Those of us who are stuck at home because of the pandemic may suffer from the blues. Feelings of melancholy can occur from being unable to visit family and friends or explore new and exciting places. Rather than let the pandemic squash wanderlust dreams, why not use the downtime to start planning a future trip of a lifetime?
1) Choose a travel destination. Ask yourself, where do I want to go? Dream of taking a glacier cruise in Alaska? Or picture yourself strolling the beach in Aruba? Create a list of desirable places worthy of visiting. Couples should plan together so that both parties are happy with the choice. Of course, sometimes our dreams are bigger than our budget. No worries. Consider domestic alternatives that provide similar travel experiences. For example, if you long to visit a large historic chateau in France, a trip to North Carolina might be a more affordable option, saving the cost of international flights and travel time. Asheville’s French Renaissance Biltmore Estates features a historic chateau experience, complete with luxurious gardens and forested trails.
2) Decide on things to see and do. Use the internetto observe photos, read travelers’ experiences, and soak in the history, landmarks, traditions, and events. Visit YouTube to take free virtual tours. For each place on your travel bucket list, catalog what you want to do in detail. Examples include visiting various museums, castles, cathedrals, or temples, attending concerts, fine dining, food and wine tours, hiking, horseback riding, deep-sea diving, shopping, etc. Listing which experiences you seek can help narrow down your travel destination and can be used to create the ideal itinerary.
3) Understand the nitty-gritty. What are the weather conditions? When is hurricane season? Is the location safe? Is the exchange rate reasonable? Is my health insurance valid there? Can I speak the language? Detailed questions can help travelers avoid pitfalls. For example, if you are planning a trip to the beaches of North or South Carolina, it helps to know that 96 percent of all Category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes peak from mid-August to mid-October. When planning trips with the young or elderly, understand the level of physical activity required to visit. For example, an Amalfi Coast walking tour takes at least 2.5 hours and includes walking along cobblestone streets and unpaved trails.
4) Prepare a budget. Often, we dream big. And that is great! However, most people must be mindful of spending. It is wise to compare the average travel costs, lodging, meals, and activities of various locations. Certain cities, such as Tokyo, Zurich, Paris, and London, have reputations for being expensive. Perhaps visit the city by day and stay elsewhere or adjust the length of your trip. While we often consider big-ticket items, such as the cost of flights or hotels, it’s easy to overlook hidden expenses, such as travel insurance, airport parking, transportation to and from the hotel, tipping, souvenirs, etc. Be sure not to overlook payment to caretakers of your home or pets. It’s also advisable to build-in precautionary savings for an emergency before taking a trip. Understanding how much your trip will cost can help you to create a savings plan.
5) Save Save Save! There’s no time like the present to save money for your trip. Create a separate travel savings account that you can build upon. Avoid using banks that charge high fees. Be sure to choose an account that gives you access to your money when you need it. Have a goal dollar amount to achieve, find a number you are comfortable with to put in savings and do so regularly.
6) Get ready for travel deals. AMAC offers hotel and other travel discounts for members. Additionally, avoiding peak travel times may save money. Be sure to compare hotel prices to bed and breakfasts in the area and check out nearby vacation rentals. When booking a hotel online, call directly and ask if they can beat the price you see. Also, consider all-inclusive resorts or group vacations that can sometimes be money savers. Or travel with family or friends and split some costs, such as a car rental or vacation Air bnb. Booking a plane ticket? Use flight search filters to obtain the best value.
7) Get organized! Wouldn’t it be downright annoying to reach a beach destination and discover you left your swimsuit at home? And imagine the trouble if one fails to pack contact lenses or critical medications. To avoid woes, create a detailed packing list to include clothes, toiletries, and prescriptions and create two other checklists; one for tasks and errands to be completed before vacation and another for what needs to be done in your absence. Cleaning out the refrigerator and taking out the trash are pre-vacation tasks. Watering the lawn and house plants might be jobs for your home caretaker while you are away.
Following these easy tips will help you save, get organized, and prepare for a trouble-free vacation dream in the future. Bon Voyage!