So the holidays are over and the new year has begun. Getting back into the swing of things can be tough but time tends to pass more quickly when you have something to look forward to. Vacation provides a mental escape that helps many of us survive the year. Why not start planning now? Here’s how.
Seeking inspiration is the first step. At this stage, brainstorming is the mission. There are no right and wrong locations and budget is not of concern – yet. Use any and all resources to your advantage. Pinterest, friend’s vacation photos, articles, travel magazines, family anecdotes, travel groups/forums, movies or books – leave no stone unturned. Once you’ve combed through enough options, you should end up with a pretty decent list of dream vacations. Your vacation list should range from big to small, local to international and expensive to easily affordable. You want variety so that once the time comes, you can find a trip to meet your needs, no matter the scenario.
The next step is to consider budget. When planning a vacation, you’ll need to make financial accommodations for transportation, food, entertainment, souvenirs and housing. Because all of those factors vary based on location, you’ll need to start by figuring out how much money you’d like to allocate toward travel this year, then work backwards. Once you’ve established a budget, then you’ll be able to narrow your brainstormed vacation list to the ones that fit within your budget.
Now let’s talk details. Vacations are composed of a million small decisions that come together to form one harmonious result. However, a few details are more important than others. Answer the following questions:
- How much vacation time do you want to dedicate to travel this year?
- Do you want to go alone or with someone else?
- Are there any special events you are trying to attend?
- What’s most important when deciding where to stay?
- Do you need to rent a car or will public transportation work?
Research Regional Specifics
You have a budget, a location and you’ve covered the minor details. Now you need to look deeper into the destination you chose. Is there anything you should spend time working on to make your trip more enjoyable? If you are traveling to a foreign country, you may want to start learning conversational phrases that will help you get around. Do you need to apply for your passport? Do you need to learn about money conversion or stock up on universal outlets? Are there customary norms that you need to familiarize yourself with? Learn all that you can about your destination of choice and start preparing.
The last step of making your vacation a reality is finding the funds to do so. Ideally, we would all have enough cash on hand to pay for our vacation without needing to do any extra work. But for larger vacations, that’s not always realistic. There are many ways to go about saving, but no matter the method, starting as early as possible makes a world of difference. Once you start, remember to be disciplined by refusing to remove money from the vacation fund. If you meet your goal early, keep saving and use the extra money for upgrades or for your next trip.
Traveling enhances both your world view and life enjoyment. The vacation of your dreams is just around the corner. Even “once in a lifetime” vacations are possible with proper planning. Follow the steps outlined above and enjoy the fruits of your labor.