Maybe it’s because of the bitter cold of New York, with it’s teasing us with warmer weather this past week, or maybe it’s that I recently searched for cute guys on Growlr in San Diego, but the city has been on my mind for a few days, and I think it’s high-time I plan a trip!
When I set my mind to something, I do it, which makes planning trips so much fun for me. I used to plan trips as a teen and in college, and I’d never get around to actually taking them. Now, as an adult who’s dedicated his life to travel, I’m big on the follow-through, so I take various steps to ensure my trips are a success. I’ve outlined them below. Let me know your thoughts!
Set the budget
One of the biggest challenges to travel is always the expense of a trip. There’s airfare, lodging, food, transportation, all that have to be factored into a budget. I sit down and research average flight costs (my airlines of choice are Delta, United, and Southwest, for domestic flights, and I’ve achieved status for First Class upgrades on Delta and United, and my companion pass on Southwest!) and check hotels.com and Airbnb for great deals on lodging. For things like food and transportation, I go with my company’s old policy on expense reports: no more than $50 a day. If I want to have a fun night out, I simply eat cheaper on other days.
Mark the calendar
We’re all busy people, but I find the day I put something on the calendar is the day the trip becomes real and I’m able to officially look forward to it. So, put the date down on your calendar. From there, I work backwards. I know that I have to book my airfare about 6 weeks out if I want to get the best rates, and I mark that down as an expense on the corresponding paycheck. Fun fact: I don’t believe in credit cards and pay cash for EVERYTHING, so I budget out every expense from every paycheck in a nice, organized spreadsheet. When deciding my dates I always try to look at Tuesday and Saturday flights as they’re typically cheaper and less full. I’m a big boy, so less full is always great on the plane.
Do your research
Before I visit a city I like to research different things to do and see, but I try to stay away from the overly touristy things. I enjoy living like a local too much. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some things you just have to do when you’re in a particular city, especially because people will ask you if you’ve done them. But, I suggest you live like a local as much as possible. Get on sites like Yelp and Open Table to make your reservations and read reviews. Find a local coffee shop (I love Starbucks, but avoid it when traveling) and sit and people watch. Go to local breweries and bars. Go for walks through different neighborhoods or parts of town.
Connect with the locals
I always post my travel details on my online profiles, and I try to make new friends before I even go to a city. That way, when I’m there, I have a tour guide. Often these people show me places I never would have thought about going. Plus, you make connections with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, and some of the people I’ve met traveling have become some of my closest friends. San Diego boys, hit me up!
Last step: GO!
You’ve paid for the tickets, you’ve researched the city, you’ve made friends with some locals. It’s time to get out there and enjoy your vacation!
So, what’s next on your list? I’m thinking some San Diego sunshine. Now, to find a local to be my guide…