Society is pushing for more and more experiences and adventures over things. Cruising has become popular, travel blogs are all the rage, and outdoor enthusiasts try to capture as much of Earth’s unfiltered grandeur via their phone app as possible. What will you do this summer? Where will you go? What new places and people will you see? What foods will you taste? How will you remember your experiences? What preparations do you need to make? What can you sacrifice now, so that you can make these experiences possible?
There is a great deal to consider when planning a summer vacation. Here is a practical guide to preparing, so that nothing will stand in your way.
1. CHOOSE YOUR DESTINATION
The exciting thing about planning is that once you decide where you are going, it’s like your adventure has already begun. Be mindful of events happening at your destination. Watch about current events, such as political events, festivals, etc. Consider weather patterns. Will you be touring the city in 100% humidity and heat? Will the beach water be warm, based on ocean currents? What season will it be when you travel? If you’re going to see the whales on the Oregon coast, there is a specific period that they migrate. The Northern Lights shine brighter at various periods in the year. Consider off and on seasons. Will there be tons of crowds? While you may have the perfect destination in mind, it may make sense to delay that trip, if it’s not going to meet all of your criteria.
2. DEVELOP AN ITINERARY
You can read about virtually all destinations online via travel blogs, purchased travel guides, and social media platforms. Coordinate your trip to coincide with the dates of these events/venues. This will help you to be sure that you don’t miss out on anything. For example, most museums around Italy close on Mondays. You may want to plan a picnic in the country or a day at the seashore for the Monday you are in Rome. Plan out which days you’ll be where, so that you don’t end up purchasing tickets for an event, you will not be able to attend logistically. You may want to map out your activities and plans. This is especially important for places like New York City. If you have tickets to see a broadway show, but you scheduled a tour for the Stature of Liberty just a few hours before, will you have enough time to get back to Broadway Theater? Will you have time to get to your hotel and get dressed in time, before the opening curtain call?
3. PREPARE A BUDGET
Consider all costs to make your trip happen. Will you have enough PTO at work, so that your present bills are paid? Think about the logistics of travel. Will you get there by plane, ship, or car? Are you using points from your credit card to cash in for Southwest? What about lodging? Will you stay in an Airbnb, or will you rent a hotel room? What will you eat, and what are the prices of restaurants there? What about your entertainment? How much can you afford and/or do you want to spend on museums, tours, concerts, etc.?
4. SHOP THE BEST DEALS
If you have a plan and know what you’re looking for, scouting out deals becomes easier. Play around with the dates. Often, you can find better airfare on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the week. Weekend hotel prices are going to cost much more than a stay during the week. Sometimes you can purchase a package deal or pass that will help save money (i.e., Disney hopper pass, city passes that allow you to visit multiple museums over several days, etc.). Ask your friends what they have done to make their trip more successful financially.
5. SECURE YOUR HOME
Be mindful of who you tell about your trip. Blasting dates and times over social media is not safe; however, it is an excellent idea to let a family member or someone you trust know about where you will be and how long you will be away. Consider a security system for your home, as well as potentially hiring someone to house watch while you are away.
6. SAFETY CHECKS ON YOUR VEHICLE
Before driving across the country to see the sites of Washington D.C., get your vehicle inspected. Check the oil, fluids, gauges, and tires. Make sure all of the tools are accounted for in your roadside kit, as well as a first-aid kit.
7. PACK LIGHTLY, BUT THOROUGHLY
Finding out you forgot your medication or favorite pair of walking shoes could create a lot of unwanted stress. Make a packing list and pack a few days in advance. Consider the practicality of your choices. Do you want to discover the historical city of London in flat, unsupportive shoes for miles on end, with severe blisters that suck the joy from the journey? Pack comfortable clothes/shoes that will allow you to enjoy your visit. Remember sunscreen and any medications you might need. (It’s a good idea to keep said medications on yourself, in case your luggage is misplaced.)
Prepping for summer vacation is worth the effort. If you plan properly, you can set yourself up to have a safe and enjoyable trip, filled with memories for a lifetime.