How I plan my vacation logistics and spending.

 

I live in Seattle, Washington. I am a Software Development Engineer by profession and I earn decently well! It’s a known thing that life is usually hectic in this line of work. Personal time to spare is limited. As work and stress of daily life increases, the need to have more sophisticated entertainment increases as well. Most of all, it helps you bounce back with more vitality and vigor to be more productive.

Irrespective, in my case, once I make up my mind to visit a certain destination, I try to get the best value for the money. An out of town trip every quarter works best for me! I plan my travel to get the maximum fun for the time I am taking off 🙂

So to me, it is not too important to compromise or trade it for not so exciting substitutions. My vacations are what I live for! So far, I’ve been to 19 States of America, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia and Brazil and I have loved it all!!

Here is how I go about planning and executing it!

PLANNING:

My thought process for my travel goes like this

What am I in the mood for:

Rest and relaxation

Sports and adventure

Arts and culture

Entertaining family

If I just want to relax, I pick an island close by, like the Orcas. More travel just adds more work and cost 🙂

If its sports and adventure, I look at videos and pictures of sports and activities I am interested in and the best places to do them. My pick this year was Fernando De Noronha, Brazil.

If it is arts and culture, I’d explore Europe and Asia.

If I want to entertain my family, it would need to be a place with natural beauty like Alaska, which I did last year.

Once I decide the destination, I speak to a lot of travel enthusiasts about my choice of travel and get their inputs about my time of travel and things to do. I look up tripadvisor.com and the official government website of the city/country that I am visiting.

kayak.com and Google flights help to get an idea of the cost and popular things to do in a specific location. The main cost is usually the flights. So first thing, experiment with a few travel dates and get an idea of how much this will cost you and if it is something you are willing to spend.

Once you are over this first hurdle, look up Airbnb and booking.com for places to stay and add that to the cost. Add the cost of the food as well. Now you have a better idea of the cost. Still undeterred? Read along 🙂

Save your tentative itinerary on your email or computer.

Second move, ask your boss if your absence on your travel dates could be covered. The possibility of cancelling travel for a release terrifies me! Approved? Good.

If you are traveling abroad, you may need a passport with likely the destination country’s Visa as well. Check if your Indian passport is expiring. If it is expiring in the next 6 months, apply for a new passport. This could take 3 weeks. The procedure to apply for a Visa for an Indian national is different for every country. So, you will have to look at their website. Most importantly, see their processing times. Get the Visa before you book the flight 🙂

If you are an H1-B holder, you will need to go to a US consulate in your destination country and get your Visa stamped if you haven’t already done so. This should ideally be done in India but can be done anywhere outside the US. You will need this to re-enter the US. Consult with your international student office or legal consultant of your company before flying. You are not to leave the US for some interval when your H1-B is being processed.

If you are traveling internally, just your state ID/driving license will work. I recommend leaving your passport at home.

Booking the flight is half the race. Do it a month in advance. That’s when you’ll get the best rates. Some low cost carriers are not even listed on Kayak.com or Google flights like Southwest. I’d suggest looking these up as well before you book.

Now, a place to stay. The pros to booking with Airbnb.com / bedandbreakfast.com/vrbo.com etc is that your room will have a personal touch and will be cheaper. If you’re not going to use the facilities, why spend? The con is you need to request and wait for the owner’s approval for 24 hours.

With Booking.com or Hotels.com, you can book them instantly. Some listings overlap but not all. I haven’t used hostels or couch surfing. At your own risk 🙂

Next, the transport. If you get an employee discount on a service, book the vehicle you need with it.

Print out the itinerary and email it to all your travel buddies so everyone is on the same page. Changes may cost extra.

With a plan like above, you have pretty much covered the logistics part of it and you know what to expect as far as spending for your trip goes.

 

Author: Nazneen Malik

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Nazneen is a software engineer based in the Greater Seattle area since 2010. She is originally from Mumbai. She did her B.E. in Computer Engineering and then worked as a Software Developer in Mumbai for 2 years.  After that she moved to Utah to do her Masters in Computer Science in 2008. She is  passionate about her career and serving the community. For fun she likes to read, hike, salsa dance and travel!

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