Vacations and trips are special things! If you’re like most of us, you work hard for these moments to explore the world, expand your horizons, and (lets not kid ourselves) witness those Instagram-worthy destinations with your own eyes. On top of that, you’ve got limited time, so you want to spend it wisely. You’re smart!
Here are 6 tips to think about to get the most out of your next trip. PLUS, 2 ways to organize your planning.
Get social for inspiration - Use Instagram and Pinterest to search hashtags and locations or Google search “Best of” lists to get inspiration for where you want to go. Ask your friends what their favorite spots are and why. And then keep a list so you’ve got a reserve of ideas to go to when your calendar and bank account allow for the next trip!
Time of year - Consider what time of year you want to see that place. Are you looking for spring flowers or dramatic snowy peaks? What’s the best time of year to go to that place given the types of activities you want to do while you’re there? Or perhaps weather isn’t the #1 priority and you can book on the shoulder or off-season.
Think about the future - What is the expected future state of that destination you’re considering? If you’ve always wanted to see the arctic’s icebergs, you better bump that locale up on your priority list. Dang that global warming. *tears* Are you planning to have kids and that resort you’re dying to get to is adults-only? Thinking about these things will help you prioritize which destinations you hit up first.
Safety - As sad as it may be, think about politics and other safety related matters that could inhibit your time or quality somewhere.
Turn the knobs on cost - There are so many ways you can adjust a trip to have a dramatic impact on how much or little you spend. Think about what your priorities are. Do you want to spend your money on experiences? Then maybe you can cut costs on a room you’ll hardly be in. Here are some knobs you can dial up or down to suit your budget:
Lodging - hostels, Airbnb, 2-star or a 5-star hotel
Food - eat out or shop the local markets and cook in your kitchen
Activities - from free to expensive, or none, there are countless ways to spend your time
Location - whether exchange rates or other factors, some destinations are just cheaper than others!
Tools for planning & organizing the details - The devil is in the details! While I’ve certainly travelled with ZERO plans before, and that’s exhilarating, I like to plan just enough to feel like I know what I’m in for and that I’m going to see what I came to see. But that there’s also room for flexibility if we decide we really love a place and want to shift our time around. Here are a few tools I use for each trip…
Document your itinerary
For almost every trip I’ve gone on, I will create a Google Sheet to outline the itinerary details. This shareable and downloadable format is great for getting an understanding of how much time you’ll spend where, co-planning with your travel companion, as well as doubles for a safety blanket so someone at home knows generally your whereabouts if anything we to go wrong on your trip. Here’s the general structure:
Map your road trip
If there will be any driving, I will power-use Google Maps. The great thing about Google Maps is that you can download offline maps via the mobile app for free so you always know where you’re going even if you don’t have cell reception. And you can pre-plan how far and long it will take you to get from Place A to Place B. I will create a custom map to drop pins marking where we are staying, which route we plan to take and get an idea of how much ground we can cover in a given day. There’s nothing worse than not being able to find your hotel when you’re in a new country, tired and just want to lay down. ;)