Do you find yourself dreaming about taking a trip to a far-away destination? Especially now… Life will never be the “normal” we once had but will be different.
Where are we now? We’re self-isolated in our little cottage due to the pandemic. Our social calendar is nonexistent. We do have time and travel research tools at hand (computers and cell phones). The situation now for us – like everyone else – calls for some happy distractions and affirmation that the future holds better days ahead.
If you never seemed to have enough time in the past to plan that lovely future trip you’ve always wanted to take, may we suggest that this would be a wonderful time?
We always start our planning by talking about the 3 essentials: When? How much? What do we want to do?
We begin with “when” to vacation if there are any restrictions on the timing of taking an extended break from work. (We’re assuming that someday the kids WILL be back in school, and their breaks and your past difficult-to-leave work times continue to be the same as they once were.)
It might be helpful to consider the very best months to vacation in terms of your commitments and then have a few months as backups that are still possibilities. This gets you to the halfway point.
Look up the temperatures, rainfall, and water temperature (if applicable) for the specific months you plan to travel for all destinations under consideration.
For us, the better the weather, the more we enjoy our holiday.
Not overspending for a vacation may be the most difficult of all. We always set a budget from the beginning and then challenge ourselves to plan the best trip we can while still staying within budget.
We exchanged houses with families in Europe where no money changed hands. Careful planning in advance allows budget travelers like us the ability to reserve places to stay, transportation, and calculate all the other expenses ahead of time.
At every level in the planning, opportunities will arise to overspend that budget – but don’t panic. There are tradeoffs that become clear as potential expenses are considered. On our trip with our grandchildren to the Netherlands, we set a budget that was generous, but not generous enough to cover the high prices we were finding for accommodations. Only one place fit our criteria, but alas, it was over our budget. Around that time, the airfares we’d been monitoring took a sharp turn downward. We booked our air tickets for a price we hadn’t even hoped to get, freeing up funds to cover the hotel and still stay within our budget.
Planning ahead is the best way for us to stay within our budget.
What do we want to do?
See National Parks, visit Venice, swim in the ocean? Clarity is helpful and here’s why. If you want to see National Parks and plan a driving trip of 14 days and spend 10 days on the road and 4 days at National Parks – is that really what you want?
Canyonlands National Park doesn’t have a café. We’ve since discovered that not all U.S. National Parks have the full services we had come to expect like internet reception in the visitor center or even camping areas – and if they do, no site availability. Be forewarned to check before your visit for services that are important to you.
Swimming in the ocean brings to mind sunny, warm days, and ocean water comfortable enough to plunge in.
Plan your trip to accomplish your purpose, stay within your budget and at a time that makes sense for you.
To be continued … “Thoughts on guided tours, high seasons, and rental cars”
April 18, 2020
Great suggestions Beth. I especially like how you take advantage of various bargains to make trips to more expensive destinations doable. You have me yearning for the simpler, pre-pandemic time when hopping on a plane (was it really just a few short weeks ago?) didn’t involve more than checking vaccinations rather than weighing exposure to a possibly lethal virus. I’ve never felt the distance between Europe and the US as keenly as now but I’m thankful that we have many ways to connect easily with family and friends. Keep well my friends!
Very good, very practical & built on so much experience! I think your best observation is the first: ‘normal’ will never be what it was before, it will be different. We have to think of resilience (as a whole movement among psychologists now does) as ‘bouncing forward,” and not ‘bouncing back.’ Back no longer exists; we can only go forward.
We’re isolating in Portland, Oregon. Several trips have been canceled which is so disappointing after a year or more of planning! Just now looking at vacation options for the Christmas school breaks with the extended family.
We were looking at a trip to Belize in January but everything we’re reading now indicates this winter will be a worse situation than it is now. So, we’re still doing the planning but now without putting anything on our calendar yet. The day we’re ready to reserve will be a truly grand celebration!