The greatest secret to the success of a vacation is in the planning. Everyone is always looking for secrets to easy and stress-free travel because taking the stress makes the vacation more relaxing.
While it sounds daring to just throw your clothes in a bag and “wing it”, the reality is that it takes a bit of planning to make sure everything will fall into place correctly.
1. Make a realistic budget, and stick to it!
Using a credit card is how most can afford to travel, however, you don’t want to rack up those credit cards so you spend sleepless nights worrying about how you will pay off your debts.
Sit down and look at your finances and figure out how much you can afford, not how much room you have on your credit cards to spend. Maybe paying an extra $100 a month of a credit card for a certain amount of time can help you figure out how much you are able to spend if you do need to use a credit card to finance a trip.
Write down all the things that you need, like transportation, including airport fees, or taxis, rental cars and gas, lodging, food, souvenirs, shopping, etc. Depending on what kind of travel or where you travel the pricing can greatly vary but you can find ways to save.
Joining Facebook groups for the area you want to visit, or Facebook groups for those who travel is a great idea because you can really get a good idea of things you want to see and do, or places to stay, or ways to save money.
Once a budget is arrived at, keep in mind there are always unexpected expenses that can arise. Maybe it’s finding a restaurant that is a must-eat at and it’s a bit more pricey, or a tourist attraction you hadn’t planned on visiting but are in the area so might as well do it. Give yourself a bit of a cushion for unexpected things to experience stress-free travel.
2. Keep a realistic itinerary
Some people turn vacations into a frenzied attempt to see everything in three days or less. The thing is, if you try to fit everything into one trip, you’ll be running from one place to another without really absorbing what you are seeing. You may also be exhausting yourself to the point that you need a vacation to recover from your vacation!
Research the places you want to visit. How much time do you really need for each? Some places are just beautiful backdrops where you’ll need less than an hour to take the requisite photos. Others, like museums, should have an entire afternoon. Travel blogs are a helpful resource when researching vacation destinations – for example, you can Plan your trip in minutes on Travel-Wise and make use of their first-hand travel experiences and handy itineraries.
Vacations should be relaxing and not stressful, so the more stress you pile on the less relaxing you will do. A 5-day vacation is perfect for seeing 2-4 attractions. There are of course exceptions, like if you have to drive between attractions or if they are all in one spot where you can walk around and see things. Visiting things like amusement parks or being on a cruise are exceptions because all the fun is right there.
3. Start planning three to four months ahead
So many people are last-minute travelers, but the best way to travel is by planning in advance. Using a travel planner also helps so you can write everything down in one place and even bring it with you when you travel to keep a list of things you have seen and done or what you’ve spent so for the next trip you plan you can reflect back to the travel planner for ideas.
Advance planning gives you time to look for discounts or negotiate for better rates, and make arrangements with your employment, or pets if you have them, awesome fur kids.
Planning in advance also gives you time to save money if you don’t want to put the travel on your credit card or if the trip you want is more than you have access to on a credit card. Not everyone likes using a credit card so starting a “vacation” savings now will help for when you are going to start planning for travel.
4. Find out about the travel quirks
Travel is for adventure but if you are traveling to a new place it’s a good idea to be informed. The more you know about it, the more you experience stress-free travel. Do the research and learn about the climate, the kind of clothes you need to wear, and all the extra quirks a destination might have.
Quirks can be things like extra resort or hotel fees, minibars in rooms have a fee if you consume stuff from them, parking fees, pet fees in hotels, tipping requirements, transportation to and from fees, etc.
More things to think about are the accessibility of transportation, how many people in that area can speak your language, the number of ATMs or how many of the establishments accept credit cards, and if there is Wifi available or cell phone service. Don’t be discouraged if you find out things that are odd quirks at the destination you want to visit, because honestly, every destination will have some level of quirks.
5. Don’t go there with too many expectations
Any vacation is better than no vacation, regardless of how it goes. There will always be hiccups, the key is figuring out how to work through them and make the most of them. Finding new places and experiencing them and making memories to look back on for years to come is why people travel.
It’s useless to keep comparing it to “how things are back home” or rant about how it’s fallen short of the promises in the brochure. You’re already there. Make the most of it.
Life passes by so quickly so no matter what your life holds, make the most of it. The world has so much to offer, and with some research, planning, and saving, any vacation can be within reach and can be stress-free travel. Wondering where to travel to?