How to Plan a Vacation, Save Money, Time and Sanity

So you’ve decided to take a trip but you’re wondering how to plan a vacation. Whether it’s a solo trip, family getaway or just you and your partner, best friend or sibling, planning is a must. You’d be surprised how many people ask me the best way to plan a trip. I for one immediately start thinking about all the crap I have to do before I leave. I’m sure you’re the same way. If I don’t plan and organize things properly, I always forget something huge.


But just as important as the crap you have to wrap up before you go is planning the actual trip. That’s why I like to make a list of certain things that need special attention before committing. By making this list (I am such a list maker) I’m able to stay organized, prepared and ahead of the game (which saves money). See my money saving tips here.


So here’s a little list of all the must do’s before you go updating your Facebook status.


A List of Things to do to Plan a Vacation

Book Your Hotel and Air


This is the first thing you want to do when you begin to plan a vacation. Without this, you technically aren’t going anywhere. Airfare and accommodations are hands down the most expensive part of a trip, but they don’t have to be. Ideally, the sooner you book both, the more you save. There are virtually hundreds of websites claiming best savings, but truth be told they are not all the best. If you’re in the U.S.A. I can recommend for lodging and Google flights for travel (Google is good for the whole planet). If you’re in the U.K. I’ve heard a lot of good deals on You can get the latest offers here.


Plan What You’ll do When You Get There


So you have a place to sleep and a way to get there. Congrats on your upcoming vacation! But what are you going to do there? The best way to plan activities is to figure out what’s most important to you. Why are you going away? Do you want to relax, blow off steam, explore, adventure, bond? All these themes have very different itineraries. With this in mind, your next bit of research should be the destination’s visitors bureau. Every city has one. Just Google “visit xyz city”. There you will find a variety of trip planning tools and things to do, places to eat and even festivals.


Another great way to plan your itinerary is by talking to people you know who have been there. Follow a blogger who’s been there or look up hashtags # on twitter and Instagram. Ex: #Atlanta.


Once you have a list of must do things, start thinking of logistics. You can’t very well plan a vacation without an actual plan.


Plan Your on Ground Transportation


I can’t stress this enough. Make sure you have a shuttle to and from the hotel. Make sure you’re in a place where the public transportation is reliable or plan to factor in Uber or Lyft. Or, if you’re going to rent a car, look for deals online.


Logistics and Your First and Last Days


There’s always a shuffle on your first and last day in a vacation destination. You’ll be lost to logistics and new surroundings so, you have to plan this day well. I don’t recommend planning much on these days. Just get to where you’re going, get settled in and take in your new adventure. And of course, on the day you leave, you want to be focused and ready for travel. But the days in between are magic.


Make sure you give yourself cushion time between activities for a stress-free experience. Don’t try to cram too much into one day. Be sure to plan for meal times and photo taking time (this takes up more time than you would think). And remember to stop and take it all in.


Be Sure to Know the Weather You’ll be Dealing With


Weather can make or break a trip and is something which is taken for granted by most of the people. You might think that obviously, it would be fairly warm at Spain during spring but it might not be like that. The weather has a mind of its own. BE sure you are well informed on this front.


Think About Your Financials While Away


Whether your travel is domestic or international, you’ll want to inform your bank and credit cards that you’ll be out of town. Always bring a variety of payment methods. Not all machines will accept your card (even if they say they do) and then you’re up the metaphoric creek without a paddle.


I carry very little currency with me when I travel but there are certain things you’ll need cash for. Street vendors and tips are usually where my cash goes. The cheapest way to get your cash is from your bank. About 10 days before your trip, ask your bank to order your foreign currency.


Follow the list above when you start to plan a vacation and you’ll be well on your way to having a stress-free getaway. And, if you’re in the U.K. you can save huge bucks by availing the deals and discounts from various holiday booking companies with Dealslands. Good luck and have fun!

About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

2 Comments on this post

  1. […] and historical context, which makes them a good source of tourist inspiration. So pack your bag, form a sound plan, and follow in the thematic footsteps of Cervantes. Don’t forget the […]

  2. […] things which could get in the way of having a good time. I’m here to seed the idea on how to save money by bringing the out-to-eat experience […]

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