How to plan a vacation in 7 steps

Written by momblogger

You know what is one of my favorite vacation parties?

No, it's not going to great places.

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The backyard pool of my hotel room in Thailand.

Or eat delicious food.

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Follow me on Instagram:

Or make nice friends along the way.

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I am the one on the left.

One of my favorite things is planning vacations. Nothing makes me feel better than a well-formatted calendar with flight information and dinner reservations.

Discover this itinerary that I have prepared for a recent trip to Singapore:

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I even included things like weather and information for access to the airport lounge.

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Why are you showing this? Three reasons:

  • I want you to be 100% free of all that I am.
  • I want to show you how much I take my travel planning seriously (up to the options for what I do during my free time).
  • I want you to realize that this level of vacation planning helps make my trip MUCH easier.

Planning a vacation does not have to be a pain. That's why I want to show you an excellent system that you can use to plan the perfect trip.

How to plan a vacation (and do not hate yourself)

This system can be divided into 7 steps:

It looks great … and that's it. However, you can make the process much simpler with some productivity systems.

My suggestion? Put it on your calendar.

Some of these steps will take a few days to complete (for example, decide where to go), while others will take just an hour or two (for example, by calling your credit card companies).

Delegate your Google Calendar in each step so that all actions are organized.

To help you plan your vacation even more, we've also talked to some bloggers and travel professionals to help you get the most out of your vacation. They have dedicated themselves to helping others make the most of their travel experiences – and now they want to help you.

So without further ado …

Step 1: Decide Where and How to Go

Of course, where and how you go is determined by your individual circumstances:

  • Are you more cracked for time or money?
  • Traveling alone or with friends or family?
  • Is your job flexible when you can leave or do you have a certain period of time to travel (for example, a teacher)?
  • Do you want to go somewhere near where you can drive or should you fly?

And depending on your situation, you could break the suggestions in this article – and it's all right! I only want to provide a frame on which you can work. What you do depends on you.

Knowing this, you are going to want to decide where you want to go. Doing this first is important for two main reasons:

  1. This helps you psychologically. The psychological advantages of establishing a good goal are enormous. Having a destination in mind gives you something to work on when you prepare for your trip.
  2. It determines virtually every aspect of planning. There are not two identical vacation destinations, which means that each destination will change the way you adjust your budget and your itinerary.

It can often be difficult to decide where you want to go.

After all, you can travel anywhere in the whole world. With all your choices, how are you going to decide?

There are three main areas that you can search to find your next vacation spot:

  1. Recommendations
  2. Social Media
  3. Friends and family


The people you trust can be great sources of inspiration – and that's the main way Matthew Karsten, aka the Vagabond Expert decides where to go .

"Word of mouth is probably my main source of recommendations," says Karsten. "[When I hear of a good place] I keep a list of destinations I want to visit at Evernote, with details on possible activities and links to relevant online articles."

Ask friends and family for good vacation recommendations. See what they liked about the place and what you can do if you decide to visit.

Also create a list of destinations you would like to visit.

Neither must he be on Evernote. It can also be in a Google Doc, Excel, Notes application on your phone or in your college newspaper. Whenever a friend recommends a place to go, write it down. You can refer to it later to decide where you want to go.

Social Media Networks

Your Facebook and Instagram are not just for getting tastes you can also use them to find awesome holiday destinations.

" I use the" collections "feature of Instagram to save photos of other people based on their location," says Karsten.

He goes on: "Instagram has changed a lot of travel. All of a sudden, destinations that have never seen too many tourists are overwhelmed by people trying to copy popular photos that they have seen on Instagram. "

Although you may not want to copy other people's photos, you can take advantage of Instagram collections like Matt and start compiling your own images from the places you would like to visit. For more information on how to do just that, check out the Instagram page about it here .

Friends and family

Sometimes the best vacation destinations are those of your friends and family. Not only can they help you save money on accommodation, but they can also educate you on things to do there.

"I've traveled more for friendships than anything else," says Naveen Dittakavi of the travel case's website Next Vacay . "It's nice to bond and catch up with old friends – especially when we get older."

Do you have a friend you wanted to visit for a while? Or maybe a family member that you have not seen for a long time? Contact them and take the opportunity to visit them.

ACTION STEP: Decide where you want to go – and be precise

Once you decide where you want to go, I want you to be specific with that. It can be anywhere. Say you decide, "I want to go to London!" I want you to get even more specific with that.

A good example: "In July, I want to go to London for a week with my boyfriend."

If you want to go further, set a SMART goal for your vacation plans.

