For many of us, we have those two or three weeks out of the year where we get to step away from work and do something we’d like to do. We save our hard-earned dollars and take off on a vacation that we hope will bring us some long-awaited gratification. The last thing we want is to be disappointed because it falls short of our expectations or battle regrets that we spent all that money and did not have that great a time.
This happens more than you may think, and it can be avoided.
15 Steps to Planning a Terrific Getaway:
1. Choosing your destination is a personal decision—it 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 on your planned destination. Don’t fall prey to the beautiful glossy pictures—learn about the area and get more details on the sites you would like to see. The more real your expectations are, the better time you will have.
3. Be an informed traveler. Know how to stay healthy and out of harm’s way, avoid scams, and be prepared for foreign country requirements.
4. Avoid traveling during holidays or spring break, if you want to avoid the crowds and not pay premium rates.
5. If planning a beach vacation, be sure to know what the beach is like. You don’t want to find out later that the “beach” is a rocky cliff or has rough waters not conducive to swimming.
6. Put together a budget of all anticipated expenses in advance to avoid unwelcoming bills upon your return. Be aware of unnecessary fees and expenses that can easily be avoided (roaming charges, foreign transaction fees, overweight luggage, and more).
7. Check with the U.S. Department of State to find out if there are any travel alerts to the country you are interested in visiting. Be aware of potential dangers, scams, road conditions, and more.
Planning your Journey:
Is there a place that you have been longing to visit but thought you could not afford? You may be in for a pleasant surprise. With some creative planning, it’s possible that your dream trip could become a reality.
Or maybe you are unsure of where you would like to go and feel like you are stuck in a rut by going to the same place every year. Maybe it’s time to think “outside the box” and plan an escape from the humdrum.
Here are some questions to help get you on that creative path:
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 firmly planted on dry ground?
10. Are you ok with being around a lot people or waiting in crowded lines? Do you prefer a destination that offers nonstop activities, or is your ideal getaway one that is in a serene and quiet setting away from all the crowds?
11. Do you get bored with the mundane? Is your idea of fun 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” consist of walking 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? An option is to request a “group discount” on your lodging or stay in a luxury vacation house and split the costs. There are vacation rental homes available with several bedrooms that can accommodate a larger group. Many are waterfront as well.
14. If you are history buff, think about a vacation where you can step back in time and relive historical events or check out your ancestry roots up close and personal.
15. Another determining factor is how would you like to get there? Do you prefer to fly…ride a train…drive…or cruise the seas? Or maybe your adventure involves hiking there on foot.
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