Why is it that planning your annual vacation is so stressful? It is going to be a time when you leave the stresses and strains of your ordinary life behind and kick back and relax, but planning them? It can take stress to a new level. To help you through this thankless task, here is a guide to planning the ideal vacation.
Where are you going?
This is the million-dollar question, and before you decide on a destination you have several factors to consider, and where you go will be based on your personal circumstances. Seeking recommendations from friends and family is useful, but their expectations of what makes a great vacation may differ to yours, so before you take their advice as gospel, clarify their recommendations online. There are many forums and travel websites that can provide you with access to some useful traveler tips and guidance, so take advantage of them.
Things for you to consider:
- Is time and timings an issue?
You will need to book time off work, so before getting into discussions about destinations, you need to plan your vacation around your ability to take time off work. Teachers, for example, are limited to school holidays, or you may have important work commitments that you have to be present for.
- How are you going to travel?
Are you thinking more of a road trip or plane trip? Think about whether you would prefer a vacation destination a little further afield, or are you planning to stay comparatively local?
- Is your budget limited?
Your budget is the main influencer on vacation destination. You want to have a great vacation but not at the expense of your future financial stability! You need to be able to afford to do the things that you want to do and not compromise on the fun that you can have when you are there. This does not mean that you won’t have fun if you are on a tight budget, it just means that you will have to choose different options and plan your itinerary with a little more care. For example, buying discounted entrance tickets to Florida attractions online can save you a fortune; click here for more info.
Flexibility is the key to securing cheaper flight and accommodation, so no matter where you are planning on going, you need to identify when the destination’s peak tourist season is. The peak season is when most tourists go to the destination whether it be for a specific event or festival, because the weather is at its prime or if it’s a national holiday. Off-peak seasons, while more budget-friendly, are less popular for a reason – it’s monsoon season for example. Do your research!
- Who is going?
If you are planning a vacation as a couple, you are in an enviable position. Planning for two is far easier than planning for a multigenerational trip. You have more options available to you in terms of not having to restrict some destinations because they are too hot, too cold or have limited age-appropriate entertainment.
Now that you know how much time you have to play with and when, and you have a set budget, you can explore the options open to you. Having these conversations and decisions early on means that you don’t waste time planning a vacation that is not suitable.
Plan your Itinerary
Once you have decided on your destination and booked flights and accommodation, you can start to plan your itinerary. Part of being on holiday is breaking away from the everyday need to schedule your time; however, failing to plan your itinerary, can mean that you miss out on some great experiences through lack of organization.
Other than any organized tours that you have signed up for, your itinerary is not set in stone. You need to be able to pick and choose what you are going to do in response to how you feel on the day. Here’s how to plan the perfect itinerary:
- Collect your information
An itinerary is a document that gives you all the details about your vacation. Keep any documentation you have that relates to your holiday in one safe place: a drawer, envelope or folder. You can use itinerary software to create your itinerary if you prefer a digital version, the benefit of this is that you can easily share the information with the people you are traveling with, or those you leave behind! If you go down the digital itinerary route, it is advisable to take a hard copy with you too, just in case anything happens to your cell phone.
To start your itinerary, you need to populate it with the relevant information. Flight numbers and times, car hire company contact details, planned travel route and accommodation address will all be needed, so have this information to hand.
- Be realistic
You may have grand designs on being able to pick up a hire car from the airport and then have a full day of site-seeing, but after a long-haul flight, is that realistic? You need to be able to enjoy the experiences and your surroundings and not just rush to complete a box ticking exercise.
Instead, write a list of the places that you would like to visit that are local to you and prioritize them. Look online to see how long other travelers recommend that you spend there so that you can fit them into your available time. It can be useful to map the sites that you want to visit so that you can work out the most time effective way of visiting them. Always allow adequate time between planned activities so that any transport delay does not impact your visit.
Now that you have completed your itinerary, you should have planned the perfect vacation, in theory at least. You can’t control all aspects of your vacation, but you can at least be prepared for any unexpected situations; make sure that you are adequately insured for your vacation and that you have the necessary travel documents. Have a great trip!