Vacation: Nine Steps to Planning an Enjoyable Stay.We all need a vacation, but so many of us work hard, and cannot seem to find enough money to take a well-deserved break. We find ourselves feeling burdened by all of our responsibilities…from taking care of our children, tuition fees, mortgages, and cost of daily living. We have so many things to do with our money that we forget to spend a little enjoying life…I remember working all the time and being unable to take a vacation because of financial constraints. That is, until I changed my perspective and learned a way how I can take vacations without borrowing money and sacrificing on my basic needs. This is an affiliate link: You can get your Disney World Holiday Savings Travel Guide by clicking here.
In today’s post, I share with you Nine Steps to Planning An Enjoyable Vacation:
Explore the Idea and Commit to taking a Vacation
One of the hardest things to do when planning a vacation is to take the first step and really decide you are having a vacation come what may. So, take some time…days, weeks, months…but, not years…to let the idea of a vacation abroad sink in. Forget about the cost at this time… Just think about the vacation date, who you would like to take with you, and where you would like to spend that glorious vacation.
Once you have processed the idea, come to a decision. Write it down in your list of things to do and put a big “Yes” to it.
Decide on the Vacation Date
As a single parent, full-time nurse and pursuing a 4 year online degree, one of the most difficult things I had to do is decide on a vacation date. I had to consider schooling for each of my children, my school break, and whether I would be granted the dates I wanted to take my vacation by my employee. One of the things I did, which I found helpful was to plan my vacation two years in advance.
Begin Saving for the Trip
Once I decide on a date, I send in my vacation request way in advance then start my savings, in a separate account. The best thing is to have a target amount to save each month; however, this may not always be possible. The important thing is to commit to saving as much as I can while cutting back on things such as eating out and buying clothes. Two years might sound like a lot, but believe me it flies. Want to know how to work in travel? This is an affiliate link: you can Click here to find out how to work in travel.
Decide Who Will Be Going On the Trip
Before going any further, I decide whether I who will be going with me. There are times when I travel alone and other times when I take one or both of my children. This is a crucial part in the planning since the number of travelers will determine the cost of airfare, hotel, food, entertainment, and other expenses.
Determine the Place You Want to Visit
In the initial stage, you would have had a destination in mind. Now, it is time to make a final decision and stick to it. More than likely, you would love to visit somewhere you have never been before, so you may need to do some quick search to help you decide if the place you have in mind is really worth visiting. You may also look at things such as cost for tickets, the time of year, access to entertainment, shopping, eatery, lodging, crime rate (and types of crimes), transportation, and cost of airline tickets.
Before I became knowledgeable about traveling, I had this fear of booking online. I guess the fear was from my lack of knowledge and experience. One of the sources I find useful information when checking my intended destination is online travel companies, Expedia.com being my favorite. I have been booking air travel and hotels with them for six years now and have never had any issues. One time I had a small mishap which was no fault of theirs. They took the time to call me up and sorted things out.
There are many online travel companies; I have used a few others here and there. Whichever you chose, take the time to read the hotel reviews. You would be amazed at the things you can find out from travelers. Some travelers write about the hotel accommodation, the neighborhood, entertainment, shopping and transportation. You need firsthand information like this that you would not always find when reading about the area, or hotel information. Planning a trip to Disney World? You can check out this affiliate link and get a copy of Disney World and Savings Travel Guide by clicking here.
For example, when planning my trip to international Drive Orlando, Florida in 2011, I learnt via the reviews that the hotel was near a bus stop, a shopping mall was nearby and I can take an I-ride trolley for $1.25 or by a bus pass. This information helped me determine the cost for transportation to the mall. I also walked with a bag of coins so we would not have a problem paying for the ride. I also learned via the reviews that the hotel had a shuttle which took people to and fro the Disney land and the airport. So, I did not need to pay for taxi service.
Estimate the Cost for the Trip
This is the phase where I visit at least two of the online travel companies and make check out the cost for each person on the date I would have requested earlier on. I usually start this process very early since the estimates will determine if I really can afford the trip. Estimating the cost is a time consuming task, but very rewarding. I do cost checking from time to time to keep abreast of cost fluctuations. As the time drew nearer, I check at least once a month. I wish to stay. I play around with booking flight and hotel as a package and booking each by itself to see which is cheaper. I also try booking at different days of the week and look at things such as the time of the flight.
At this point, you are also consider the at least two or three hotels where you can stay. I say two or three just in case one is sold out when you are ready to book. I always make it a habit to call the hotel to check cost as well. Sometimes you may find their cost cheaper than online; however, it is not usually the norm.
Make a Budget
Once I have figured out the cost of airfare, land transportation, hotel accommodation, I make a budget and add a tentative amount for daily meals and entertainment. Next, I make a list of what I want to purchase and put a red mark at the things I need. Then I add all of this, including baggage cost. Now, I try not to be stingy here; I always round off my cost to the nearest hundred. So if the airfare cost $1030, I make it $1100. This way, if the cost goes up, I have some cushion.
So you have done all your research and come up with an estimate and you are saving diligently. Your account looks good. At least six months ahead prior to the date I usually can tell if I can afford the trip. I also take this time to hone in on any extra means of saving.
Book Your Flight and Hotel
I normally book my flight first and try to do so at least two to one and a half month in advance. Some travel airlines and blogs advise at least a month in advance. I also do the booking for my flights in the night and on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I also try to limit cost by choosing flights with a few stops and flying days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.This is an affiliate link where you can learn how to Get Free Flights with Travel Hacking by clicking here.
Once my flight has been booked and confirmed, I share the good news with my children! They are usually excited to hear the tickets are bought!
Next, I monitor the cost of the hotels I had in mind. I normally book my hotel at least a month in advance when it is high seasons; otherwise, a week or two is good enough for me. Oh! One thing I forget to advise earlier is to always go incognito or clear your browsing prior to booking. I find that the cost for a flight or hotel I have been monitoring may go higher if I do not take those measures.
You can also sign up with one or two of the online travel companies you looked at so you can receive alerts when there are deals on airfare and hotel. One time, I actually got a deal that cut my hotel cost of just over a hundred a night to $57 dollars! Now, these deals do not last long; so if you are not busy when you receive an alert, check it out…you just never know.
If the hotel does not have a shuttle service, I usually book a shared shuttle a day or two in advance. I suggest that once you book your hotel, that you call the hotel and verify shuttle service and airport schedule. Some hotels may offer shuttle service but have cut off points such as late at night and very early in the morning. For those who prefer driving to public transport, you can always look at deals which include airfare, hotel and car.
If Disney Land is on your list of things to do, you can always book in advance, I was lucky to get a same day ticket for a reasonable cost. If paying for a tour was also on your list, there are places where you can purchase tickets at certain stops the same day.
Vacation Here We Come
The most exciting moment is when you get to leave your job today knowing you are flying out the next day and wouldn’t be back for at least another two weeks. I came up with a one line song “Get out of here and have some fun!” I used to sing this whenever I was going on a vacation and my colleagues will get jealous and promise to sing it when their turn came.
In all of your excitement make sure you do not forget your travel documents, some raw cash and your luggage (travel light, essentials only). For those traveling with children, you may want to consider taking some medication for pain and allergy. Also, make sure that you take appropriate clothing based on weather conditions. I can recall visiting Chicago in April and ended up having to buy warm clothing because I failed to pay attention to the temperature.
Whatever you do, please be safe and enjoy the vacation you planned so faithfully! Please write in the comments section and share your travel experiences. The following is an affiliate link where you can learn how to Get Free Flights with Travel Hacking by clicking here.