April showers have been more than just a predictable occurrence this spring. With the exception of snow earlier in the month, it has been almost non-stop rain this April. Sigh! While I could easily go back to hibernating, I’m going to instead plan out our summer vacation until the warm and sunny weather (finally) arrives.
When our kids were really little, we didn’t plan bigger summer vacations. We stuck close to home and took day trips. During the baby and toddler phase, this worked really well for us and we were able to take in a lot of local attractions. I would definitely recommend this to others with very young children… keep it simple!
Now that our children are getting older and we’re not limited by naps and the copious amount of gear that babies require, we’re keen to hit the road and expand our experiences. A planner by nature, I always prepare well in advance of any trip. Even if this isn’t normally you, there’s a lot of great reasons for pulling out the maps and calendar well in advance of your summer vacation.
Determine where you want to go at least six months ahead of summer. The most obvious reason for planning your vacation well in advance is that things book up… quickly! This is especially the case if you’re heading to a popular vacation area. Trips are expensive and you also want to ensure you’re able to book your first choice for accommodations.
If you’re reading this closer to your vacation, don’t panic! Even if your preferred accommodations are booked solid, it’s not a lost cause. In this event, I recommend booking accommodations so you have something. Then call around to your preferred hotel/resorts and put your name on a waiting list. If the hotel or resort doesn’t facilitate this, try back closer to your arrival date. Things often open up last minute!
Once you have the initial, key things established and booked, you will want to spend time planning out the other details and taking advantage of early bird savings!
Fun Fact: When I’m planning a trip somewhere new, I spend an embarrassing amount of time on Google Maps. As in, I know the entire area thanks to Google Street View before we even arrive. While this is admittedly, extreme; knowing what’s around and available pays off when you’re on vacation. Doing research on things like nearby restaurants, shopping, and grocery options saves time and keeps things easy while you’re operating on vacation mode.
I also spend time looking up blog post reviews and YouTube videos on the things we’re planning to take in as part of our trip. This helps to learn valuable tips and tricks on what to do and equally, avoid. I’ve also been able to find great coupons and discount codes from blogs and videos, too.
Calling our place of accommodation has also proven really helpful. Often hotels and resorts have exclusive coupons and even free vouchers for local attractions; but usually they don’t let you know about these unless you ask. So don’t be shy! Also, when you’re speaking with a hotel or resort employee, they’re typically local and therefore can let you in on hidden gems that you might not otherwise discover.
Establish Your Budget
Determining in advance what you want to spend on your trip is key to staying on budget and truly enjoying your vacation. Once you know what you want to spend, start to prioritize. Something we learned a long time ago was to choose accommodations with mid-range pricing. This has always ensured that we’re pleased and comfortable with our lodging, but that we have room in the budget for fun activities and spending.
We always come up with a list of the top three things we want to see and do. From there, we have a secondary list of “it would be nice” options. In our experience, this balances out really well.
Go With the Flow
Once all the planning is done and you’ve hit the road, that’s when you need to switch over to vacay-mode. Despite best efforts, good or bad, inevitably something will not go as planned. Accepting this will not only reduce stress, but will allow you to enjoy your time away.
Knowing that your vacation doesn’t need to be perfect to create priceless memories is everything.