Want to know how to plan a vacation the right way?
Sure, you can sorta-kinda plan one using guesswork and Google. But that's not the kind of vacation that will leave you with epic memories.
How do I know?
I once went on vacation to Thailand. The only problem was that I didn't plan anything. I just showed up.
There wasn't a single available hotel room in Koh Samui, where I landed. So I slept outside on the beach, with the mosquitos and sand fleas. It took me three days to find a hotel room!
Don't be like me when I was young and dumb. Make sure you know how to plan your vacation.
Since then, I've learned a thing or two about going on vacation. Today I'm a bit of an expert on travel, having spent over seven years traveling the globe.
The simple truth is that if you know how to plan a vacation in advance, you'll create epic memories.
And the best part?
Planning a vacation is easy. Also, it's kinda fun. And the more you plan, the more all the pieces fall into place. Because a vacation is supposed to be a time to rejuvenate and relax.
So let's get to it!
Why Vacations Are Good for You
Do you know why we love vacations so much?
Of course, you'll say something about not being at work. But if getting away from work is all that we need in life, we could just stay at home.
But we don't -- because we want to explore something new.
Sure, we could relax in a lawn chair in our back yard, but you know what's better? Relaxing on a beach chair under a palm tree, with a cocktail in your hand.
Do you see the difference?
Location! Location! Location!
So right off the bat, how to plan a vacation depends on where to take a vacation.
You need to leave home to have a vacation. To explore somewhere new.
Did you know that going on vacation has a ton of health benefits for you? Knowing how to plan a vacation has actual health benefits.
Here's the proof:
Lower blood pressure
Right off the bat, going on vacation lowers your blood pressure. That means a healthier heart, better circulation, and less stress and anxiety.
How does it do that?
When you're excited to go on vacation, you feel a sense of freedom and excitement. If you know how to plan a vacation, you'll feel instantly happier.
That's the endorphins and dopamine doing their job in your brain.
And you know what else?
When we go on vacation, we actually lose weight.
You heard that right!
Studies in England discovered that on average, people lost up to ten pounds during a one week vacation.
Why is that?
Well, when you're stuck in your daily routine at home, complete with all the stress and unhappiness, you develop high levels of cortisol.
This not only keeps you feeling sluggish and unhappy but also tells your body to pack on fat. Your body must think you're hibernating or something.
But when you go on vacation, your cortisol levels drop, and with it, so does the fat!
Learn how to plan a vacation and you're off to a good start.
Are you married? Or in a long-term relationship? Let me guess, you are, but you might as well be roommates.
Did you know that a vacation can rekindle the romance and light a fire under your sex life?
That's right! Couples who vacation together often stay together longer.
And it gets better:
Studies found that couples who vacation together have more sex.
So what other reason do you need?
The Best Vacation Spots in the World
You yearn for travel.
There's an entire world out there for you to see and you're stuck here. But you don't know how to plan a vacation.
Sometimes it feels like you're wasting your life.
Of course, there are people in other parts of the world who would love to come to see where you live. That would be their dream vacation!
Again, it all comes down to getting away from the ordinary and going on an adventure.
And you know what?
That's why I hate the term "staycation."
That's not a thing. It has nothing to do with learning how to plan a vacation. You can't stay at home and call it a vacation. All you're doing is waiting to go back to work.
Instead, you need to get out and see the world. See what you can't see when you're at home.
You don't even have to travel that far to do it!
One of the best vacations you can have is to travel somewhere in America or Canada. The continent has unimaginable beauty.
But if you want something more exotic, there's an entire world at your fingertips.
When it comes to some of the best places to vacation today, I've got some favorites.
Check it out:
The most biodiverse nation in the world is also one of the most stable and tourist-friendly countries in Latin America.
Costa Rica has it all.
Two coasts with more than 800 square miles of beaches. Lush rainforest filled with exotic plants and animals. A stable, democratic government.
