The difference between a vacation trip turning out to be just average or great, comes down to a single variable: early planning, applied to the five following elements:
Your Budget: It will basically determine everything from the destination you can afford to the length of your stay. All should be taken into account, from the bottle of coke you buy at the airport to the ticket for access to your favorite theme park. The global tourism industry has become quite flexible, so much that even on a tight budget the trendiest destinations can still be afforded. It is recommended to consult a travel agent, who may come up with a package adapted to your budget, or obtain discounts or better deals. The golden rule however remains to always be prepared for the unexpected, by having extra funds readily available. Early planning can greatly ease the burden on your budget. For instance, everyone knows plane tickets will always be cheaper if you purchase them months in advance rather than a week before your trip; and although last minute vacation deals may indeed turn out to be good deals, landing an affordable package to your dream destination becomes uncertain. Which leads us to our next point…
The right spot: Is it the right destination for you? Neglecting to answer this question could leave travelers unfulfilled at the end of their journey.
Most people know what they want out of a trip (relaxation, discovery etc) but they sometimes forget that while many destinations offer what they are looking for, not all of them can successfully satisfy them. So, do some early planning and get your homework done: read plenty of reviews from travelers who have been to the spot(s) you intend to visit and learn about their experience to get an idea of what you will get.
This will keep you from ending up on an overcrowded beach on a Spanish summer or on a posh cruise where the only place you can fully enjoy your food is your room. Be discerning about how and where you spend your money. Your leisure time has to be enjoyable otherwise, you are not making the most of it.
People, Culture and Regulations: Do specific research about the local customs and laws of your future destination. You would be surprised to find out many things are considered normal in a country and are no more once you cross its boundaries. The fact that millions of people visit a place and call it “the most beautiful place on Earth”, doesn’t mean it is the laxest when it comes to its local laws and regulations. For instance, the Dubai Code of Conduct states that: “Holding hands is tolerated for married couples but kissing and touching is considered offensive to public decency”. Demonstrative couples are warned.
Accessibility: Unless you are the type of tourist Erik Cohen classified as “Drifter”, the destination you choose should meet some minimum safety requirements. There are many adventurous people out there, but for the rest of us, it is advisable to pick an area with relative ease of access, where technology is advanced enough to allow you to stay in touch with the rest of the world, if needed. And where an eventual rescue mission will easily find you in case of trouble. And yes, you wanted your vacation to be an occasion to momentarily disconnect from the noise and stress of this “crazy” world, but what if once you arrive at destination, a crisis arise and you really, really need cellphone reception, but there is none? Again Africlectists, do your homework early in order to avoid that kind of trouble.
“How come I didn’t think about that?” A question that always comes too late, but can be avoided with thorough early planning. Some people may feel like planning for the worse or for unlikely occurrences is a way of allowing the ‘universe’ to let them happen. It’s not. A plan B is a way of mitigating the negative consequences that an oversight in your initial plan could yield and it is always useful to have one. For instance, some tourists find themselves stuck in their hotel rooms for hours, because they planned on perfecting their tan the whole day at the beach, but capricious rain decided otherwise and unfortunately, they didn’t plan for alternative activities to fill in their downtime.
Bottom line, plan early!