How To Plan The Perfect Vacation on a Budget!

April 25, 2018 No comments exist

The Traditional Way of Planning a Vacation: Pre-Planning to Landing

by: Giselle Blanco

Hand writing travel plan in a lined spiral notepad arranged on a map

Planning a vacation can be a hassle, especially if you have never planned one before. All these questions come to mind. “Where should I start? Where should I go? What should I pack? Where should I stay? Do I have enough money?” Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned traveler, these tips will help you plan the perfect vacation, in hopes that it will inspire you to take more vacations. Here are the Top 10 methods I use when planning a vacation:

1. Travel Budget
The first step in pre-planning your vacation is creating a travel budget. Calculate how much you have saved and how much you are willing to spend. This will make the planning process much easier, when booking flights and hotels.

2. Pre-Planning
The next step is narrowing down where you want to go based on your travel budget. Create a bucket list of places you want to visit and things you want to do. What kind of vacation are you looking for? Do you want an adventure or explore a new city? Are you looking for something to do with the family? Are in you need of some rest and relaxation? Traveling Alone?

Once you have narrowed down where you want to go, the second step is to determine when and for how long you will travel. You might know the dates for your vacation in advance before knowing where you’re going. Determining the dates should be done simultaneously as you create your bucket list. If you know the dates in advance, then you can begin to narrow down the location by weather, season and type of trip you desire.

3. Research the Weather
Researching the weather beforehand is a smart thing to do. You want to make sure your travel plans aren’t ruined due to predicted weather or seasons. For example, if you are planning a Caribbean Cruise, you may want to avoid traveling in that area during Hurricane season (normally, August-December). If you are planning a ski trip to Colorado, you may want to avoid traveling in the summer, when there is less snow. If you’re planning a trip on the other side of the world, keep in mind that climate may differ due to the different season in that region.

4. Google Map The Area
Using google maps is a great tool! Personally, I like to book my hotels closest to the airport (within 30 miles). When I am researching different hotels, I have google maps open and I copy and paste the address to determine the distance between the hotel and airport.

5. Search for Flights
Now that you have narrowed down where and when, the next step is to search for flights! There are several strategies I use when booking flights. The key on saving on airfare is the day and time of the flight. It is cheaper to fly during the middle of the week, usually Wednesdays. If you have the flexibility, keep this in mind when booking your flight and planning your trip.

6. Reward Miles and Travel Cards
If you’re going to use credit cards, and you want to travel more; then it makes sense to use cards that are going to help achieve that goal. Aside from travel rewards card, each airline offers frequent flyer rewards, which are free. Consider it like a rewards card you get from Duane Reade or Rite Aid. Every time you’re making a purchase, the cashier usually asks, “Do you have a rewards card? The card is scanned during checkout earning you points that can be redeemed for later purchases. Frequent flyer cards work the same way. When you’re purchasing a flight, you are given the option to enter a frequent flyer number. Each flight earns a certain amount of miles, which can be used for further flights. Best part is that it’s free to apply. Sign up to as many frequent flyer programs available!

Points.com  helps users get more flexibility and value from their airline, hotel, retail, and credit-card loyalty programs. This program is free and helps you organize and keep track of all your travel points/reward cards.

7. Hotels & Accommodations
After booking your flight, it’s time to make hotel reservations. Usually, I have google maps minimized on my computer while I search for hotels. When I find a hotel that I might be interested in, I enter the address to see how far it is from the airport. This also allows me to see what attractions and things there is to do in that area. I have my own person booking engine, however, I’ve compiled a list of the most popular booking sites. Reserve anything from hotel rooms, resorts/all-inclusive, bed breakfasts, and more.

8. Transportation
As a native New Yorker; I never needed a car. I rely on public transportation and have been able to get around different areas without any problems. When I travel, I use SuperShuttle or SunTransfer to get from the airport to my hotel or a car service like Carmel Car or GroundLink. While on my trip, I use Uber or Lfyt to get around the area. If you prefer to rent a car, I recommend you make reservations when booking your hotel. Here are some recommended airport shuttles and car rental services:

9. Recreation & Tours
I suggest you pre-plan your excursions in advance to save time and money. You can also book on site, but it’s always a good idea to see what’s out there to do so you can include it in your budget.

10. Dining
If you used google maps when planning, you probably noticed the list of restaurants in the area. Just like recreation, I like to look at the different restaurant in the area to assure myself that I’ll find something to eat! Try Uber Eats or Groupon to find deals while you’re on vacation.

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