And super-affordable prices.
Look at these accommodations:
If you want a real adventure, try staying in a Costa Rican treehouse resort!
You'll stay in a luxury home built up in the canopy of the rainforest, with hanging bridges connecting all the other tree houses.
You won't soon forget that vacation.
On the other hand, if all you're looking for is a place to relax, then Costa Rica is full of all-inclusive resorts.
If you want to know how to plan a vacation to Costa Rica, look no further:
No matter what kind of vacation you want, adventure or chill, Costa Rica has something for you.
But you don't need to stray that far from home if you don't want.
Lower 48 road trip
You crave adventure. You want to get out there and see the world.
But you don't have too much money.
I get it.
So why not explore your own backyard first?
An epic road trip across the United States of America is something Hollywood movies are made of, but which very few people do.
Here's the bottom line:
You can take your own car, and with a tent and a sleeping bag, you can camp along the way. All you need to pay for is food and gas.
And there is SO much to see in the U.S.!
Seriously, there is every type of environment here.
From tropical to arctic. There are forests and deserts. Coasts and mountains. Huge cities and old west ghost towns.
So, learn how to plan a vacation across the U.S. and go see some of these amazing sites:
Some places you can see for cheap in the comfort of your own car:
Crystal clear blue water. White-washed bungalows along cobble-stone streets. Gorgeous red and pink flowers everywhere. Friendly, beautiful people with amazing food.
Plus, it's always sunny and warm but never humid.
You just pictured Greece.
Greece has to be one of the top places to take a vacation. There is so much to do and see in this ancient country that you'll never have a boring day.
Here's how to plan a vacation to Greece:
Things to do in Greece:
In fact, there's so much to do and see in Greece that making an itinerary can get quite complicated. From wine tasting to beach lounging to exploring history and culture, how do you choose?
Here's another thing:
Greece is very diverse. Each region has its own flavor and its own distinct culture and style.
Add to that all the islands and mountains and archipelagos, and you've got a lifetime of adventure to explore.
Do you want to know where all the roads end?
The most isolated state is one of the forgotten treasures of North America.
And it's totally worth visiting.
You've got mountains, and glaciers, and forests, and some of the most rugged coastline you've ever imagined.
But get this.
Did you know that Juneau has one of the best culinary scenes in the country?
For some reason, the world's top chefs are flocking to Alaska and setting up restaurants. There are Michelin-star-rated restaurants in Juneau and Anchorage.
To be sure, Alaska isn't for everyone. You need to have a bit of a sense of adventure.
Also, you must really not want to swim on a beach, because even in the summer it's relatively chilly in Alaska.
And I'll be honest with you: it can be a little dangerous. I mean, have you seen the size of those Kodiac bears?
Learn how to plan a vacation to Alaska:
Things to do in Alaska:
Do you want to get far, far away?
Then head to Indonesia, because everything is so different here.
Yet there's a highly-developed tourism economy, which means you get all the conveniences that you want. Good food, safety, nightclubs, modern hotels, great health care, and decent infrastructure.
Now, the same can't be said for the rest of Indonesia, but in Bali, you're going to be comfortable.
Bali is just one of Indonesia's islands, but it's become a tourism mecca. That means you get awesome white-sand beaches and true South Pacific weather. As well as some fantastic hotels and restaurants.
Learn to scuba dive in the clear blue ocean, or hike up an active volcano, or party your nights away in one of Bali's booming night clubs.
Things here aren't too expensive, either.
Prices are going up as more and more people come here. So don't wait too long.
Here's how to plan a vacation to Bali.
Things to do in Bali:
How to Make Memories on Vacation
It's a question that drives you nuts.
How to plan a vacation that turns into an epic lifelong memory?
Sure, you can sit at the in-pool bar all day, annoying people with your chatter and avoiding the warm patches of water.
But that's not really epic.
And it certainly doesn't create many memories.
