5 Things to Consider Before Booking a Vacation

Cruise Ship Sunset Vacation

Cabin fever strikes everyone at some point. That uncontrollable urge to get out of the house and explore someplace new. In other words, it’s time for a vacation.

Unless you go to the same place at the same time every year, however, booking the right vacation can be a lot of hard work. And if you do not do it right the first time, you may find your getaway is more of a headache than you anticipated.

How do you ensure your vacation is set up for success? If you follow these five steps before you lock in your days off, you are almost sure to have a great time.

1. Pick a place to visit

Sure, it sounds so obvious, but it really is a pretty big deal. You may already have some ideas of where you would like to go, but is now the right time? When is the best time? Is there a rainy season? A busy season?

You may want to stick close to home and see the sights around your state. Or maybe you want to fly internationally and take a cruise. Whatever your choice, take time to do the right research so you feel confident when you arrive.

2. Who is going with you?

Is it time for you to recharge? Or is it time for the family to get together and reconnect? Knowing what you want from your vacation so that you can decide who tags along is your next step.

Most people assume that every vacation is a family vacation, if you are not single. If you are, you might forgo a vacation simply because you don’t know who to go with. It is an incredible feeling when you realize you can take a vacation on your own – even if you have a spouse and kids – or with friends.

No matter who you go with, make sure you lock that down before booking dates. That will also help you get through step three.

3. Build your budget and start saving

Vacations cost money. Usually more than you expect. Build a budget based on everything you plan to do. Beyond flights and lodging, research the cost of attractions. How much is admission? What do they charge in the gift shop? Think about all your meals and the snacks in between.

Once you have a figure you are comfortable with, add 10 percent. This will help defray any unexpected costs. Then open a savings account or stuff your piggy bank until you have the cash. Paying cash will make you feel more at ease and more confident with your decision. Then, if there is something you need to charge, you know you’re not adding to your post-vacation debt.

4. Book it

Now that you know where you are going, with whom and how much it will cost, book it. Reserve your lodging and buy your plane tickets, if you are flying. This locks in your commitment – even if there is plenty of time to cancel – and will give you something to look forward to. Anticipation is half the fun.

Take some time and do a little extra research on lodging. Maybe you will find a better deal and can rebook. You can even make restaurant reservations and lock in other adventures to ensure you get to do what you want to do.

5. Pack it all up

It is time to go. So take time to pack efficiently. Remember all those past vacations when you overpacked, didn’t wear half of what you took, and carried way more luggage than you needed.

See if the hotel has a laundromat and, if so, consider spending an hour or two at the laundry. It will help you pack light and move quickly.

Finally, have fun! Everyone needs a vacation, and when you take the time to plan it properly, your getaway can be twice as fun.

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Dr. Jade Marie Tomaszewski is a pathologist-in-training at McGill University, where she also did her degree in MSc Pathology. She obtained her medical degree (MD) from the University of the Philippines, after completing a BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. In her (little) spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, curling up with a book and a large mug of tea, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. You can follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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