SMART means:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Feasible
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

This is the vague solution to goal setting that takes you nowhere. Like every time someone says "I want to be in shape" for the New Year's resolution or "I want to travel in the future".

The way it works is to reduce these vague big goals to accurate with them. This leads to better focus when you leave to achieve your goals.

See my article on how to set SMART goals to learn how to make one yourself.

Step 2: Choose a period to travel

Traveling is like a part of Twister: it's better to stay flexible.

When you travel is just as important as where you travel. In fact, your timing can mean the difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in airline tickets.

Let's say you want to make a 7 day trip to Cabo New York.

This is the cost of a flight from July 6 to July 13:

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And here is a flight two months later:

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Time matters! That's why you should be flexible with your travels.

"Flexibility is the most important thing in the search for a cheap flight," travel blogger and entrepreneur Nomadic Matt said. "You must be flexible in your date.If you have to go to Paris on a specific date, you have to pay the fare.There is no quick fix to lower the price."

He goes on: "But by changing your date for a day or two, you might be able to lower the price."

If you want to find the best time to travel to a destination, consider the following three things:

  • High season. This is the time of year when most tourists visit a place. This is often due to the good weather and the holidays that surround it (for example, the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore in summer). Flights and accommodations tend to be the most expensive during this period.
  • Season off season. It is at this point that the majority of tourists do not visit a destination – usually because of the weather (for example, a ski lodge in the summer). You will normally find flights and very affordable accommodations during this time, but on the other hand, there is usually a reason they are "off peak". In some countries, off-peak hours can mean a monsoon froth almost every day.
  • Season of the shoulders. It's the time between peak and trough – and the right time to enjoy the benefits of both seasons.

"The seasons at the shoulder are my favorite time to visit," says Karsten. "You do not want to visit during the bad season."

The seasons at the shoulder allow travelers to enjoy the beautiful weather at a certain destination, and there is the added benefit of reducing costs on flights and accommodation.

(Plus, you do not have to deal with a gang of annoying tourists.)

ACTION STEP: Finding a date to go on vacation

Shoot Google Calendar and start watching the dates that suit you.

If you are looking to save money on a trip, consider the off-season or intermediate season of your destination.

Nailing when exactly they occur is not difficult, however, as long as you take into account several factors. The most important are:

  1. Weather. Summer will always be a very busy time for common holiday destinations like cruises, beaches and … well, wherever there are outdoor activities. In addition, the fact that the school is closed for the summer means that families will travel MUCH during this period.
  2. Vacation. Do you know what's more expensive than a vacation in New York? Go to New York on New Year . And if you are concerned about your budget, you will want to keep in mind the holidays when you travel. Depending on the destination, flights and hotels will be more expensive if you land on a significant holiday.

Bryce Conway, CEO of the Travel Piracy Site exploits this knowledge when he travels, saying:

"One of the favorite things of my wife and me every year is to go to Western Europe either the weekend of the meadow or the week-end MLK Day – it's not a party there – the weather is not as good as in America, but everything is half price and you can go straight to it. "

Few other ways to know the high season of a region:

  • Call the local tourism board. Most countries, states and cities will have a tourism office that will be happy to help you with your travel plans. Just ask them, "When is your peak season months?" (For a complete directory of tourist boards, follow this link .)
  • Compare flights and hotel prices for different dates online. If you find that the date you are trying to book is more expensive than another in a few months, you can book in high season.

Remember, not all destinations are alike. This means that their peak, off-peak and shoulder seasons will be different.

Once you know where and when you want to travel, it's time to …

Step 3: Take a break from work

FACT OF THE DAY: The majority of Americans do not use all their vacation days.

A study 2016 conducted by Project: Time Off (an organization dedicated to improving work culture) discovered that Americans lost 222 million unused vacation days during of the year.

This. East. RIDICULOUS !!!

You are wasting time and money in and not taking your vacation days. These are benefits that are guaranteed to you by your employer. Use them!

And if you're on vacation, you'll definitely want to use them (yes, even you, remote and independent workers).

STAGE OF ACTION: Absent from work

The difficulty of asking for vacation days varies from one job to the next. However, you can make the process simple for you and your business using good old-fashioned scripts.

Oh look, here's one now:

Subject: Vacation Claim (October 2 to October 6)

Hi [manager’s name]

I would like to request a vacation from Monday, October 2nd to Friday, October 6th because I will be taking a family vacation during these days.

While I am gone, I will be reachable by phone but not by email. I will make sure that we have a blanket in the queue of support while I'm gone, and I will also distribute a game manual to my team so that we know clearly who owns the problem .

Are you okay?

Thank you,


This is a good script to use even if your vacation is during a "busy" period for your business.

