Today is probably my favorite: National Plan Your Vacation Day. It is a day to commit to scheduling time off. Why is this even important? As I planned this post, I thought it might be too superficial.
But taking time off, to recharge is so important for our health. Essentially, taking vacation time should be a time to find rest, see the world from a different perspective, and learn about different cultures. Even if it’s in your own backyard.
I’m not one to over-spiritualize things, but vacation time can be a time to connect with God and hear from Him in a new way. And it can bring deeper connections with your family and friends.
I asked my husband to help me with this post, so shoutout to him! He is the planner and budgeter in our family. I learned a few things myself as I asked him how he plans for vacation.
Here are 10 Practical Steps For Vacation Planning:
1. Plan your vacation at the beginning of the year
At the beginning of the year take inventory of how many days you can take off of work. Literally, count the days and look over your calendar to see where vacation fits best. I found this really cool online tool that helps you plan for each day you have off.
2. Think of who will be going on vacation with you
I’ve never really vacationed alone. I’ve traveled for work alone which can be really nice because I can choose what to do and where to go once I’m off of work. In those cases, I really don’t have to consult with anyone. But when you vacation with others, it’s good to keep in mind other people’s schedules. If it’s really a vacation you want to include others in, coordinate when to take time off together.
3. Write a bucket list
Where do you want to go this year? List all the places. We usually pick 2 small vacations that we can do locally and 1 big vacation. Big to us has meant going on a cruise, taking an extended vacation with family at Disney World, and most recently, going to Hawaii. Not all years look the same. The year we moved to Orlando, we were closing on a house and could not afford to go on a big trip but we did weekend road trips and staycations.
4. Research, research, research
The moment you get an idea of a destination or when you have created your bucket list, start researching hotels, flights (example: when is the best time to book flights for that destination), transportation needs, and things to do in that city. This gives you an idea of the cost and the type of activities you’ll be doing. And if it’s not within your budget or it’s not your ideal destination, at least you already have done some research and can use that for future vacation planning.
5. Envision yourself there
This may seem kinda new age-y. No worries, this is not to help you “escape” from reality. This is meant to gauge what you desire to experience on vacation. Maybe this year you want to feel like you’re going on a retreat so a place where you can relax, sleep in, and take it slow works best. Maybe you want to be more active this year, so you envision yourself hiking or skiing or walking around a big city. I think you get what I mean.
6. Use Google maps
Start looking for specific things to do in the destination of your vacation. Use Google maps to search for what’s around the area: museums, aquariums, theatres, restaurants, parks, historical sites. And if you see something you really want to do, find out the cost. You’ll get a really good idea of what you can do and what fits in the budget.
7. Think of what kind of transportation you’ll need
It’s important to think of what kind of transportation you’ll need and how that will go into the budget. Things to keep in mind: will it be worth renting a car, is Ubering cost-friendly in that city, is public transportation accessible, can a family member lend you their car for a couple days?
8. Make an inventory of all the money and resources you will have for the upcoming year
Write down how much money you can use for the year on vacation. And where that money is coming from. Is it from your paycheck, from your side hustle, from investments, birthday money, additional paychecks or bonuses, weekend jobs? And make note of the dollar amount that it all adds up to.
9. Go back to your research
Look back at your research and bucket list. With all the information you gathered and the inventory of money you created, think of how far your money will take you. Which vacation can you realistically go on? Think about how you’ll allocate each vacation day and what you can do on those days. Will you take a few staycations and 1 big trip or 2 big trips? Last year, we knew we could only afford Hawaii if we reserved most of our resources and time for that trip. We only took road trips for family get-togethers and hosted a family reunion in our home.
10. Make it happen
One of the best parts about vacationing is feeling a sense of accomplishment so really go for it! Truly commit to making it happen. Be disciplined with your savings and reduce everyday costs where you see fit. Something that can help you save monthly is to look at the services you use and ask about deals or discounts. Something that has helped us commit to taking our trips is to look for opportunities to reserve lodging with hotels or rentals that don’t require full payment or a deposit. Cruises, for example, can be paid on a monthly basis, which can help you save and budget easily. Finally, download alllll the apps and look for deals weekly. You’ll be sure to find something that meets your needs and you’ll probably notice trends for future trips.
I hope these steps helped you realize that you CAN and SHOULD take time off. Write that bucket list, stay committed by saving, and remember to coordinate with the people you love vacationing with.
So tell me… where are you planning to visit in 2019?