The most anticipated time of the year is vacation season. It doesn’t matter how old are you or if you work or not, a vacation is something everybody looks forward to — going skiing, camping on the lake, going on a hike, or the famous sunbed-cocktails-sea-partying-until-you-drop style of trip. We all love holidays for many reasons, and if you are able to go on vacation mode every now and then, consider yourself lucky.
Even though it brings many benefits, and it is necessary, planning a vacation can be painful and boring. Especially if your plans are not realized because of various reasons. It takes time to figure out how to choose between countless options, decide which route to take, or which place to stay, simply because the hospitality industry is booming.
Let’s try to optimize the process, bring more joy and relaxation into our lives, and avoid that so-many-options-I-don’t-know-what-to-choose nightmare.
Choosing the destination & transportation
The first step in the planning process starts with a simple question: where do you want to go? This is the question you need to ask yourself. Before answering it, you need to be realistic and to think about your budget. Although we all want to travel and explore distant and exotic destinations, it is not always possible to do so. Decide how much money you can and want to spend and the planning can begin. Have your friends’ budgets and preferences in mind; the best practice is to have a meeting where you guys discuss and make a decision on where you’ll go.
Once you know the destination, you should decide whether you are going to travel by bus, car, or plane. This selection should be based on your budget (again) and what you find most satisfying. Many people choose to travel by plane. It’s easy to understand why: the trip is comfortable and it saves time.
Luckily, these days very affordable tickets can be found online. There are apps like Justfly that can help you book flights, hotels, and car rentals. There is also another way to pay less for the plane ticket: many airline companies offer discounts for buying tickets in advance. You just need to search the web and be patient.
Traveling by car is ideal for families or a group of friends on shorter distances. The time spent on the road is perfect for bonding and creating new memories. Traveling with friends or family is a good choice for safety reasons as well. If the driver gets tired, someone else can take over. Another advantage of traveling by car is that you can make your own route and visit many places, which is impossible with commercial transportation (unless you book an excursion).
Traveling by bus can be the least comfortable option, but it also has its advantages. You don’t have to worry about driving, the road, or the fuel. You just arrive at your destination (hopefully not too tired).
Choosing the sites you’ll visit
When your destination is chosen and your hotel and transportation booked, the first batch of weight is off your back. Now comes the second part of holiday planning — you need to know what you’ll see and do on your holiday.
There are two types of people: the ones who “go with the flow” and ones who plan where to go. Even though I’m not against spontaneous life and holidays, here’s a question:
Who do you think has more problems on a holiday, a planner or someone who just goes with the flow?
Of course, the second group tends to encounter more problems because they don’t know where to go, how to prepare for certain activities, what they should bring, the prices of fares and tickets, which times they can visit certain attractions, etc. In these situations, “easy-goers” usually spend time planning and deciding what to do on the go, deducting time from their holiday.
I don’t think you want this, right?
Find a balance. You can at least get to know the destination, its biggest attractions and admission times and fares (I’ve found myself in front of closed museums and monuments way too often), how much time is necessary to get from the point A to point B, and the overall expenses for almost everything. Sites like Numbeo, Lonely Planet, and TripAdvisor can help you in preparing.
Choose your company
If you want to have a perfect holiday, choose your company wisely. Imagine this situation: chilling out in a perfect destination, completely relaxed and calm, feeling like you don’t have a single worry in the world, and suddenly you hear the voice of your workaholic friend talking about office stuff.
It kills the feeling, right?
When choosing travel companion(s), it is important to think about the personality of your friend(s). For example, your best friend is someone with whom you can talk about everything, share your deepest secrets, and laugh all night, but your bestie might like to sleep until the noon. On a vacation, this can be a problem, especially if you are planning to get up early every morning to go sightseeing, sunbathe, or just have an early breakfast. You will have an obligation to wake your best buddy every morning, and he or she will feel the same way. You will start as friends but might end up more like frenemies.
The worst part – packing
For many, packing is an annoying activity that needs to be done before the trip. It tends to be exhausting and unnecessarily dramatic.
Packing can a nerve-racking activity for many reasons. The first major problem is picking the right clothes. In most cases, there are two scenarios: either a whole wardrobe is packed or barely anything is packed. A lot of people tend to overpack, but there is no need to overpack; it can be avoided.
The best way to pack and avoid these two situations is to do your research about the destination, plan what you are going to visit and do, and then make a list of all the things you will need. When you put everything on paper, you’ll be more efficient and you’ll optimize your packing to utilize 100% of your packed stuff.
Can planning be fun?
Although you might want to get out of your work lifestyle and chill out, going on a holiday without plans can be troublesome (or simply won’t be as awesome as it could be). It is possible to plan and optimize everything without getting bored or tired.
Let your imagination run free and think about all the wild, unexplored, and exotic destinations that you can visit. Invite your friends, open a bottle of wine, and plan the route of your trip together.
If you can’t agree with the choice of the hotel, destination, or transportation, vote — make the game out of it. Life is about the little things, so get the most out of it.
I wish you many happy (and well-planned) holidays this year!
Featured photo credit: yoppy via flickr.com