Why? First, think about why your boss might want to deny your vacation time:

  • You own a project and this might not be done during your absence.
  • The work could end up in the plate of your boss.
  • Your boss may have to delegate your tasks to other workers (which no one likes to do).

This script addresses all these points in the last paragraph. By showing that you have already made an extra effort to make sure that your responsibilities will be taken care of in your absence, you allay your boss's fears that your work is not being done.

He also keeps a friendly tone throughout the message AND you give a good reason for your absence. You will want to send this email weeks – maybe even months – in advance. It is much easier for your boss to say "yes" when the company has the time to plan your absence.

For more information on leave request, see my article on How to Apply for Vacation Days .

Step 4: Finding Affordable Flights

One of the most common misconceptions about travel is the idea that flying (especially international) must be expensive.

I have my thoughts on that … but I will let Chief Gordon Ramsay take it from here:

 Gordon Ramsay shouts BAD!

In fact, flying can be one of the most affordable stages of travel if you know how to take advantage of the right tools.

Two of the most effective tools for finding affordable flights are:

  1. Travel Credit Cards
  2. Repositioning with error rates

Let's look at both now.

Travel Credit Cards

We have already written about travel credit cards before – but it is worth repeating:

Using travel credit cards to pay for flights is a big win.

Suppose that a return flight from New York to Paris costs $ 500.

If you book using the map we are about to suggest, you can get the same flight for FREE.

In fact, you can save THOUSANDS every year if you multiply reward points. And the more time you have to plan, the more points you earn – many cards even give you sign-up bonuses.

But with so many options out there, which one should you get?

Simple: The Favorite Chase Sapphire . (Not an affiliate link)

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Credits: Wallaby Financial

"If you want to use credit cards for their reward points, I suggest this card," says Naveen. "It's classic, it's solid, and the exchange options are incredible – a great card for a beginner."

Some Quick Facts on the Favorite:

  • Annual fee: $ 95 (first year waiver)
  • Bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $ 4,000 in the first 3 months)
  • Double Dots on Meals and Travel: If you automate your finances and have a conscious spending plan you can have a lot of money for each month. earn points through travel and restaurant purchases.
  • Transfer 1: 1 to other travel programs: This allows you to get first class seats on international flights with Chase affiliated airlines.

The 50,000 points also represent approximately $ 625 for your plane ticket if they are exchanged as part of the Chase Travel Rewards program.

And remember, you can also use your points to redeem things other than flights, including hotel rooms and rental cars.

For more information on travel credit cards as well as on how to maximize them, be sure to check out our article on the subject .

NOTE: If you are in a credit card debt, do not sign up for a travel credit card … or any other credit card elsewhere. Instead, see my article on how to get out of debt quickly .

If you are nervous about traveling by hacking credit cards, that 's good. There is another solution that will help you find ridiculously cheap flights.

Repositioning with error rates

I will give it to you directly: Airlines really mess top sometimes .

Sometimes their misadventures lead to good business for you through "error fees". The error rates are plane tickets that are, temporarily, priced below what they would normally be (usually by technical or human error). These rates often mean that travelers can get tickets from the mainland United States to places like Europe and Asia for a few hundred dollars or less.

To find these errors and offers, there are a number of websites dedicated to their research.

Here are a few that I suggest you shoot the next time you find flights:

  • Flying secret . This site immediately publishes errors or offers that they find. You can even use their convenient search function and enter your country of origin and destination so that they can find a more suitable deal for you.
  • The case of theft . Another excellent site to find incredible offers on the plane ticket as well as hotels, rental cars and travel credit cards. They also give you information on organized flights in almost all major metropolitan areas of the United States.
  • Cheap flights from Scott . A proven resource when it comes to finding offers of error. Scott's offers a free newsletter that will notify you whenever they find an agreement with instructions on how to book it.
  • Next Vacay . This is the site of Naveen (one of our Zero To Launch ) very clean that helps travelers find the best deals. Next Vacay automatically explores the different sites of plane tickets to find you the cheapest flight possible.

One thing to remember when buying an error price:


You benefit from their mistake. If you report how they have messed up, they will realize it and will not let you do the business. Use the above sites instead or via third-party sites such as Skyscanner.

Also, do not ignore an incredible flight offer because it departs from an airport different from the one closest to you. Remember how important it is to be flexible when you leave? Ditto for where you leave.

This is the key to a process called "repositioning".

Repositioning simply means that you are ready to leave an airport that may not be close to you. Plus, you could arrive at a destination that might not be the final destination.

