Tips and Tricks for Planning That Vay-Cay We All Desperately Need!

I have always been a big traveler. My parents love to travel and made it a priority to take me and my sister around the world starting at a young age. This has created a travel bug so that no matter now often I travel, I can’t wait to plan my next trip! COVID-19 has really put a damper on everyone’s ability to travel, but as summer comes and more vaccines roll out, road-tripping is definitely not out of the question! So, I thought that I would share some of my tips and tricks that I have learned not only from my mom who is a travel GEEK, but through planning my own summer trips and weekend trips during my semester abroad!


1. We Be Ballin' on a Budget!

As college students, let’s be real; money is definitely not falling out of the sky, so budgeting is number one on the list! This can be a little hard because obviously we can’t predict every penny that will be spent while out on vacation, but there is still a way to work around that. I always start with transportation and housing. This will, for sure, be the most expensive part of your trip, thus it is a good starting point.

Transportation is usually the best place to start. Budgeting looks a little different based on your mode of travel. Obviously, we can’t control plane ticket prices if you choose to fly—so my advice is, if you are planning out a few months in advance, keep an eye out for ticket prices dropping and hop on those the moment you see a lower number. Check these every day, because they change hour to hour! The other thing to think about if you are flying is transportation while at your location! Most rental car companies do not let college kids rent, and let’s be real, that is insanely expensive. So, factor in some Uber money, or make the location of your stay be a walking distance from most of the sights that you wish to see. You can even look up Uber rides from the location of your housing to different sites in order to get a rough estimate on how much it may cost. If you are driving, the big thing to keep in mind is gas. For this as well, estimation is your friend. Estimate how much it will cost based on the mileage, along with how much you plan to drive, while on your vacation. Always add a little more, because you would rather over-budget then fall up short!

The next big expense is housing! We will talk more about housing specifics soon, but again, this is going to probably be one of the larger expenses, thus we work the budget around it.

Once we know about how much it will take to get there, along with the cost of staying there, we can then estimate or set a limit for food, outings and souvenirs as we see fit! For food, I usually look up places around me that I could see myself going to, and again, making an estimate about how much food may be eaten in a day and how much that will cost me.

Budgeting like this is all about estimation and my one big tip I can give is always overestimate. You would rather have saved more for your trip and be pleasantly surprised rather than the opposite. 


2. My Housing MUSTS   

Like we talked about above, housing is super important. Through staying in sketchy hostels abroad and having a lot of different experiences with Airbnbs, these are the things that I can recommend.

My first big one is safety! As a young woman, this is so important. Even if you are traveling in a group, spend a lot of time making sure that this will be a safe situation for you. The best way to do that is through reviews and ratings. I always go out of my way to read women’s reviews in particular and see how they felt about their stay, along with the other reviews of the place that you would be staying at. A really good way to tell this with Airbnb is that they have people called super hosts! These are people that usually own more than one place, are super highly rated, and are spotlighted by Airbnb as being a top choice for those looking to find somewhere to stay. 

Next is location. Being walking distance from a city or town, especially if you do not have a vehicle, is sometimes the best way to go! You do not want to have to Uber, or even drive for that matter, if you are road-tripping to every single place. But again, being in a safer location farther from everything in order to stay within your price range is always my number one recommendation.


3. Planned Outings are Your Friend**

Some of my favorite memories from trips were the outings that we took! For example, I did a wine boat tour in Lisbon, Portugal. I waterfall cliff-jumped in ancient caves in Belize. I also did wine tasting in Italy. Growing up, I always thought that these were overpriced and too touristy! But as a young woman, these are perfect ways to do something fun that requires no planning on your part, and I can now say that I got to see and experience things that I would never had thought to plan without these tours.

I know that these are hard to come by these days, but when they come back again, I would recommended them to everyone!

**(this is a tip I had pre-COVID-19).


4. Lastly, Do Not Plan Every Minute!

I do not think that I can name a trip where everything went according to plan; sometimes, we got rained on, or the plan we had set was no longer going to work. At first, this was always super upsetting because I had spent so much time planning. And while I do suggest having rough plans for your stay so that you are not scrambling to find things to do, remember that this is about where you are, who you are with and the memories that you are there to make. Yes, it might rain on the day you planned to do a walking tour or you might get sick while you are gone, but do not let that deter from your time!

What I have started to do is, outside of travel days, make a list of restaurants, shops and sights that I want to see, and then plan the day either over dinner the night before, or at breakfast the morning of. This allows us to have a list of things that we want to do or thought were interesting, so we are not sitting around a computer at 10 p.m. trying to figure out what to do the next morning. But, it also allows us to pick things that go with how we are feeling at the time. If we went on a long hike and are all sore and tired, we can then choose to have a more relaxed day the following day. This also allows you to not feel guilty about things that you did not do. You never planned them, they were just interesting, and so when you leave you say, "Well, I guess I will do those things when I come back!"


While travel does not look the same right now due to COVID-19, we are seeing steady change. My travel itch is back, and I can’t wait for the COVID-safe adventures that I get to have this summer! These are my biggest tips and tricks that I have learned through trial and error, and are ones that I use for myself with every trip that I plan! The world, no matter where you go, is a beautiful place, and I hope that this can encourage you that no matter how old or how much money you have, there is a way to explore our world.

Safe and happy traveling, friends!