Five Vacation Planning Travel Tips to Save You Time & Money on Your Vacation

Vacation planning is fun and easy so you don’t need to get overwhelmed. The first thing I want you to do is to take a deep breath and don’t panic. If you’ve never done this before, relax. I am here to help you with some simple steps to plan a great vacation.

1. Determine Your Budget.

There are many ways to go about determining your budget, but I usually set a price of how much I want to spend (per person) and then go from there to determine how to find the best travel deals based on where I want to go on a cheap vacation. You need to be reasonable regarding what the budget will be for your vacation or getaway. A very realistic and reasonable budget for a cheap vacation is between $800-$1200 per person including airfare, hotel, car rental, food, tips, and airport parking. I’ve traveled all over the country on business and the average budget for a two-to-three day business trip is about the same amount so it’s a very reasonable for a cheap vacation for an entire week (especially when it involves air travel and a much longer stay).

2. Choose Your Destination.

Here’s a little insider travel secret. I’ve traveled to some amazing vacation destinations at amazing prices, but I don’t usually choose my destination. The destination chooses me. It can get a little frustrating but I can tell you that if destinations did not chose me, I would never have went to Jamaica and seen a live starfish swimming underwater when I was snorkeling off of a beach in Negril, climbed the Great Wall of China, traveled through the Panama Canal or met a baby sloth at a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica just for starters. I went to those vacation destinations not because I had a deep desire to travel to Montego Bay, Beijing, Panama City, or Puerto Limon, but because I was chasing a travel deal. Now, vacation planning via chasing a deal is a great way to get cheap vacations and save a lot of money. I have been on some incredible trips and gone to vacation destinations I never would have had at the top of my travel destinations “bucket list,” but I realize chasing the travel deal has prevented me so far from going to Tahiti’s island paradise of Bora, Bora (my life long travel dream) and I still want to do the “Sound of Music” tour in Salzburg, Austria. So you usually have a choice: chase the best travel deal or choose your travel dream.

3. Book Your Airfare, Hotel, and Car Rental.

When you’re vacation planning, the best way to save hundreds of dollars on your vacation is to book everything together as a complete travel package. I don’t have any technological reason as to why this saves you money, but it does. Feel free to experiment with your own online travel booking engine of choice with this concept by making queries separately and then as a package, but it’s been done before and proven to save you money. I do know that Rovia Travel has the best online price 68% of the time as compared to Travelocity and Expedia according to a recent independent survey by Topaz International so you may want to check them out.

4. Research Your Vacation Destination & Plan Your Travel Itinerary.

Researching my vacation destination and planning great itineraries is one of the things that I sort of excel at in vacation planning because I love researching the hot tourist attractions of the vacation destination I’m visiting. I know some people just like to “wing it,” but that lack of vacation planning can really add hundreds of dollars to your trip. There are two great ways to do your research. First, there are so many online tools at the local tourism offices of the areas your visiting that have all the main information at your fingertips, plus many have coupons or travel deals you may not have been able to find in other ways. The second thing I like to do is pick up a great guide book for the destination I’m going to. Frommer’s Travel Guide Books and Rick Steves’ Travel Guide Books for Europe are very well researched and written and these authors update their books almost yearly so you know you have up-to-date information.

5. Make Two Checklists.

Now you need to make two checklists for your vacation planning. One is a list of things to do before you go on vacation. This includes finding a pet sitter, getting a neighbor to pick up the mail, calling your mobile phone service to arrange for a text/email package while you’re away if you’re traveling internationally, secure a passport or visa (if you need them), get medical vaccinations if necessary, call your credit card companies to let them know you’ll be traveling and what cities or countries to expect charges to come up on, and things like that. The second list for your vacation planning is a list of things to pack.

Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now you see how simple vacation planning is even for an inexperienced traveler. These are the basics of vacation planning and now that you know how to plan your vacation, we have a lot of extra bonus travel tips my travel website (see below) to help you discover a world of ways to see the world. Bon Voyage and have a fabulous vacation.


Ethiopia Adventure Travel Tips

In November 2010 my husband and I travelled around Ethiopia for three weeks by public bus with a private guide. Travel (especially bus travel) is a real adventure and not for the faint hearted as there is long travel days (even longer if the bus breaks down) on poorly maintained roads. But it is an excellent way to get up close and personal and experience the life and culture of the locals.

