SET A BUDGET
Take a close look at your finances and decide how much you can or can’t spend on your trip. Keep in mind that some locations allow you to eat for just 10 cents a day depending on where you go! So that $1800 airfare may be 95% of what you will be spending and that is OK. Also, be sure to take into account the exchange rate for the money you will need to bring a long. To swap your 1,000 USD to Euros you will only come out with 807.88 Euros.
MAKE A LIST
Make a list of your dream vacations, a vacation bucket list if you will. Start to prioritize them and see if any of these locations are actually a reality given your current budget. Decide which ones you can afford to do for this trip and then decide how long it will take you to save up the money you will need for the next one. Now, pick one!
WATCH THE FLIGHTS
For ideal flights you will want to book them WAY ahead of time. Especially if they are over seas. If you want to make the most of your budget you will want to also use a tracker app on your phone, like Hopper or Skyscanner. Google will also track flights right to your email if you do not have a smart phone, but downloading Hopper or Skyscanner will allow the app to do all the work. The app will literally tell you when flights drop so low that you should buy. I wrote an entire post about Hopper here.
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
When your perfect flight pops up, BOOK IT! Congratulations, you are halfway there!
BOOK YOUR HOTEL ROOM
This part is my favorite. I am not sure why but searching for the perfect hotel room is my favorite part of booking a trip. Whether you love Airbnb or you are looking for a more traditional hotel room or even a hostel. There are so many options when you are traveling. Sometimes the cheapest way to go is by utilizing hostels. Especially if you are in Europe. You can sometimes even get a private room in a hostel for much cheaper than a hotel. One other option is to use MonasteryStays.com to check out religious boarding if you are a christian . If you want something more luxurious, Airbnb or a hotel is your best bet. Check out what is included and what you will need. On long vacations make sure there is access to a laundry room or find a local laundromat you can use. This will help you pack lighter, and keep smelling fresh.
Start to plan the details
Now you get to research the area you are going to and make a list of all the places you want to visit while you are there. Be sure to check out the best days and times for the places you choose so you avoid crowds as much as possible. This way you will be able to fit everything in and make the most of your trip. It will also help you in the next step. Separate your list into 3 more, “Must see/do”, “Would like to do”, and “If there is time”.
Start an itinerary
Itineraries will keep you on track throughout your trip and make sure you don’t miss any of the must sees on your list. Start with your “Must see/do” list and make sure that you spread them out throughout the time that you have. This will help you make room for the second list “would like to do”. You can try to add these in where you have some lulls between your must sees. If you fit all of these things into your list move to “if there is time”. You can see if you have room for this final list. If. you don’t, do not worry. Bring the list with you and if something comes up or one part of your trip is cancelled, you can quick pick one of the things on your 3rd list.
A lot of the time people skip this option because they like to be spontaneous. This can work in some cases, and it may work for you. However, if you know you may never return to this place you are visiting, you will want to make sure you are efficient with your time and you don’t miss anything that you really wanted to do. From personal experience, you can get completely lost when on a good relaxing vacation. You may not realize what day of the week it is and you can miss a reservation. Itineraries are great for keeping you on track!
Brush up on the language
if you are going out of the country and somewhere you don’t know a lot of the language make sure you study it a bit. Check out my previous post about Learning foreign languages without a class. One other option I don’t mention in that post is “Babble” which is an app that helps translate in real time. It is relatively new, if you have a smart phone, definitely try this out.
Some important phrases to know are:
- Where is the bathroom?
- Do you speak English?
- I would like to order [insert food, merchandise here]
- How do I find [insert noun]
- I do not understand
- I am sorry
- Thank you
- You’re welcome
- I only speak a little [insert language here]
- Can you help me buy a ticket?
Brush up on the laws and culture
Know what is offensive in the culture you are visiting, and know what the laws are. In Singapore chewing gum is illegal and in China there are certain areas that you should not drink the water unless it is boiled. Know what you are getting yourself into and research the area so you don’t end up in a hospital or in jail abroad.
Also, important to know is how to count the money that you will be using in this foreign country. You should not trust the people around you to help, they could be stealing from you and you would not even know. Research the currency and know how to use it.
Enjoy your trip!
You did all the work putting it together and now you get to enjoy it. The worst is over. Do something that is a little out of your comfort zone, try something new, and most of all relax and take in everything around you. There is something so refreshing and exciting about being in a new place you have never been. You will for sure feel out of your comfort zone in some instances, but it is worth it for the amazing memories and experience you are creating for yourself.