Contributor: Dr Heidi Burton

Confession #1 – I love to travel. Confession #2 – I love to plan a trip. If the ability to plan on trip on line were not so easy, I would consider having a second job as a travel agent because I know not everyone loves to do the work. But it is so easy for anyone to do themselves. Part of the planning that I enjoy is simply the process. I immerse myself and learn everything I can about my destination. It is like taking a mini class in that culture. So how is the best way to plan a trip?

First you have to decide on your destination. I start with a list of places I have heard about, read about, saw an article on, or simply have one attraction that I really want to see. Believe me, if there is one cool thing, there are many other amazing things to see. This list needs be tailored to your interest, so that helps narrow the list. Just because your friend enjoyed hiking the Andes, doesn’t mean you will. I actually have a list of 40 destinations that have peaked my interest. When I am ready to plan a trip, I look at these and then consider some factors.

Cost plays a role. Sometimes I have more money to plan a trip so I can consider pricier destinations. Other times, not so much. But some of the more expensive destinations are cheaper during off-season. Don’t immediately dismiss a place during off season. I went to Barcelona during the off-season and it was perfect. It is considered non-peak because of the “cold” weather and chance of rain. The weather was perfect with cool evenings, though the locals were frozen. And it gently rained one out of 10 evenings. There were no lines for anything, and my gorgeous hotel was a bargain. So be sure to consider the off-season, but research why it is considered off-season. You probably don’t want a great deal if you will be stuck in monsoons your whole vacation.

Airfare prices also changes throughout the year for different destinations. Choose a travel app or web site like Travelocity or Orbitz and put in a variety of dates to see what the cost of flights might be. And don’t forget to vary the dates of travel because that can lower the price as well. The search engines sometimes give you the option of +/- 3 days from your selection. If you have flexibility, be sure to use that.

So now you have an idea where you want to go and when is affordable for you. Next time, we will look at planning the time you are away and how to make the most of it. Happy travels!

You can read more about Dr. Heidi at The Crazy Hippie.