Going on vacation is wonderful: You get to take some time away from the daily grind to relax and have fun, and you’ll return refreshed, healthier, and more productive. But planning a vacation? Well, that’s a different story. Experts agree that, as relaxing as vacations may be, planning them can be a serious source of stress. Worse, planning is something that you have to do well — if the stress gets to you and you make silly planning mistakes, then you’ll seriously sabotage your own vacation. Nobody wants to spend a bunch of money and stress out planning a trip only to find that the vacation itself isn’t as fun as it should be.
You may have made some planning mistakes in the past, but you’re not going to let that happen again. And we’re here to help you keep that commitment. Below, you’ll find some great tips for planning smarter for your next vacation.
Plan early, plan often
The simplest tip for planning smarter is one that you’re probably already well aware of. To get the most out of vacation planning, you need to start early.
You’ll find a lot of reasons for this. For one, starting earlier gives you more time to plan, which means less stress over running out of time. Another important reason to plan early is that you’ll have a better shot at snagging reservations and tickets that your fellow tourists are competing with you to get.
Do something new and exciting
Familiarity can be a wonderful thing when you’re going on vacation. That’s part of why people who can afford to do so often buy vacation homes in favorite spots. But you can do too much of the same-old, same-old on your trip. You should try to do something unique each time you take time off. Maybe it’s something a little out of your comfort zone, or maybe it’s a fast-paced activity that spices up a relaxing week at the lake or on the beach. The point is to add something to your trip that makes it different not only from your daily life, but from your past vacations, too. You should be building memories.
For example, imagine a trip to a favorite beach. Every year you go down to Florida or someplace like it, lie on the beach, eat at the same restaurants, drink the same tiki drinks, and have a good time. But, this year, why not do something fun — like parasailing in West Palm Beach? That’s a great (and safe) way to get an adrenaline rush and do something other than relax under the sun all day, every day.
Leave room in your schedule
If you want your vacation to be relaxing, here’s what not to do: Pack your schedule with careful plans. Planning is good, but you should not overplan.
You’re on vacation. You shouldn’t feel like you’re rushing in the hallways of your old high school, desperate to get to class on time. You shouldn’t feel like you’re being pushed around by Mom and Dad as they hustle you to the summer activities of your youth. This is your trip, and you should enjoy it.
So leave plenty of time — more than you think that you’ll need — to travel between activities. You never know when you’ll want to linger, when traffic might delay you, and so on. Furthermore, don’t have activities in every morning and afternoon slot all vacation long. What if you want to do something spontaneous? What if you want to do nothing at all? Leave open spots when you plan, and you’ll have the freedom to do (or not do) those things.
Bring things and save
Traveling light can reduce stress. But travel too light, and you’ll start seeing how expensive vacations can get. Sure, the resort store is sure to have sunblock, but do you know how much it might cost?
Be smart. If you want to enjoy a cocktail or a beer on the beach, consider hitting up the liquor store before you leave. Head to the pharmacy for sunblock. Pack a lunch for your travel days, and consider going to the grocery store when you arrive at your destination — a few meals at home can make your trip much more affordable.
To read more on topics like this, check out the travel category.