From Naveen:

"You do not have to leave your hometown.I come from Atlanta.However, when I flew to India a few years ago, I do not have to leave your hometown. I did not leave Atlanta, I booked a few different tickets that took me from Baltimore, then to Atlanta, then to Paris, then to Bombay. ended up coming back to the airport from my house – but it was cheaper than trying to find a flight from Atlanta to India! "

Say you live in Denver and want to fly to London. All flights from your airport are crazy expensive ($ 900 +).

However, you will find a flight from Chicago to London for $ 200 on Scott's cheap flights. A quick search on Skyscanner shows you that a flight to Chicago is only $ 90 from Denver.

It is cheaper to fly to Chicago and take this great flight for $ 290 total.

"If you are ready to go to a different airport, you can save a ton of money," says Naveen. "If you want to go to Paris, but there are other cities in Europe on sale like Dublin, you can then take a flight to go there and hop where you want to go to Europe by train or plane. "

By repositioning your point of origin and destination, you can save a ton of money on airline tickets. It will take more time but the compromise is huge for your wallet. Remember: When traveling, you will often be in a hurry for money or time. Choose your flights accordingly.

STEP ACTION: Start looking for error rates – and reposition if you have to

Sign up and start following the sites we mentioned above to find deals on flights through the error rates.

You might even be lucky and find an error ticket at an airport near you!

Once you have your flight, you will want to make sure you have a place to stay during your vacation. This brings us to …

Step 5: Find a good place to stay

Find a good place to stay Do not break the bank sometimes seems impossible.

However, finding a good deal on accommodation is simple IF you are ready to break the mold.

"[My wife and I] were in Switzerland a few years ago and we stayed in an inn in a private room," recalls Naveen. "There are no budget hotels in a place like Switzerland – it's either an inn or an ultra-glamorous hotel." The inn where we stayed was always very comfortable. and affordable for us. "

In addition to hostels, travelers can also find good, affordable places through home-sharing sites like Airbnb or Couchsurfing.

"If you really want to save money on accommodation, backpacker hostels are the answer," says Karsten. "I've already spent a month in a Nicaraguan hostel for $ 5 a night!"

If you really would rather stay in a hotel, it does not matter! You can book incredible deals on hotels using travel credit cards because they often allow you to spend points in hotel rooms.

There are even great cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card that allow you to maximize your points for hotel stays.

Many websites also exist to help you make the most of your hotel bookings.

"A site that I really like is ," suggests Naveen. "They have sweet offers for hotel accommodation at different prices.Another great is .They have a program that holds 10% of your expenses with them, et finalement ils vous donnent une nuit gratuite. Donc, toutes les 10 nuits, vous pouvez obtenir une nuit gratuite dans un hôtel. "

ACTION STEP: Réserver un bon endroit pour rester

En étant flexible et un peu judicieux avec votre recherche d'hébergement, vous pouvez trouver un endroit génial pour rester pendant vos vacances et ne pas casser la banque.

Utilisez les outils ci-dessous pour trouver les meilleures aubaines dans votre région.

  • Airbnb . Plus que de louer des chambres d'amis, vous pouvez trouver vraiment des endroits sympas à un prix relativement bas si vous faites des recherches (vous pouvez même rester dans un château !).
  • . Ils ont regroupé des hébergements allant des hôtels de luxe à des petits bed and breakfasts familiaux. En outre, ils vont revenir une nuit gratuite dans un hôtel pour les utilisateurs fréquents. Awesome.
  • . Bien qu'un peu plus limité dans la sélection, i-escape ne donne aux voyageurs que les meilleurs hébergements aux meilleurs prix.
  • . Avec plus de 35 000 auberges dans plus de 170 pays, HostelBookers devrait être votre premier arrêt en essayant de trouver une bonne auberge. Vous n'aurez aucun mal à trouver une option géniale (mais abordable) ici.
  • HostelWorld . Une autre bonne option pour trouver des auberges. L'assistance clientèle 24/7 du site est également à votre disposition si vous avez des questions ou des préoccupations concernant vos réservations.

Étape 6: Appelez vos sociétés émettrices de cartes de crédit.

Imaginez que vous avez enfin fait ce voyage à Paris dont vous avez toujours rêvé. Vous prenez dans les sites, les sons et les gens. Tu aimes ça. Alors vous décidez de vous offrir un bon repas pour célébrer votre première nuit – et c'est incroyable.

Puis vient le temps de payer votre chèque. Vous remettez votre carte de crédit. Votre serveur l'analyse … et l'analyse … et l'analyse à nouveau.

Il vous le rend et secoue la tête.


