You’ve gotten your days off of work, you have those airline miles saved up, and you’re ready for your vacation. Eager to leave the real world, you find yourself dreaming of all the vacation possibilities.
Suddenly, panic sets in; with so much to do, how can you possibly plan the vacation of your dreams? Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Planning a holiday can be easier than you might think.
Here’s a quick and easy guide to planning a trip.
1. Set your budget
Before you even choose your destination, you must set up your budget. Your budget will dictate everything from accommodation and transportation to whether you’ll eat out or pack a lunch.
When you set up your budget, break it into categories. Decide how much you’re willing to spend on your accommodation, travel, food, daily costs, and fun money. This will help you to better analyze your overall budget, and you’ll avoid reaching the end of the trip with an empty bank account.
To set up your budget, first decide what you want to pay for the entire trip. Then, break it down into the following costs:
- Daily spending
Since you haven’t picked your destination yet, allow price ranges for these items. Setting your budget before you have chosen a destination allows you to choose a destination that will fit your budget. As you research places to go, make sure that you’ll be able to afford the things that you want to do. If it looks like your dream destination is a little outside of your budget, choose somewhere a bit cheaper. This will greatly reduce financial stress.
2. Research potential vacation destinations
Once you’ve set your budget, you can start researching vacation destinations. As you research, there are a few things that you’ll need to consider.
- Does the location fit your budget?
- What is the weather during that time?
- Are all of the activities that you want to do available during the time you’ll be there?
- Will the destination be crowded?
Some destinations won’t have the same offerings throughout the year. For example, if you’re looking for a mountain escape, it’s going to look a lot different in the summer versus the winter.
Depending on the destination, it might also have a busy tourist season. If crowds don’t bother you, this might not make a difference, but if you’re trying to get away from hustle and bustle, try to avoid high tourism times.
A great way to research destinations is through social media. If you search hashtags or find locals groups, you can often find non-biased information that will really help you to gauge what a place is like. Tourism sites can be helpful, but they often advertise a biased perspective. Locals groups will show you the good and the bad of whatever place you’re researching.
If you’re planning on a US vacation, check out this book for destination ideas.
3. Plan your itinerary (don’t cram too much)
Now that you’ve planned your budget and chose your destination, you can plan your itinerary.
You should plan your itinerary before booking accommodation and travel (but don’t book activities quite yet). This will allow you to pick and choose the activities that will fit into your budget. If the activities are more or less expensive than you budgeted for, you can then adjust your budget accordingly. You don’t want to miss out on an activity just because you already spent too much on your accommodation.
When planning your itinerary, don’t cram too much into your days. It can be tempting to fill every hour, especially if you’re visiting a place you’ve never been to, but you’ll quickly burn yourself out if you do that. Instead, schedule some time to relax, and limit yourself to no more than two activities per day. The rest of the day can be spent meandering around the city, enjoying drinks on the beach, and otherwise enjoying your time off.
4. Book accommodation and travel
Finally, it’s time to book your accommodation and travel.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and fully research your options, especially if you have a low travel budget.
When searching accommodations, check out places that are a little outside of the city center. Often, you can find amazing accommodation at half the cost of what you might find in the middle of the city, and you don’t have to be that far away from the center to find it.
When searching for travel, don’t be afraid to look at options beyond flying. If you have a tight budget, taking a bus or driving can often save quite a bit of money. Furthermore, you should check out what it costs to fly from different airports. You can easily save hundreds of dollars by flying into an airport a couple of hours from your destination then taking a bus.
5. Make a packing list (and don’t overpack)
To avoid leaving behind an important item, you should always make a packing list.
When packing, keep in mind that many things will be available to you at your destination. Most accommodations offer shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, so you can leave those behind. You can also often find laundry services, so you shouldn’t feel the need to pack three different outfits for every day.
Besides the inconvenience of carrying a ton of luggage, extra baggage can also increase your transportation fees. Save money and energy by limiting what you bring.
Planning a trip can either be incredibly stressful or a lot of fun, depending on how you approach it. The key is to set up a budget from the start and stick to it. Then, you can let your finances guide the rest of your planning.