Ah, Christmas. Did it even happen? It seemed to flash by so quickly – as it does every year. The festive period is one of those times that we spend ages preparing for, and then it’s over just as quickly as it began. A lot of us are probably already breathing a sigh of relief that all the hard work is over, despite having to go back to work pronto. But if you can stomach it, you might want to start planning for the next big event as soon as possible: the summer vacation. Most families take one a year, or at least every couple of years, but don’t start planning until a few months before they plan to go. This, however, can result in a number of difficulties. Other responsibilities crop up, the prices of flights soar and the accommodation you want is all booked up. Right after Christmas, the last thing you probably want to think of is organising another big event or shelling out even more money. But by taking advantage of the New Year sales and simply planning ahead, you can save yourself both money and stress in the long run. Read on to find out how you can plan and prep for your summer vacation to make sure you and the family have the most amazing time.
It seems obvious, but working out how much money you have to spend on both the holiday itself (flights, hotels transfers etc) and extras whilst you’re there (meals out, activities etc) in advance can be extremely worthwhile. Booking months in advance can certainly save you cash, but consider any upcoming expenditure that you may face before your trip. This could be a birthday, attending a wedding, a baby shower, a pre-planned operation….literally anything that could mean you have to spend money. These types of things can have a knock-on effect on how much you are subsequently able to spend whilst you are on vacation. Make a list of everything you know you have coming up in the next few months and allocate your money accordingly.
Hunt for bargains
Landing a cheap vacation still requires a lot of skill and patience, even when prices have dropped in January. This month is a popular time for people to book, so be aware that you will be up against some stiff competition. Make use of comparison websites which specialise in both flights and hotels. You may need to be flexible in order to get the best deal. For example, you might be set on travelling out on a Saturday as that works best for your work schedule. But simply moving the departure date to a Sunday could save you a lot of money, in which case it might be worth the hassle of switching your shift around. You may also find that driving an extra thirty miles to a different airport (rather than simply your nearest one) can offer you a much wider range of flight prices and times. Websites such as Skyscanner are particularly good at finding you the cheapest fares from a variety of locations. In terms of accommodation, avoid hotels unless they truly are the most practical option for you. Aparthotels and rented properties are usually cheaper and come with more character too. Their prices usually depend on their location – so consider staying a mile or so out of the city centre if it’s going to save you $100 a night. For example, if you plan a vacation to Helsinki, it can be incredibly expensive to stay in the city centre. Move out to the hipster district of Kallio, however, and you will find food and accommodation for a fraction of the price. Plus, Helsinki centre is merely a 10-minute metro journey away. Do the math and work out what’s best for you and your family.
Get in shape
No one is obliged to tone up for their vacation. But it’s safe to say that for many of us, the prospect of stripping off on the beach is usually less than appealing. The last thing you want on your holiday is to be worrying about what you look like or to be stressing for weeks before that none of your clothes fit you. When this panic hits, it is best to think about this rationally. Okay, so you are never going to look like Halle Berry coming out of the surf. But if confidence is what you’re after, there are steps you can take towards become the very best version of yourself. The earlier you start with something such as the BBG Workout, the more likely you are to see results. Going on a crash diet a month before your holiday will only end in disaster. Your body will react negatively to the sudden, drastic change, and then you are only likely to put all the weight back on again when you finally go away. Instead, by making healthy lifestyle choices at the start of the year, these choices are likely to become habits. Therefore, you are more likely to retain these habits right up until your vacation, meaning you can strut your stuff on the beach without feeling self-conscious at all.
Consider carefully the time of year at which you plan to travel
The time of year you go on vacation can set the tone for the entire rest of your time abroad. Perhaps you are in need of some summer sun, and therefore June and July are the most popular times for you to go. Unfortunately, they are for everyone else too. If being caught up in a rabble of tourists doesn’t sound very appealing to you, you may want to consider travelling at a different time of year. Booking in January for a pre-season vacation in May can mean you get the best deals on both flights and accommodation whilst still guaranteeing decent weather (depending on where you are going). Another way to secure a cheap deal is to book a cruise during hurricane season. It sounds pretty crazy, but it’s a trick recommended by many a travel agent. Unlike land-bound accommodation, cruise ships can travel away from a storm if they need to, so it’s not the gamble you might imagine, although it’s certainly not for everyone. Use some of these tips for planning a vacation at the start of the year and you’ll have a stress-free trip to look forward to for the next few months.