Planning is my thing. Especially when it comes to vacations or trips of any sort.
So it’s really no surprise that I enjoyed every second of planning a visit to Florida/Disney this upcoming spring break. My boyfriend definitely couldn’t wait for all of the reservations to be made because I refused to make a decision unless we agreed on where to eat. But I guess that’s a good thing.
In fact, being that I am going away soon, I’m thinking about maybe starting series of posts in regards to traveling, so perhaps this is the beginning.
I’ve found that my schedule has only gotten busier as the years have gone on, making the free time I do have, and the ability to see how my time is being used, that much more important.
It’s something that almost comes naturally at this point. But I’ve certainly learned some bits and tricks along the way.
1. Start Early
The earlier your start gathering ideas together, the easier the planning will be.
The hardest part of planning the upcoming Florida trip was deciding to go to Florida. We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go at first. We brainstormed a list of places. Some of which were California, Colorado, Canada, Paris, or an island somewhere.
Our original intent was to drive up to Canada… but then we looked at the weather and it was going to be fairly chilly.
Once we settled on wanting to go somewhere warmer, we began looking at southern California, but realized that once we started pricing it, it was going to get a bit expensive. We both work, but we are still college students after all.
So finally, we decided on Florida. It’s not somewhere new for either of us, but it’s somewhere we’ll both have fun. And it fit into our budget.
2. Go Anywhere
If you’re unsure of where to go, even after brainstorming, a helpful trick is to go on a website like Kayak and look for flights to anywhere out of a nearby airport. The website will automatically show you the entire world and highlight the cheapest destinations. If you’re looking for a new and exciting place, I highly recommend doing this and seeing what comes up because you never know what you may find.
3. Book on a Tuesday
Tuesday nights are the best nights to book flights. Seriously, every travel advice website says so and from my own personal experience, I can back up that claim. If I’m planning on booking a flight, I’ll check throughout the week, but I usually won’t buy until then. You can get some insanely good deals by doing so. My returning flight from Florida this upcoming break was $47. We were shocked we were able to get that good of a deal, but sometimes you just get lucky.
4. Lay out all costs
I mentioned earlier that we laid out the costs of everything. I personally like to see everything in front of me when planning because it makes it easier to keep track and visualize costs, etc. I highly recommend using Excel or Google Sheets for this because it makes it easier to automatically calculate any costs you add into the document and you don’t have to do any math. It’s a win all around.
5. Rent or Uber?
Depending on where you’re renting a car from, and how old you are, pricing on renting a car is going to vary… a lot. Never, ever, rent a car from an airport unless you absolutely have to. Renting a car from an airport immediately increases the cost by at least $200 in my experience. You’re much better off taking an Uber or Lyft to a more remote rental station because the cost will be much cheaper.
I originally thought that the age to rent is 25, but most companies, like Enterprise, have changed their rules and allow you to rent a car if you’re under 25 for an additional fee. I found that Enterprise was the most reasonable in terms of the extra cost.
If you’re debating between the necessity of a car, calculate the price differences. Since my boyfriend and I are headed to Disney for three out of the five days of our trip, we weren’t sure whether we should rent a car or Uber to the parks since our hotel is only 10 minutes away. Uber has a fare estimator that allows you to get a range of what the price of a trip could possibly be. I did this for every location we would be going to to get a roundabout price of how much it would cost to Uber our way around. It turned out that it was nearly $150 cheaper to utilize Uber than it was to rent a car, and although that means we can’t drive out to Cocoa Beach for a day, it ultimately made more sense to scratch the car rental.
Tip: If you’re calculating the cost, be sure to factor in parking fees. Disney charges $20 to park, and that’s an additional factor as a result of having a car rather than taking an Uber.
Also, keep in mind what you’re near depending on where you’re staying. We’re lucky to be right down the street from several food places and a drugstore, so if we need anything, we can easily walk.
Hotels can be expensive. I highly recommend utilizing Airbnb when you’re planning a trip. If you’re just looking for a decent place to stay for a cheaper price, it’s the way to go.
The best part about this is that you can easily vary the type of place you stay at. If you want to stay in a fancy apartment, chances are there will be one available for you. Or, if you want to get a small place for the weekend that has a bed, bathroom, and small kitchen, you can do that as well. The variety of places is endless and they have places suitable for any amount of people.
Read as many reviews as you can because it’s important to know exactly what you’re walking into so there’s a less likely chance you’ll be surprised by what you find when you get there.
Food’s a basic necessity no matter where you go. If you can, splurge a little bit. Not every meal has to be at a five-star restaurant that will empty your wallet, but it may be nice to have a fun night out at one of the best places in town. Having a balance of places that fall on the cheaper side of the dollar sign and then one or two that are more of a luxury can add to the experience if you’re a foodie. One of my favorite places to check out restaurants is Instagram because in most cases, you’ll be able to find pictures of the food from other people’s accounts.
If you’re going somewhere new, my biggest experience is to experience the culture as much as possible. Immerse yourself. Places will have certain foods that define them. It’s one of the best ways to delve into any new experience.
If it’s not planned, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
While I love planning the more important things in advance, spontaneity is one of the things that truly makes an adventure an adventure. It is so important to realize that things aren’t going to go to plan sometimes, and that’s perfectly okay. The spontaneous trips where you’re just exploring a new place are sometimes the absolute best and most fun parts of an experience.
When I went to Italy several years ago during my sophomore year of high school with some of my best friends, we got to wander on our own and explore the cities we were in. We didn’t have things planned aside from our scheduled itinerary through the school, so our free time was something we needed to figure out on the spot. One of my favorite memories from that trip is being in Venice and walking until we found a spot in one of the alleys that was a quiet pizza place. We didn’t know anything about it prior, but we still gave it a shot and it was delicious.
Point of it all is, planning is great, but it’s not the end of the world. Things that happen on the fly are just as much fun.
No matter how you decide to go about your trip, make sure it’s what you’ll have the most fun with. These are just some tips and tricks that’ll help you through it.
Featured image by Annie Spratt