We’ve all been there, you’re sitting at your desk at work or class on a dreary Monday afternoon. Physically you’re there, but you’re dreaming of sipping cocktails on a beach somewhere exotic or hiking up a mountain enjoying the crisp, fresh air and stunning scenery. But this doesn’t have to be a pipe dream, and it does not have to be a complicated or stressful process. With the help of our handy breakdown of tips and tricks below, planning your perfect trip is made easy, and you’ll be well on your way to the destination of your dreams!
Depending on your desired destination and the nature of your trip, the cost may be very high or very low on your list of considerations. But whether you are planning a quiet solo getaway for one, or a wild weekend out, you probably still want to get the best bang for your buck.
First, get an idea of how much you have saved, and how much you are willing to spend on your trip. Then, if you need to, you can start saving well ahead. This doesn’t have to be dramatic – it could be as small as canceling that monthly subscription you don’t really use. An extra few hundred dollars saved this way can allow you to level up your trip with an extra excursion, a nicer hotel, or an extra couple of days away.
Destination and dates
Once you know your budget, the fun begins! If you don’t already have an idea, start broad – a country or region you’ve been wanting to visit. Then you can narrow in on a specific city or town, depending on the activities you’re interested in, the weather, or the geography. When picking a location you may also want to consider the time of year of your visit, whether it is the on-season with great weather and tons of tourists or the quieter but more affordable off-season.
Also related to the timing of your visit, people often forget to check the country holidays of their destination. In many European countries, for example, the majority of shops, restaurants, museums, and other attractions are closed on public holidays. The last thing you want is to arrive and find everything you wanted to do is closed!
Flights and accommodation
Now that you’ve nailed down your destination and dates, it’s time to make it official by booking your flights and accommodation. When it comes to finding well-priced flights, it’s useful to use websites to compare different airlines and find the best value for your flight. Also depending on your destination, taking the train can be a great environmentally friendly and comfortable option. And, if your destination is close enough, you could always just make a road trip out of it.
When it comes to choosing your accommodation, reviews are your best friend. Whether you’re looking at hotels, Airbnbs, or hostels, make sure to read up on others’ experiences. While nowhere will have perfect ratings, it helps to get an idea of what kind of a place really awaits you, and avoid any unpleasant surprises.
It is also important to get an idea of the area in which you’ll be staying. A quick scan on Google Maps or just a little research will be able to give you an idea of the vibe of the area – whether it’s quiet and peaceful, or bustling with shops and nightlife. Also, you may want to consider how well-located the place is in relation to the other activities you have planned. If you plan to get around on public transport, check that there is a bus or underground station nearby.
Some people thrive on an intricately planned vacation schedule filled with activities, while others prefer to figure things out along the way. Whatever type of vacation planner you may be, it’s always good to have a rough idea of what you’d like to see, do, eat and drink during your time away.
When it comes to finding specific activities like museums, cultural attractions, day trips, shops, or restaurants, make sure to do your research. Looking at the tourism website of your destination can give you a good idea of what there is to see and do in the area. Websites like TripAdvisor are also a great resource for finding popular and well-rated attractions. When planning your activities, researching online for deals and booking ahead can save you both time and money. Once you’ve identified enough things to do, you can put together a loose schedule of your trip. But be sure to also speak to locals when you arrive at your destination, as they can often give you the best recommendations for authentic and unexpected must-do’s!
In the countdown to your trip, taking care of minor logistical tasks before you leave will allow you to have a seamless and stress-free time away. Particularly if you will be away for a longer time, several practical things will need to be taken care of at home. You may for instance want to have a friend or family member house-sit for you while you’re away – this could be a good idea for security reasons, or even just to water the plants. If you have a pet that’s staying behind, you will also need to make arrangements for them to be looked after, whether by a friend or at a pet hotel.
Several administrative tasks should be done ahead of time, to ensure a smooth vacation. If you’re vacationing overseas, make sure to alert the bank of your travel, so you don’t run into any payment problems when you arrive. If you’re traveling somewhere with a different currency, it is always a good idea to have some cash on hand just in case. Converting some money before you leave can help you save on high-interest rates at airports and touristy areas abroad.
While it may seem like an unnecessary additional expense, buying travel insurance for your trip can be a life-saver in the face of an unexpected problem. Travel insurance is not just for when you get sick but can cover a range of different problems that could arise on your trip. You can purchase travel insurance to cover an unexpected cancellation, illness or accident, lost or damaged luggage or property, trip delays and interruptions, and much more. Depending on your needs, make sure to spend some time comparing insurance policies to find the best fit for you. It may seem like a chore or a waste of money, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
On the topic of caution, keeping additional copies of important travel or identification documents, either physically or on the Cloud, can be extremely helpful. These documents could include a copy of your passport, flight ticket, hotel confirmation, or drivers’ license for instance. This can come in handy not only if a booking goes wrong, but also have both digital and physical copies that protects you in case of loss or theft.
Pack and enjoy
Whether you’re a chronic over-packer or under-packer, make sure to check the weather forecast at your destination, and bring whatever essentials you may need. If you do tend to overpack, remember that you will have to carry around whatever you pack, so it may be in your interest to only pack what you need!
And finally, time for the easiest step – once the big day comes around it’s time to grab your bags and get going! Take comfort in the time you’ve spent planning your trip, relax, and enjoy your well-earned vacation. Once you’ve experienced how easy and rewarding a well-planned trip can be, you won’t think twice the next time!