Planning a vacation for any reason can be overwhelming and for a while I never even knew where to start! Now after traveling for a few years, I feel like I have finally gotten the hang of it and would like to share my planning style with you! Don’t be confused though, this isn’t a completely stress-free mold for vacation planing, but it is a great base structure to start with and has given me some of the most memorable trips!
Step One: Choose what type of trip you need!
Some people might think that all vacations are relaxing and low-key, but others know that a vacation can sometimes be so action packed that it leaves you exhausted!
I believe there are 3 types of vacations:
- The Beach Vacation– relaxing and low keys, with days filled with sun, sand, and lots of fruity beverages!
- The Educational Vacation-meaningful vacations; vacations filled with museums, history, and culture!
- The Outdoorsy Vacation-Vacations with hiking, diving, climbing, or any other action sports activities!
Now you obviously can have a little bit of all of these in one vacation, but usually, I know ahead of time what the main purpose of my vacation is going to be!
Step Two: Now Choose where you want to go!
This part can always be a little challenging simply because there are so much to choose from! Since you have narrowed it down though to the type of vacation, you can now hone in on your options by deciding if you want to do a domestic vacation, or an international vacation! A lot of this choice might seem to come down to budget, but you’d be surprised how close in cost each of these options can be! I have spent just as much as a US vacation as I have for some of my international trips! It all comes down to how luxurious you want to be, and where you want to cut costs!
Anyways, once you decide on the type, and whether it will be a vacation further away, or close to home, you can start thinking about where to go! You can write your top 5 places down and draw out of a hat, you can simply place your finger on a map with your eyes closed and go from there, or you can do a little research and decide which place will fit your needs the best!
Personally, I look at most of Europe as Educational vacations. There is so much history there and beautiful buildings, that it puts me in the learning mode! Southeast Asia is a great place to look for relaxation vacations since it is pretty affordable there. You can live like a king and splurge on luxury accommodations while there without breaking the bank! As for outdoor vacations, I love the US national parks for hiking and camping! Obviously there are many other destinations to look at, but this gives you a general idea of the geographical regions to look for!
Step Three: Figure out who is going on the trip!
A trip will be very different if it is a girls trip, a solo trip, a romantic trip, or a friends group trip, so figure out who is planning to come and go from there! You need to do this before budgeting because a group trip will require larger rooms to stay in each night, but will also cut down on costs for shared expenses which is nice!
Step Four: Decide on a budget!
You can’t start planning until you know how much you have to spend! Come up with a number and try to stay within that realm while planning flights, accommodations, and activities. You will also have to keep in mind a local transportation budget for wherever you go, a food budget, and a souvenir budget for your stay.
Typically I don’t have to pay for flights, but when I do, I look on Skyscanner first for the best deals on airfare! I have booked through this site many times and have always been happy and felt comfortable with the results!
For places to sleep, I keep in mind hotels and see if there are deals or rewards that I have on Hotels.com , if not, I look at Airbnb.com (use this link for a discount) and I can usually find a larger space in a great area, for a reasonable price. If I don’t find anything there, my next thought is hostels. I usually look on Hostel World when I go this route and have always felt safe and loved my experiences in the hostels they feature!
For ideas on what to do, I look at trip advisor, Pinterest, blogs, and Instagram for inspiration! Some things I know in advance and others I just wing, but its good to get an idea of the cost for the items that you know you will for sure want to check out while being there!
As far as food, transportation, and souvenirs go…I subtract the flights, accommodations, and major activities from my budgeted total and then take whatever is left and divide that by how many days I will be there. If I had $600 left, and was going for 10 days, I know that I have roughly $60 to spend a day on everything else and that gives me a better grasp on how to budget while traveling!
Step Five: Plan the days out!
This is always just a rough draft for me, but I like mapping out my trip even if it is vague! I need to know what days I am spending in each place if I am going to multiple cities, and if I want to do a tour, it helps to pin point what day I am going to do that on! Other than that, I list out things I would like to see and then keep my days open for “exploring”.
I have learned that if you plan things out too much then you come back feeling exhausted, or you get stressed while on the trip because you are trying to follow a strict schedule. You realize when you travel often that things aren’t always as accessible as they seemed beforehand, and unexpected expenses always arise, so your plans change day by day while on your trip! Be flexible and have fun with it!
Sixth: Start Booking!
I don’t usually book things too far in advance since my plans change on a whim, and I take so many vacations, but after I figure out what I am doing, I begin the booking process! I usually book flights first, then hotels, and then activities. If an activity doesn’t need to be book in advance though, hold off because your plans might change or you might get pressed on time and realize you over booked yourself. If I want to do a tour though, try to book that before you go so that the tour does not fill up.
Booking things in advance, no matter how early, is great way to spread out the expenses! If you pay a little here, and a little there, the vacation doesn’t feel like as big of a hit to your wallet!
Step Seven: Print out your confirmations!
This might make me seem a little uptight, but I always like to have my hotel, flight info, and other booking confirmations printed out incase there are any issues! You never know if something is going to go wrong, and this is an easy way to alleviate some stress if that does happen! Simply print out the documents and fold them into a wallet or a light folder for safe keeping!
Step Eight: Put the plan into action!
Enjoy the moment you have been waiting for and take everything in! Know that you may only have one opportunity to be where you are at, so make it memorable and fun! At the end of the day, the little things won’t matter and you will come home from vacation completely fulfilled and satisfied with your planning!
If you want more tips on How to Save for Your Next Adventure click on the link and check out my blog for some awesome tricks! Comment below and let me know if you have any questions or if you have any up coming vacations!