How I start planning a vacation

So let’s say you scored a flight deal to Madrid, Spain (like we just did) and you are going for vacation. Where do you start? You have so much to think about for a vacation but a vacation is supposed to be relaxing right? Here is what I do to make sure we have a smooth and fun vacation by planning everything out.

Step 1: I research the country. I first jump on Pinterest and read some history of the country, what their customs are, currency, tipping requirements, what they are known for, ect. I take mental notes of things that stand out to me. Like in Paris you don’t really need to tip at restaurants because servers make a good wage. I then pin things to a Pinterest board of things that looked fun to me or food that I want to try.

Step 2: I go onto Airbnb and Expedia to check out sleeping accommodations. I look to see what is already available and what the pricing looks like. I like to get a good idea of how much it will cost so I can begin to set ourselves a budget. I will most likely flag Airbnb’s and hotels to show my husband a little bit later on.

Step 3: I look up how far it is to get to other cities we plan on going to. Is it best to go by train or car? Approximately how much money will it be? This is a critical planning step. Many people do not realize how much time you will spend going to another area. That is why we often try to limit ourselves to 2 areas on 8 day vacations and 3 areas for 2 week vacations.

Step 4: I go on google and TripAdvisor to see what excursions there are to do when we will be traveling. For our trip to Italy I saw a variety of pizza making classes and wrote that down as a must thing to do! I do this to get my husband and I excited about where we are going to visit.

Now you see I am just merely researching in all these steps. I do not actually book things for a while.

Step 5: I start to make a rough travel itinerary on google sheets. I put out how many days we are traveling (including flying days) so I can see what I am working with. I will plan out what days we are spending in what cities. I then write notes of activities and food I want to eat. I will also use this sheet later on when we are on vacation to keep myself organized and know the addresses and names of places we stay and places we go do activities.

Let me know if you want a sample of my google sheet itineraries. I have them for Thailand, France and Spain/Italy.

Step 6: Now I just back off of researching for a few weeks. I show my husband what I am thinking and I just give us time to get excited and think about everything we are wanting to do.

Step 7: A couple of months before we go (2-3) I usually start booking sleeping accommodations. About 4-6 weeks before we go I have my husband book train and plane tickets. A couple weeks before to the week of, I book our activities. We often don’t go to restaurants that require reservations but if you do, I would book that out in as far advance as possible.

Step 8: I make a packing list for us to help us remember everything we need to pack and buy.

Step 9: Ask others for recommendations and see if there is anything you may have missed in your planning.

Step 10: Get excited and enjoy your much needed vacation!

Happy Traveling!

Remember to follow us on Instagram at @lifeofthepilotswife and on Pinterest at Lifeofthepilotswife

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