1. Brainstorm locations – First thing you should do is ask yourself what you most enjoy in a vacation? Do you enjoy relaxing or are you an adrenaline junkie? Then ask yourself if there’s a location you’ve always wanted to see. Like relaxing on a beach and always wanted to see a volcano? Think Hawaii. Love old world charm and trying new foods? Try Italy or France. Enjoy outdoor activities and consider yourself a bit of an adventurer? Consider hiking and rafting the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon.
3. Research your destination – So now you know where you want to go, but what do you want to do once you get there? Are there attractions that you want to see or things you want to experience? Write out a list of things you want to do or see and things you have to do or see. Are you leaving the country? If so, you may need to research cultural norms. Do you need to wear different clothing, learn key phrases in another language, or exchange currency?
2. Set a budget – Now that you know where you want to go and what you want to do, research prices for attractions, accommodations, transportation, and whatever else you think you’ll need. Does your trip require any special gear or clothing? Will you be doing any shopping? What about tips? Add it all up and be sure to budget money for food. Then add a 10% buffer to the total. Is the total too high? What can you cut back on? Maybe you can’t afford the all-inclusive vacation package, but you may find a more affordable deal at a budget hotel that leaves you more money to book your must-see attractions.
4. Write out your options – It’s time to plan your itinerary. See if you can schedule your days with the activities you’ve chosen. Your plans may change once you get there but your itinerary will at least give you an idea of how to see and do all the things you’ve planned. If you need to purchase activity tickets in advance (make sure you look up this info in your research phase as some activities—like hiking in the Grand Canyon—require permits to be obtained months in advance), you can record the times in your calendar so you’re sure not to miss them.
5. Book your trip! – Purchase flights, hotels, activities, and local transportation if needed. If you are staying in a hotel, check to see if they have a shuttle service. Check the weather and be sure to pack accordingly. All that’s left to do is to travel safe and enjoy the fruits of your labor—a well-deserved dream vacation!