Traveling is often reliant on how much money you have. But it's actually much more than that. You'd be surprised how much traveling you can actually accomplish with just a pocketful of money. With or without money, you can plan the perfect vacation in 2017 in just 17 steps:
1. Realize what you want and where you want to go
If you have the travel bug itch, first you must decide what you want out of a vacation and the number one place you want to go. Once you settle on a place, you'll be able to focus on making your dream vacation a reality.
Now that you have a destination, start planning. Make a list of all the possible things you could do on your trip that you want to do. Once you have a list of all the possibilities that could happen on your trip, narrow them down into a top 10 or top 5 list. Keep this list handy as you plan out the rest of your trip.
3. Do lots of research
With any kind of travel, it requires a lot of research. Be sure to look at reviews, make sure to purchase tickets and book hotel reservations with trusted websites. Don't be easily scammed. Before you purchase anything, do lots of research to make sure you're getting the real deal and not just someone out to get your money.
4. Consider things that might ruin the experience
Be sure to take into consideration all the things that could ruin the travel experience. Namely the weather, but other unforeseen circumstances, like canceled flights, car problems, health issues, etc. We can't always be prepared for everything, but keeping an emergency kit on hand will be sure to help in cases like this. Be sure not to set unrealistic expectations for the perfect vacation, because you'll only disappoint yourself. Be realistic about your travel plans. Remember, you can't predict inclement weather on your dream vacation, but you can make the most of it.
5. Choose who you want to go with
Travel with someone you want to be with. Don't be afraid to travel with a big group of people, with your best friend, or even going solo. The people you end up traveling with will become closer to you, for in your experiences together you'll develop a strong, friendly bond and connection. Traveling solo can be the greatest experience you ever have. You'll not only learn a lot about the world, but about yourself. Don't hold yourself back from taking the trip of your dreams, even if it means going about it alone. (Just be sure to let someone at home know of your plans.)
Once you've got most of the plans set in stone, make it official by booking a flight. Before you purchase, be sure to watch prices in the months and weeks leading up to your travel date. Six to eight weeks out from your departure date is the best time to purchase plane tickets.
Whether you're staying in a hotel, hostel, Airbnb or even with friends, the place you end up staying has the potential to pack a punch to your pocketbook. Do a lot of research, read reviews and make sure to choose something that not only fits with your budget but isn't a total dive.
7. Don't leave things for the last minute
Don't procrastinate everything you need to do until the last minute. Like everything else, procrastination will only make you feel rushed and stressed as you prepare to leave. To alleviate stress, start packing early and pack lightly. Leave items at home you absolutely won't need and take only the essentials. Especially your expensive items. If you need them for your trip, keep them hidden and safe, otherwise leave them at home. You'd be surprised how much you can pack and use in just a carry-on.
8. Don't plan everything out step by step
The most freeing vacations are the ones where you don't have a minute by minute schedule of what you have to do for each day. If you try to fit too much in, you'll only wear yourself out, and if you don't have enough planned, you'll get bored. Try to find that perfect balance of what to plan and what not to. This way you can take breaks when you need them. Breaks are perfect for rejuvenating and taking in the scenery you're surrounded by. Don't take your vacation for granted by not remembering to stop and just take it all in.
9. Don't be afraid to ask questions
If you get lost or have a question to ask, don't be afraid to ask someone. You'll be surprised how much people are actually willing to help you out and point you in the direction you need to go. It's better to ask and get the answer right when you need it, rather than wasting time trying to figure it out on your own. Help is needed more often than you think.
While traveling is exciting, it can be a little scary as well. Keep safety your number one priority while traveling. Make sure other people from home know what your plans are in case something goes wrong. Keep in contact with family and friends and just simply don't do anything that would put you in an uncomfortable situation.
Put away your phone, put down the camera, turn off the music in your ears and just live in the moment. Not all moments need to be captured with a photo or video. Sometimes we just need to stop, look and listen. Whether we have a photo or not to remember, the best experiences we have are the ones that leave an impression on our souls. Those are the things we remember the most. Such memories will live with us forever.
Don't forget the reason why you wanted to travel in the first place. If you take the time to plan what you need, leave room for breaks, and just live in the moment, you'll be able to have the best vacation of not only the year, but your entire life.
Callie has two Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Communication and when she isn’t writing, she’s reading. Some of her favorite things include Harry Potter, all things Disney, road trips, and telling stories.