“This year I’m finally going to travel.”
After the third year that this statement is made without any trips booked, it becomes clear that you’re not really sure if that adventure will ever happen.
Do you really want to look back on your life in your 80s and realize that you never went to any of the places that you said you would? The time to plan your trip is NOW.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now” – Alan Lakein.
Here’s how you can book your first trip this year!
Step 1: Figure out where you want to go.
One week I was planning a trip to Las Vegas and the next week changed my mind to vacationing in Cuba. I have complete faith that all of these places are fabulous but when I really decide to book my trip I clearly need to make a decision.
Ways I normally narrow down my daydreaming and crazy internet searches include:
- Working out what I can realistically afford. I know that to do both Las Vegas and Nashville justice I need more than a bit of spare change, where as Cuba (flying from Toronto) may be a viable option for a trip with little savings tied to it.
- Determining when I want to travel. Having experienced my first Canadian winter last year, I was looking for a warm escape.
- Research activities to do at the destination. Although I love the idea of sitting by a pool for hours on end and relaxing all day, I know that I’ll be bored with this within no time. I always look for cool activities that will keep me entertained in my holiday destinations.
Step 2: Determine the length of trip.
Although we would all love to sail the seven seas for months on end, sadly that isn’t a reality for most of us. Trip length needs to be decided in order for us to bring our plans to action.
When deciding the length of a vacation it comes down to a few things:
- How much leave do I have available?
- How long can I afford to be away from bills and other responsibilities?
- How long can I survive away from home/my partner/family/pets?
I once had a friend named Kate* who would always say no to trips or anything fun actually because she was scared to be away from her partner for more than ten minutes.
*I think we have all either known a Kate or as much as we hate to admit it, been a Kate.
Not only does the time our friends are away seem to go backwards while we sit at our boring job all day long; the never ending stream of social media fodder posted by our friends makes us squirm. Suddenly our Netflix and Chill weeknights with our partners seem like hell compared to the lavish beaches our friends are sprawling themselves over.
To stop this never ending pool of regret, let’s all make a pact to never be a Kate again.
Step 3: Set and lock in a savings goals.
Like most people living in a major city, I commute on a daily basis via a subway system. Everyday lately I’m bombarded with signage. Most recently the signage is advertising setting savings goals for a trip through automatic online deposits.
I’ve always set goals for myself for trips (50/ week). This is all well and good when I stick to it, but often I have one too many drinks and dip into my savings pool to buy the girls a round or a hundred. At the time, I think this is great, but instant regret sets in the next morning when I see my holiday funds going backwards.
Ever since being flooded with the subway marketing, I’ve set up automatic deposits and put a lock on my savings account to stop my “I’ll deal with it tomorrow” mindset that sometimes creeps up on Saturday nights.
This simple tool can save you as much or as little as you please and allows you to control your spending and saving.
Step 4: Book your flights.
Would you happily throw $1,000 in the trash?
No? Me neither.
The thought of losing money that I’ve worked hard for is why I get scared of booking flights. What if I change my mind and don’t want to go and have to forfeit my money?
What if’s are for scared people and I don’t want to live in fear. This is exactly why I always book my flights and let the fear of losing money force me into planning and going on the trip that I always talk about.
I can still remember how excited yet nervous I was when my partner and I booked our flight to move from Australia to Canada. We had absolutely nothing planned, but our flight was booked and this meant we were going and I couldn’t back out.
It was also exactly the kick in the rear end that I needed to start organizing everything.
Have you always spoken about going somewhere but never actually do? I dare you to book some flights and just do it! It’s incredible the motivation that comes from the fear of losing money.
Step 5: Book your accommodations.
Depending on where you are travelling to, the need to book accommodation in advance varies.
For example, when travelling to Calgary in peak season, I booked months in advance, however when travelling to Niagara Falls in low season I booked a room on the day of.
Another factor to take into account is the type of accommodation that you wish to stay in.
There are three main types available:
- Hostels: These are definitely more popular for the younger generation who a) likes to save a few bucks and b) doesn’t mind sharing a room with 11 others. You can find hostels for as cheap as $20 and often, even in peak season you don’t need to book in advance. They are by no means fancy but have everything you need to save money while travelling such as fully equipped kitchens, laundry, Wi-Fi, and free tours.
- Hotels: Compared to Hostels, Hotels are a lot more private and quiet. In peak seasons in popular areas, hotels can be booked out up to two years in advance and are much more expensive then hostels.
- Camping: Arguably the best way to see an area; camping is cost effective and allows you to get up close and personal with nature. When travelling the Rocky Mountains, sites were available with running water, electricity and actual toilets for under $50/ night. The cost of the views you get = PRICELESS.
I’ve done all three and admittedly hotels are my favourite.
Hostels are great for the budget friendly however I guess I’m kind of a princess and like my privacy (I kind of got over having feet in my face at 3:00am as my friends in the bunks above me climbed into bed).
Camping is also great, however the time and effort required in packing everything just isn’t for me.
I like turning up and having everything ready for me and being able to be out exploring within ten minutes of check in.
Step 6: Check off last minute errands.
And now we get to the boring things that we always forget amidst all of the excitement of trip planning.
- Alerting your bank of your travel plans: The first time my partner and I went to America from Canada, we forgot to do this. My partner tried to take money out of a teller machine at a Gas Station. The transaction was declined and we spent the next two hours (of our valuable 72 hours in NYC) trying to contact our bank to tell them we were really here.
- Visas: The amount of times that I have heard stories of people forgetting to get a USA visa when travelling from Canada is high. It pays to get a Travel agent or alike to help you if you are unsure which visa to get. We regrettably didn’t do this and accidentally purchased the wrong visa for the USA which makes our entry into the states a little more difficult.
- Travel Insurance: Although expensive, obviously insurance is a must have. Just recently my partner (stupidly doing a back flip) broke his toe. Knowing we were covered for his Emergency room visit softened the financial blow a little for us with him being off work due to the injury.
When booking your insurance it can be helpful to use a comparative website to see what you really need. If you’re heading off for an African Safari you probably don’t need to pay extra for snow coverage.
“Seize the moment to deploy the plan that has long sat dormant in your head” – Ryan Holiday
It is time to make a decision: Continue staring at a computer screen all day dreaming of your ideal vacation or actually go on it.
Let me know if you have any other tips on effective ways to plan your trip.