Travel has been on hiatus for months now leaving many with quarantine fatigue. Domestic vacations or weekend get-a ways may have taken visitors to a change of scenery, but the overall feeling is one of loss and disappointment.
The biggest question I have been getting is, I need a change of scenery, where can I go right now. The short answer is for right now, stay home!
Still many are currently reluctant to proceed especially internationally, if borders were to open up and according to recent studies over 50% of American’s need more time until they are ready for international journeys.
While 2020 is still uncertain with international travel bans, limited access to flights, slow down of state department facilities like passport offices and the overall unknown of the end of the pandemic, heading off into the sunset may be currently out of the question.
But tourism is not dead!!!! The opportunity will present itself and when it does, will you be prepared for it????
Having a plan, an itinerary and possibly even a soft commitment saves lots of time and maybe even more money as others are scrambling to figure it out and commit with increased costs, less availability and more competition.
Lack of current options leaves many dreaming about their next vacation. With pent up demand, why not commit to your dream and take the opportunity to have a plan to make it a reality, a long term goal that is set in motion?
I am not guaranteeing that 2021 will be problem free, but with vaccine’s predicted in the near future, it is expected that by summer of 2021 or later – 2022, we can once again experience more normal expectations for travel.
So how do you start to plan your dream vacation in a time of uncertainty? Here are 6 steps to get you on the road to your next “dream” vacation to make it all worth the wait.
Don’t miss the end for our tip on how to save yourself time, value and planning on Steps 3 – 5.
Step 1 – Pick a Location
There are many options for how to plan where. Do you have a bucket list? That was easy! You have a list of places to start reviewing to see if they are still list worthy.
Perhaps you love to search Pinterest, create a board of your favorite’s with pics. that you would like to visit.
Research the locations that are top of mind that you have always wanted to visit, talked about visiting, dreamed about visiting. Research is a much easier task today with the internet and Google to view the local destination visitor bureaus to research. Check google groups or tripadvisor for experts in the region(s) you want to visit to ask questions and get the information that you are searching for.
Step 2 – Pick a date or date range
View your destination on Google maps and get a feel for location.
The first question should be when is the best time to visit? Is it a coastal town or city that you want to visit in the warmer months, or is it a mountainous or a lake region that you can visit almost throughout the year, unless you are avoiding the cold and possible bad weather periods. If visiting a large city, when is the best and worst time to visit? You don’t want to be in Italy Easter week when all the shops, sites and many restaurants may be closed for celebration.
Is there a high season and a low season, when are those periods and what are the advantages and disadvantages of either options, ie. overcrowded with tourists, or minimal tourists but limited access to places you want to visit?
What is the weather during the time you want to visit? Rain, snow and extreme heat can affect your experience if you are not prepared or inclined to navigate through them.
Step 3 – Set a budget
Depending on how far out you are planning your vacation can affect the cost of your experience. The earlier you commit, usually the better availability and pricing you will find, when availability first opens. But not all options are available if planning a year or more out and costs may need to be estimated for the time period based on the current costs for the same dates in the current travel year or booking period (peak, standard, shoulder or off peak). Expect approximately a 10% – 15% price increase per calendar year.
Cruise and tour providers offer itineraries 1.5 – 3 years in advance and generally offer their best pricing when itineraries are released.
Hotel and land providers won’t have availability usually until a year or less prior when they renegotiate their contracts with groups and open space.
Air and Rail open their itineraries 11 months or less and depending on if they are international or intra-national in many cases rail may not become available until 90 days prior.
Sites and museums may require tickets for entry, most release them 60 – 90 days prior to the visit date and can sell out quickly for prime dates!
Don’t forget to budget for those things that you may need but have not planned for like insurance, passports, Visa’s (if needed) luggage, international phone plans…..
Step 4 – How will I travel
This can be the hardest part. Without knowing what the future holds, how do you know what may be in your best interest to meet your goals and have the assurances that you will be able to journey safely?
You do not have to pave your own path, there are many options;
Ocean cruising – starting with the obvious, despite the bad press that cruising is getting right now from the CDC, ships have been anchored since March and yet the numbers on land continue to rise. This shows us that cruising was not the problem. In preparation for the future, cruise lines are initiating safety protocols, limited capacity and they have protocols to protect crew and guests for an enjoyable experience in the future and provide an opportunity to transport guests to multiple countries for immersion with many experiences, unpacking once.
River cruising – although you are on a small ship, you are journeying through countries, on yacht style ships comparable to floating boutique hotels. With accommodations for less than 200 guests and further restrictions currently at 100 or less, in my opinion, this can not only provide a safe option but also offer the most normal experience once we can start traveling again. River cruising is also one of my favorite experiences for immersion, inclusion and experience.
Small group tours – accommodating 15 or less passengers exploring together using large motor coaches for social distancing, local guides, set planned out itineraries with a concierge companion guide, they have even incorporated contactless luggage transport, everything is thought out and pre-planned for a safe and yet immersive experience. There are small group tour options for all sorts of experiences and interests including biking, hiking, culinary, wine, less active…..
Independent travel – exploring on your own does not have to be 100% a solo adventure. Independent travel companies can guide you on the details of planning out an itinerary, arranging private transport and transfers, setting accommodations that meet your needs, planning for local guides and experiences and the best part is they are completely customizable to your wants. These companies will know how each of their local suppliers they work with have prepared for your arrival and safety and offer you an on the ground contact to assist with any requests or changes during your visit for a seamless experience.
Step 5 – Commit to your dates
When you feel comfortable and you know the “when”, “where”. “how” and “what”, you can lock into your plans when exactly what you want is available and early booking discounts and promotions are being offered. Which is generally when amenities are first made available.
Most suppliers require a small deposit and the bulk of the funds are not due until 90 – 120 days prior to the start of your journey. Confirm this when committing so you know all your options. Many suppliers also offer air options with protections should your plans change.
If committing with non-refundable deposits, confirm what all your options for moving or rebooking should any concerns or fears for your future dates arise.
Now you can sit back and know that you are one step from your dream experience. You can be comfortable with knowing where you stand and what your options are in the future. But most of all, you can now dream about your future experience knowing that it is waiting for you.
Step 6 – Prepare to travel
Preparation can be the longest process and may take 6 months or more in advance of the beginning of your journey. These may include getting or renewing passports, purchasing insurance to protect you and your investment from the unexpected, Visa’s that may be required to visit more exotic locales, health checks and inoculation requirements for countries that you will be visiting, purchasing luggage and/or other items like walking shoes, hats, updating your telephone plans for international travel…. All to prepare you for your nearing adventure.
Our Tip –
OK as promised, our tip on how to save yourself time, value and planning for your dream vacation.
….. Use a Travel Advisor!
I am not trying to be self-serving because I am a travel advisor. Based on what I have seen these past 5 months, since the pandemic arrived on our door steps, has assured me that working with not just an advisor but, one who specializes in the location(s) you want to visit and the suppliers you want to work with can provide you the most bang for your buck.
A specialist will know the information that you need inside and out, can be your best advocate for attaining your goals, should be 100% committed to your journey and if anything comes up, they have relationships with the vendors to guide and assist you. They can also keep you on track for all the milestones between your planning and your arrival home. Like myself, not all advisors charge a service fee, but regardless, the small fee is worth the cost of a seamless dream vacation.
In summary, when the time is right and you need to guide all the pent up travel energy into focus is the perfect time to start exploring your options, waiting may only offer limitations.
If you would like to know a little more about the “Best Way to Visit” your destination(s), check out our Personality Quiz that matches your personality to your travel style and the experience best suited for you.