Addis Ababa
We arrived at the airport at 3.30am. We had not booked any accommodation due to our early arrival so we stayed at the airport till about 7am. A taxi agreed to take us into the city for USD$10. We went to the Ras Hotel where we had to wait till 9am to see if they had a room.
Travel Tip: We stayed at the Ras Hotel 3 times due to its central location. The price includes breakfast which is awful but lunch and dinner are good.

Bahir Dar
We stayed at the Ghion Hotel on Lake Tana and did a boat cruise to the islands to see the painted churches. The Blue Nile Falls area is pretty but not worth the long bumpy ride to get there. Since damming the river, the waterfalls are certainly nothing like the posters show.
Travel Tip: Check if a guide is included with your Lake Tana boat cruise. There was 9 of us on our boat. No guide accompanied us on the boat except for our private guide Samson. The first island we visited Samson acted as intrepreter otherwise we would have not understood what we were looking at. The second island we visited the church guide spoke English.

Gonder
The abandoned castles are very interesting and it is worth hiring the guides inside the gate.
Travel Tip: We stayed at the Belgez Pension which was cheap, clean and quiet but the rooms were very small and cramped. They do your washing for a very small fee – give to the cleaners in the morning.

Simien Mountains
We did a one day 4WD day trip with another traveller and our guide Samson.
Travel Tip: We would have liked to have stayed overnight even though we are not trekkers, as the scenery is stunning.

Lalibela
We spent 2 nights in Lalibela exploring the amazing rock churches.
Travel Tip: Keep your entrance ticket handy as they will be checked at each church entrance.

Arba Minch
Arba Minch is a overnight bus stop between Addis Ababa and Jinka.
Travel Tip: Spend an extra night on one of the stopovers and do the lake tour.

Jinka
We hired a 4WD locally to tour the main 3 tribes in the area (Mersi, Hamer and Karo tribes). We shared this cost with 3 other travellers who were on the bus and stayed at the same accommodation as us.
Travel Tip: Buy your bus ticket to Addis Ababa early (at least 1 day in advance) so you can obtain a better seat number otherwise you will find yourself stuck at the back of the bus on the 2 day journey. Buy good ear plugs so that you can block out the noise of the loud music videos playing.

Transport
We used a variety of transport that included: public bus, minivan, 4WD and boat.
Travel Tip: If you find that quite a few of you are heading in the same direction, it will be more economical and comfortable to rent a minivan and driver like we did from Bahar Dar to Gondar (7 people).

Tour Guide
We used the services of a private guide. This was the first time we have hired a guide for the entire trip through a new country. The guide proved invaluable in keeping the touts away (worth the money alone), dealing with local tour operators and obtaining hotels.
Travel Tip: Use a private guide’s extensive knowledge and experience to enjoy Ethiopia through the eyes of a local.


A List of Travel Tips to Make Your Vacation Planning Easier

Many people spend their vacation traveling either in country or abroad and find it can be a complicated ordeal to remember all those little details before leaving home, and while on the trip you thought was so well planned out. This is where some travel tips can be most useful. It usually helps to make a list of necessities and then divide it between what needs to be done before locking that door at home and what needs to be remembered when traveling to your destination. Here are some valuable travel tips to include on your lists:

• If traveling out of the country scan your passport, travel tickets (cruise or air travel), ATM card info, emergency phone numbers, and store this information on your email address so it can be accessed by you if necessary from anywhere in the world.
• Do not carry all your valuables in one place. Split up your cash, bank cards, credit cards, and travelers checks into different locations either in pockets or your baggage (best if kept on your person in case of luggage misplacement). That way if you get robbed you may not lose everything all at once.
• Take bar soap and toothpaste powder instead of liquids and tubes to simplify matters for security clearance. Purchase the sample sized items if possible.
• One of the best travel tips suggests you pack everything you possibly can in plastic bags because they keep cleaner and are visible to those who feel it necessary to go through your luggage at airports, etc. They also come in handy as an emergency umbrella.
• Travelling with a flashlight (or torch) is common but don’t let those batteries run down if the light comes on accidentally. Turn your batteries around before storing it, and then turn them around again when you get to your destination.
• Shoes should be put into plastic bags to keep the other items in your luggage odor free and clean. You could put a pair of socks inside each shoe for easy packing.
• When flying, especially on a long flight, keep any necessary medications along with your important papers close by in overhead baggage. It might be useful to also bring along a clean change of clothing when on long flights.

The last item on this travel tips list must be to remember to get any necessary vaccinations that may be required (depending on the location) and to not forget your list!