Vacation Planning Tips for the Unprofessional Traveler

7 Apr

One of the main reasons why I created this blog was to share my unprofessional travel planning tips and itineraries with other travelers, like myself, who unfortunately don’t get to travel for a living.

The folks over at CheapOAir (an awesome site for getting cheap airfare; check it out if you’ve never used it!) caught wind of what I was doing with this site and asked me to pull together some of my vacation planning tips for their readers.

Check out some of those tips below and be sure to check out the full post on CheapOAir’s blog . I hope these tips help you just as much as they help me whenever I plan my vacations.


Vacation Planning Trips for the Unprofessional Traveler

Planning a trip can be extremely hard, time-consuming and overwhelming, especially if you aren’t a huge travel enthusiast or fortunate enough to travel for a living.

To make the process a little easier, here are some planning tips you should always utilize when researching a vacation.

Vatican City in Rome, Italy in June- we found a deal on Alitalia for direct r/t air for less than 500! Unheard of during this time of year! With this deal, we were even able to fly into Rome and out of Florence.

Photo Note: all photos are from vacations I was able to take thanks to following these tips!

1. What’s dictating my itinerary? This should always be the first thing you should ask yourself when starting the planning process. It could be budget, time of year, activities, culture, or anything, really.

Note: The easiest topics to deal with are budget and time of year. For instance, with weather: say, you can only travel in June and warm, dry weather is a huge priority for you. Well, if so, you can easily cross of places in South America or parts of SE Asia, as the weather is colder or rainy during this time of year.

2. Create a wish list. After realizing what is dictating your vacation, take a look at a map and make a “wish list” of 6-10 locations you’d love to visit at some point in your life.

Note: Can’t decide on a short list of destinations to go to? Allow companies like Travelzoo and Sherman’s Travel inspire you. Each Wednesday, these two companies release a list of the top 20 and 25 vacation deals. Catch: you have to be ready to pounce right away as deals sell out quickly. You also have to luck out in finding a deal that coincides with your travel days (or be flexible). Wanderfly is also a great inspiration tool.

Cinque Terre, Italy

3. Research.

Things to look out for as you research each area:

  • Weather: what is the climate like during the time of year you are able to travel? If it’s rainy and you’re looking for beach time, you can likely cross off a couple of destinations and save them for another time of the year.
  • Airfare: Your plane tickets will almost always account for majority of your budget, especially if you’re traveling abroad. Utilize the amazing search engines and fare trackers out there to find the best fares available so airfare doesn’t put you totally out of your budget.

Some tools:

  • Bing Travel: Bing uses price predictor technology that will tell you whether a fare is a deal or not. Based on fare history, your search results will tell you whether you should buy now or wait for a better price. You can also set a fare alert to email you the latest fares so you don’t have to check back each day.
  • has a great fare calendar that tells you the cheapest days to fly to the destination of your choice. This will save you the headache of guessing which days will garner the best fares.
  • HipMunk: This somewhat new search engine generates search results in a refreshing way: through a colorful bar chart. It also filters search results by degree of “agony,” and allows you to search multiple dates and airports in separate tabs, saving you a trip to the previous stage to start all over again.
  • This website, of course, also does a great job of highlighting cheap airfares.
  • Newsletters: subscribe to newsletters to receive alerts about low fares from your hometown airport.

Some great ones include:
–   Airfare Watchdog
–   FareCompare
–   Ortbitz

** Tip: this research will come in handy for almost every vacation in the future so keep your findings in a safe place!


Read the rest of my tips at

Happy Planning!


One Response to “Vacation Planning Tips for the Unprofessional Traveler”

  1. gail July 1, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    I always have a problem budgeting for food. When you’re out and about its hard to always eat on a budget, especially if you don’t want to eat a bunch of crud.

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