There is really no doubt in my mind that every good vacation trip starts with a good plan. This is true whether you are going to stay at home and relax, go on a series of day trips or fly to an overseas destination. You need to have the major details, and some of the minor ones, planned. Long before your vacation day rolls around, you have to assemble all the basic information you have at hand and prepare the plan.
Before you sit down and budget, you need to have the information required to make your summer vacation run smoothly. Keep a list of the necessary stuff in pen, pencil or even crayon if you work with a hard copy. Compile it on a computer or your Blackberry or any other electronic device if it makes your ability to bring together and store material easier for you. Whatever works for you, use it.
The data should fall into several basic categories. To put together a solid plan, you need to gather information in the following major categories:
The destination or destinations at which you plan to spend your vacation requires extensive research – even is you have been there previously. Things change.
The time frame you have to work within. In other words, how long do you have off for you summer holidays? This is especially crucial if you plan flights, book trains and must manage various modes of transportation and accommodation. It can even affect the total affordable cost.
This is also important in selecting a place. You need to know whether the place is overrun with tourists during your planned visit. This will affect hotel space and prices. Your timing may also be off if you do not check to see whether a major convention or event is in progress during your vacation time.
Are you going alone or with someone? If you are spending at least part of your vacation with someone else, you need to include them in the planning process.
Be sure to check the various literature and sites on the weather. You do not want to spend your holiday in a monsoon in Asia or find yourself in the eye of a hurricane. Of course, even if storm hunting is your ideal summer vacation, it is even more important to check out the weather.
What basic type of vacation experience are you planning?
If you are going as part of a tour, you need to check the details well in advance.
This is a very important part of every vacation plan. You need, first, to decide on what mode or even modes of travel you are going to use. You need to look at the various types available for your specific trip. Is it easier to reach by plane or train? Is it more convenient for us to drive or fly? What about taking a bus tour or going by bus?
Do you have a specific type in mind? Although we discuss it in depth in a later chapter, you need to know what type of lodging at which you wish to stay. You have to understand what types of accommodations are available and reasonable in your destinations. You must know the options available and the best fit for you and your vacation plans.
You need to set down the budget before you book anything. While we get into budget and money cost specifics later, at the initial planning stage, it is essential to know the amount of money you have to spend for the vacation.
Disabilities and/or health issues
Another factor that must come into your plan is physical limitations. Do you have any? If you are going with someone, do they have any? This may affect the overall expenses. It may also limit where you and/or they want to go. You will need to check out these aspects when you examine lodgings, transportation and activities, to name a few aspects of an average vacation.
This is a basic list of the major variables requiring your attention during the planning phase. This is planning. You are working toward solidifying details. You are gathering information to help you have the best vacation possible on your limited budget. Your next step is to flesh out the basic particulars by research. This may be simple or difficult. It depends upon both your sources and your personal ability to patiently wade through the various details and statistics, records and figures.
Your search can take into account a variety of different sources. In fact, it should pull together the information from as many reliable resources as possible. Be sure to take into consideration both print and electronic media. In other words look to the internet but do not forget books and periodicals. A list of possible materials to consider should include those provided below:
Go to airline sites, travel agencies, information on specific countries, online train, plane and booking information and data sites. Use the internet to look up the weather for places. Online sites are also helpful in finding out about smaller places, lodgings and other specific statistics and significant material on possible local transportation, sites, activities and possible deals. Many places have their own home page chock full of material on lodging, attractions and transportation systems. They can offer you deals and advise you on local conditions. If the actual place does not have a site, the local tourist agency might well have one.
In fact, you can find just about everything on the internet. You have to be careful, however, and filter it. Be aware of who is the creator of the site, its purpose and any possible flaws. Check the date of the offerings and the site. Always shop around, comparing price as well as what they offer.
The internet is also a way to find out what people actually think of specific services and places. Several travel, lodging and attraction sites have a comments or ratings page. People blog, complain or comment about the facilities, services or points-of-interest. This user-generated travel information can be very helpful. It can provide you with the personal perspective by actual travelers and, sometimes, locals, of the services, lodgings, facilities and/or point-of-interest in which you have an interest.
Check out your local library and bookstore. They provide you a wide array of different possibilities. They can tell you information about places you want to go, the potential costs, risks and specific factors and characteristics of a place. Sit down and browse at the local bookstore or check out a book from the library. The latter often have the latest up to date books or periodicals. They may also be able to get you a book from another library cheaply using their interlibrary loan services.
Periodicals are another source of information. Some provide fluffy pieces made to sell a specific place or attraction; others are more in depth. Be aware of any material indicative of being supported by specific advertisers or vested interests. Try to obtain well-rounded articles or read columns from actual visitors. Remember. Travel writers are paid to write these columns.
Go to various travel agencies. Talk to staff. Check out what they offer. Are there any special deals they can offer you? Are they more flexible than an internet source?
Pick up at the travel agencies or from such sources as travel shows. Send off for them either by regular mail or through your e-mail.
Check into various clubs and associations. Can you get a discount if you are a member of a specific club or group? Did you go to Colleg or University? Some schools have group outings for alumni. Look into such things as Automobile Associations. Although geared toward traveling by motorized vehicles, they can help with information about lodgings and attractions.
Ask people who have gone to the places you are considering? Talk to them about their experience. Particularly find out from them about such things as lodgings, transportation, attractions and food. Be sure to inquire about prices, value-for-money and any package deals.
There are travel channels and podcasts providing information on various places. Travelcasts and webcams make available information and actual pictures of attractions, lodgings and other related material.
The gathering of pertinent information will take time. You need to be thorough and accurate. Always be sure of the dates of the material they provide. Be aware of any changes in such things as currency and rates. All the factors and material are important for your next step in planning a successful summer vacation on a budget. You will need to factor in everything when you actually sit down and to prepare your holiday budget.
If you want to read the Plan A Trip # 1 article, you can reach it by clicking here.