How to plan a dream vacation you’ll remember in 20 years

How to Plan a Dream Vacation

Your dream vacation is within reach. Though sometimes, planning a trip sure doesn’t feel like a vacation. Research can get awfully time-consuming and it might seem intimidating at first to connect all of the travel dots. But there’s a way to plan your ideal getaway so that you can maximize fun while minimizing workload.

Step 1
Brainstorm vacation ideas. Get everyone’s input if you’re traveling in a group, and make sure you are all on the same page, or at least close. Write down the things your favorite vacation would include, such as activities, a favorite season, weather, important dates and anything else that will make your vacation special.

If you’re struggling with where to start, ask yourself if you want a warm or cold weather destination. Most travelers tend to gravitate toward the equator, but that doesn’t stop snow lovers from digging into fresh powder. Urban or wilderness? Downtown or down by the beach? Is there a destination that melds the best of both worlds? Foreign or domestic? Drawing the line between binaries like these can be a good way to get the gears in motion.

Step 2 
Lock down your budget. The number of Benjamins you’re willing to spend doesn’t have to dictate what sort of trip you’ll take, but it certainly plays a role. Typically, the most expensive aspects – depending on one’s taste – are centered around transportation and hotel. If you can find the slender deals, you’ll be in the money – well, sort of.

Remember to factor in all travel costs such as airplane or cruise fare, food, clothing, hotel expenses, taxi fare, sports equipment, cameras, attraction fees, tips, souvenirs and travel insurance. Attempt to find a middle ground between your desires and your dollars.

Step 3
Test out three or four potential itineraries. This step requires research, research, research. For example, if you’re dreaming of conquering several destinations in a compact amount of time with a budget of $4,000, a European backpacking trip may be up your alley. Surf the websites of different hostels and various tour guide companies. For those dying to sail the seas on an unlimited budget, a luxury cruise may be the perfect fit. To protect your travel investment while cruising, it is recommended to purchase travel insurance.

Plan activities. Though lying by the pool for a week often sounds like a great idea, sometimes on day three it may feel repetitive. Find the local attractions, and decide what jumps out at you. Adrenaline buffs, try your hand at new sports. Food lovers, delve into off-the-beaten path culinary temples. Music fans, discover where the local music lies. Try to book far in advance, and always cross check websites’ deals.

Step 4
Sleep on it – after all, this is your dream vacation. It’s important to avoid knee-jerk decisions, and make sure all party members are on board. Talk to friends who’ve traveled where you’re going, consult co-workers or chat with your spouse or travel buddy. At the end of the day, if that gut feeling is still lingering, go with it.

Step 5
Book your vacation. Double check that your hotel reservations and transportation align on the same days. Create a packing list, and lastly, leave some room for spontaneity. Sometimes the most memorable moments are the ones you never saw coming. Before you know it, your dream trip will be unfolding into reality.