The Art of Vacation Planning

I’ve come to believe that vacations are a very personal thing. It’s your vacation, you should spend it doing what you want in the location of your choice. I’m guessing most people would agree with that statement. The problem is that planning a vacation that is tailored specifically to you can be time-consuming and overwhelming. I wanted to share a few tips to help you through the planning process.

1. Pick your location because it interests you. This may sound obvious but so many people tell me they chose a location because it seemed like everyone else had already been there, or several people told them they just had to go there. Recommendations from family and friends can be great, but if you have a spot in mind that isn’t on their list, don’t let that stop you. Go for it and when you get back, you can be the one telling people they should go!

2. Think about why you want to go to this location. Write down your reasons. This will help you figure out what to do and see while you’re there. If your whole reason for wanting to go to Paris is to see Monet’s Water Lilies, that’s great, put it on your list. If you want to go to Japan to visit Tokyo Disney, put it on your list. (This is totally one of my top 3 reasons for wanting to visit Tokyo!) If you want to take cooking classes in Tuscany, that’s fantastic, put it on the list. I think you get the idea. My underlying points here is, once you pick a location, don’t feel like you have to just check the must see boxes in that city or country.

When I plan a trip to Paris for someone, I could easily plan a weekend that involves The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and Arc de Triumph. They are all great spots, but what about a food tasting or wine tasting tour, or an evening cruise along the Seine or a walking tour of the Latin Quarter. The list goes on and on and on. If you make your “reason to go” list first, planning your days will be easier.

3. Figure out your trip budget. This is so important to do before you dive into the actual planning. Once you know your magic spending number, you’ll be able to make decisions on where to splurge and where to pull back. Your “reason to go” list can help with this too! If your main reason for going to Bali it to stay in one of those amazing resorts where each room is a full cabin, built over the ocean, with a private infinity pool, then that’s where you’ll spend your money. If you want to go to Bali for waterfall hikes, temples and monkey sanctuaries, you may choose to skip the private infinity pool accommodations.

4. Pick your accommodations. Once you’ve landed on your price point, I recommend using any of the online sites to get an idea of hotels and reviews. Then before you book, head to the hotel’s direct website and compare the price. Sometimes you’ll get a better deal if you book directly.

5. Plan your days. As you start planning your days, it’s important to account for your personality. Are you the type that is on the go or are you a little more relaxed during the day? We’ve found planning 2-3 main things per day is good. More than that and we start to feel rushed, but that’s just us. Even if you want to be a bit more spontaneous, I still recommend having a rough idea of what you want to see and do each day, this ensures you don’t miss something important to you.

6. Remember, your plan is just a plan and it’s okay to deviate from it. This happens to us on all our trips. We find something else we didn’t know about, we decide to stay longer someplace, we make the decision to skip something and vow we’ll do it on another trip. For me this is hard to remember, we had a plan, we should stick to the plan. But if we stuck to our plan in London we never would have gone to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and that was one of our favorite days there. If we’d stuck to our plan in Paris, we never would have ended up spending our last night in a hotel with a view of the Eiffel Tower out of our window, so don’t be afraid of a change. Go with it and have a great time.

A change in our plans led us to a room with a perfect view for our last night in Paris (Photo Credit: Erin Moore)

If this has you itching to plan a trip, but you’d like some assistance, please contact me, I’m happy to talk about your trip and how my vacation planning service can help customize your vacation.

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