Psychological research shows that “people get more happiness out of purchases when those purchases are experiences than when they are material things.” So let’s swap trips for things on the holiday wish lists. By request, here are our top tips for your trips:

Take a vacation where? Globe trotting the world or rediscovering America, each and every place has a special indulgence, a piece of history. Listen to friends, read our articles, search the web, and watch travel shows and videos. Consider the time of year, climate preference and desired activities or culture outside of golf. Then go where your heart leads. Check for packages on the destinations’ websites as well as Google, Travelocity, Expedia, just a few of the many resources that offer insight. Take user reviews with a grain of salt, reading between lines on tripadvisor, travelpost, citysearch, and IgoUgo. One poor experience shouldn’t spoil the deal. Leverage any credit card or group affiliation that might give discounts or rewards. You may not get the lowest price, but upgrades or points for future travel might be worth it. Do however watch the fine print on all offers and consider research part of the fun.

Really be kind when traveling. Be kind to the person on the phone, to the ticket agent, to the bell captain, the grumpy x!l#@ at the rental car counter. Kindness will be well received and returned. Foremost, be kind to your travel companions – your spouse, kinfolk, your buddy, whoever is seated next to you because travel can be stressful at times and kindness transforms not only others’ but your own disposition. Be friendly with locals and other tourists. It will boost your experience and therefore your happiness quotient. For foreign travel learn how to say hello, please and thank you. Sure most staffs understand English but a little “bonjour” goes a long way in showing respect and improving the quality of information and accuracy. Now when driving through the south of the United States it is not necessary to speak with a drawl, though it might be impossible not to if you stay too long.

All aboard – If airfare is not included in a package deal you like, call each airline direct and ask for the best day and time to fly your route. If you like a flight reserve it temporarily while checking travel sites such as Orbit and Hotline. We searched daily for multiple leg connections from Phoenix to Ireland and then South Africa. After two weeks, there it was, the smoking deal on Vayama.com.

Venture out of your comfort zone. Google for the destination’s visitor bureau website. They usually have fun activity ideas like on experiencescottsdale.com. Secure activities and tee times in advance but also leave some space in the schedule to let the vacation take you.

Everybody wants your money. Unless you have plenty of discretionary funds, just say no – to upgrades that give 2 more inches, to timeshare deals. But sure, go to the presentation and listen if the gift is worth your time. It’s part of their business model and educational, just say no to the sale. Say no to the swarm of airport cabbies when you’ve already paid for hotel transport. The real driver will be outside with your name on a sign. Your insurance company or credit card probably covers rental car insurance. Check ahead of time.Travel

Light packing makes life easier. A roller carry on is a flyer’s best friend with plenty of space if you choose wisely. Baggage rules are ever changing and more restrictive about size and weight so check with the airline before every trip. List the types of outfits needed for your itinerary and lay your clothing options on the bed. Choose colors and layers that can be mixed and matched figuring some repeated wear. Narrow it down until they fit, rolling each piece individually for tight packing and wrinkle reduction. Another sizeable “personal item” may be carried on with purse, computer, and snacks inside. Pack all liquids and lotions in labeled 3 oz or less travel containers from Target or Walmart, then in a zip lock quart size bag. Include Vicks Vapor Rub for foot odor prevention and softness, reducing sock count. Dab on nostrils to prevent illness. If you take your golf clubs, excess items will fit in travel bags like Club Glove, Caddy Daddy, Bag Boy or Sun Mountain whose Club Glider is operable with the touch of a single finger. You can also ship your clubs or consider rentals. You might love the new set or if not, have the excuse, “They’re not my clubs.”

Take a hike. Walking is the best exercise. Tour the airport or aisles on the plane or circle your ankles, and pump your knees while seated. When exploring your destination by foot, you never know what will appear like a sea turtle on the Mexican beach laying eggs. Walk the course, a mountain trail or historic downtowns for a personal viewpoint.

Identification, insurance cards, itinerary, confirmation numbers, all documentation should be handy in a folder and/or smart phone. Be ready for security procedures with enough time. No joking and watch your balls. Our golf balls were confiscated in Cabo as potential weapons. Isolated incident? You never know.

Plan, Act and Tweak is our PAT answer for life and travel. Setting a plan in action is the first secret to success. When problems emerge and they will, assess and tweak the plan. In Italy our accommodations in 3 cities reneged. We serendipitously secured fun spots on hotels.com. Surprises are the norm.

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When you travel take lots of pictures

Selfies or unselfies – take lots of photos of landscapes, street scenes, local folks, memories you want to keep. Share but don’t miss the whale breaching because you are tied up on social media. Delete the duplicates to save space, tweak the best pics and relive the experience again and again.

Thanks for watching where we go every month for all these years and Bon Voyage wherever you go!