Your Vacation Planning Guide

Your vacation plans always start out big and abstract: the trip of a lifetime! You’re going to feel so refreshed! But as the trip grows closer, you may have a growing sense that you’re not quite as ready for this whole thing as you had assumed.

Vacations don’t plan themselves, and few things are worse than taking a bunch of time off and spending a bunch of money only to have your trip go off the rails due to a lack of planning.

So you do need to sit down and actually plan this whole thing out. But the good news is that vacation planning can be fun in and of itself (experts say that anticipation can be even more fun than the vacation). And a well-planned vacation will be more fun and more memorable than one that you just throw together.

Plan early, plan often

We can’t tell you where to go or what to plan, but we can tell you how to plan. And the advice we have is simple: start soon. Start right now, if you can! The sooner you begin planning your trip, the more time you’ll have to figure out all of the details.

Getting a head start on planning helps reduce stress no matter what we’re talking about. And when we’re talking about vacations, there are plenty of added bonuses. Want tickets to the hottest attractions? First come, first served. Want reservations at the hottest restaurant near your destination? The early bird gets the worm.

It’s always a good idea to call ahead and reserve that hot ticket, say experts who run very popular boat tours in Jupiter, Florida. It never hurts, and it could be the difference between enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime vacation moment and being left waiting on the shore.

Do something, but don’t do too much

Speaking of in-demand attractions, we have another simple piece of advice: when you plan your vacation, you should plan to do something.

That may sound obvious, but you might be surprised how many people head to beaches and resorts with the idea that they’ll spend all week doing nothing at all. That’s only natural: after a long day at work, an extended period of doing nothing can be an appealing idea.

But a few days into your lethargic experiment, you’re going to grow bored and stir-crazy. Break up your relaxation with a few activities (including ones that get you some exercise, if you can) and you’ll enjoy the vacation and its laid-back moments even more.

With that said, don’t overbook your vacation. A trip crammed with reservations and activities can be stressful, especially if you end up rushing around because you failed to give yourself enough time to get from place to place.

You’ll enjoy your vacation and keep stress levels lower if you carve out extra time for travel and leave big chunks of your vacation unstructured and unplanned, so that you can do something spontaneous — or nothing at all!

Bring it, don’t buy it

If you don’t want to bust your budget early on your trip, you need to make a careful list of things to bring. If you forget your sunscreen, you had better believe that the beachside market or the store inside the resort will charge you more for it than your local pharmacy would back home.

Bringing some food or a bottle of booze can be a great way to save on a bar tab, too. Although you may be able to find some really great deals on drinks if you check on the internet before you head out, suggest the experts at one alcoholic beverage distributor.

Most of vacation planning is common sense, but you won’t get things right unless you start early and use care (and some checklists) to make sure that you nail every detail. If you plan well, your trip of a lifetime will finally happen — and it just might happen every year, thanks to your vacation planning wizardry.

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