Five Ways to Make the Most of Your Travel
Recently, my family and I took a ten-day trip to Germany to visit my youngest daughter, who is studying in Berlin. This was a celebration of sorts because Clara will graduate from Loyola University once her semester is complete. With two other children and a fiancée joining us from Chicago, we turned it into a fun and memorable family vacation. After a wonderful trip and the unavoidable jolt of returning to our daily lives, I couldn’t help but reflect on what made the trip a success.
We planned together – with a group of six and so many choices, it was important to prioritize and be on the same page. My wife and I decided early in the process to engage a travel agent, which is a bit old-school but paid off handsomely (see below). Some detailed planning also allowed us to book some of the more popular tours in advance; many venues require online purchases and/or have limited tickets available same day. The general framework was key to managing everyone’s expectations.
We didn’t overschedule – aside from a couple of pre-booked castle tours, the rest of the schedule was a rough list of things we wanted to see and do. We did not pack the itinerary with sightseeing or museum visits and allowed ourselves the flexibility to stop in a beer garden or check out a pop-up art fair if those were of more interest. We were able to check off the “must-dos” but also do some cool things that weren’t on the original list.
We rolled with the changes – international air travel is no picnic, as we found out on the initial leg of our journey. Our flight from Columbus to Newark, New Jersey was diverted to Baltimore due to weather, and we ended up missing our connection to Munich. We finally arrived about 12 hours later than planned, but our luggage took another 24 hours to catch up. Such occurrences are now more common than ever, so it’s helpful to have the right (low) expectations going in.
We lived in the moment – it’s not easy to “unplug” these days, but quality family time means everyone is present and engaged. Thanks to a very capable team at Fullen Financial (and a six-hour time difference), I was able to manage a light workload during early morning or evening downtime, and everyone else did the same. We all had a sense that this trip was a last hurrah of sorts, before growing families and career demands start to take over. We used that as incentive to limit distractions and savor every moment.
We got expert advice – our travel agent, Fred, was an invaluable resource. When we realized we could not make our connecting flight, he rebooked us immediately on another route. We only appreciated the value of this when we arrived in Newark and saw a line of at least 200 people waiting to see a ticket agent about missed connections. Fred had the latest info on Covid testing and mask requirements, and he found us the ideal hotels from big-city Berlin to the quaint Bavarian countryside.
It may seem a bit unusual for a financial advisor to post a blog about travel. The fact is that an overwhelming majority of our clients list travel as one of their primary goals in retirement. And their vision of this travel often involves overseas trips and vacations with family. Looking back on my trip to Germany, I can certainly see why they feel that way.
About the Author: Kevin Fix, CPA / PFS is a fee-only fiduciary Senior Financial Advisor at Fullen Financial Group. He has worked for more than 25 years in accounting and finance, with much of his career spent in public accounting and company financial management. He has extensive experience managing finances and investments for individuals, small business owners and large corporations. Kevin earned his CPA license in 1992 and became an independent Registered Investment Advisor in 2011.
Kevin earned Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and International Studies from Miami University, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and their Personal Financial Planning practice section. Kevin lives in Upper Arlington with his wife, Amy, and their three children, and is an active member of the business community.
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