10-Step Guide to Planning Your Next Vacation

woman planning a trip at the computer

Has cabin fever or quarantining got you dreaming about a post-pandemic vacation? While immediate travel may be on hold, simply making plans will allow you to use this time wisely and give you and your loved ones something to look forward to. While trip planning can be fun, it can also be a daunting task. This 10-step guide will help you get started and zero in on what you can do now to make your dream getaway a reality.

Step 1: Set your travel budget

Before you begin to plan a trip, you need to figure out how much money you have to spend on your adventure. This will dictate many of the next steps, including where you can go and for how long.

Step 2: Decide how much time you have and who is going with you.

The length of your trip is a key factor in determining the cost of your vacation. Are you planning a short getaway or a month-long trip abroad? And who will be going with you? Are you longing for a romantic interlude with a partner, an adventure with friends or a family vacation? The answer may shape your choice of destination.

Step 3: Pick a destination

If you that don’t already have a destination in mind, choosing one gives you a definite goal. One way to get started is to look at a map and start circling the places you want to visit. Google My Maps allows you to use Google Maps to create a customized map and add pins for multiple locations. Or check out Instagram or your favorite travel bloggers for inspiration.

Step 4: Investigate passport and visa requirements

Do you need to renew your passports or get a visa for the country or countries you’re thinking of visiting? The U.S. State Department’s travel website has all the details, plus COVID-19-related information for U.S. citizen travelers.

Step 5: Make your travel arrangements

There are great deals to be had on airline travel. For those who know where they are going and when, it may be worth taking a chance and booking ahead. With restrictions changing almost daily, many options come with the flexibility to make changes or even cancel reservations. Don’t forget to book your ground transportation. Using one of New Jersey’s reputable limousine services is the safest and most reliable way for you and your family to travel to and from the airport.

Step 6: Book accommodations

You may decide to book your accommodations ahead of time – or not. If your trip is less than two weeks, arrange hotels or hostels beforehand to ensure you’ll get your top choices. If you are traveling longer-term, consider booking just the first few days. Once there, you can get insider advice to plan next steps.

Step 7: Research things to do

Before you leave home, have an idea of what adventures are priorities for you (sites like Trip Advisor and Airbnb Experiences are great sources for ideas.) Then figure out if you need advance reservations for tours or activities. While some places offer cheaper prices in person, others give discounts for booking early and/or online.

Step 8: Consider buying travel insurance

Bad things can happen when you’re traveling. It’s an added expense, but travel insurance offers more than just medical protection – it can cover canceled flights, emergency trips home and stolen personal items. Before COVID, most travel insurance policies didn’t cover pandemics, but that’s no longer the case. Compare policies and receive quotes at sites like InsureMyTrip.com and TravelInsurance.com.

Step 9: Follow COVID advisories and policies

The U.S. Department of State and the CDC maintain COVID-19 travel warnings for different parts of the world. Check in frequently as your trip approaches and have a backup plan. Also check your destination’s restrictions. For instance, right now many areas, including the U.S., are requiring visitors to quarantine or show proof of a negative COVID test.

Step 10: Enjoy the anticipation

Travel planning can be overwhelming and it’s easy to get discouraged. Trust your instincts and use this guide to help you stay organized, motivated and excited about your trip!