Many of you have two to four weeks out of the year where you step away from your job and do something you enjoy — like going on vacation. You spend your hard-earned dollars on a trip that you hope will be rewarding and fun.
But what happens when your vacation falls short of your expectations? You are left with regrets that you spent all that money on a trip that you didn’t even enjoy.
This happens more than you may think, and it can be avoided.
15 Steps to Planning a Terrific Getaway:
1. Choose your destination wisely. A great vacation is not about following the crowd or checking out the latest tourist hot spots. It is about finding a place that will be meaningful to you.
2. Get the facts. Don’t fall prey to the beautiful glossy pictures or the description in the brochure or online. Learn about the area through guide books and genuine reviews. Having realistic expectations will help you to have a better time.
3. Become an informed traveler. Read about how to stay healthy and out of harm’s way and how to avoid scams.
4. Avoid traveling during holidays or spring break. It will be more crowded, you will experience more delays, and you will pay premium rates.
5. Know what the beach conditions are. If you are planning a beach vacation, you don’t want to find out after you get there that the so-called beach is a rocky cliff or has rough waters not conducive to swimming.
6. Put together a budget. Avoid unwelcoming bills when you return. Be aware of unnecessary fees and expenses and how to avoid them — cellular roaming charges, foreign transaction fees, charges for overweight luggage, and more.
7. Check your destination with the U.S. Department of State. Are any travel alerts to the country you plan to visit? What are the entry requirements? Be aware of potential dangers, road conditions, and more.
Planning your Journey:
Is there a destination you have been longing to visit but thought you couldn’t afford it? You may be in for a pleasant surprise. With some creative planning, your dream trip could become a reality.
Are you stuck in a rut by going to the same place every year? Maybe it is time to think outside the box and escape the humdrum.
Here are some questions that may help you plan your destination:
8. Do you want to stay within the boundaries of the U.S. or venture abroad?
9. Do you see yourself floating amongst the waves on a beach vacation or on a cruise, or do you prefer to keep your feet planted on dry ground?
10. Are you OK with being around a lot of people or waiting in crowded lines? Do you prefer a destination that offers nonstop activities or is your ideal getaway a serene setting away from all the crowds?
11. Do you get bored with the mundane? Does your idea of fun include parachuting through the air, skiing down the mighty slopes of the Swiss Alps, or exploring the Outback in Australia? Or is your idea of hiking going from one shop to another?
12. Find out what the currency exchange rate is in the countries you are interested in visiting. Planning your travels abroad when the rate is in favor of the dollar can save you financially. That could be a determining factor on where you decide to travel.
13. Is your vacation a large family or group event? Do you need to find a destination that will be liked by all? Request a group discount on your lodging or stay in a luxury vacation house and split the costs. There are vacation rental homes that have several bedrooms and can accommodate a larger group. Many are waterfront properties.
14. If you are a history buff, how about a vacation where you step back in time and relive historical events? Or you could check out your ancestry roots up close and personal.
15. What is your preferred mode of transportation? Do you prefer to fly, ride a train, drive, or cruise the seas? Or maybe your adventure involves hiking there on foot.
16. Check out travel guides and learn about your destination. Read reviews on the sites you plan to visit and lodging options. You can avoid being disappointed by knowing what to expect. The rest will remain a mystery until you get there!
For more travel insight, check out my book:
Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad
The start of each successful trip must be the budget we are ready to dedicate. Detailed spending planning is essential for trouble-free travel.