If you spend as much time daydreaming about vacation plans as I do, chances are you’ve already hashed out a few ideas for the upcoming summer. If your work desktop features an image of aquamarine waters in Belize or the San Francisco Bay at sunset, you know what I mean.
However, a lot more goes into planning a summer vacation than simply daydreaming – at some point you have to put the plan into action. This is easier said than done, of course. High prices during a crowded peak season and an overwhelming number of choices to make (where to stay, how to get there, what to see, where to eat) don’t make the planning any easier. Don’t let this deter you. Planning your summer vacation can actually be just as fun (if not more) than daydreaming about it. Just try not to stress and pay attention to these 10 easy tips.
Do Your Research
I know you’ve already conjured up a few dream destinations during those lazy afternoon hours in the office. Now spend some time researching them. Is one of them significantly cheaper in the summer? Does one destination have an attraction you can’t miss out on? Are any close enough to avoid airfare?
Know Your Budget
Knowing your budget goes hand-in-hand with doing your research. If you know you’re on a tight budget and airfare to the other side of the country is going to be a big blow, consider a destination that fits more easily into your budget. Don’t overestimate your budget now; you’ll be sorry you did later.
One of the most common mistakes of the family traveler is over-packing. With just about every airline charging extra for each checked bag, you’ll want to fit it all into one suitcase if you can. Also remember that it’s no fun lugging everything but the kitchen sink around, so keep your bags as light and as sleek as possible.
Make a Meal Plan
This can be as simple or as comprehensive as you’d like. For instance, you can decide you’ll budget for a nice dinner out three times on your trip and save money on the rest of your meals by taking advantage of a grocery store and hotel kitchen. Keep in mind that food is one of the most underestimated expenses for more vacationers.
Use City Passes
Save money on attractions and “must-do” activities by taking advantage of city passes in destinations across the country. City attraction passes offer travelers big discounts on popular attractions of their choice, as well as the convenience of one easy pass. You’ll find these passes in San Francisco, San Diego, Orlando, Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Oahu.
Save Up Now for Extra Expenses
While you don’t have a ton of time to save up more money for your vacation, there are definitely some small things you can do to save money for those extra expenses on your vacation, whether it’s a night on the town or some souvenirs to take home.
Know When to Travel
Even with your thrifty planning and your city attractions pass, certain weeks of the summer will be the most expensive for traveling. Do some internet research to see if any special events in your intended destination will make costs prohibitive for traveling at that time. When looking at transportation and accommodation costs, test out a few scenarios.
Draft an Itinerary…But Be Flexible!
This is another area where you can keep it as simple or as comprehensive as you want. However, you will want to have some idea of the things to do in your destination that are most important to you. On the other hand, if you plan every last minute, remember that flexibility is key to enjoying your vacation.
Don’t Stick to the City Limits
Sometimes, the best attractions (and the least expensive accommodations) are outside of the city proper. For instance, California Wine Country Tours are one of the best attractions in the San Francisco area, and you’ll be leaving San Francisco to experience them. Miami is another area where this is particularly true – especially if you want to spend time doing outdoor recreational activities.
Start Booking Soon
Of course, the sooner you can start booking travel plans, the more likely you are to enjoy an affordable, relaxing vacation. Don’t stress, but do start planning now!