Many of my readers are serious travelers and the idea of planning a trip is not daunting or overwhelming, in fact, many of us relish in the planning, researching, and scheduling phase. However, let’s face it, not all of us like planning vacations. Lately I have been asked multiple times to help plan trips and itineraries in order for my friends and family to have the “best vacation ever.”
In my opinion, the key to an amazing vacation begins with careful planning so today, I want to share my tips to help you plan your next amazing vacation.
1) Start EARLY!
After talking with other experienced travelers, we often find ourselves planning our next vacation six months to a year out (sometimes even longer). I can see you rolling your eyes from here–stop it! While it means you have to wait a little longer to experience your best vacation ever, it will give you plenty of time to save and plan your itinerary.
2) Save Religiously!
The idea of coming home to mounds of vacation debt takes the “best vacation ever” out of the equation and replaces it with “OH MY GOODNESS.” Who wants debt? Nobody. Coming home to credit card debt after spending that week in paradise will wipe out all of the endorphins and lower stress levels you achieved while on vacation. Trust me, watching the vacation fund grow is half the fun.
3) Research often!
TripAdvisor, Kayak, Hotwire, Google, Frommer’s. These websites will become your best friend. Don’t be afraid to search “Kauai Itinerary” or “Must see places in Kauai”. The internet is an amazing place (not as amazing as your vacation destination, but amazing none-the-less). You have a lot of valuable information at your fingertips if you are willing to spend a little time researching.
Also, don’t be afraid to buy a travel guide at your local bookstore, through Amazon.com, or another online bookstore. I have purchased many travel books and have never been disappointed with the advice or maps located inside.
But wait!–before you hand over your hard-earned cash, check out the official website of your vacation destination. More often than not they will send you FREE travel guides!
While researching, when you find ideas and things to do that sound intriguing write it down or save it in a Word Document (don’t forget to save the website link). This will come in handy on tip #5. 🙂
4) Make it make sense!
Choose your destination wisely. More than likely you know why you are going to the place you are going. We all know that you don’t go to Nebraska for its beaches, or Texas for its rain forests. If you are going to a certain place it is usually for a reason. My husband and I love Hawaii because we love the ocean, beaches, snorkeling, adventure (and more), that’s why Hawaii is one of our favorite destinations on Earth. Which brings me to my next point:
5) Make it Count!
While you were spending all that time researching your vacation I’m sure you found some pretty cool things to do while you are there. When you are in a beautiful place like Hawaii who wants to spend all day in the car? Not this girl! If you are spending the morning taking surf lessons at Hanalei Bay don’t spend the afternoon on the other side of the island snorkeling at Poipu beach.
Once you pin down some fun things to do, spend some time researching the specific area of the destination in order to maximize your time each day. Going to the south shore for snuba lessons? Spend some time at Poipu beach and check out the Spouting Horn. Then take a drive up to Waimea Canyon to take in the views.
Finally, don’t over do it. Spend some time taking in the beautiful scenery that you have traveled so far to see.
6) Enjoy the moment!
Let’s face it. Sometimes things go wrong. The luggage gets lost, the kids act up, your spouse
got falling-down-drunk had just a bit too much to drink at dinner, your rental car has issues, the husband takes a wrong turn and you find yourself lost in an unfamiliar place, you suffer from a serious case of Hanger (You know, that moment when hunger and anger collide–it happens to the best of us). When something goes wrong sometimes it’s hard to take a step back and keep your cool, but it’s vital that you do so. Breathe. Don’t let small issues become a big fight on your vacation. You have spent so much time (and money) to get to your destination that it’s important to let-it-go. Even laugh about it, it’s all part of the adventure.
For many, vacation days are few and far between. I hope you will find these tips useful. Take the time to plan ahead so you can fully enjoy your next fabulous vacation!