It’s the start of a new year, and many people’s resolutions seem to focus on health. While that most certainly isn’t a bad thing, I’d like to suggest that you broaden it to include relational and emotional health. In my own experience, I’ve found that travel experiences have provided a tremendous benefit to myself and my family. And research backs that up. From the anticipation of the trip to the experience itself to the relishing of memories, a vacation is a source of happiness. The only part that might not contribute to happiness for some people is the planning, and that’s where I can help. Read on to learn how to make a Vacation Master Plan in three easy steps.
I’m a proactive, intentional kind of person, and it helps me to have a master plan. Before my husband and I had kids, we had a list of places that we wanted to vacation before kids joined the family. After that, we started on our goal of visiting all 50 states. Now I’m starting a new list of experiences we haven’t done yet, like swimming with manatees and seeing sloths in the wild.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it–they’re YOUR vacation goals, not mine–but putting them in writing (or on a spreadsheet) is helpful.
Step 1: Brainstorm Vacation Ideas
Ask yourself what the travel goals are for this season of life and write them down. (For example, I’d love to take an African Safari, but while paying three college tuitions, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, so it goes on a different list for another season.) Below are some ideas to get your mental gears turning. Some are specific destinations and others are more general experiences.
Grand Canyon National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Walt Disney World
Kennedy Space Center
New York City
Any other state you haven’t visited yet
Take a cruise
Stay in a cabin
Go snorkeling or scuba diving
Go whitewater rafting
Tour a cave
See alligators on a swamp tour
Climb a sand dune
Ride on a glass-bottomed boat
Ride in a hot air balloon
Go horseback riding
Step 2: Prioritize your list
Step 1 is when you dream. Step 2 is when you start adjusting your vacation dreams to life’s realities. Chances are that you have limited time and limited money. You’ll have to decide which things on your list are the most important.
Step 3: Assign each trip or goal to a specific year
After we decided to visit all 50 states, I made a spreadsheet that included each kid’s age each year, and how many weeks of vacation time we had. I used that information to plan out the best times for each trip. For example, I waited until my youngest was nine years old before we visited Washington, D.C. because I wanted her to be able to appreciate it. I also tried to alternate driving and flying vacations to give us time to earn enough airline points to get a free ticket or two. We had to wait until my husband earned an extra week of vacation in order to take a 23-day trip to the Southwest.
A Vacation Master Plan will help you to be intentional about and to keep you focused on your vacation goals. It may help provide the motivation you need to make short-term financial sacrifices (like eating out less often or buying less stuff) so that you can save enough for your next trip.
Once you’ve completed your Vacation Master Plan, you might need some more specific help with this year’s goals. I am now a travel agent/advisor, and would love to help you. Contact me to get started..