Spring break vacation is an amazing time to finally get away from it all and have a ton of fun. You can take the opportunity to travel to somewhere you’ve never been before and potentially have life-changing experiences. But a lot of planning goes into such a big trip, so it’s better to start your plans sooner than later. Here are seven ways you can begin planning for your upcoming vacation now.
1. Set a Budget
Spring break can be just as expensive as it is fun. One of the biggest things between you and your dream vacation is your wallet. Plane tickets, regional cuisine, and pocket money can add up more quickly than you think. So it’s important to make sure you establish how much you can spend on your trip ahead of time.
Take a good, hard look at your bank account and see what you’ve got rattling around in there. It may be more or less than you initially thought when you and your friends were throwing around Thailand as a destination. Map out your likely expenses, once-off and recurring, and see how much you can realistically afford to spend on a trip. And don’t forget to look at different travel sites that can bring down the price of big-ticket items like airfare and rental cars. Budgeting might not be the most fun activity, but it can help you fully enjoy fun activities with abandon.
2. Choose A Destination
Now that you’ve got a good idea of how much you can spend, you get to make the exciting decision of where to go! Just like you budget your money, be sure to budget your time. Further off destinations take longer to travel to and return from, so you’d need to factor that in. If you’re traveling with friends, family, or a significant other, make sure everyone’s on board with where to go. You’ll have to make more compromises when traveling with others, but it can be well worth the companionship and shared memories.
If you’re having trouble figuring out where you want to go, take stock of your interests. Snowboarders will love to hit the best powder of the year in the Rockies, while melatonin-starved beachgoers might prefer the Florida Keys. You can also look for big annual events that happen during typical spring break times, like the mega-massive music festival SXSW. Alternatively, if your budget allows for it, close your eyes, throw a dart, and let fate do the picking for you.
3. Choose Your Companions (Wisely)
When planning your big spring break, another big decision to make early into the process is who you’ll be traveling with. Many great adventure stories feature companions who travel alongside the protagonist through thick and thin. Who would Frodo be without Sam? Finn without Jake, and Dora without Boots? Anakin Skywalker betrayed his companion, and it didn’t exactly turn out very well for him. This goes to show that it’s important to choose your travel buddies wisely.
All that said being your own travel buddy can lead to incredible personal adventures. While spring break is often pictured as a group activity in media, it doesn’t have to be. You’ll grow a lot from the experience, and you’ll also have unparalleled flexibility. Go into that weird store or try that random restaurant or meditate on the beach for three hours without worrying about what anyone else wants to do. And if you do decide to travel with someone, just make sure it’s not someone you’d rather leave limbless on a lava bank.
4. Make Reservations Ahead Of Time
So you’ve decided that this is the year you’re finally going to go scuba diving in the Bahamas. Congratulations — you’re really making it happen after all this time! You can’t wait to feel the warm water on your skin as you swim with schools of radiant fish. You take your flight, get to your hotel, and start looking for a local instructor. The only thing is, you’re not the only one who decided to fulfill their underwater dreams this year. In fact, so many other people have already booked ahead of time that the instructors are full-up until next month. Whoops.
Avoid this by booking your reservations ahead of time. You never know how many other people might be planning to do the same activities in the same places at the same times that you are. Well, actually, you’ll have a pretty good idea by looking at the available reservations. Plus, there’s a (good) chance that prices will increase as you get closer to your intended date of departure. So, avoid the headache and just book as much as you can ahead of time.
5. Map Everything Out On A Calendar
As you start making more reservations, you might notice that it can be tricky to keep track of them all. What time on what day of what week was your flight, what was the trip ID, and who was going to drive you again? And then, after you land, how exactly are you getting from the airport to your hotel, and what was that reservation number? You can only keep so much in your head at the same time, and forgetting or losing any of this vital information can bog down your whole vacation.
Rather than set yourself up for frustration, smooth out the road bumps ahead of time by storing important information on a calendar. So many calendars are online nowadays, and you can update them from anywhere. As soon as you make a reservation or agree to meet someone at a certain time and place, just add it to your calendar. The difference between the travel experience of having vital info at a moment’s notice and not — is night and day. Setting everything up takes relatively little work that will pay you back exponentially in the convenience you’ll experience your entire trip.
6. Prepare Appropriately
Depending on the kind of trip you’re going to take, you’ll want to make sure you’re well prepared. No two trips are created equal, and some require more preparation than others. You don’t want to be sunbathing in a parka or snowshoeing in a bikini, after all. Or, maybe you do. If heat stroke and hypothermia sound like your cup of tea, then more power to you, but neither is exactly well-advised.
For each activity you have planned, do a little research and figure out how best to equip yourself for it. Stocking up on the correct “equipment” might even mean packing plenty of water and sunscreen for the beach. Or it could mean making sure your climbing harness still fits and your ropes haven’t frayed. It could even mean researching crime rates in the area you’ll be spending time in and planning exit routes in advance. Safety isn’t always fun, but the fun is more fun when you’re ready for anything.
7. Temper Your Expectations
Travel is full of various highs, lows, and unforeseen challenges. You can plan as much as you want, but the reality is that not everything will go according to that plan. A night of stargazing might become a night of rain, and a delicious delicacy might turn into a rumbling rush to the bathroom. It can be incredibly frustrating when it feels like everything is falling apart, especially after you’ve worked so hard to set it all up.
Set aside some time before you actually leave for your trip to temper your expectations. The Stoics practice a meditative technique called negative visualization that can help you do just that. It might sound counterintuitive, but meditating on things going wrong can prepare your mind for if and when things actually do. And sometimes, when things go even better than you could have imagined, well, isn’t that just grand?
Set Yourself Up For Success
A big part of what makes a spring break vacation a success is preparing for it ahead of time. Admittedly, planning can take a lot of up-front work. But that initial investment will pay dividends in priceless memories for you and anyone you travel with.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Kampus Production; Pexels; Thank you!
Photo by Leah Kelley: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-looking-at-the-map-3935702/