Happy couple in San Marco Piazza, Italy, Venice

Planning a trip is one of the best ways to add a little bit of thrill and excitement to your otherwise fairly predictable day-to-day life. Daydreaming of your getaway to the ruins of Rome, or even just a weekend escape to the next city, can really help you make it through another day grinding away at the office. Your internal nomad has to come out every once in a while, and it’s common to plan a vacation in order to satisfy your cravings for unfamiliar surroundings and new experiences. As fun as it is to just want to jump in the car and drive down the open road, you’ll have a much safer and more fulfilling experience if you take the time to carefully work out a few key points beforehand.

Happy couple in San Marco Piazza, Italy, Venice

Evaluate Your Insurance Needs

Insurance may not be the most exciting part about of planning a vacation, but it’s important to work out the financial issues associated with traveling in the early stages of planning. It can be difficult deciding on if you really need to invest in travel insurance or not, and it helps to think about where you’re going and what you know about the location. If you’re just heading a few miles to the next town to see your parents for a few days, travel insurance probably isn’t the biggest necessity in the world. On the other hand, if you’re traveling overseas, the appeal of travel insurance is probably more prominent. Travel insurance generally works to cover you financially in the case of trip cancellations or postponements, medical issues during the trip, or any loss or theft of personal belongings and luggage, and having a back-up in case things don’t go as planned can really help put the mind at ease.
If you have a life insurance policy and are planning an international vacation, it’s important to find out if your policy extends to overseas travel. If it’s not included, you might want to talk to your insurance agent and find out if you can make an addition to your policy to ensure you’re protected throughout your vacation.

Plan a Budget and Stick with It

Again, working out the financial issues is just something you have to get out of the way in order to enjoy your travels to the fullest. Talk to anyone you know; friends, parents, co-workers, or anyone who has done much traveling, and they will testify that an unplanned budget can make for a stressful and unorganised vacation. Book hotels in advance, add up the cost of gas or plane tickets, and set a budget for dining out, sightseeing, souvenirs, etc. This will help you avoid splurging on things that you can’t afford to, and nothing is more disappointing to return from a wonderful vacation only to be hit hard with financial stress.

Check the Weather and Pack Accordingly

To avoid being the typical tourist who is either dressed way to heavily or not warmly enough, check the weather for where you’re going to be going and for every day you’ll be there. When packing for a vacation, especially one far from home, bring a variety of clothes. Weather is unpredictable everywhere, and it’s better to be a tad over-prepared than wishing you would have thrown the sweater in your suitcase after all. There is nothing wrong with over packing just a little, and as with many things in life, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Plan a Loose Itinerary

When arriving in a new place, it’s best to not show up completely aimless as to what you’re doing and where you’re going, and planning a loose itinerary can help you enjoy the most out of your experience by giving you some sort of direction to work with. It’s important to emphasize that it should be a flexible schedule, not a rigid one, since it is a time to see new things, and unfamiliar places will have tempting shops, restaurants, and events that should be enjoyed and explored. An outline of a plan can also help ensure that everyone involved in the trip gets to engage in something they want and balancing out the itinerary beforehand can help make sure no one’s desires get pushed aside.

Create a Contact Schedule with Loved Ones

Traveling keeps you busy, and it’s normal to want to soak up every second and just immerse yourself in the new environment. While it’s great to be excited and live in the moment during your travels, it’s also important to keep in contact with friends and family back home, especially for overseas travels. Keeping in touch with loved ones back home not only puts their worried minds at ease, but it adds an element of safety to your well-being. International phone rates can be frighteningly high, so create a contact schedule with a specific person back home and check in with them according to that plan. The person you get a hold of can relay your message to everyone else who wants updates on your journey (and you’ll avoid breaking the bank by talking to multiple people), and checking in on a set schedule can let them know you’re safe. Not getting your update can help signal that something is wrong.

Traveling is a great way to break-up your normal routine and add some memorable life experiences to your collection, but before you dive right into pursuing your expedition, there are a few practical matters that need to be dealt with. Working out the budget and tweaking the last minute details might seem like a lot of work, but proper planning can help make sure you experience a safe, smooth, and satisfying adventure.

About the author:

Arlene Chandler is a freelance writer and travel enthusiast who loves helping people prepare for life’s unexpected curves. She currently writes about life and income protection insurance for Suncorp.

Photo by: Frank Kovalchek