To really create memories while on vacation, you need to do a bit of preparation beforehand. I'm talking about before you even leave home.
There are four easy things you can do right now to make sure you have memories that will last a lifetime. This is how to plan a vacation.
(DESIGNER_START) please make this part stand out
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Plan your itinerary
Record your vacation
If you do these four things before you go on vacation, then you're going to have a much better time than if you just wing it.
There are many reasons why it's better to prepare in advance.
What if you run out of money?
In that case, even the pool bar won't be an option.
Here's another thing.
If you load too many expectations into your vacation or create an unwieldy plan bursting with activities, you're going to become overwhelmed trying to do it all.
Plus, you're going to come off as a controlling nazi to everyone you're traveling with. That's why it's always good to keep things simple. It's a vacation, after all.
Also, you really want to sketch out a basic itinerary.
That way, you'll know what days and times to do something out of the ordinary, whether it's ziplining down a mountain in Central America or exploring a castle in Scotland.
Finally, you'll want to keep those memories forever. That means taking photos and videos.
Here are some cool ideas:
Ideas for preserving your vacation memories
How to Plan a Vacation
Want to know a secret?
Here it is:
Planning a vacation is fun!
You see, as you plan your vacation, you visualize it. You become excited to start the process. Everyone gets motivated to find the deals or contact your travel agent.
As you think about the things you want to do and start to look at the money you have available to do them, you realize that an epic vacation is indeed possible!
One more thing:
Plan well in advance.
While any time is the right time to plan your vacation, the earlier you do it, the better.
It's like this:
If you plan six months to a year in advance, you'll have lots of time to save for it. You'll find cheaper deals on flights and hotels. You'll be able to research your destination in detail and create the perfect itinerary.
I'll let you in on the secret my wife and I share.
You see, we plan our entire year in advance. Of course, it's not set in stone, and we know that circumstances will pop up which we weren't expecting.
But for the most part, our budget for the year is set out, our savings goals, our vacations, and any serious commitments like weddings.
We even prepare for everyone's birthday at the start of the year, so we're never caught scrambling for a gift!
If you do this with your vacation, you're going to have a MUCH better time.
Like they say in the Scouts: "Be prepared."
Decide where to go
You should probably know this key piece of information.
The first thing to do when planning a vacation is deciding where to go.
This allows you to set realistic goals and figure out what kind of budget you'll need to work with. It sure beats closing your eyes and pointing your finger on a map.
But how do you decide where to go?
It's actually fairly easy, but it does take some introspection.
Here's what you do:
First, close your eyes. Then, visualize yourself on vacation.
What brings you a sense of peace, and happiness, and a bit of excitement? When you daydream of being on vacation, where are you? What are you doing? What's around you? Who are you with?
Whatever you see is where you should go.
For instance, after this past winter, which was extremely tough, I keep picturing myself laying in a hammock near the beach in Costa Rica.
Gee, I wonder where I should go next?
Determine your budget
Like everything else in life, a budget will make or break you. So figure out how much money you'll have to spend on your vacation.
If you're going on a surprise vacation tomorrow, then what you have in the bank right now is pretty much your budget.
If you're leaving in eight months, then determine how much money you'll save towards vacation between now and then.
To know how to plan a vacation, start with your money:
Get a pen and paper to start.
Now, write down all the things you would like to do and guess a price tag for each one. Sleep in a hotel or rent an Airbnb? Write it all down.
Do you want to eat at Subway the entire time, or is surf and turf in your future?
Once you've got it all down, compare your rough guess of prices to the amount of money you'll have on hand. Cross out anything that you can drop without taking away from your vacation.
Now you have an idea of your budget.
Time of year
Here's how to plan a vacation:
Plan for the right time of year.
For instance, if you want to road trip through Quebec, you'll probably (definitely) want to avoid doing it in February.
A quick Google search will tell you the best time of year to go where you want to go.
But there's more.
You'll also need to figure out how much time you have to spend.
