Maybe it’s the excitement of our pending vacation, but after I wrote this post about vacation planning I thought maybe I’d write about actually getting to the point where you’re going on said vacation. When we first thought about going to Rome I always thought it would be just a dream. Like, maybe one day in the distance future I’d get to go. It was way less expensive and easier than I thought it would be.
I know a lot of people that have always been travelers. So I guess to those people it’s easy – you just do it. But I had never left country, and most of my travel in the US was with groups. It was a process for me. What I would recommend:
· Set a goal – I wanted to go to Italy, preferably Rome. I studied Art History in college and I had sat and dreamed of seeing all these ancient landmarks that were still standing. Plus my family is Italian so it just stuck. One year on New Year’s Eve I told Gabe I wanted to make it our goal to book a trip to Italy within the next year. I made it a long time because I felt like it would take us a while to save, so we could have the whole year to save even if we didn’t end up going that year.
· Save up – even if it’s just a little. We scheduled automatic weekly payments to our savings account, and started eating out less. Nothing crazy, we were eating out way too much as it was. I had no problem sacrificing one or two meals out each week in order to get to see Europe.
· Be ready – know about what’s normal for flight prices, hotel prices, etc. This will help you figure out what a good deal is (and what a great deal is). This could be as easy as asking a well-traveled friend, or just use a site to pretend-book a trip for a couple months out.
· Keep an eye out – once we decided to go, I put my feelers out there as many places as possible. We don’t have kids so timing wasn’t a real issue. Several travel websites allow you to sign up for alerts for low airfare. I had emails from Travelocity, Trip Advisor, and Kayak coming in. (We ended up booking via European Destinations which I can’t rave enough about)
We ended up booking a trip in early April (so just 4 months after goal setting) for November, with stops in Paris and Rome. We hadn’t saved up our full amount but we had plenty in savings as a cushion and knew we could “pay ourselves back” in those several months between booking and leaving. Our purchase included airfare and hotels in both cities.
That’s also where my crazy vacation planning came in – it helped pass the time but also space out ticket purchases for the Louvre, the Vatican Museum, etc. Some days I still can’t believe I got to go to those places – they seemed like a total dream for most of life.