While I’m by no means an expert at planning vacations, I have been practicing for close to twenty years. Even though I don’t really remember it this way, if you ask our mom on our 2nd trip to Williamsburg, VA (and the first vacation where I was old enough to read) I managed to get my hands on the colonial newspaper and drag our family to every reenactment and demonstration it listed. Over the years, with the help of Google, I’ve gotten a bit more sophisticated in my planning methods, but I must say I still love making sure I get to see and do as much as I can on any vacation. Between the road trip Tori & I took to Charleston & Savannah this spring and the trip to Italy I’m planning this fall, I’ve really had a chance to sharpen my skills this year!
This may seem like common sense, but starting out with a solid outline of where you want to go, what time of year, for how long, and what your budget is will definitely save you time and effort later on. This isn’t the time to get too specific, but it is the time to make sure your vacation expectations are reasonable. If you want to see the Northern Lights, going to Iceland in July probably isn’t a good choice. Similarly, if you are on a tight budget, going to Europe for 3 weeks in the peak season might not make the most sense.
When I plan vacations, I tend to rank in order of importance each of these four things. For example, when Tori and I were planning our spring break trip our first priority was the when, because spring break was a certain week. It was closely followed by the how long since we’d only have Saturday to Saturday. After that was the budget, which sadly caused Iceland to be knocked out of our options. Lastly, was the where. That’s not to say the where wasn’t important, but we would rather go on a vacation to our 2nd or 3rd choice of locations then not go at all. If spring break hadn’t been dictating our travel window however, Iceland might have been able to fit within our budget since it was cheaper to go a few weeks earlier.
Once you have decided on where you’re going, when and for how long, and what your budget will be, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the rest of your itinerary falls into place. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next post in our Planning your Perfect Vacation series where we’ll be sharing tips on the best way to put together your itinerary!