Have you always dreamed of trekking the Himalayas, swimming in the South Pacific, or sipping a café au lait at a sidewalk café in Paris? Perhaps you long to swim with the dolphins off the coast of New Zealand, or dance with the tribespeople of the Kalahari Desert. Guess what? Every corner of the planet is within your reach. Maybe not all the corners – owing to humans’ limited life spans and budgets – but it’s true: every corner of the planet is within your reach. Pick one and go. Here’s your step-by-step guide to travel planning for that vacation of a lifetime.
1. First, decide where you want to go. Not where you should go, not where other people think you should go, not the easiest or cheapest place – but to the destination that has captured your heart since you were young. You probably have a whole list of places you’d like to experience. Write them all down, and then circle your top five. Choose the one that calls to your soul the most.
2. Next, establish a savings plan. Now that you’ve decided where you are going on your amazing trip, it’s only a matter of time – and priorities – until you can save up enough money to go. Open a free online savings account with your bank and label it: EGYPT. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account: monthly, weekly, daily, or all three. Comb through your budget. What expenses can you trim so that you can add more funds to your travel account? Every time you are spending money on something frivolous, like a $4 latte, ask yourself: would I rather spend this $4 in Australia? The answer won’t always be yes, but when it is – put that money into your travel fund.
3. Now start travel planning. Researching, planning and generally looking forward to a trip can give you great pleasure. Even if the trip is 24 months away, that’s two years that you have to get excited about your adventure. Create a collage of images of your destination, either physical or digitally (like on Pinterest). Search for travel articles on the web, along with packing tips, hotel recommendations and tour information. Visit travel forums where you can get first person tips from people who have been there. Start plotting your itinerary.
4. Consult the expert. If you’re booking a nonstop flight from LA to Seattle, that’s an easy trip to arrange on your own. However if you are booking a three-week trip to South Africa with a stopover and city tour in Dubai, and then a sailing expedition along with a safari – do yourself a favor and consult a travel agent. Yes, they still exist – and they are worth their weight in gold when you are booking a complicated foreign trip. Find an agent with expertise in your destination, and let them handle all the schedule changes, snafus and glitches that arise.
5. Get everything you need. Months before your trip, you should acquire all the necessary vaccinations, visas, gear and your passport. Make sure that you have the right kind of baggage, and that your shoes are broken in. When it comes time to pack, set out your luggage a full week before your trip. Gather together everything you need several days before you depart. You’ll undoubtedly have to run to the store for an extra tube of toothpaste or a package of tissues – and you don’t want to be doing this the morning of your flight.
6. Finally: relax. Travel is stimulating in a major way – let it create excitement in your body, not stress. Relish the thrill of traveling and let your worries slip away as the plane’s wheels lift off the tarmac. Bon voyage!
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image: Pepe Pont