January 30 is National Plan for Vacation Day, making it a great time to start planning your next adventure. And with many of us stuck in the bitter cold temperatures, that’s all the inspiration we need to get out of Dodge!
Whether you’ve been pining for a ski break to Vail next month or have your heart set on a trip to Greece in the Fall (or both!), planning a vacation is fun and exciting, but it also requires careful consideration to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. My advice is to start planning as early as possible to be sure you get the best deals on airfare and hotels and so you have enough time to research and reserve all the great things to do in your destination.
Try These 10 Tips to Kickstart Your Vacation Planning:
1. Research Destinations – Unless you know exactly where you want to go….start by researching your top 3-5 preferred destinations that align with your interests, budget, and travel goals. Consider the climate, activities, cultural attractions and accessibility to local sites and restaurants. Be sure to check out online travel forums, blogs, and guidebooks for valuable insights.
2. Set Your Budget – Determine a realistic budget that covers accommodations, transportation, meals, activities, and miscellaneous expenses. This will help determine how much you need to set aside each week or month to cover costs. It will also help you make informed decisions and avoid overspending during your trip.
3. Identify Travel Dates – Determine your travel dates (or top 2 travel dates if you need a back up) while considering factors like weather, local events, and potential crowds. For instance, Paris is a great place to visit, but considering they are hosting the 2024 Olympics this summer, you may want to avoid the City of Light altogether. Also, keep in mind, a flexible schedule can sometimes lead to cost savings, so explore different options if possible.
4. Reserve Accommodations – Research and book accommodations that suit your preferences and budget. There are so many options these days – from hotels, to B&B’s, to vacation rentals. Websites and apps like Booking.com, vrbo.com or hotel-specific sites can help you find the best deals.
5. Book Flights or Other Transportation – Explore transportation options based on your destination. If it’s a short enough distance, plan for a roadtrip. Too far to drive? Compare flights on kayak.com or other travel sites. And if you’re traveling across Europe, be sure to check out your options for traveling via train – it might just be the easiest, most economical, and most scenic option for you.
6. Consider Travel Insurance – Depending on your personal situation, you may want to research and invest in travel insurance to safeguard your trip against unforeseen circumstances, including medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage. To be honest, I think I’ve secured travel insurance once in my life and we’ve never had an issue. Review policies to ensure they cover your specific needs…or if you really need it at all.
7. Activities and Sightseeing – Create a rough itinerary outlining the activities and attractions you want to experience based on the number of days you’ll be there. Prioritize must-see sights but also leave a little room for spontaneity and some much needed downtime.
8. Make Dining Reservations – Do not underestimate the power of a restaurant reservation! Although it’s nice to have some flexibility, including for meals, just knowing you have a dinner reservation waiting for you at the end of the day can save you time and money, and help you avoid Mr. & Mrs. Hangry ruining your night.
9. Local Customs and Etiquette – Familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette in your selected destination. This includes cultural norms, tipping practices, and basic local phrases. Cultural norms can vary from country to country or city to city. Norms can even vary across the U.S. – just think about the difference between the always busy, fast-paced New York City and the laid-back, island life of Key West.
So if the cold temps and gray skies have you down, there’s no time like the present to begin planning your escape!
Travel often, travel well, my friends.