If you haven’t started to plan for your next vacation, consider this your official notice to start planning for your trip RIGHT NOW!
Think about it.
The past few years were difficult, so people are ready to escape and MORE THAN READY to start traveling again…and they actually ARE traveling in great numbers! They are also willing to pay more than ever to make up for lost time. As a result, travel companies are having a difficult time keeping up with demand due labor shortages. Fuel prices are at record highs. Rental car shortages persist. AirbNB’s are booking up and in some cases charging more than hotels. Plus, inflation is hitting every part of a traveler’s budget.
So what can you do to stay ahead? You need to start planning your trip NOW! This blog is the first in a series on how to plan a trip so stay tuned. Specifically, in this blog, I break down the top 5 reasons you need to start planning for your trip now and offer solutions to counteract each potential roadblock.
#1 TRANSPORTATION IS CHALLENGING
Flights are being delayed or even canceled due to staffing, weather, or high demand. According to a Washington Post Article, “domestic airfare averaged $330 for round trips, which is 40 percent higher than at the start of the year and the international trip average was $810, up from $650 at the beginning of the year.” And are expected to keep rising. Overall, Airfare is up 21% overall and up 28% for summer.
Road trips are still popular in U.S., as most people can’t afford the increased cost of flights so they are hitting the road. Rental car prices are up 40% because supply has NOT met demand, and more people turning to Turo and Zip Car to get around. I’m sure you’ve noticed the sharp increase in gas prices, that are up two dollars a gallon from a year ago according to AAA’s national averages. I say all this to say planning NOW versus LATER can mean building in “plan B” just in case one of these delays or shortages happen to you.
When planning a trip, I’d start looking for transportation options and alternatives. Think to yourself: HOW am I going to reach my destination and HOW am I going to get around while I’m there? Do your research and write down the best possibilities and the best value within your price range for your trip.
You don’t have to do what I do, but I like to organize and plan my trips in a phased process using a tool that I’ll explain in a later in this series, but for now, read the cancellation policies before you book ANYTHING, know your rights when it comes to service or flight delays, and research what benefits come with trip cancellation insurance through credit card providers or a third party company.
“…research shows that the stress of poorly planned vacations can eliminate the positive benefits of time off.”Harvard Business Review
#2 REDUCED AVAILABILITY
With labor shortages and enhanced cleaning measures like deep cleaning a room and waiting 24hrs before renting it, some accommodations are reducing their inventory. This manifests in different ways. Hotels could reduced the number of rooms listed and/or increase the price because availability is limited. In addition, operating hours and special features such as on-site restaurant hours, pool and gym access, or spa services, may be reduced or eliminated. AirBnB is no different – prices have increased as much as 35% as people continue to book as fast as they can and more AirBnB guests are reporting having to do more “chores” despite increased costs.
For restaurants, reduced availability not only means less staff, but reduced service, reduced operating hours, and reduced seating capacity. More restaurants – if they survived the last two years – are taking reservations to ensure they have the proper resources to operate, so not only are reservations STRONGLY encouraged, but in some places may be mandatory.
I recently took a trip to Spain (stay tuned to see my Spain content, coming soon!) and was thankful to have made all the reservations we needed at least one month in advance. I didn’t make a reservation for one restaurant and our party of 5 showed up IMMEDIATELY as the establishment opened at 6pm. At first glance it looked like all the tables were empty, but they were all reserved! Thankfully we were seated at a table, but were given only 1.5hrs before the party who made the reservation came.
That’s another thing – some restaurants are putting time limits on your reservation of about 2hrs, max. We were able to eat, but as the minutes rolled by each table filled quickly and we observed the owner turning MANY people away. Don’t take that chance!
Some restaurant menus are only offering a limited selection of food due to the food chain disruption and others may have increased their prices. To counteract this, you may see an increase in automated services, like kiosks and mobile ordering and payment from your table. A positive effect is that more restaurants are buying food from local vendors, so the quality may actually increase!
What should you do? My advice is to look at restaurant menus online before you go. Look at the restaurant’s operating hours online in advance, and keep checking because everything is subject to change. The hours listed in google may not be the same as the restaurant, so CALL the restaurant for the official hours. Also, MAKE A RESERVATION IN ADVANCE where possible! You don’t want to miss out on a delicious meal at a place you looked at online at home just because you didn’t plan.
