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Spring is well underway, which means that my favorite time of year is just beginning.
Backyard BBQ’s, sunlight past 6PM (Amen, am I right?!) and VACATIONS.
I love going on vacations and traveling to new destinations. Last year, my husband, Eric, and I took a trip to Charleston, SC and it soared into my top 3 all time vacation trips. While that may have had something to do with the fact that we had been living with my parents for 2 months (our house flooded; we went on to live with them for 5 more months), I believe the main reason it was a success was due to taking intentional steps to plan a vacation we would remember .
We planned our trip to Charleston with the idea that we wanted to make memories. It was a trip we had saved up for and we were also planning on celebrating our anniversary on that vacation. We made a (partial) plan before we left, but our main goal was to come back with memories made.
How to plan a vacation:
- Pick a diverse location: This doesn’t mean diverse in nationalities (although I love that!), this means picking a place that has a lot of different activities. When we went to Charleston, we were able to take history tours, go to the beach and eat at some fantastic restaurants.
- Make a list of Must Do’s*: Before you book any excursions, be sure to sit down with your spouse or whoever you are traveling with, and make a list of your top three must do’s. Be sure to make a list for each person going on the trip. Then compile the lists and see if you can find activities that cover all bases. In Charleston, my husband wanted to learn about the history (The Civil War was started there) and I wanted to be sure to see all of Downtown Charleston. The solution = Historical Walking Tour of Downtown. Making a Must Do list is a great way to make sure that all parties involved have been heard about their expectations of the trip. Not everyone gets everything 100% of the time, but 2/3 ain’t bad. *This works really well in almost all aspects of marriage.
- Don’t plan out every day: I have been on vacations where we were on the go 100% of the time and did everything and I have been on vacations where we dropped our bags by the pool and never left. While I enjoy certain aspects of both, I believe the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. While we were in Charleston, we decided we would book a few activities, but left every other day as a free day. This left us with plenty of time to be spontaneous and try new stuff as we navigated around the city. It also left us with the option to just go take a nap if we were exhausted at 2 PM. Hey, it’s vacation. Sleep while you can.
- Try something new: This is key. This is where all of your long lasting memories will be made. Whether it is trying out a new restaurant or learning to scuba dive, make sure that you push your self to try a new experience. You will forever remember that vacation as the time you did __________.
- Be present. Slow down on the email as much as you can, don’t constantly check social media, keep the worries of home at home. Vacations are a time to unplug and unwind. They are also a great time to give undivided time to your family with the typically competing factors out of the way. This is your chance to ignore the reality back at home. Take it!
- Relax. I do love getting to soak in everything that I can when I visit a new city but not stopping to rest is a mistake. If you are constantly on the go and have booked all of your tours and excursions to start within 15 minutes of each other, then you are going to need a vacation from your vacation. So use your Must Do list as a rule book for the things that you have to push through nap time to do, but otherwise, listen to the kindergardener in you and slow down and rest when you need to. This will give you the refreshment you need when you return and you will look back on the vacation fondly.
- Meet new people: One of my favorite things about my hometown of Houston is the people (they are seriously the best – nice, hard working, charitable and unique) so when I travel, I like to learn more about what the people are like. You don’t have to invite strangers to have dinner with you (but that can be so fun), just talk to people that you meet in lines or the servers at the restaurant. You will learn so much more about the city culture and the various perspectives that make up our incredibly diverse globe. Another bonus: the locals know where all of the best spots are.
If you follow these 7 steps, I have no doubt that you will come home with memories that will last a lifetime. Remember that you only get to live each vacation once, so make the most of it!
I would love to hear about your upcoming travels (or recent travels!) in the comments below! I need some recommendations on great places to add to my travel bucket list. If you are looking to plan a vacation, check out my trip to Cabo San Lucas for some ideas!