Planning is an aspect of taking a vacation that most people would rather avoid. Making vacation plans seems to be the start of a process that has no rules and no satisfaction. Many people wonder, “Where do you start?” Others ask, “How do you reach a conclusion?”
You can make vacation planning a lot simpler. Try this: view the process as a funnel that has a series of filters inside of it that trap ill-conceived ideas and let out only the best vacation plans.
One of the best ways to approach travel planning is to create a “travel funnel” with five filters. You create these filters by asking and answering: who, what, when, where and why. For reasons that will become apparent in a few moments, let’s re-arrange these filters as follows: why, who, what, where, and when.
The “Why” in vacation planning is more important than it seems.
The “why” of a vacation relates to the reason you want to travel. Successful vacations are those that meet a specific set of needs and are optimized though planning to meet the desired objectives.
- Start by asking about the need this vacation should be designed to fill.
- For instance, if you have been through the mill at work during the last few months, are really beat and need to heal, your vacation should include significant amounts of time for rest and relaxation (pool, manicures, massages, being waited on – whatever it takes).
- Alternatively, you may have been locked indoors through a “terrible winter” and dream of warm beaches and outdoor activities that will help rid you of “cabin fever”.
There are numerous answers to the question “why” and you need to noodle on the answer that describes your vacation related needs.
- After all, you are the only one who knows what you want and what type of vacation would do the trick.
Sometimes, the answer to the “why” question may help you understand that you should not go on vacation.
- For instance, if your needs are peace and quiet and not worrying about your finances, you should find a way to arrange to satisfy this need close to home without paying for a trip that you cannot afford.
“Who” should go on the vacation? Not all vacations are for all family members.
The answer to the “who” question depends largely on whether or not you have a family, spouse, or other significant relationship.
- If so, you will need to understand the answer to the “why” question for each of these travelers and attempt to mix and match these objectives to the best of your ability.
- Remember, there is no rule that says that everybody in your group has to go on every vacation.
Group travel objectives are often incompatible. Prioritize each person’s needs and rank them in the order of importance. We know this can be a painful experience. However, if you cannot agree on this issue when you are planning your vacation, we can guarantee you that the trip will leave everyone dissatisfied and your vacation will be miserable.
Once you have gathered everybody’s “wants”, share the rankings with your travel mates.
- Discuss the reasons for rating one objective more important than others.
- Work at getting agreement.
- Do your best, cut your losses, and do not look back.
- Anybody who did not get exactly what they wanted this year, goes to the top of the list next year.
If you cannot come to a mutual decision, perhaps you need to consider separate vacations. Now you know why it is so important to answer the “why” question in a serious and thoughtful manner.
What activities should be included on your vacation? How to keep the entourage happy!
Create a list of vacation activities that you feel meet the vacation needs that resulted from answering the “why” and “who” questions. Set this list without regard to a specific location or time, as “where” and “When” should always be subordinate the “why” and “what”. In general, there are usually a number of activities that can meet a specific vacation goal, as goals generally express a relatively broad category of wants.
Be sure to ask yourself very specific “what” oriented questions.
- Instead of accepting that the reason for the vacation is “…I have always wanted to go to Hawaii” ask what it is that you want to do in Hawaii (do you want to explore, sit on the beach, surf?).
- Be specific, instead of saying you want to play golf ask, “Do I want to take lessons?
- Always ask, “Do I just want to hang out with my friends, drink beer, eat well, and relax?”
When should you take your vacation?
The “when” question is usually simple to answer, since it depends on your availability of your group.
- The question here should really be “When can I travel in a manner that will respond the needs that are driving this vacation?”
In turn, the answer to the “when” question may help to answer the “where” question, since seasonality is a large part of the attractiveness of vacation destinations.
Where should you go on your vacation?
Answering the question “where” is simple in concept and difficult in execution since it is the question that must be based on the answers to “Who, Why, What and When”. However, the answers to the previous questions will filter out a large number of places that just won’t work for you. Normally, several destinations will come to mind that can meet your travel needs. Researching these locations is one of the most enjoyable parts of vacation planning.
The “where” question, unfortunately is often the question that must bring us to dealing with the issues of what we can afford and how long we can be away while on vacation. Don’t chicken out at this stage. There are many destinations that can meet your travel needs and they do not need to be either far away or expensive. Focus on the locations and activities that you can afford and save the ones that you can’t for next year when your fortunes have improved.