Get started on your summer vacation plan now so all you have to do later is have fun.
The beauty of a summer vacation is that, with the right outlook, you almost can't go wrong. You can, however, make it go better if you make your summer vacation plans ahead of time.
Of course, we all know that planning is only a guideline and there are unforeseen events that may change our plans, but planning ahead can also decrease your overall expenses, help you make the most of your time, and help you keep attitudes on track for fun.
Planning Your Trip
1. Decide how to get there
If you want to travel by air, your options are nearly unlimited. If you prefer to travel by car, plan on a location within 8 - 10 hours of home.
(Bonus tip: if you do travel by air, you can usually find less expensive tickets if you can make your travel dates flexible.)
2. Choose your location
Some people love visiting the same vacation place year after year. Others prefer new adventures. Decide which direction you want to go, and then start narrowing down the choices.
(Bonus tip: More popular destinations will cost more. Look for locations that are visited less frequently for good deals.)
3. Choose your activities
Do you prefer the sun and the waves or is a placid lake more your speed? Maybe a hiking trip in the Grand Canyon is appealing, or you'd prefer a road trip that takes you to several fun locations. Once you have your idea in mind, the real planning begins.
(Bonus tip: Check area calendars for exciting events.)
4. Find a place to stay
Depending on where you go, you could have a multitude of options for lodging. From a hotel to a bed and breakfast or even a cabin rental on a campground, the choice of accommodations is up to your sense of adventure and your budget.
(Bonus tip: A package deal including airfare, hotel, and rental car could be less expensive than booking them separately.)
Saving Money5. Eating on a budget
One of the most expensive parts of any vacation is eating. When you take a family out to eat for every meal, it gets expensive quickly. There are some easy ways to save money, though:
- If you stay at an AirBnB or a hotel with a kitchenette, cook a few meals. Even just eating breakfast in can save you a fortune.
- If you don't want to cook, try to stay somewhere that offers free breakfast and take advantage of it.
- Pack healthy snacks like trail mix, fruit, and granola bars. The more you can keep your stomach happy with healthy foods, the less you'll be inclined to fill up (and spend money) on expensive junk foods.
6. Book your accommodations in advance
Booking well ahead of time gives you more options so that you can get the best of location and price. The longer you wait—especially if you travel to popular locations—the more limited your choices, and you may end up paying more for less.
7. Skip the souvenirs
This isn't to say you shouldn't get that cool aquarium t-shirt or the hand-made straw hat, but don't go all out on trinkets that will clutter up your dresser.
8. Take advantage of "free"
There are plenty of free activities during the summer. Some communities host outdoor movies and free concerts. You can find free admission to museums and zoos sometimes. If you're in a scenic location, take a walk or a hike.
(Bonus tip: You can do plenty of free things, but you'll still need to spend money. Make sure your bank knows you're on vacation so they don't put a hold on your debit card for unusual activity.)
9. Plan for fun
The goal behind any summer vacation plan is to have a good time, but no one said you have to have fun in one big "vacation" chunk. Day trips and weekend getaways can be every bit as fun as a long vacation. Go roller skating. Pack a picnic and have a sunset dinner at the lake. Take a walking tour of a historic location.
10. Don't overdo it
Whether it's day trips or a two-week vacation to Europe, don't overdo your activities. There's a big difference between planning ahead and expecting to keep a sustained flurry of activity happening without someone breaking down. Mix in a big day at an amusement park with a night of pizza and TV at the hotel. If you go on a morning hike, make sure there's time for a nice lunch and a jump in the pool before you hustle off for the scavenger hunt. Vacations are, after all, about taking it easy—at least a little.
11. Do the unexpected
Don't stick to your plans at the expense of a spontaneous adventure. Stop at that roadside stand to get some fresh peaches or take a detour to get off the highway and enjoy the scenic route.
(Bonus tip: Short detours can be some of the most memorable moments on a vacation.)
12. Take pictures
Or make movies. With smartphones, making memories is easier than ever. Hand the phone to the kids and let them take pictures and make movies. It helps them let their creativity loose, and it's usually good for some laughs.
One last thing, make sure your insurance goes with you on vacation. Call your Pekin Insurance agent to verify your coverage.