My recent posts have been about my road trip from the State of Washington to Glacier National Park in Montana. A number of people asked about my itinerary, so I thought I’d write about it. Although I wrote my posts in a very specific way, my itinerary didn’t actually look like that. Yeah, there’s no right way to do trip planning, but this is how I built my trip and hopefully, you’ll read something that you can use or adapt to your needs. And of course, I hope it gives you ideas for any trips you may be planning!
I generally start with a budget, but this time I started with a destination - Glacier National Park. It’s been high on my list of places to visit for quite some time, and this year was the year!
Tip: If you’re just itching to go to a particular destination, but don’t have the funds at the moment, think about that trip as a goal. For example, I want to go to Bhutan (really bad). Not only will it be a huge expense, but it will also eat up a big chunk of vacation time. So, I’m looking to go in 2020. I can save up both money and vacation time in anticipation.
Like I mentioned above, I usually set an annual travel budget first, which then factors in to where we go. It was slightly different here because I chose the destination first, but I already knew this trip would be roughly within our annual travel budget.
Tip: Whether your budget is modest or extravagant (mine was neither), knowing how much you have to spend is a huge first step in not overspending. Here are tips to bring down some costs:
1. Go during shoulder season or early season. Accommodations are usually more plentiful and less expensive, but it’s also less crowded. I just read about fist fights breaking out at a National Park due to the crowds. Really?
2. Find alternative airports. Next week, you’ll see what we did.
3. Find alternative accommodations. I’m a big hotel gal, it’s one of the few vacation costs I splurge on. But a lot of people love Airbnb, HomeAway, etc., and that’s great, too. Whatever makes you happy! It’s your vacation!
4. Use hotel loyalty points, credit card points, etc. , to pay for parts of your vacation.
5. Look for discounts wherever you can –
*Hotels: AAA, AARP, military, loyalty programs
*Activities: AAA, military, Groupon/Living Social/Local Flavor
*I’m pretty bold, so I frequently just ask for a discount (as my poor hubby cringes). I may not get a discount if I ask, but I definitely won’t get one if I don’t.
If you’re like me and have limited vacation time, strategy is important to vacation planning. Here are some tips to maximize your vacay.
1. We had 9 days including the day we arrived into Seattle and the day we left. I used four vacation days since the trip spanned two weekends and a national holiday.
2. Shorten your vacation time. That may mean taking a 5-day trip instead of an 8-day trip. Do a three day weekend instead of a week.
3. Focus on one destination instead of multiple destinations.
4. Go over a holiday. Sometimes it means you’ll have to pay more, but you’ll save vacation days. You might think about splitting a holiday which could lower the price. For example, if you’ve got a three day weekend, it may be cheaper to fly in the middle of that weekend. We left on Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend for our flight to Seattle since it was less expensive.
Come back next week to read about how our itinerary evolved!
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