Like money, time is valuable. If you only have seven days off work, then make sure you use that time wisely.
All the more reason to plan in advance!via GIPHY
Get a travel agent
Have you ever wondered why travel agents are still a thing in the age of the internet?
It's because they offer something the net can't.
You see, a travel agent knows all the right people, and they know how to build a great vacation within your budget.
Remember, the travel agent works for you.
Best of all, they don't cost anything. Instead, the airlines and hotels they book with pay their commission.
You can let your agent know what you want out of your vacation and how much money you have to do it, and they'll fill in the gaps. When it comes to knowing how to plan a vacation, nobody beats a travel agent.
Also, they'll organize your flights and hotels and excursions, and find you the best prices.
Make an itinerary
I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking "I thought you said not to be a vacation-nazi?"
And you're right because that's what I did say.
Except having an itinerary has nothing to do with micro-managing every aspect of your vacation. Instead, it will allow you to easily flow from one day to the next.
A good itinerary accounts for details like departure times, contacts, your budget, and other items which will impact the quality of your vacation.
But it will skip over details such as what time you will eat breakfast, and how long each person will spend in the shower.
Want to know a little itinerary secret?
Here it is:
When you keep everything in a notebook, you'll stay super organized.
Your vacation should have its own notebook, which you can create an itinerary for each day, as well as all the information you need for that day.
Best of all, you can write a little log into it at the end of the day, which creates a mini-journal you can keep forever!
Do you want to know how to plan a vacation using a travel notebook?
Let's check it out:
Addresses and phone numbers
You'll want to have addresses and phone numbers on hand.
Here's the thing:
Once you start your vacation, the last thing you'll want to do is get lost.
So before you leave, consult with your travel agent and write down all the contact information for things like:
Here's another important about how to plan a vacation.
Write down all your flight information.
You'll want to record the details for every flight you plan on taking. That includes the information for everyone you're traveling with.
Sure, you have all that on your ticket, and in the emails you received when you booked.
But you know what's easier than all that?
Having it all written down on one page in your travel book.
Just open it up and it's all there. You'll never miss a flight again!
Don't forget to include:
So, what happens when you land?
Somehow you'll need to get from the airport to the hotel or resort where you'll be staying.
Of course, if you're driving your own vehicle then you can skip this part. Otherwise, make sure your travel agent pre-books transportation from the airport.
Write down the information.
And you know what else?
Pre-plan all the other transportation you'll need on your vacation.
Taking an excursion to Aztec ruins? Driving a moped along the coast?
Book it in advance and write down the contacts, details, any confirmation numbers, etc. Keep copies of the receipts in your notebook.
Excursions and tours
Pre-plan your excursions for a stress-free vacation.
Seriously. If you're going to take a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, book it in advance. And by now I think you know what to do.
Write it down!
You want to include the day, time, the people going, any booking confirmation numbers, and of course, contact information for the company or person involved.
But there's more.
Don't forget to include things you might overlook, such as what to bring with you depending on what you'll be doing.
Do you know what's a real bummer?
But when you get hurt on vacation it's even worse.
So why not take a little bit of the pain away by being prepared?
You see, when you keep your health insurance information recorded in your travel book, it's always on hand in an emergency.
Make sure you have everyone's info recorded. Don't worry about someone getting hold of this information.
That's because travel insurance is temporary, and can't be used without ID anyways. There's not much a potential thief can glean from your travel insurance.
So write it all down!
Where Will You Go Next?
That's how to plan a vacation.
Are you ready?
Because you're going on vacay!
Plan your vacation in advance and you'll make some awesome memories that will last a lifetime.
It's a pretty simple formula when you put it all together:
Get a travel notebook, and start writing.
Where will you go? When will you go? How much money will you have to do it?
Those three questions will start you on your next vacation. You can fill in the itinerary and other details as you progress.
So where will you go next? Let us know in the comments!