When was the last time you threw a few things in a bag and were out the door for a month-long trip? Your travels probably required much more planning than a passive thought, sometimes so much planning, you thought it may be easier to forfeit the whole thing. With a few helpful pointers, achieving a successful trip doesn't have to be next to impossible.
Where to Go?
Picking a destination is more difficult than closing your eyes and placing a finger on a map, but choosing the right vacation spot is easy with the right questions.
When To Go?
- Who will you be traveling with? Traveling with children or the elderly restricts your destination choices. Evaluate the general physical fitness and activity level of your traveling partners; you don't want to pick destinations that eliminate anyone.
- What is the goal of your vacation? Whether you plan on climbing Kilimanjaro or rafting down the Snake River, every vacation has a general theme. Yours doesn't have to be anything more than relaxing with your favorite book, but your activity of choice will help determine your destination.
- Keep in mind... Domestic destinations are generally cheaper and easier to plan due to more frequent flights and easier accessibility; airlines often feature specials on last-minute deals that are delivered straight to your email-box. Remember that if you do decide to travel internationally, it is wise to investigate seasonal weather differences, currency issues, safety, immunizations, and passport/visa regulations.
Deciding when to go on vacation is often based on many different factors. It is up you to chose which factors are most important to you and your travel partners.
What to Pack?
- Time & Money Time and money often are the most important factors determining the scope of your trip. Your itinerary-how much time you spend at individual destinations-is often determined by your budget for transportation and accommodations. You may choose to take a more leisurely and less expensive approach by driving to your destinations, which cuts into the amount time you have at each destination, but may make the journey more enjoyable. Or you may feel it's well worth it to get to the destination of choice quickly and see as much as possible.
- Schedule Is there only one time of the year you can get away? If so, plan your trip around that time of year. If you can only get away during the summer months, and you want to visit some place sunny, make sure you check your desired destinations season before leaving.
- When is it going to be most affordable? There are high seasons and low seasons for every destination. If you are traveling on a budget, it may be best to visit your destination during its low season. The weather may not be perfect, but the trade-off could be fewer crowds and all-around lower prices.
- When is it going to be most enjoyable? If your skin is sensitive to the sun or chaps easily in the cold, make sure you are not visiting a destination during its extreme seasons.
- When is the trip going to be in your budget? Set a date for your trip. Set a savings goal. Use the time to plan your vacation. Your time planning will remind you that you are on a budget. Setting an amount of money to spend also gives you a longer window for research. You can keep your eye out for the best airfare specials or book trips through auctions.
- What kind of trip are you looking for (i.e.: hiking versus fly fishing or biking)? Activities will determine your destination and what time of year you will travel. If you've never taken a vacation based on one or more activities, you might find that having an activity focus-whether indoor or outdoor-adds an attractive dimension to your trip and gives you something new to prepare for. Determine up front what kind of vacation you are looking for, activity versus leisure.
- Weather The weather can be one of the biggest deal breakers or makers when on vacation. Make sure you check out your destination's tourist/visitor bureau website for details on the best time of year to visit. And if it rains, take it in stride. Be flexible about a change in plans.
- Events Whether you want to spend Jazz Fest in New Orleans or Carnival in Brazil, every destination is famous for one party or festival throughout the year. Make the most of your vacation by deciding what kinds of events interest you and scheduling your trip during this time. Just remember, your favorite event may be someone else's as well; if crowds repulse you, stay away from destinations during their special events.
Once you have decided on your destination and are packing for the vacation of your dreams, make sure you include all of the necessities and get rid of the clutter. Here are a few hints on what not to leave at home.
- First Aid Depending on your destination and your activity this can be anything from fresh drinking water to snake bite treatments. Always, assess your activity and the location and pack anything and everything health related that you will need and that may not be readily available.
- Sports Equipment When embarking on adventure vacations it is often times cheaper to bring along your own gear than it is to rent it. Not only will you be saving money, but you will also be at ease knowing the quality of the equipment is excellent and the maintenance has been done regularly.
- Mix-and-match clothes Wherever you are going for your vacation, your destination is probably much more laid back and relaxed than home. By packing a few items that can be worn together and if necessary washed in the sink, you will save room in your suitcase and the hassle of lugging around more clothes than needed. And forget about packing your blow dryer, your curling iron, or even your electric razor-you're not on show, so worry less about looking perfect.
Vacations are exciting when they are planned carefully and smartly. Take the time to evaluate yourself and your vacation needs before booking that flight or renting that care, with a little reflection, you can do what you were meant to on your trip...enjoy yourself!