Taking a vacation away from work and home is an important way to help you relax, reduce stress and refocus your mind while making life-long memories with friends and family. But for many, the thought of having to actually plan a vacation creates a mountain of stress. Deciding where to go, what to do and how to pay for it can stop the planning process in its tracks. Following these seven easy tips will help you plan a vacation that leaves you relaxed and stress-free until well after you return home.
Determine Your Destination
If you already know where you want to go on your next vacation, congratulations! That is half of the battle. If you’re still undecided, it’s time to start narrowing down your choices. Start by thinking what type of vacation you are looking for: a long weekend or a week away; lazy days by the beach or intense hikes in the mountains; amusement parks or national parks; travel by car or travel by plane, etc. Then start researching locations that fit your ideal vacation by using websites such as TripAdvisor, asking friends and family for recommendations or working with a travel agent.
Set Your Budget
When it comes to deciding on a vacation destination, the sky is the limit. But the same cannot be said when it comes to your vacation budget. Let’s be honest, a vacation is going to cost you some money. According to CreditDonkey, the average vacation costs $1,145 per person or $4,580 for a family of four. It is important to review your finances to determine how much you are comfortable spending on your vacation without breaking the bank or accruing a lot of debt. There is nothing worse than coming back from a nice, relaxing vacation just to stress out about how you will pay for it. When setting your budget, factor in any expenses you can foresee such as travel, lodging, meals, site-seeing activities, amusement parks or souvenirs.
If you don’t already have your vacation budget sitting in the bank, it is time to start saving. If you have several months before your vacation, set aside a little bit each time that you get paid or receive an unexpected windfall such as a bonus, a birthday gift, or a tax refund. Consider opening a separate savings account just for your vacation budget. You can even make your savings automatic by setting up a portion of your paycheck to be direct deposited directly into your savings account. If you are planning last minute trip and don’t have a lot of time to save, look for ways to cover your vacation expenses by cutting current expenses or selling unused items in order to get some extra cash help.
Another way to save throughout the year is by using credit cards for your everyday purchases that offer rewards in the form of cash back or as credits toward your airfare or hotel. For instance, First National Bank’s Complete Rewards Visa ®Credit Card offers 1% back on purchases to redeem for cash back, gift cards, travel or merchandise. These rewards can quickly add up to a significant amount toward your next vacation!
If your schedule permits, be flexible with when you take your vacation to increase the chances that you get the best bang for your buck. For instance, during the holidays and spring break the prices for flights and hotels usually increase due to increased demand. If you can travel outside of peak times you are more likely to get a better deal. Using websites such as Expedia and trivago can help you book your airfare, hotel and car rental at the same time while also helping you get the best deal.
Research and book activities in advance
Many people like to go with the flow during their vacations and not have a set schedule. However, doing so may end up in disappointment if the activities you are interested in require a reservation. Many popular activities such as horseback riding, fishing excursions, or lunch with your favorite princess have limited capacity and fill up days, weeks or even months in advance. It’s a good idea to research the activities available at your vacation destination and book the ones you are interested in well before you leave town.
Purchase miscellaneous items ahead of time
Make a list of any miscellaneous items that you will need for your trip and purchase as much as you can ahead of time. For instance, if you are headed to the beach, purchasing sunscreen at a local store will most likely cost much less than it will at your hotel or a convenience store on vacation. Likewise, purchase snacks and possibly groceries for your trip before you leave to avoid the higher prices charged in tourist towns and gas stations.
Tie up loose ends at home
There’s no doubt that your mind is going to be focused on the great time that you will have during your vacation, but don’t forget to make plans for keeping things on track while you are gone.
Additionally, take note of any bills that will need to be paid while you are on vacation and arrange to have them paid ahead of time. Also, be sure to download the mobile app for your financial institution such as the FNBO mobile app (available through the App Store or Android App on Google Play) to ensure sure you can easily handle any unexpected bills or transfers, track your purchases and even find surcharge-free ATMs from the Allpoint ATM network which provide 55,000surcharge-free ATMs worldwide.
If you follow these simple steps there’s a good chance you will be able to plan your next vacation without feeling stressed. All that that will be left for you to do is to relax and enjoy your time off – you definitely deserve it.