms, does it have a pool, is it dog friendly, how close it is to the beach, etc.) they are still left with hundreds of options. Most families have their own methods of somehow getting a property down to a select few so that their family can make a final decision on which vacation rental is the right one for them.
If price is one of the items you use to compare vacation rentals, make sure you are comparing accurately. Every company adds the cost of taxes at the end, but many vacation rental companies have add-ons that could increase the final cost by anywhere from $200 to $2000 that you’re not seeing until they show you a price breakdown. The price you’re seeing on the property’s page rarely is a reflection of the true price (minus taxes of course). This may be more time consuming, but if price matters to you make sure you’re getting an accurate comparison by finding out all of the fees that may be added.
With Outer Banks Blue this isn’t a concern. We always provide you with the total cost. You won’t see additional fees added on later other than taxes and optional trip insurance.
4. Eat Local.
One of the wonderful things about the Outer Banks is there are very few chains and franchises and the few we do have are of the french fry variety. The most desired local dish includes seafood, and not all local restaurants are using local seafood. Keep in mind that you order Alaskan Crab Legs you shouldn’t expect it to be local. Some items simply won’t be local and that’s okay. But if you’re looking for the best flavor you want to eat the seafood that wasn’t shipped frozen a couple months ago, quite possibly from another country.
Here is a great list provided by Outer Banks Catch of what should be available locally. We’re not saying you should avoid restaurants that may not have local seafood in stock. Sometimes supplies run out and they have no choice but to get it elsewhere, but if you want the best it is always best to go with what’s local, no matter where you live.
5. Shop Local.
Every tourists destination has its fill of shops. I personally stay clear of the shops that focus on selling mass produced souvenirs in China, especially when there are great local alternatives. I think shopping local means better souvenirs that you’re appreciate for years to come vs. cheap souvenirs that have little value or meaning.
Probably my personal favorite is Kitty Hawk Kites. They have multiple locations all over the Outer Banks (although the largest store is in Nags Head) and, yes, they do have some of that mass produced Chinese stuff (some people just like it), but they have far more original and unique items from clothing, to toys, to jewelry, to their namesake, kites (and much more).
Corolla has local shops in Timbuck II and Monteray Plaza. Duck has local shops in Scarborough Lane Shopping Center, Wee Winks Square, and The Waterfront Shops. Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head have local shops in both shopping centers and as stand alone shops.
You can use our Things To Do feature to locate great local shops.
What have we missed? Are there any other vacation tips you would consider vital to any Outer Banks vacation?