Is there somewhere that you are desperate to visit, but you can’t seem to find the time or the money? Perhaps you’d like to spend a week in Paris or explore the mountains of Japan. The possibilities may seem so far away thanks to the high costs of travel.
But with dedication and frugality, those dreams are not as distant as they seem.
Begin looking into your options and get optimistic with these four tips for making your dream vacation a reality.
1. Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time
To avoid the obstacles that commonly accompany spontaneous travel, make sure that you create a plan long before your departure. Save up your vacation days and coordinate with your employer to find the right time period to take them.
If you are traveling with family or friends, it will be necessary to confirm their schedules as well. Once this is done, your flights can be booked, and you can start planning your itinerary.
Next, choose your accommodations. Depending on your income, you could stay somewhere more affordable like a hostel or a bed and breakfast. Hotel prices can run higher but their rooms also provide more privacy — perfect if traveling with family. As long as you have your flights and lodging set up first, you’ll be ready to explore the area.
As you plan your activities, do some preliminary research on your destination. Where have you decided to go? What kinds of things are there to do there? What will the weather be like when you get there? These are some of the questions you can ask yourself to narrow down your schedule.
Making an itinerary will give you the freedom to do exactly what and how much you want to. It also controls expectations. Preparing clothes or alternate activities for inclement weather can help prevent disappointment if you have an unexpected turn of events.
2. Prepare Your Finances in Advance
Once you have decided on a location, create a “travel fund” for your savings to go into. It can be an actual account, a money jar, or even a notepad to keep track. Just remember to be consistent with it — choose the option that best suits your saving habits.
If you have difficulty saving, try using a dedicated account for travel so you aren’t tempted to dip into it. It’s important to budget your current spending so you have something to save.
Take a few minutes to assess your monthly income and expenses so you may accurately budget for the coming months. There should be money leftover each time, which you can divide into the amount you’ll save versus extra for spending.
In order to maintain good financial habits while you do this, consider using a debit card for your purchases. That way, you can control expenses and are reasonably limited in how much you spend.
With a credit card, you are using the bank’s money and paying interest. A debit card will allow you to spend within your means and avoid even touching your savings.
3. Embark With an Open Mind
If you are more of a wanderer, it might be advantageous to plan a time in which there is nothing planned. Remember to arrange your schedule based not on getting everything done, but on enjoying yourself. Ultimately, this is the most important part of a trip rather than completing your itinerary.
If you know exactly the experience you’re looking for, then by all means plan it out. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself to enjoy things that don’t resonate with you.
In a similar vein, you previously prepared alternatives for yourself should your schedule be interrupted. This was for the same reason — to take the pressure off! This is a vacation, so allow yourself to take your time and live life differently.
If small issues arise, the same advice applies. It’s only natural that plans shift with the situation, and riding that wave might bring you somewhere pleasantly unplanned. Be open to unexpected adventures.
Give yourself the chance to stray, and be ready to adapt to changing circumstances. Then you can branch out even more. Is there anything you want to try that you haven’t done before?
Maybe you’re curious about the local cuisine or there’s an intimidating yet exciting activity you’ve been hoping to try. Go for it! This is your time to connect with yourself and the world in new and different ways.
4. Memorialize Your Experience
While this step seems small, keeping physical memories of your vacation can remind you of its significance in your life. For this purpose, it is a good idea to bring a camera for physical pictures alongside your phone. Phone pictures are quick and easy, but sometimes it’s fun to take traditional photos as well.
Regardless of the medium, you’ll be glad to have such beautiful memories of the trip. If friends accompany you, then it would be even nicer to have images of your time together. Even the food you’ve eaten or images of the weather on a beautiful day can transport you to that time again.
Alongside photography, allow yourself to keep some souvenirs. Any stand-out objects that you encounter on your vacation will carry a memory with them and are worth becoming keepsakes.
Luckily, you have the funds to spend however you please thanks to your savings. So try to find something to take back that will have meaning for you. What stands out to you the most? After doing a particularly memorable activity, you can purchase something related to it, or that reminds you of it.
Even something small, like a bracelet or a stone, is much more meaningful coupled with its origin. Alternatively, you can always keep something you’ve gotten for free, like a ticket stub or meal receipt.
Bringing your dream vacation to fruition happens in both the planning and the execution. A perfectly scheduled trip can go wrong quickly if your mindset is not in the right place. Similarly, it can also go wrong if you’re open to anything but have no plans to carry out.
That is why it is important to focus on both parts. Once you’ve brought them together, you will be fully satisfied with the dream vacation you’ve created.
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