When your job is to plan other people’s vacations, you probably have a pretty impressive travel bucket list of your own.
HuffPost reached out to travel experts and professional trip planners to get the scoop on where they’re personally vacationing this summer and why. Travel consultants often get perks and discounts when they travel, but it’s still interesting to learn about their favorite summer vacation spots and their tips for traveling during this peak season.
Check out their upcoming trips below.
Cyndi Williams, a travel career coach and owner and CEO of Tripsy Travel Agency based in Texas, is headed to Disneyland this summer with her family to check out its newest area, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opens at the end of May. She clarified that for her clients, she’d usually suggest visiting Disney parks at an off-peak time of year (outside of summer, the holidays and spring break), but she’s excited to check out the new features of the highly anticipated destination.
Monica Hubinette, travel consultant and agency manager at Anywhere But Here Travel in Lynnwood, Washington, is also heading to a galaxy far, far away at Disneyland with family. The Disney parks will be part of their vacation around Southern California, and she said she’s hoping to go toward the end of summer when kids might be heading back to school. Her suggestions for anyone else getting their Disney fix this summer? Manage expectations beforehand and be sure not to overdo it.
“Try to get to the parks as soon as they open. That’s the real key,” she said. “Then take a break in the afternoons, take a nap, go to the pool, and then go back in the afternoon and evening to finish off your day.”
Trevor Williams Martin, the travel consultant behind Book and Bag Travel in Texas, travels often, but he’s never been to Thailand. He’ll cross that destination off his bucket list this summer for his birthday. He plans on visiting Bangkok and Phuket among other cities and hopes to see the Big Buddha as well as some of the animals native to the country.
He said he’s booked quite a few honeymoon trips for clients in the last few years to Thailand and noted that it’s ideal for nature lovers and active tourists.
La Jolla, California
In addition to checking out Disneyland, Williams is taking her family to the “beautiful seaside” community of La Jolla, California, within the city of San Diego. La Jolla offers lots of shopping options (including upscale boutiques) as well as a beach for visitors on the hunt for a relaxing day outside. For the active outdoorsy type, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve features several hiking trails appropriate for kids, beginners and advanced hikers.
Many tourists in Europe visit more than one country since a number of them are accessible to each other by a reasonably short train ride or flight. Stacey Acree, executive vice president of Brentwood Travel in St. Louis, is knocking out a few destinations on her bucket list with a cruise this summer (the acclaimed Celebrity Edge from Celebrity Cruises, no less).
She told HuffPost she’s traveling between Barcelona, Spain, and Rome, Italy, and that she’s excited to see Barcelona; Cannes, France; and Florence, Italy, along the way since she hasn’t visited those tourist spots before.
“I like visiting the off-the-beaten [path] tourist spots and strolling in the markets,” she said. “I also want to go on a bike tour and [find] tapas and [do a] wine tasting, but there’s so much to see and do in all of these ports.”
Hawaii’s summertime is one of its peak tourist times with its beautiful weather and stunning beaches. Lia Vincent, travel consultant and owner of Vincent Vacations based in Oklahoma City, is taking her family to the island of Maui, which is one of her favorite spots. She’s especially a fan of the food and resorts there.
She explained that she chose Hawaii this summer because when Southwest launched its Hawaii flights earlier this year, she found a sale on a competing airline and scored affordable tickets ― a good thing to keep in mind when airlines announce new destinations.
Williams grew up in Michigan, so she loves taking her kids there over the summer.
“Michigan is amazing during the summer because the weather is so beautiful and it’s not super, super hot,” she said.
Her highlights include visiting Mackinac Island and its many historic sites as well as making a stop in Frankenmuth, known for its charming Bavarian-style architecture and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, which brands itself as the “world’s largest Christmas store.” A trip to Niagara Falls is also high on her list (if you want to cross the border, don’t forget your passport!).
If your schedule is too packed or your budget doesn’t have room for an overseas trip or any flights at all, staying local is always an option. A day trip a few hours away from home can still be a vacation, and if you just want a change of scenery in your own town, some hotels offer “staycation” rates for local residents.
Alan Whitt and Gloria Conley Whitt of Allure Quest Travel Experience in Nashville, Tennessee, told HuffPost that due to some life events over the summer, they booked a fall cruise from New York City to Canada instead of planning a big summer vacation.
In fact, many travel consultants recommend traveling during “shoulder season,” or the bits of time outside a destination’s peak travel period.
“I would say most agents don’t travel during peak times,” Vincent said. “We are all about shoulder season and off-peak when we save money.”