When I think “ideal holiday” I think every holiday! And why not? Why shouldn’t every holiday be a once-in-a-lifetime experience?So what should you consider when planning your next vacation? I think it all comes down to the following factors:* How much you can afford* When you want to go… or when you can take time off work* How long you can take off* What you want to do* Whether you have a particular destination in mindThe way these factors interact will determine how to best plan for your holiday, but let’s take a look at the three main ways I think they influence each other…A: When taking time off work is flexibleIf you’re lucky enough to be able to take your vacation when it best suits you, then the best way to start might be to think first of a range of appealing destinations.Then take a look at the sorts of things you can do there and whether or not they appeal to you. Are any of the things you particularly like the look of only do-able in a particular season? Is this high-season, shoulder-season, or low-season?And how much do these activities cost?How much will transportation and accommodation be at this time of year?And how long do you want to go for?Doing this will give you a fairly good estimate of the budget you’ll need for your next ideal holiday in each of these places.
Also, in the process of comparing them without too many limitations (probably only the amount of time you can spend), a clear favorite will probably emerge.Now, simply examine your financial situation, decide how much you can put towards your vacation each month between now and when you want to go, and see if it’s feasible. If it is, go for it!If it’s not, you may have to settle for another time of year, which could be equally okay. And if you can take time off work whenever, no problem.If it’s something that’s tied to a particular time of year, you may need to think about Point C, below.B: When vacation-time is not flexibleAs is the case for a lot of people, you may only be able to take time off work in certain “windows” during the year–more than likely taking a vacation during the busiest time of year at your workplace would not be appreciated by your boss!So you may have to start planning your next vacation around the time of year you can take a holiday. This will most likely rule out certain destinations, unfortunately.On the upside, it narrows down the choice and makes your decision that little bit easier!In this case, I’d recommend starting with a broad pick of possible destinations you’re interested in for that time of year and then looking at your budget.How much can you reasonably save between now and when you can next take a break?Then look at the sorts of activities and consider the price of transport and accommodation for that time of year at these different locations. A surefire winner will surface pretty quickly. And the best part is that it won’t feel like too much of a compromise because all of them were equally appealing!C: When you’ve got your mind set on a particular destination or activityThis one is more or less the same whether or not you have the flexibility to take time off whenever you like.[Note: Exceptions to this, of course, are particular activities that can only be done at very specific times of the year--in which you can't take time off (like viewing the Aurora Borealis, for example). In these cases, I'm not sure what to do. Perhaps approach your boss about taking time off during the busy period next year (rather than this one) so that there's plenty of "advance notice" and time to get someone in to cover your work while you're gone. I don't know. Just an idea. Not really sure what to do. But I definitely don't like the idea of just flat out giving up on something you want to do with your life simply because your boss doesn't want you to take time off at a given time of year!]
Anyway, back to the point: You have a particular destination or activity in mind.In this case, I’d say it’s probably best to start with the time-frame (i.e. how long) and the season, and how these affect the budget.Then, simply calculate how long it will take you to save up for it.Let’s say, for example, you want to take a 3-week cruise in Alaska and the only time you can take time off work is in peak cruise season there (or you really only want to go in peak season because it obviously has all the best stuff on offer then).When you look at how much it’s going to cost at that time of year, it may turn out that you can’t afford it this year, but you can next. So perhaps you could budget for an additional low-budget, stay-at-home (or stay-close-to-home) holiday this year for just one week or even a 4-day weekend. Then take the cruise next season.I hope this has been a useful way of considering how these factors interact with other when trying to plan a holiday and that wherever you go for your next vacation, that it’s your ideal holiday!