I used to spend hours poring over flight schedules every month deciding where to fly. So many choices, so little time. I finally developed a three-question technique to speed up the process. Did I need a specific day/days off for a must-attend event? Was there somewhere I wanted to shop? How early was I willing to get out of bed, (a 7:00 a.m. wake-up call in London equalled a 2:00 a.m. wake-up call at home) and how late did I want to arrive back at base?
Starting your vacation search can be a bit daunting too. Do you begin by focusing on the cost of the trip? Are the departure and arrival dates of primary importance? What do you really want from your holiday?
I modified my work selection technique – days off, shopping and departure/arrival/ times – to help me decide where to vacation. Here are the three most important questions you should ask before planning your next trip.
WHAT DO I NEED FROM THIS HOLIDAY?
If you’re seeking stress relief or an escape from the hustle of daily life, then a visit to London or Hong Kong might not provide the respite you need. If you’re a big city fan, though, you can stay on the outskirts of town and avoid rush-hour traffic. Search out lesser-known attractions, like the Marmottan Museum as opposed to the Louvre in Paris or the Wallace Collection instead of the Victoria and Albert in London. You might want to choose smaller cities, like Lyon over Paris or Mainz over Frankfurt.
You could also split your venues as some all-inclusive vacation packages do; in Cuba, you can spend three days touring Havana and four days lounging on the beach at Varadero.
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HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE?
Don’t waste a one-week vacation jetting to far-away locales and crossing multiple time zones. You’ll lose up to a day-and-a-half flying to the other side of the globe and gain nothing but jet-lag. North-south travel and staying within three or four time zone changes is more efficient for short jaunts; five to seven zones are good for a week. In eastern North America, a 10 hour overnight flight from Toronto or New York to Santiago or Buenos Aires is especially productive.
HOW MUCH MONEY DO I WANT TO SPEND?
Once you’ve answered the whats and the whens, you can deal with the budget. Time and money are at a premium for most of us, and sometimes a vacation has to multitask -family reunion, stress relief or a mix of business and pleasure.
FA TIP: If you decide to split your vacation between town and country, or city and beach, visit the town locale first and take the last few days to relax in a quieter setting.
Now that you’ve identified your destination, it’s time to refine it further.