You work every day, the 9 to 5 grind in the city, and every night, you dream of the Rocky Mountains. We all have those locations in this world that call to us, and to think we are only one car or plane ride away from them is astounding considering how large the globe is. Technology has given us the ability to view faraway lands on the screen, but there’s nothing like looking at the snow-covered peaks of a mountain range in person.
While your dream trip is just that for now — a dream, if you set a goal to make it happen and have realistic expectations for what you can plan and save — why shouldn’t you start creating the perfect adventure? These seven tips will give you some guidance on how to make your dream trip a reality!
Pick the Right Destination and Travel Mates
It won’t matter whether you’re going on a worldwide adventure or just to a neighboring city if you pick the right location and the right friends for your vacation. When debating on where you’d like to visit, think about your personal likes and dislikes.
Are you more of a site-seer who likes to kick back at a cafe and people watch? Maybe you’re into architecture, art and photography. Or you might be the wild one, who loves ramping bicycles off mountaintops. You’ll have to find a location to fit your personal preferences first. From there, you can decide if you want to bring along travel mates and which ones would fit the vibe.
Even if your friends aren’t into the same thing you are, if you select a versatile location with a variety of things to do, you all can find what you’re looking for while helping to split the accommodations price.
Break Down Big Numbers
Playing the budgeting game can be difficult, especially if you’re putting together the entire cost for your trip yourself without a travel agent. Many times, all-inclusive resorts and cruises just throw a large number out there, which may give you sticker shock at first. Take the time to break that number down to see how many meals are included, if excursions are wrapped into the cost, and see what they might be leaving out that’s a necessity for you.
You might find the all-inclusive resorts have everything you need for a great price, or they might not give you the experience you’re looking for. Take the time to make a tailored travel budget once you know what price you’d like to stay under for everything.
Make Saving Virtually Painless
If you have direct deposit for your job, you’re already one step ahead on the savings game. You’ll be able to deposit funds directly into an account solely used for your trip. Assess your living situation and see what you can set aside each week.
You also should look around your house to see what you don’t need. One of the biggest expenses Americans incur is cable and internet costs each month. If you have a phone with hotspot, ditch your internet and get rid of cable. If you’re having a hard time pulling the plug on cable, look at it this way: you can either look at the Swiss Alps on a screen, or in person in a year’s time if you save an extra $150 a month — the choice is yours.
Road Trip The Adventure
Obviously for certain vacations, a plane has to be involved. But if you’re staying within the United States, you have 48 states at your disposal. Maybe you’re really only set on visiting Colorado until you start researching the cool things to do in Missouri and New Mexico. Even though you may still fly out to Colorado, you’ll need a vehicle to get to the other locations.
Renting a car can be a great way to save money in more ways than you would think — who knew the make and model of a car could save you money in fines? If you’re willing to fly by the seat of your pants a little bit, go to the rental place and ask them if they have any cars that need to be delivered back to a location. If they do, they’ll most likely give you a large discount for doing them a favor. You’ll be able to drive the vehicle to its destination, explore the area for however long you want, and then fly to your next location!
Get Creative with Lodging
One of the biggest expenses you’ll incur on any vacation is finding a place to sleep and shower. It can be frustrating realizing the hotel you’d love to stay in is $200 a night, and if you’re trying to stay for 10 days, you’re easily looking at over $2,000 once you add in service fees.
In the age of technology, though, you have the world at your fingertips in an affordable way. With applications like AirBnB, Vrbo, FlipKey, HomeAway, and many more, you can find rooms, entire houses, or even a more unique location to stay. The best part about staying in lodging owned by a private person is you’ll be able to ask them questions about where to go and what to do. It’s like having your own personal travel guide for LESS money!
Add Flex Time into Your Itinerary
You know how you feel when you wake up late for work, rush to the office, then try to make it through the day without being grumpy, only to end up being the grouchy person at trivia that night. That can happen on vacation, too, if you try to cram too much in.
Planning a vacation is a balancing act of doing enough things to make the trip worth your money and time while still giving you downtime to stop at a cafe, explore a hidden alleyway, or talk with locals. You won’t be able to plan for everything you’ll find, and if you book your schedule 100 percent full before you go, you’re stuck in that itinerary unless you want to lose money on things you already placed a deposit on.
Build in some flex time so you can explore!
Invest in The Not-So-Fun Things
You’re so excited to mountain bike in Europe — you’ve spent weeks prepping your gear and you’re counting down the days to your flight…. that is, until you touch down in Europe and they inform you they’ve lost your gear and aren’t sure where it is.
Just like you can’t plan for 100 percent of things you’ll want to do ahead of time, you also can’t plan for the things that will go wrong. But you can take steps to ensure you won’t lose out too much.
Investing in travel insurance will not only cover you for medical emergencies; you’ll also be covered for lost baggage, broken camera gear, and much more depending on the policy you purchase.
Take the time to research travel insurance. Another thing to remember is before you hop on a plane anywhere, even if it’s in the United States, you should inform your credit card company and bank that you’ll be traveling. You don’t want to be without a credit or debit card when you need it! Doing some extra work upfront can save you big time while on the trip!
No matter where you decide to go, taking the time to plan out your desired location and the budget will make your stay so much more enjoyable. If you can’t take a vacation within a year because of debt, set your sights on what you can do in the following year and keep your eyes on the prize!