Casa.Online Vacation Planning graphicEveryone has a different vacation style. Some love to browse Groupon for great package deals to interesting destinations, and others assemble all the elements to and from their destination from different travel sites, using their Google-fu. Why leave San Diego, America’s vacation destination? Getting away from it all, taking a break and checking out is important to our mental health and wellness. Thanks to the Internet, even if you don’t have friends who will lend you their French chateau and well-trained staff, you can plan a great trip all on your own. In Part I of Caregiver Cheat Sheet: Online Vacation Planning, we share all the modern ways that caregivers, loved ones, and home care aides can plan a relaxing, rewarding respite for themselves and their loved ones.

Pre-Internet, vacationers had two ways to take a trip: consult a travel agent who booked air, hotel and car for them, or impose on friends to put them up, drive them around, and show them the sights. The latter type of vacationers often ran out of friends, especially if they didn’t live in America’s Finest City, where friends liked to visit in return. The Internet changed all this, by allowing us to book our own airline seats, hotel rooms, and package trips, and incidentally blowing up the travel agent profession along the way. We’ve come a long way from the pioneer days of the Internet now, no matter which of the two main styles you prefer, there are so many sites and tools available to plan your perfect trip.

Option One: DIY

If your online shopping skills are strong, and you like to control your destiny and your destination, you can find many travel and lodging options with the help of online travel sites.

  • Lodging

    • Hotels
    • Private Homes

      • You’ve probably heard about AirBnB from the news, or from fellow San Diegans who are living next to an AirBnB property. This site allows homeowners list a home or a room in their home for any AirBnB to apply to rent. Yes, unlike a hotel who will rent you any vacant room, the AirBnB host has the option to approve or deny your request to rent their space. But you can stay for a night or a week in some of the most exciting, eclectic, artistic, or chic neighborhoods in the world.
      • Home Swap
        • Before AirBnB was the new big thing, there were house swap / home exchange clubs that allowed you to arrange a swap between your home and someone else’s in a desirable destination. The limitations are that you have to find a couple or family in the location you want to travel to that also wants to stay in your house, but you do have great control and a high level of information about who is staying in your home. Travel expert Rick Steves offers tips and suggests these sites:
  •  Transportation:

    • Rent a car: the same sites that help you find hotels and flights will help you find rental car rates at your destination. Plus, certain organizations and memberships will get you a discount from rental companies:
      • AARP.com
      • AAA.com
      • Military, credit card or corporate discounts, if you qualify
    • Travel by Uber or Lyft: load these apps on your smartphone, and travel around the city in someone else’s car. This option works best with a group of four or fewer, in a city. If you’re going to Yosemite, don’t plan on getting a Uber from your campsite to the trading post.
  • The Combination Plan: if your destination is remote, or you have so many in your group that hotels will eat up your budget, there is one option that combines transportation and lodging. We speak, of course, of the recreational vehicle. The RV holds a mythical status in the American vacation, but renting an RV is only a little bit easier than driving one – as long as you don’t get too crazy with size. You don’t need a special license to drive one, and you can rent one in your home town, or fly to your destination and rent one in the closest city.

Next week, in Part II of Caregiver Cheat Sheet: Online Vacation Planning, we’ll tell you how to let someone else’s fingers do the walking: package deals, and where the travel agents went!