Vous n'avez aucun autre moyen de le payer. Bientôt vous êtes dans un goulag français, brisant de gros rochers en plus petits rochers jusqu'à ce que vous puissiez rembourser votre dette. C'est ce qui pourrait arriver (probablement) si vous ne prévenez pas votre compagnie de carte de crédit de vos voyages.

Les sociétés émettrices de cartes de crédit deviennent nerveuses lorsqu'elles vous voient faire des achats que vous ne faites pas habituellement – surtout lorsque ces achats sont dans un endroit où vous n'habitez pas.

C'est pourquoi il est important de leur donner un coup de tête avant de partir.

De Naveen:

"J'appelle mes compagnies de cartes à l'avance pour leur parler de nos projets de voyage. La plupart de ces entreprises n'ont même pas besoin de vous parler à un représentant – c'est entièrement automatisé.

Vous appelez simplement la compagnie et dites «plan de voyage» à l'invite. Ensuite, ils vous demanderont les pays dans lesquels vous allez dans l'ordre de votre visite, quand vous y allez et quand vous revenez.

Puis ils autorisent l'utilisation des cartes dans chacun de ces pays. "

ACTION STEP: Informez vos compagnies de cartes de crédit de vos voyages – mais préparez-vous au pire

Appelez votre compagnie de carte de crédit et parlez-leur de votre voyage.

Voici les chiffres pour les principales sociétés de cartes qui sont là pour vous aider:

  • Visa: 1-800-847-2911
  • Mastercard: 1 800 307-7309
  • Découvrir: 1-800-347-2683
  • American Express: 1 800 528-4800

Simply inform the representative that you plan on traveling and that you’ll be using your card. They’ll ask you where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone for, and voila! You’re prepped for travel.

Much like airlines, credit card companies often screw up even when you give them the heads up.

You might find yourself in a situation where you’ve warned them that you’ll be traveling and they still cancel your credit card when you try to make a purchase abroad.

That’s okay! Because you’re an IWT reader, you’ve prepped for this situation by packing two alternatives:

  1. Cash. It’s always a good idea to carry $100 – $500 in emergency cash just in case something goes wrong. “I bring cash with me just in case my card doesn’t work while traveling,” Naveen says.
  2. ATM/Debit card. One of the biggest hassles when it comes to getting money while abroad is international fees — especially when it comes to ATMs. However, you can circumvent that with the right cards.

    “There are certain cards that will refund your ATM transaction fee. Charles Schwab’s debit card is a great example,” Naveen says. “In fact, I have a friend who keeps a certain amount of money in his Schwab account so he can use it if he’s abroad or in Vegas or something since the fee is refunded to your account by the bank.”

Step 7: Budget consciously for the trip

There are TWO ways you can prep your vacation budget.

  1. Save money for travel
  2. Earn money for travel

Both can be simple, painless, and really fun (seriously).

How to save money before travel

One of my favorite ways to save money for a trip is through a process called “mental accounting.”

Pretty much what mental accounting looks like.

Mental accounting is a psychological technique wherein people treat money differently depending on how they got it and plan on spending it.

A great example of this: Using a sub-savings account.

Most banks allow you to create a sub-savings account along with your normal savings account (you can even name them too!). You can put money into this account each month and know that it’s going towards your traveling goals.

By mentally accounting this money for travel, you’re leveraging a powerful psychological trick of focusing your savings goals.

You can even couple the sub-savings account with another great system I love: Automated finances.

Automating your finances is a system wherein your money works passively for you. It’s the ultimate cure to never knowing how much you have in your checking account and how much you can spend.

When you receive your paycheck, your money is funneled to exactly where it needs to go — whether that be your utilities, rent, Roth IRA, 401k, or your savings account.

“I always have a budget for travel,” Naveen says. “That includes saving a couple hundred dollars a month towards a travel fund. This is the money that I saved through the IWT system. I use for hotels and restaurants.”

ACTION STEP: Automate your finances

If you want to learn more about how to automate your finances, check out this 12-minute video of me explaining the exact process I use below. Setting everything up won’t take more than one or two hours out of your day, but it will save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime.


Earning money while traveling

Saving money isn’t the only way you can hold onto cash during your travels. There are actually a variety of ways you can earn money while abroad too.

That’s why my team and I have worked hard to create a guide to help you navigate all the systems that’ll help you earn more money today: The Ultimate Guide to Making Money.

In it, I’ve included my best strategies to:

  • Create multiple income streams so you always have a consistent source of revenue.
  • Start your own business and escape the 9-to-5 for good.
  • Increase your income by thousands of dollars a year through side hustles like freelancing.

Download a FREE copy of the Ultimate Guide today by entering your name and email below — and start blowing up your net worth today.



Yes, send me the Ultimate Guide to Making Money





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