How To Plan A Vacation The Right Way
It’s this time of the year again.
You have requested your vacation days and the request was even approved!
You’re ecstatic… and yet not really happy.
What are you going to do for your long awaited vacation?
Let’s assume you’re not staying home – that is not a real vacation anyway, as you’ll most probably end up repainting a room or the kitchen or doing the laundry.
Those things need to be done, of course, but the point of taking a vacation is to actually relax and recharge your batteries.
Now it’s time to plan a vacation the right way.
1 | Choose The Right Destination
It is crucial to know where you want to go.
All your other plans are going to revolve around the location.
The beach or the mountain?
Or a combination of both?
Somewhere near or very far away?
Your budget also plays a huge role, of course.
Or you can just head to Kayak and check the cheapest flights from your nearest airport.
Guide books can offer you additional information and even inspiration. Even in today’s age of huge amounts of information online, you don’t want to browse the internet on the beach or somewhere remote during a road trip.
A book can be taken practically everywhere and never runs out of batteries.
For road trips consider taking a map with you and downloading some offline maps or caching Google Maps on your smartphone or tablet.
Here are some wonderful handpicked guides to some very interesting destinations to help you narrow down your choice:
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Traveling in Costa Rica: The Ultimate Guide
The Ultimate Guide For an Indonesian Road Trip
Iceland road trip: the ultimate guide
The Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo
The Step-by-Step Guide to Visiting Machu Picchu
Ultimate Guide to Tayrona National Natural Park, Santa Marta, Colombia
The Ultimate Guide To Siargao In The Philippines – For Non Surfers
Cuba On A Budget: The Ultimate Guide On How To Visit The “Revolucion” Island
The Ultimate Guide To Ubud, Bali: Villas, Scooters, Monkeys + 19 Places To Eat
The Best 10 Secluded Beaches In The Dominican Republic
The ultimate guide to Northern Lights in Reykjavik – Aurora Borealis Iceland
Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek – The Ultimate Guide and Itinerary
The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for Your Caribbean Vacation
3 Days In Paris: All The Tricks You Need To Avoid Madness
2 | Consider Your Travel Company
Who you’ll be travelling with plays a major role in your planning. Are you a solo traveller? Or is your better half coming with you? Friends or family?
In order to have a smooth and stress-less experience, you have to take everyone’s needs, wishes and tastes into account.
Remember to compromise where needed, after all, nobody is perfect.
Maybe take a vote when needed, but you want to at least try to make everyone as happy as possible.
Some additional guides to help you with the planning:
3 | Book Your Mode Of Transportation
This would be most probably the biggest expense along with the accommodation.
While there are a lot of tricks how to lower your accommodation costs, the transportation is always less flexible.
If your vacation dates aren’t flexible, booking early can save you some money, but unfortunately, the more flexible you are, the better deals you can find.
Here’s a list of tools to help you find the best mode of transportation, as well as some guides on how to lower your costs (make sure you check any additional costs if you decide to book via the above tools and don’t forget to check the prices directly on the airline website):
4 | Find The Best Accommodation
There are a few things to consider when booking accommodation.
Your budget, again, plays a big role, but also the number of people you’ll be travelling with and the level of comfort you want to have during your vacation.
For larger groups probably the best value for money would be a short term rental apartment or house, for singles and couples a hotel or hostel room.
Since it’s your vacation and you want to rest, I wouldn’t recommend dorm rooms, but if that’s what you can afford, make sure you bring along an eye mask and ear plugs, as you don’t know who you’ll be sharing the dorm with.
If your budget is really low, try coachsurfing, either at a friend’s or relative’s place or through a sharing community.
Remember to check the reviews of the place you’re booking to avoid unpleasant surprises when you arrive at your destination. Trip Advisor and Holiday Check are only two of the many sites with numerous useful information about any accommodation.
In case you’ve decided to make a road trip or a round trip, you may want to only book in advance the first night or two and then decide on the go where you want to sleep next. That way you can avoid unnecessary cancellations or re-bookings in case something comes up or you decide to change your plans.
Have a look at this resources page to find any kind of affordable accommodation that you might want or need:
5 | Transfers And Transportation
Even if you’re not a big planner, the one thing I’d highly recommend you to check out is the transfers from your destination airport or train station to your first accommodation.
Just imagine arriving at an unknown place after hours of travelling and having all sorts of people offering you rides. That’s the place where you can get easily scammed, robbed, or even kidnapped.
