When we took our trip to Hawaii, I knew this might be the only time we would go there and I wanted to maximize what we were doing on our trip. So I planned and organized to make it easier. And it was the most wonderful vacation we had been on. To maximize your vacation time, you need to plan, let me tell you what we did and how you can plan an epic vacation. This is not just for a trip to Hawaii, but any vacation you take.
how to plan an epic vacation
Research – My husband researched what island would be best for us. If you are looking for a specific country/state/city, find the area that you want to see. What can you see there.
Everyone Onboard – If you are bringing kids, make sure they are onboard or have input on the things you want to do. There is nothing worse than someone who is obstinate and won’t do something.
Make A List – What are the things you are interested in seeing. What are their hours, website and days they are open. write this out in a spreadsheet or on a piece of paper.
Map It Out – Print out a map of the area you want to see. This helps when you are doing research of things you want to see. It will also determine what things you can see in 1 day trip, or if you need to make additional trips in different parts of the area you are staying.
Prioritize – What are those items you HAVE to see, and what things would be nice to see? You’ll want to hit up those have to sees first of course and if you run out of time and are too tired, then you can skip the others or do another day.
Weather – What is the weather like in the area you will be in. For us in Hawaii, anything in or on the water was suggested to be done early in the day as it got windy later in the day.
Have a Homebase – This is where you stay in one location and see places from this site. For us, our family likes having a homebase in the middle of everything we want to go. This allows us to go and do activities and easily come back. We also avoid moving from place to place and don’t have to pack and unpack. Thi allows us to have time for activities and relax. For us we like a condo/house to rent so we can save money of meals and have more room to spread out and get out of each others faces after a day in a car.
Know what works for your family/group– Do you like to do adventure and go go go. Or do you need some downtime and days to relax. Do you work well doing things early in the day or later?
Optional day trips – Based on the list if things you want to do, you can plan easy day trips. These would cover 1-2 (or if you family is a go-go-go, more activities).
Transportation– What transportation is needed on this trip? Will you be able to walk to everything you want to do? Are taxi’s available? Are there buses you can take (and do you want to take the bus) ? Would it be easier to just rent a car? What size car is recommended. For us in Ireland and Scotland small cars are best for the tiny size roads they have. And in Hawaii the Jeep we rented was great for getting off the road, but was difficult for the narrow roads around the mountains. (we sometimes had to back up for traffic, on a mountain).
Reservations – What reservations will you need to make? Are you renting a condo? Coordinate your condo check in and flight. Coordinate your car rental to. Give yourself time to get places at a easy pace. Do you need to make reservations for tours? Restaurants? Consider the time difference, your hungry schedule may be different than you think. We were always eating at our home hours and then a late night snack at the condo. We also found that having reservations for our bus tours gave us priority over those who had just bought tickets at the bus station (and we were easily able to take an earlier bus because of this).
Food – Having a condo really helped us save money in Hawaii. We were able to buy groceries and save money. Groceries cost more in Hawaii and I learned to really plan to use everything we had wisely when cooking…and only cooked just what we needed. We were able to eat 1-2 meals at the condo and enjoy 1 meal out every day. In Scotland, we rented a house and it was difficult to find food where we were at and we ended up eating out every meal.
Tours/Excursions – What Tours or Excursions do you want to do? Do you really want to do them? Is there a discount for purchasing online or in advanced? Can you cancel if you change your mind. Does everyone want to do it? Can you divide and concor your group and see other things at the same time?
Budget for activities – What is your budget to do extra activities. Take the list of things you want to do and be sure you wrote down the price to do them. There won’t be sticker shock when you go to do them. And going to the beach or different beaches maybe free or just a fee to get into the park. Do you need to pack water/food for any of these activities?
Find activities everyone in your family will enjoy while planning an awesome vacation. The Maui Ocean Center was a perfect blend for our family to enjoy.
Time zone change – If you are traveling a great distance, you may need a day to recoup once you get there. For us a 6 hour time difference back to Hawaii, had us lounging around the first day we go to Hawaii (and we had an early flight). And going to Ireland/Scotland 5 hours ahead, had us messed up for a good week trying to get back on our own time schedule. Try to sleep on the plane if you can. We just didn’t do that well.
Pharmacist – If you get sick while traveling or someone in your party does (like us). Consult the pharmacist in the drug store for help. My son got an ear infection from the salt water (ear drops every day of your trip you are in salt water people!) If you go to Europe, you want to look for a chemist for help. You can also pack the basics of band-aids, ointment, sunburn cream, diarrhea meds, headaches, migraines and tweezers and nail trimmers. Do what you can before going to urgent care…and research before you go what is available for medical support before you go.
What made your last vacation memorable? What tips did you use to plan your vacation?