how to plan your dream vacation

A Step by step guide to planning your dream vacation

All our adult life we look forward to this magical time every year which is a trip to your dream location. This is a golden opportunity, we all want everything to be perfect. We recently had our dream vacation to New Zealand. This was before COVID hit, a time when we could travel ‘normally’. I wrote this blog just after we got back from NZ but then Covid hit and everything came to a standstill. As things are starting to open up again, I decided it may be time to post this blog and I would suggest exploring some locations which are close to your heart and would benefit from your support. We have used this since to plan multiple trips, including north coast of New south wales, and Tasmania.

Once you’ve gone through this planner, I would recommend to plan the big things, the landmark items, but still have a little wiggle room to do spontaneous outings. After getting this organized, your trip will be almost tangible, and you will have the most relaxed and stress-free trip you’ve ever experienced.

Let’s face it, we all want to have the perfect vacation we have ever dreamed of, but I would not recommend spending our life’s savings on one trip. By planning well in advance, you will be able to save lots of money, and if you plan the finances part well, you can also save up for this and never have to touch your emergency savings. They are for, that’s right, EMERGENCIES.

Here we go. You can print this template out and start writing or use an excel sheet to put in all our dates, stays, and expenses.

  • Destination – Choose a destination(s) you have always wanted to travel to. Put this location on top of the planning page. This awesome location is going to decide a lot of things, such as, is this going to be an international trip, domestic one, weekend getaway, do you need to take time off from work, etc. This will also determine how far ahead you need to start planning for this trip.

Now that you know where you are off to, go ahead and fill in your destination and today’s date –

Destination:            _______________

Today’s Date:          _______________

  • Number of days and time of the year – Once you know where you are traveling to, it is also important to know how many days are you spending there, what time of the year is the best season to travel to that destination.
  • Travel expense tracker – Use travel expense tracker sheet to fill in the details of all the expenses you do prior and during your travel. Give yourself enough time to save up enough money for the big expenses such as flights, accommodations, tours etc. and small ones like shopping, food, and emergencies.
  • Mode of travel – Choose if you are going to fly or drive to the destination and research the costs involved. For example, if you are planning a vacation to New Zealand, research on the flight costs and durations. If you can drive to your destination think about if you are planning to rent a car or take your own and how much do you think you would spend on gas.
  • Documentation – Plan if you need VISAs, other travel documents, medical vaccinations etc. and how far in advance do you need them. Are there any costs associated with these? Add them to your expense tracker page.
  • Accommodations – Plan your travel with all the details of the accommodations such as AirBnB, Hotels etc. with reservation confirmation numbers and phone numbers noted down in case they are not electronically accessible to you.
  • Packing List – I suggest to start going through packing list about 2 weeks prior to you travel date, which will give you time to buy supplies for travel in case you don’t already have them.
  • Travel Journal – Log the experiences from each day for you to cherish for a lifetime.

Whether you travel alone, with a partner, or with a family, each trip brings with it a lot of experiences, special moments, and happiness. Planning a lot of things in great detail will not replace the warm feeling seeing your plan unfold beautifully and being in the vacation you dreamed of at the beginning of this trip.

We planned our NZ trip about 150 days prior. That’s about 5 months. That trip was seamless, we could enjoy all the beautiful sceneries and locations and spend most time where we wanted to without sny glitches.

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