As I mentioned yesterday, this week we’re looking at things that can be considered now to help make your summer travels the best they can be.
Have you ever taken a trip and come home feeling like you needed a vacation from your vacation?
Maybe you spent the week running all over the place to “get the most of your trip”. Or perhaps you spent a disproportionate amount of time doing things you really didn’t care about doing because someone made you feel obligated. Or perhaps you just didn’t seek out the experiences that would have helped balance it all out.
Whatever the reason, many of us have come home from vacation feeling less euphoric than we imagined. Here are five things to consider as you plan your next holiday to make sure it hits the spot.
1) Are you looking for an adventure or a holiday?
Several years ago the dude and I realized that while we love seeing the world and experiencing cultural things, sometimes what we need most is a break. Whenever we visit a new place, especially if it’s one we’ve been pining to see for a long time, we can’t keep ourselves from packing in as much as possible. I mean, if you’re already in Paris, how can you not see St. Chappelle’s, the Pere Lachaise, and the Musee D’orsay, regardless of how exhausted you are?
So we started asking this question in the initial stages of travel planning: “Are we looking to travel or are we wanting a holiday?” We think of traveling as adventuring and learning and and getting sick off street food and living out of what we can carry on our backs. A holiday, on the the other hand, means taking it easy, packing whatever our muses require, filling our Kindles with fresh non-trees, and stashing a lot of extra food in our room.
Certainly we relax some when traveling and explore some when on holiday, but the two have different aims and distinct feels. Actively deciding up front what you want from your time away goes a long way to helping you get it.
2) What are your goals?
Okay, so you’ve considered whether you’re looking for rock-n-roll or the recliner, but what else?
Are you going to stay with a friend? Then perhaps spending quality time with them is your primary goal. You’re adventuring, but is there anything you specifically want to see or experience in this location? What do you not want to miss? Its food? Its history? The arts? You’re relaxing, but does that mean enjoying the spa, going hiking, kicking back on the beach, or reading books by the fire? What do you most want and/or need right now?
Hone in on what you really hope to get from your vacation, and keep it in mind throughout your planning process.
3) Who will else be there?
Last fall when your mother-in-law invited the extended family on both sides to join them in Colorado (“all bills paid!”) it sounded great. But then you realized it was going to eat up all your remaining vacation days and leave you dreaming of the beach. You’re on your way to big vacation disappoint, my friend.
This is a sensitive topic to be sure, but face it head-on as you plan. If you need to refresh, spend your break with people who refresh you. If you want time by yourself, encourage fewer people or start strategizing how to get time alone. If you want to spend your days chasing endangered animals, just be sure your companion wasn’t primarily wanting to lounge by the pool.
Later this week we’ll talk about choosing good travelmates. For now, just remember to not leave this decision to someone else. You’re an adult; you have a say.
4) What do you want to spend?
You’ve been setting money aside for traveling, right? Riiiiight? Well, if not, you might consider the staycation in lieu of plunging into debt. But if so, carefully consider how much of your savings you want to spend on this particular outing. Are you hoping to take a big trip some time in the future? If so, don’t spend your whole roll on this one.
The dude and I want to see the northern lights when they peak in a few years. This means that the interim travel budget is a little tighter than it would otherwise be. But when the time comes to watch aurora paint the sky, I’m going to be soooo thankful I set some money aside for the privilege.
Don’t want to spend much this time around? Later this week we’ll discuss options for heading out on the cheap.
5) How long should you go for?
Finding the optimal length of a trip is more obscure than it seems at first glance. When I’m desperate for a break, it takes me a good two to three days to decompress before I’m really relaxing. Ending such a trip in four days would be like walking out on a 60 minute massage 50 minutes early.
On the other hand, if you’re doing some serious traveling, each day might be a significant expenditure, and three or four days might be all you can afford. But then you have to consider if it’s worth going all that way and then spending only a few days. If not, consider taking a smaller-budget vacation now and take that big trip when you really have the dollars to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.
Here are some things to consider regarding the length of your trip:
- How many vacation days do you have left? Do you want to save some for later?
- How many days do you need to accomplish your goals for the trip?
- How much money do you have to spend?
- How many days will it take for you to feel like you’re getting “enough” out of the money you’re spending?
Aim for finding the intersecting point between your goals, your budget, and your available time. If one is out of whack, keep tweaking your plan until you’re happy with it. There’s nothing worse than shelling out a lot of money and then being disappointed.
What about you? What leaves your frustrated or disappointed after a trip? What things do you to make sure you get the most from your vacation?
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This week we’re talking about travel planning. Here are links to the whole series: