It is that time of year again when we start to plan summer vacations. Some of you may be heading to the beach for some sun after the long winter, some to a sports holiday in the mountains or some of the lucky few may be heading to Brazil to watch the World Cup. Vacations are a great time to relax and unwind from our high stress and over loaded work schedules. Whether you are structured or you just ‘go with the flow’ then a certain level of planning and preparation are required in order to successfully navigate to your dream location.
If you are not so good at planning or you have time or money constraints, then planning a vacation can be just as stressful as work itself. Probably the most important and first decision you should make is ‘Where do I want to go?’ If you are unsure where you want to go then it is hard to start the planning process. Once the final destination is determined then things become much easier. Now you need to consider the type of vacation, is it relaxing on the beach, focused around sports or just sightseeing in some distant land? Whatever you decide, the location and type of vacation are the first and most critical steps.
When location is determined then you can decide ‘How am I going to get there?’ Plane, train, car, taxi or bike. This year my wife and I are planning to go to the US. I have to be in Florida for a 4-day conference. The timing was fixed therefore we started to work our vacation around these dates. We reviewed the most cost effective flights and then started to plan the transportation from airports to the final destination. First, we needed a car, then plane, then hire car. All of these required careful planning and preparation. It did not end with transportation. We also needed flight tickets, passports, travel visas, currency, credit cards, (with the appropriate credit limits of course!) Hotel reservations, suitable clothing, electrical adaptors, reading materials, the list goes on and on. When planning a vacation I find it useful to visualize each step and determine what I need to do to get there. After several hours of work I now have a high-level itinerary.
We will pick up a rented car in Miami and will follow the map and find our way to Orlando. I did not plan each mile of the route, most of the route can only be navigated as and when we get there. We did not plan every twist and turn of the road because that would be fruitless but we do have a rough plan how we are going to get there and if there are detours or challenges along the way then we will handle them as we go.
We also had to consider ‘How much will it cost?’ Can we afford it and what will we sacrifice throughout the year to ensure that we have the perfect summer experience. We now have the rough budget for our vacation, spending money agreed and after careful negotiation with my wife; I now have the credit card limit set to an appropriate level. I also needed to explain to my wife that this was a credit limit and not a target!
Have you considered how many hours of planning, researching and googling you do before you have a complete plan for your vacation? In my case, this has been several hours and this is only for a 2-week vacation!
In contrast, ask yourself how much planning you have completed for your personal life. Are your career goals random, financial targets haphazard, retirement planning non-existent and family priorities unstructured? Similar to your vacation planning ask yourself;
Where do I want to go?
How am I going to get there?
What are the key milestones along the way?
What will it cost and what will I have to sacrifice to get there?
You cannot plan each step of your life and every twist and turn however, it is always wise to have a high-level idea of where you want to go.
This year as you plan your summer vacation give at least the same amount of time to planning your life goals and you will ensure not only a great vacation this year but also a clear career path and financial plan to afford fabulous vacations year after year.
Making Steps and Leaving Footprints…