A good majority of us harbor dreams of traveling somewhere on vacation. Sunbathing on a tropical beach, going on an adventurous safari, visiting a popular city, or perhaps doing something more adrenalin-filled like skydiving. The point is that there exists some sort of travel bucket list at the back of our minds. For some people, their dream vacation has not been relegated to the back of their minds. In fact, they daydream of that vacation nearly daily. However, some things are easier dreamt than done, so to speak. Are you a victim of circumstance or is there more you could be doing to realize your dream vacation? Let us focus on why you are the one standing in your own way. Well, here’s why you will never go on your dream vacation.
1. You Do Not Have A Well-Defined Dream Vacation
Having a vague notion of your dream vacation is not enough. You have to know exactly the kind of vacation you want to take. Further still, you want to know who you want to take it with. Maybe with your significant other or your family, a friend or maybe it would be a solo trip. Having a clearly defined goal makes planning and executing a bit easier.
Coming up with a dream vacation could start with just some interest. Maybe you saw an advertisement on social media about a great destination with amazing resorts and fun things to do. Just anything to inspire some wanderlust. The next thing you should do is some research on this destination.
For example, maybe you are interested in vacationing in Mombasa. Well, ask yourself this. Why would a trip to Mombasa be fun or worth it? To start with, there are world-class resorts in Mombasa that will make you feel treated like royalty. Maybe the thought of long beach walks really appeals to you. There are plenty of souvenir shops in Mombasa to shop for some unique ornamental pieces. Your Instagram page has been looking kind of dull and it is time to create and share some new memories. Finally, maybe you have been working hard for long hours over the course of several months and you really deserve a vacation to unwind.
With all this in mind, your dream vacation could sound a little something like this: I want to take a 3 days trip to Mombasa to experience flying for the first time, stay at this resort that really looks amazing with my partner, do some shopping, take some pictures for social media, and just relax on a white sandy beach under the sun to destress and rejuvenate. Congratulations. You now have a clearly-defined dream vacation to work toward.
2. You Do Not Have A Plan In Place
If not having a clearly defined dream vacation is one reason why you will never go on your dream vacation then not having a plan to realize your dream vacation is the second reason. So you have got the first step nailed down. You have your dream vacation well laid out in your head. Now comes the information-seeking and planning phase.
Firstly, you need to know as much as you possibly can about the details of your vacation such as transport, accommodation, when you will take it and for how long, activities, and, of course, the cost of it all. A few people are left agitated at the mention of a vacation outside of sitting on their couch and watching TV all day. In their defense, being a couch potato costs one virtually nothing while a dream vacation may cost an arm and a leg, colloquially, of course. Vacations can be expensive and doubtless cost is the biggest hurdle to overcome when planning for your dream vacation.
Find out how much every aspect of your vacation is going to cost. Budget for transport, accommodation, meals, activities, and so on. Once all of this is done and you have a huge figure staring back at you then comes the phase of applying a few tips and hacks to reduce this figure. There are a few factors that can significantly alter the cost of a vacation and that is why research is important. Going back to the Mombasa vacation mentioned earlier let’s take a look at how one can drastically bring down the cost.
Know when to travel
The beginning of April to the end of June is typically the low season and accommodation costs in many resorts are at their lowest. Conversely, the festive season during December is when costs are at their highest. During the other months, costs are somewhere in-between these two extremes. Also, note that costs can shoot up during public holidays.
Transport can quite easily be the biggest slice on your vacation cost pie chart. Air tickets from Nairobi to Mombasa, depending on the dates of travel and the number of passengers can be more costly than accommodation for one’s entire stay in Mombasa. Alternatives such as the Madaraka Express (SGR) and travel by road are more affordable alternatives. Booking an air ticket months in advance can prove much more affordable than booking last-minute.
