While a vacation should be relaxing, planning the vacation can be time-consuming and stressful. It is tempting to just take a spontaneous trip without any advance strategy. Yet this can be expensive and may lead to roadblocks that make your journey less enjoyable.
You are thus better off making a plan and sticking to it. Here are some tips for creating your next dream vacation.
1. Set a Location
First, you must decide where to go. If you only have one ideal trip, this step should be pretty easy. However, if you want to visit numerous locations, you may have to choose which spot is tops on your list. You could also consider signing up for a cruise. After all, most cruise ships stop in multiple ports.
2. Select a Date
Picking the right date is just as important as choosing the correct destination. After all, you do not want to get stranded somewhere during hurricane or monsoon season. While you will not know the exact forecast until shortly before you leave for your trip, you should find out when the weather in your destination is typically the nicest.
Most locations have peak tourist seasons and low or off seasons. Travel is usually cheaper during the off season, but there is often a greater chance for inclement weather during that time. You will have to decide if the cost savings are worth this risk.
3. Make Travel Arrangements
Once you know when and where you are going, you have to decide how to get there. If you need to take an airplane, book your flight at least six weeks in advance. To save money, consider flying early in the morning.
You can also cut down on costs by renting an Airbnb instead of booking a hotel. Your host may even offer you access to a kayak or bike that would typically cost extra. However, if you are visiting a more remote or dangerous location, a hotel is probably the safer option.
After you arrive, you will need a way to get around the city or town. Depending on the location, you may be able to just walk or take the subway everywhere. Otherwise, contact local rental shops to see if you can get a good deal for a car.
4. Calculate a Budget
Next, calculate the cost of your anticipated trip. Do not forget to include airfare and room and board. Then divide the cost by the number of months until your trip. You will then know how much you need to save each month.
If you do not think you can afford that amount, consider delaying your trip for a few extra months or making adjustments to your vacation plan. You may not need to visit every attraction or stay in a luxury hotel. You can also reduce some of your daily expenses. Try eating more meals at home instead of ordering takeout, and consider cutting back on your trips to the coffee shop.
5. Create an Itinerary
Once you have narrowed down your general destination, you should determine which cities and attractions to visit. Travel apps and guidebooks are helpful in this regard. Keep in mind, however, that these sources work with advertisers and thus may be biased.
Start by writing down the number of days you want to stay in each location. If possible, minimize the number of times you will change hotels.
You likely will not have enough time or money to do everything on your list. Decide what places are most important to visit and adjust your list accordingly. If two places are equally important to you and you cannot afford to visit both, opt for the one that is cheaper and easier to reach. You can always make a return trip to check out what you missed.
Finally, check out guidebooks and websites for tips from fellow travelers. Remember that some tourist attractions are closed certain days of the week or times of year. Others may require online reservations.
You can make your dream vacation a reality. All you need is a bit of planning and some extra savings.