I love to travel. I have traveled to 25+ countries and plan on visiting many more. Being an avid traveler takes some strategic planning to be able to enjoy yourself without breaking the bank and causing unnecessary stress. Here are my basic steps to having a great trip.
- Figure Out Where You Want to Go
This sounds simple, but I’ve thought that I wanted to go many places, but after doing research on that location I actually decide that a different place suits my wants better. Often times I want to go see something super touristy that only takes a few hours, or a few things that only take a couple of days. If you’re planning a week long vacation do you still want to stick around the touristy place or find a nearby, low key town that will give you a more “real” feel of your destination?
Budgeting your vacation is the most important step in planning. Save the money for your vacation before you go. Don’t put it on a credit card. Sometimes it really can seem like a great idea because you really “need” that vacation, but don’t do it. After the relaxation, fun, and adventure wear off you’ll still be paying for it. I never want to regret traveling and paying for it after the fact, as well as adding interest, is definitely something you’ll regret.(Pro tip: add extra money to your budget. Depending on how long, how big, and how elaborate the trip is, I add an additional $300 – $750 to our budget and we almost always use it.)
- Research, Research, Research!
Read everything you can about the area, sights you want to see, activities you want to do, transportation you want to take and everything in between. For example, we took a trip to Rome, Italy, and then hopped on a Mediterranean cruise. You bet I knew how to skip the giant line at the Colosseum, what restaurant we absolutely couldn’t miss, to eat as much gelato as my stomach could hold, the train to the port was going to be so packed with people you can’t move, and the cost of everything we wanted to do. Find a mixture of hard facts and personal experiences.There will still be unexpected surprises, but the more you can be prepared for, the better. This is especially true in a foreign country!
I like to pack light without feeling like I am just getting by or in a pinch when you have a wardrobe malfunction. Packing is so location and activity dependent, but in general I try to get away with two pairs of shoes (one good for walking), clothes that can be layered, and an extra pair of socks and underwear.For toiletries I try to go bare minimum. If it’s not a beach vacation I usually don’t bring a razor – hooray for light colored hair! I only wear mascara. I bring hair ties, toothbrush, deodorant, and travel size shampoo and conditioner.When packing smart, I can usually fit my husband and I in one large suitcase for a week long trip.
Especially if you have kids or pets, prepare for the worst. Tell multiple people your flight and hotel information. Let people know some of the main activities you are going to do and on what day. Make sure your pets’ microchips are up to date and you leave the sitter with extra food in case you are delayed. It’s unlikely anything crazy will happen, but even if something simple happens, like a flight delay, everyone who needs the important information will have it already.
- Have the Best Time!
You are on your way to an adventure in a place you’ve always wanted to go. Your vacation is paid for and money set aside to spend. You can feel good about spending it! You know exactly what to expect because you’ve done your research and there should be minimal surprises, hopefully only good ones! Everything is packed well and packed thoughtfully. You have enough for any just in case moments, but you won’t be bringing back half of your suitcase completely unused. And lastly, you’re prepared. If something goes awry you don’t have to worry. Everyone is taken care of, knows where you are, and what they need to do.Bon Voyage!