So, how can you minimize that unnecessary anxiety? Here are a few fool-proof ideas:
This one is probably the toughest. It's so tempting to see what other people say about your destination, but consider the types of reviewers that those sites attract. You either get the best (people who are just happy to get away), the worst (people who would complain about anything and everything), the professional reviewer (someone who is paid by the destination or their competitors to leave either a positive or negative review), or a fair and balanced review. As I am sure you can imagine, that last one is pretty rare...
If you are looking to save a few dollars, flight flexibility is the key. There are always consumer reports and travel magazines that publish the cheapest flight purchasing days based on their findings from applying complicated algorithms, but if you are planning a last minute getaway, you may not have the luxury of purchasing on day 76. If this is the case, and you are not locked into a particular destination, do a "Google Flights" search to the area and then click on "Explore Destinations". This will show you a google map with lots of pricing for flights that originate from your selected airport. This is has been enormously helpful for me when I am searching for flights to the Caribbean! Also, google flights lets you see the pricing snapshot on the Calendar drop down, so perhaps switching one day could also save you on the price!
This one is tough. As a travel agent, you do not know how many times I have heard, "Well, we're just sleeping there". Yes, you are just sleeping there, sleeping where you spend at least 1/3 of your resort time. It's a good bet that a bad resort will have bad beds. Plus, if weather confines you to a yucky room or a yucky resort, you will start regretting your choice very quickly.
The other bonus about selecting a great resort is that you don't necessarily have to leave property if everything you need it right there. This has always been comforting to travelers who have concerns about traveling to areas that have a reputation for safety issues.
Are you a foodie? A sports nut? A beach bum? It's so important to know what you want when you are looking at resort and destination options. It's not realistic to think that a resort can be everything to every guest (although many of them do make an honest effort). So, if you know that the quality of the beach is very important to you, keep that in mind when you are conducting your research. Also, be realistic about your expectations when you are there. If you are getting bad service, that is one thing, but keep in mind that these resorts want you to be happy. So, if something isn't right, speak up!
I know I say this one a lot and it's a controversial opinion for folks who like to plan out the details themselves. Remember, however, having a travel agent doesn't mean that you have to turn over the reigns to someone else, it just means that you have someone to bounce stuff off of. Someone who may have intimate knowledge of your destination, resort, or the deals that are out there sometimes. There are so many benefits to using an industry expert, to name a few: they have access to lots of deals without having to do a ton of searching, they may have important knowledge about your destination or resort, you would be contributing to the bottom line of a small business, most planning will come with little or no cost to you, and you never know how much they can save you!