1. Close your eyes and imagine your perfect holiday.
Hot or cool? Luxurious or down-to-earth? Urban or rural? Alone or in a group? Should you stay on the move – or stay in one place? While life and vacations can be unpredictable, you’re more likely to get what you need, if you know what you want. Maybe, this year, you’d rather take a break in the winter, instead of the summer. You may be prepared to explore someplace new, instead of staying at your usual resort. As well, you may be ready to take a solo trip – or, if you’re used to traveling alone, perhaps travel with others. Take some time to consider: What kind of vacation do I want?
2. Plan according to your budget.
While you may have been waiting the whole year for a vacation, it doesn’t mean you need to spend everything you’ve earned. Determine your spending comfort level and move forward from that. Take into account your destination, the currency used, the cost of hotels, transportation and meals, as well as gifts and souvenirs you may wish to purchase. Set up a budget, with different sections for different expenses. By doing this, you’re less likely to come home with buyer’s remorse and that dreaded “what happened to all my money” feeling. Planning in advance can help you find more affordable tickets – and who knows, maybe you can even visit more than one destination during your holiday, if you like – and you’ll also find yourself with more accommodation choices.
3. Get an assist from social media
People love to share their vacation photos on social media. You’ve seen your colleague’s beach photos, your neighbor’s skiing videos and an assortment of other travel glamor shots posted by friends, family and even strangers… Now it’s time to put those photos to good use. Almost every photo is tagged with its location, so you can tell right away where it was taken. If a specific location or scene is appealing, do a little research – does it seem like a place you’d enjoy?
4. Make the most of route planning and travel apps.
You can find answers to almost any question on the Internet. Your vacation route is no exception. Maximize technology and the power of the Internet: browse travel sites, blogs and route planners. Check out other travelers’ comments, review the ratings, discover what type of events are happening. You can even purchase tickets in advance and arrive at your destination ready to roll. In any case, you’re very likely to find additional information that will either whet your appetite for that particular destination – or steer you in another direction.
5. Don’t forget your documents
It is crucial to ensure that you have the documents required for entry into your holiday destination. In addition to your passport, these can include visas, health insurance, even vaccination certificates! With regard to your passport: check the expiration date and make sure your passport has a sufficient number of blank pages. For visas, find out the visa requirements of your destination country. Can you get an online visa, or do you need to apply in person? Is the visa granted immediately, or will it take time? How much will it cost? Get these items in order before you purchase your plane ticket. Then, look into your health insurance: will it cover you while you’re traveling? If not, travel insurance is essential: even a minor accident or illness could derail your holiday and your finances if you are not insured. Additionally, in some countries, the hospital may hold your passport until your medical bills have been paid. If you use prescribed medication or have a special health condition, be sure you have your medication and any related documents prepared.
6. Check out the transport
If this is your first visit to your destination, then the transport question is essential. First, how do you plan to get to your hotel from the airport or train station? Are ride-sharing services available and affordable? Is public transportation manageable, given your arrival time and the amount of baggage you’re carrying? Utilize route planning apps to explore how to get to your hotel and, then, use them to discover the best way to get around town. And remember – walking is an excellent way to discover a new place, and taxis are available nearly everywhere!
7. Last but not least, choose your holiday companions wisely
We’ve saved the most important item for last. We all have amazing friends – who just don’t travel well. Since traveling takes the traveler out of a familiar comfort zone, it is helpful to travel with someone who can “roll with the punches”. Before you go on a vacation with a friend, make sure you’re on the same page, whether it’s going to every museum in a city or hiking up every mountain in the countryside. Conversely, maybe you’re the type of travelers who do your own thing during the day and meet up for dinner at night. Or, you could consider going on a trip with a group of complete strangers – a dive boat or a guided tour, or something along those lines.