Once at your first accommodation, make sure you relax before emerging into the new place.
Get a beer, eat a snack, take a nap.
You’ve made it to your vacation spot!
6 | Plan The Perfect Activities
If your budget allows it, don’t just lie on the beach or by the pool with a book or a drink in your hand.
Although that would be fun and very relaxing for a couple of days, after you get back from your vacation, there would be nothing much to tell or remember, if that’s all you did.
Instead, book a group tour or two, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, hop on a bus or rent a car and make your own tour.
The advantage of the organised tour is that you don’t need much planning and everything is taken care of.
But of course, it can be frustrating to follow the herd when you want to spend a few more minutes admiring that beautiful church or swimming a little longer along the coral reef.
Some places are better visited in a group, with a qualified tour guide and an experienced driver behind the wheel, so you might want to consider all the possibilities.
Take a look at what others did in your vacation location at Trip Advisor or Trover and don’t forget to read the reviews – not all, but maybe a few in both ranges, negative and positive – to get an idea if it’s worth it.
You can find great ideas for tours you can participate in or plan yourself in 25 Punta Cana Excursions: The Greatest Tours In Paradise. Despite the fact, that the post lists tours in Punta Cana, you’ll find most of the tour ideas available elsewhere as well.
7 | Decide What To Pack
A lot of people overpack for their vacation.
They end up taking with them what seems to be the whole content of their wardrobes and everything they could find in their bathrooms.
With the airlines’ regulations and luggage limitations, it’s just not worth it to take huge suitcases and pay the extra fees.
The rule of thumb is to lay everything you plan on taking on your bed or sofa and then pack only half of it.
Most accommodations will provide toiletries, so leave your shampoo and shower gel at home. If you insist on bringing your own brand, try to find the smallest possible packaging. Often stores will sell travel size bottles.
Remember, that unless you’re hiking in some very remote location, you can buy virtually everything anywhere on the planet.
You might even end up saving a buck or two at the end. More useful tips you can find below:
Interactive Packing List
Ultimate Guide to Packing Light – 45 Tips to Packing Light
The Ultimate Guide To Packing Like A Pro
The ultimate guide to successful packing
The Ultimate Guide to Extreme Global Road Tripping
The Ultimate Guide to Packing Your Beach Bag
Traveling Light: Ultimate Guide to Women’s Travel Clothes
8 | Dos And Don’ts On Your Vacation
No matter where you spend your vacation, try not to be disrespectful of the local people, their traditions, and their culture. You don’t need to agree with their religious beliefs, but that doesn’t give you the right to disrespect them.
Some situations could be simply embarrassing, but in some states and countries you can even end up in jail for something as silly as jaywalking, for example.
Take a moment and inform yourself about the customs at the place you’re visiting and possible differences from your way of life back home.
Don’t forget to read about recommended vaccinations and take the shots, if you haven’t already.
Remember, that hygiene is not the same everywhere in the world, so a couple of wet wipes and tissues can mean the difference between getting a nasty virus or staying healthy.
9 | Bring Some Souvenirs Back Home
Sure you’ll want to take a souvenir or two, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else back home.
Just make sure it’s something authentic and original and not something produced in a basement in an Asian country under terrible conditions and sold everywhere in the world with the only difference being the name of the place written on it. Same goes with clothing, most are overpriced and made of low-quality textiles anyway.
Look for something which is locally produced, being crafts, food or beverages.
Just imagine how you can prolong your vacation if you bring back home a bottle of nice rum or a packet of coffee with you and sip on it in the next month or two.
10 | Don’t Lose Your Cool
Sometimes things don’t turn the way we want them to.
Remember to always keep your head straight and not get angry about small things.
The waitress brought you the wrong order?
In case it isn’t something you absolutely hate or are allergic to, just take it and ask for a small refund or a free drink. Just be polite and don’t try to insult people, we all make mistakes.
Remember, that something like this can easily happen back home as well.
There is no reason to spoil your mood over someone else’s mistake. Instead, find a way to see the funny side of the situation and add the story to the many other memories you’ve made during your vacation.
You don’t have to overplan or overbook your vacation, but remember, that it might be a long time before your next one, so better make the most of it.
Make your research, read other people’s reviews, or if you find it easier, book a package with everything included.
P.S. How was your last vacation? Did you manage to have a good time or did you come home more stressed than before? Please share your thoughts below.