Secondly, an often overlooked part of the transport aspect of one’s trip is from the airport or bus or train station to the hotel and back, i.e., hotel transfers. Oftentimes, this means using taxis, chartered private hotel transfer vehicles, or making use of a taxi-hailing app such as Uber. Sift through the cost of each option and see which one provides the least expensive offer. Of course, if you are using a travel agent hotel transfers may already be included in the total package cost.
For safaris and weekend getaways, driving oneself is perhaps the most affordable and convenient option. Public transport may be even more affordable but perhaps less convenient. Some safari destinations only allow for safari minivans or 4*4 Landcruisers leaving one with no option but to hire transport. Such vehicles are charged per day and can be quite expensive. To bring down the cost it is best to hire such vehicles as a group so that the cost is footed by a larger number of people.
We all have different tastes and preferences. For some people, the quality of accommodation is even more important than the destination. On the other hand, some folks do not mind sleeping in a bland bed and breakfast type accommodation and spend the entire day and a good chunk of the night exploring the destination. Obviously, 5-star facilities are going to be significantly more expensive than their 4-star, 3-star, and 2-star facilities. The meal plan chosen also has a direct impact on the cost. A full board meal plan (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), is expectedly more expensive than half board or breakfast only.
Vacation rentals or cottages or airbnbs as they are commonly referred to offer a much more affordable accommodation option. However, most of them offer accommodation on a self-catering basis, that is, one has to provide one’s own ingredients and cook one’s own food. Depending on your budget, all the aforementioned accommodation options are available for your selection.
There are two things one has when on vacation namely time and money. The money part is debatable. Anyway, more often than not the rare combination of time and money is at one’s disposal while on vacation. Since you can’t stay in a hotel all day or lie on the beach all day either, it isn’t a bad idea to fill your time up with some activities such as boat rides, diving, and snorkeling, windsurfing, etc. Some activities such as skydiving, for example, do not come cheap.
In Diani, one can skydive for about $300 (KES 30,000) per jump. One has to be a real adrenalin junky to pay someone else to push them off a plane. All the same, some activities are quite affordable and may already be included in the accommodation cost. To avoid being blindsided it is best to plan and budget for such optional activities in advance.
Once you have done your research and come up with an itinerary you now have a budget and a timeline to save for your dream vacation.
3. You Do Not Stick To Your Saving Plan
According to an article published on CNBC, the number one reason Americans fail to save is expenses. Our guess is that this is not unique to Americans. The cardinal rule of personal finance is to live within your means. A lot of people feel the need to take on unnecessary expenses so as to live a lifestyle that portrays them in a particular way to others. If you live in the real world you will know that no one really cares. If anything, people are adept at knowing when someone is faking it and the joke’s on you.
That being said, when saving for your dream vacation first meet your monthly expenses and save the surplus. The goal is to make sure that saving up for your dream vacation does not interfere with your monthly financial obligations. I know what you’re thinking. I barely have any surplus at the end of the month. Dream vacation aside, that is a risky way to be living. There are two options namely increase your source of income or cut down on expenses and the latter is perhaps easier to do. If you save up for a couple of months then find yourself withdrawing from your savings to meet expenses then saving up for your dream vacation will never happen.
However, if you are able to save but end up withdrawing from your savings account to splurge on nice-to-have items and not must-have items then yours is more a discipline issue. A few ways to overcome this is to commit to a lipa pole pole (installments) payment program with a travel agent or make an initial deposit to the hotel you intend to stay at. This sense of commitment will help you remain disciplined.
Sacrificing a few luxuries to save for your dream vacation is also a good idea, for example, forfeiting going out on Fridays or weekends might be a good place to start. That might be tough but saving is not for the weak-willed. Your first vacation should be affordable with a budget that is fairly easy to save up for. Once you take your first vacation you will be encouraged to save for even bigger vacations in the future. Some people have never taken a good vacation to really understand the appeal. With such people, it may be hard to save because a vacation does not create significant excitement or interest for them.
If you go through the three steps from defining your dream vacation to researching and planning for it and finally saving toward it then nothing can stand in your way. The key is to plan months in advance, start saving, and stick to the plan. See you out there!