I never pass up a chance to flip through travel magazines. We live in a big, diverse planet, after all, and there are so many places and adventures to learn about! And, I always seem to gravitate towards the person in the room who has just returned from a trip. I want to hear all about different places. Some, I may not be brave enough or have the funds enough to go yet, but, at the very least, I still want to live vicariously through others' experiences of a place and time.
Time-off from your regular routine plays a big, big part in living a healthy lifestyle. The stimulation of a new place, the relaxation it can provide, the connecting with nature and others -- all so important. But, whether your idea of adventure or travel is to explore Alaska by sea kayak or to ride your bike to your area lake for a swim, it is all personal choices. But, I do believe that exposure to how others live, various terrains and topography, customs and food choices can be incredibly expanding. But, it does take some planning and some serious organization. That's what I am here for right now -- to help you get your plans together and make your travel dreams happen.
Essential Steps to Take To Plan Your Next Trip
This is where those magazines can help you. Or those amazing travel blogs or Pinterest boards. Start a general bucket list of places you would like to experience and things you would like to do in your life. Don't be limiting or think about money or how you would get the time off right now. Just brainstorm. Be as specific as you can.
Keep that list as it will surely expand or you may even cross off a few on your list from either actually doing it (Bravo!) or you may have changed your mind! You may be able to break that big trip into smaller pieces so don't think any of your ideas are too grand!
Here are a few links to help:
Take that list and put them in order of what you want to do the most. Or, you could make two lists. One that is more easily obtainable whether that is because you already have a place to stay (your BFF just moved to Paris for 9 months) or you could piggy-back a vacation after a business trip, etc. The other list could be for those bigger dreams that you need to work towards.
From the lists, choose "the next one." Put a picture of the destination on your phone or fridge to keep you motivated and focused to get there! However, keep your eye open for travel deals (or friends that have moved to great places!). A trip lower on your list may have an incredible flight and hotel accommodation package your spotted and perhaps it is a smart move to change up your plans and make a switch for now.
Time for a bit of a reality check as before you firmly decide on "the next one," you need to have an honest assessment of where your accounts stand. Review your accounts and see what you feel comfortable designating for travel. My husband and I have a travel fund where we make automatic deposits each month. Perhaps that could work for you.
The length of your trip will certainly affect your budget as well as accommodations, flights, etc. but see how much you already have right now that you could put towards your trip. Will you be able to easily add to this before the trip? Is there another way you can increase your budget before you want to go? Or, is this a trip you need to save for over a longer period of time?
4. Research costs.
Start researching flights, hotels, etc. to begin to feel out how much your trip will break the bank. Do you want to backpack or are you thinking five-star accommodations the whole way? How much are hostels, hotels, restaurants, and attractions? All those answers allow you to estimate how much money you’ll need for your dream spot.
While you are doing your research, make sure you get a travel rewards credit card. Those point systems can really add up and save you loads on hotels, flights, activities, restaurants, etc. We have a few and it has reduced costs tremendously over the years. Choose a card based on where you want to save the most. If flights, find a card that rewards that, for example. Don't spread yourself too thin when using them as I am not suggesting paying interest on credit cards to plan your trip. That will only put you behind financially.
It is a dirty word to some, but, after all, the budget can make those tranquil days on the beach in the South Pacific a reality. Once you know how much money you will need for this trip, if more money is needed, you can begin a savings plan and begin reducing costs elsewhere.
Don't miss this: Check out these budgeting blogs to help you get a hold of your finances.
Once your funds are there or nearly so and you feel comfortable making the commitment, begin booking flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. Remember, using your miles usually requires much earlier bookings. Make any reservations for chosen activities, tours, guides, tickets to shows, etc. as well, if you think they will sell out.
7. Start checklist.
Before you go, there are things to take care of at home for you to rest easy while you are away. The Before You Leave For Your Trip Checklist below has it all laid out for you to make your trip hassle-free. Look over it now as some tasks can take weeks or even months to complete.
Packing, in my world, is a dreaded activity. But, I have covered that a bit already . . .
- Pack a great carry-on for a smooth flight.
- Travel hacks to pack with ease every time
- Don't forget healthy snacks for flights, road trips, etc.
9. Smile and relax
You did it! Nothing left to do but soak it all in and enjoy the scenery and relish in the fact the hard work to get there is behind you!
But, I leave you with a few ways to make it even better:
Before You Leave For Your Trip Checklist
- Depending on where you are going, certain vaccinations may be needed. Find out which potential ones here.
- Ensure your passport and visa are up-to-date.
- Get camera and photo equipment prepared, repaired.
- Make sure your suitcases are ready and get required repairs scheduled.
- If you are traveling by car, ensure maintenance is scheduled, the tires are in good shape, and oil changes are up-to-date.
- Book all pet boardings or make arrangements for pet care while you are away.
- Make arrangements for mail and package pickup.
- Arrange for someone to watch your home, mow your lawn and water plants.
- Cancel and reschedule any appointments you had previously made for that time.
- Get any extra needed medications and prescriptions for trip.
- Notify your credit card companies you are traveling and where so that any transactions are not flagged as fraudulent and your card is denied.
- Give someone at home your itinerary so they know how to reach you or where you will be.
- Automate your bills so that payments are up-to-date.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance. Here are some thoughts on that.
- Ensure your cell phone plan covers your needs while traveling.
I really hope you'll tell us your latest travel adventure or your favorite travel tip or suggestion in the comments.