Hello Everyone! Today’s post is all about putting the dream down on paper. This might be our favorite part. Setting ink to paper and making what seems like a far-fetched dream a reality.
For us, we both began by writing down our top ten places we wanted to see in our lifetime. It is important to do this independently from your significant other; that way you really explore yourself and what you want. Craig’s #1 was Rome, Italy. Jen’s was London, England. We went to Italy in 2016 and England in 2019.
Every single one of us is guilty of saying “someday.” When is someday? After college loans are paid off? After your kids are teenagers or off to college? When life is not quite so busy? The so called “perfect” time does not exist.
Now is the time!
You will never be younger than you are right now. You will want those youthful legs trekking across the cobblestone roads and climbing the countless stairs to the peak of the castle. We promise your kids will forgive you for taking a week away from them to experience your own life. It is essential to refill our souls and take some time for ourselves.
Now, first step, find a book or journal that will only be used for planning purposes and start your list. Be specific, do not just write a country. Write the cities that are pulling you towards them like a siren, the landmarks you have read and dreamed about, the lakes and beaches that you can see your feet sinking into their white sands, the parks that you want to wander through with only a backpack, map and a smile. Get adventurous, get crazy – this is your list and no one can tell you it is wrong or unattainable. If you want to get there, write it down.
Next, find a book or guide dedicated to your #1 place. There are thousands of books, journals and websites dedicated to travel. We have used Rick Steves’ books to aid us in our overseas trip planning. (http://www.ricksteves.com) Do your research and enjoy the process. Sunday mornings at a local coffee shop became our most cherished time of the week because it was when we were able to dig deeper into our dream trip. We promise this will be the best homework you have ever done. The more we read the more confident we felt.
Turn the page in your journal and now start another list. This time list your “Must Sees” in or near your destination. If you are traveling overseas the utilization of the railway system is incomparable. You could see several countries or cities in one trip if you wish and that opens up many possibilities.
Many guidebooks will give you their opinion on landmarks as to whether they are skippable or not. Remember, this is their opinion and something they chose to skip may be your favorite location. You know yourself, so go with your gut on whether to remove items from your list or to leave them there. We visited more than one place that did not rank high on other lists and we were glad we did.
Now your plan is starting to take shape! Pick a date. This is so important! It can be next year or two years from now, but pick the date and mark it on the calendar. We highly recommend researching the time of year that you choose to go. Many locations are basically impossible to travel to in the middle of summer due to the heat. Christmas time may sound magical, but it may be their rainy season. However, you may be fine standing next to the Eifel Tower with an umbrella, as long as you made it there! Look for the peak season and go from there.
You will also need to decide how long you will be staying there. Be sure to keep in mind the jet lag you will have the first day you land. Mark your journal when you will start looking for flights. You can book flights with most airlines one year in advance.
Once you know how many days you plan to be there, start a new page to write your solid daily plans. Look at maps of the cities you are visiting and see what locations you can lump together on the same day. Do not overfill your days. It is thrilling to be in a foreign land and equally exhausting. You want to get the most out of your trip, but you also do not want to overwhelm yourself or your partner.
The best advice we ever heard was to plan like you are going back. On our first trip, we made all of our daily plans and then realized that we would be much too busy, so we scrapped the whole thing and started over again. Thank goodness we did that!
You do not want to be walking through your dream trip half asleep with aching feet because you packed too much in. Be sure to give yourself time to relax at the end of each day and people watch. Remember you are there for more than just landmarks. You are there for the experience and to watch life unfold before you.
It is also a good idea to allow for a plan free day. This allows you to revisit your favorite places and take in the city without a timeline. Remember your journal is not set in stone and you can remove and add items as you go. Go back to this at least once a week and continue to research and plan.
Time to talk money. Obviously, this will be a large expense, although not as expensive as you might think. If you have been to Disney then this will seem cheap! One thing we have all learned in our lives is that everyone prioritizes where money is spent in different ways. Some drive the newest cars, have state of the art kitchens and take weekend getaways at every opportunity. For us, we want the life experiences that travel brings us instead of the new material things.
Trust us, we would love a new kitchen and our bathroom is in desperate need of a remodel, but that call from distant lands is much stronger. Life is short, do what makes you happy!
From your guidebook and research you can estimate the cost of your entire trip. Write everything down because you do not want any big surprises financially when you are ready to book the trip. Do not forget to plan for food and souvenirs, too. Set up your monthly budget to set aside what you will need. Open a separate savings account if it makes it easier. It is easy to make the small daily sacrifices when you envision yourself basking in the sun at your dream destination.
Now, book your flight! Just like that you are ready to place a check mark next to the #1 spot on your Bucket List!
What is your #1 bucket list destination? When do you plan to go? Tell us in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading, and #NeverStopPlanning.