In addition to reduced availability, there is another huge reason you NEED to Start PLANNING For Your Trip.
#3 SAVE MONEY
I believe that when you plan your trip in advance, you can save money! If you read or watch any of my “things to do” videos (Rome, London, Paris, Miami, Chicago, Madrid…etc.), I ALWAYS encourage people to BOOK IN ADVANCE for this reason! Advanced planning gives you the opportunity to learn what a typical fare to your destination looks like, watch prices, get deals/discounts, sign up for special savings, and more!
Travel fares typically don’t last long, but because I plan my vacations 6-8 months up to 1 year in advance, I am able, and have, taken advantage of these cost-cutting savings:
- premium economy tickets for basic economy prices,
- reduced prices for higher-tier hotel rooms.
- Bundled packages (flight + hotel) for less than the cost of the hotel stay
- High quality clothes and shoes for the trip at up to 70% off
- Email alerts for flash sales and special promotions for activities – 10-25%off.
These cost savings look like flights with extra leg room, checked luggage included, expedited processing, no change fees. Hotels have increased availability because not a lot of people plan or book in advance, which means I can stay at more comfortable accommodations. If you’ve seen my vlogs, you know I like to stay at a lot of 4 and 5 star properties. This is possible within my means because I book hotels in this 6-8month to 1 yr in advance and you can, too!
I can pick my preferred destination, dates, accommodations, activities at a price that is well within my budget. It’s not necessarily budget traveling, but traveling within a budget, whether your budget is $500 or $50,000. With advance planning, you even may be able to extend your trip because your travel dollars may go further. How exciting would that be?!
#4 IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH
The research is clear – planning for a vacation in advance can have positive benefits to your mental health.
In a National Geographic article titled, “Here’s why planning a trip can help your mental health”, Matthew Killingsworth, the co-author of a Cornell university study on vacation planning benefits, states “Our future-mindedness can be a source of joy if we know good things are coming, and travel is an especially good thing to have to look forward to.” Trips are temporary and often have defined start and end dates, so we are prone to savor them more.
When we research and start planning for our trip, our minds imagine all the fun we’ll have, the unique experiences we’ll share, and all the new senses we’ll engage; but it also brings novelty and positive uncertainty, which keeps our minds interested.
Trip planning can help replace fear and anxiety about the unknown with comfort, confidence, and courage. By planning, you’ll know exactly where to go, what to do, where to stay, and how you’ll get there and get around. All that’s left to is book tickets and enjoy live out your dream!
According to a Harvard Business Review article, “…research shows that the stress of poorly planned vacations can eliminate the positive benefits of time off.” In particular, planning a month ahead and focusing on the details in advance versus figuring things out while on vacation has been shown to result in a better vacation experience with more positive outcomes.”
Planning out at least a VAGUE itinerary, like where to go and what to do, is a great start. If the experience starts getting stressful take a pause then restart when your mind is clear. Overall, planning in advance can be great for your mental health, so why not start today! This brings us to the next reason You NEED to Start PLANNING For Your Trip.
Serendipity is “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” In short, it is finding good things that you didn’t plan for, or what I like to call, a “happy accident”. But wait – You just told me I need to plan out my trip and NOW you’re saying planning leads to unexpected fun? WHAT are you talking about?!
Some people argue that planning in advance takes away from spontaneity, but I would challenge that assumption. I believe planning actually frees you up to have more serendipity in your trip! Instead of stressing about where you’ll sleep that night, or how to get around, or waste time researching “things to do” on the spot with a phone , that’s already taken care of!
All you need to do is work your plan and leave space to just explore. You’ve already planned out free time, so go ahead and Stroll down that idyllic street in Pienza, Italy. Follow the scent of freshly baked baguettes into to that amazing boulangerie in Paris. Connect with a local resident about the hidden charms of your destination. You actually HAVE THE TIME to get to know your destination, and the people who make it wonderful on your own time because you took care of the details in advance.
Now that you know 5 reasons why you need to start planning for your trip now, it’s time to actually start. In my next post, we’re laying the travel planning foundation with 5 CRITICAL questions to ask yourself before you start planning.
In the meantime, tell us your favorite travel planning resources in the comments below! I’d love to learn more about the tools that make your travel experience smoother!
Antoinette | Frolic & Courage