Life Coach Magazine

Simplify Travel Through Planning & Trusted Resources

By Stephanie Jones @1MakeDifference

I once read that planning your travel is just as satisfying and rewarding as the actual vacation itself. At first I didn’t agree with this statement, but the more I plan for upcoming travels the more I find I really love the planning phase. It’s almost a game to find the best lodging deal, adventurous things to do or places to eat that your taste buds will be begging for more!
Simplify Travel through Planning & Trusted ResourcesI travel quite often for both work and pleasure. It is one of my true passions.  I always say, if I could travel, write and read for a living I’d never want for anything more.  My “day job” I’m Senior Manager for a Business Development Team for Cisco Systems, which has taken me coast to coast, from meetings with customers to speaking at conferences.  I put “day job” in quotes because I’m also an entrepreneur by night and own a professional organizing company, InnovativeOrganizing and a life coach and motivational speaking company, Giving Gal, LLC.  I believe there are several keys to simplifying your travels and making planning fun and not stressful.

Key 1: Set Travel GoalsI’m a goal setter.  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions; I set short and long term goals.  Since I love to travel one of my goals is to travel to all 50 states. I have been to 41 so far and accomplishing this goal doesn’t just happen.  I have to have a plan. Having this goal also helps me determine each year where I want to travel.  I have a second travel goal, and that is to get to somewhere warm for a week in the winter and it can’t be a place I have been prior. This February I’m headed to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and this summer I’ll be travel to beautiful Montana.  What travel goals do you have?
Simplify Travel through Planning & Trusted Resources
Key 2: Create a travel budgetAs with anything that cost money you must have a budget and save. Or at least that is my philosophy.  You shouldn’t go into debt for travels and if at all possible only spend what you have saved.  If you haven’t saved enough maybe take a smaller vacation or skip a year so you can have the vacation of your dreams.  If you have a budget it takes the financial stress away. It will also help determine what type of trip you can afford, your transportation, length of your stay and what activities you can partake in while on the vacation.  Money for vacation is a line item in my monthly budget.  Each month additional funds get added to my “travel” account for the next vacation.  I also save my change and one dollar bills throughout the year that also go towards my vacation. I’m always amazed how much I save just by these simple actions that have turned into habits. 

Key 3:Choosing ResourcesThere are thousands of travel resources on the web to help you plan your trip. So many, that it can be overwhelming.  I have found that finding a couple that work and sticking to those trusty few will save your sanity.  Here are a couple of the resources I recommend:

1.   Pinterest: I love setting up boards for the places I plan on traveling. I love dreaming about the places I want to travel, and pinning pictures makes me feel like those travel dreams can come true.  I recently traveled to Providence, Rhode Island and Mystic, Connecticut.  I set up boards for each location and pinned places that would be cool to see and fun places to shop. It’s a visual that gets me excited about the trip, and there are usually links providing additional information about the place you have pinned. Check out my pinterest travel boards at http://www.pinterest.com/giftgiver/boards/
2.   Trip Advisor: Find a trusted site that has reviews on hotels, restaurants and things to do and use it as a guide when planning your vacation.  I have stuck with www.tripadvisor.com because so far, in all my travels, it hasn’t failed me.  I’ve also started to add my own reviews and was amazed at how many people also use Trip Advisor. In a few short years of writing reviews, I’ve had over 36,000 people read the reviews I have written.  I always think there is power in numbers. When traveling to a new city, I log into trip advisor and make note of the top hotels, try to eat at a restaurant or two in the top five and definitely try out at least one of the “things to do” that was most recommended by reviewers. 
Simplify Travel through Planning & Trusted Resources3.   Homeaway.com:  I have only used www.homeaway.com for domestic travel, but I love it.  This site helps you locate a house, condo or an apartment to stay in while traveling as opposed to staying in a hotel.  Even though there are thousands of fabulous hotels, I love having space when traveling.  I love that when my husband wants to sleep in, I’m not confined to lying in bed in the dark or sitting in the bathroom reading.  I love having a living room, kitchen for cooking (which can help save money) and most the places I have stayed in have a washer and dryer, so I can pack less and go home with clean clothes.  I have also found this option to be much cheaper than a hotel and you get more bang for your buck.  A couple of years ago we stayed in a condo downtown Seattle for $99 a night.  It was a one bedroom, one bath, living room, dining room, kitchen and included washer, dryer and internet.  The location was perfect, just a 5 minute walk to Pike Place Market.  I also love this option because many of the owners can make recommendations on local favorites. From my experience, the locals are usually spot on, especially with finding fun little dives to each at with delicious food.I could go on and on about travel and the adventures I have been on over the past several years, but I’ll save those stories for upcoming posts.  Please feel free to email me at [email protected] for answers to your most burning travel questions or to suggest a topic for a future blog.  
Blessings and safe travels!  Stephanie
©2013 Giving Gal, LLC

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