With Christmas and New Year’s behind us, I bet you thought you were finished with the holidays for awhile. However, one of my favorite annual holidays is coming up, and I wanted to make sure you were aware of it too. Tuesday, January 25th is National Plan for Vacation Day! This is a special day started by the U. S. Travel Association several years ago where we are encouraged to plan our time off. We work hard, and we deserve that vacation time. Let’s face it though, as we get further into the year, and busy with work, school, and other projects, we often don’t take the time to actually sit down and think or talk about what travels we want to accomplish that year. As we get busier, and time goes on, it gets much easier to say “Oh, we will do that someday,” or “Maybe next year.” Let’s break that bad habit now! If we have learned anything from the past couple of years, it is to appreciate the time that we have with the ones that we love. It is our duty to make time to make those memories. It is time to realign our priorities to focus on doing something that makes us happy this year, and experiencing something new. I promise you, work will be there when you return.
Things to Think About as You Get Ready For National Plan For Vacation Day
– What type of experience do you want and need this year? Do you need a laid back relaxing trip with someone bringing you drinks as you lay by the water? Or do you want to be hiking mountains and seeing the world from a view you have never seen?
-Who do you want to make memories with this year? Your family? Your friends? Your dog or cat? Yourself? There is no right or wrong answer to this. And solo travel is totally acceptable. If there is something you want to see or do and it’s not the vibe of the rest of your crew, leave them at home. You don’t want to someday say you didn’t do that one thing because nobody else wanted to go.
-What destinations offer the type of experience you are seeking? Maybe you already know the answer to this question because it is something you have been dreaming about for quite some time. If you don’t though, get online and start exploring!
-Research what time of year is the best time to experience what you most desire. When I wanted to see the northern lights in Iceland, I planned my trip down to the very week. I even based it on the moon phase and amount of light that would be in the sky. It’s never guaranteed, but I did see those northern lights and it was fantastic! For most things, you may not have to get that specific on timing, but you do want to know the best time of year to go. For example, if you are wanting to catch a Striper, the cooler months are really great, and you have several months to choose from. You may also want to take into consideration weather, peak times, lower travel prices at different times of the year, etc.
So that gives you a few things to think about as you get ready for National Plan for Vacation Day. Now, let’s look at a few fun ways to celebrate and start planning.
If you don’t know where you want to go:
-For the very open minded: Hang a map of the world on the wall, put on a blindfold, walk up with a marker and put an X on your destination. No cheating-wherever you select is where you go
-For those travelling with others: Have a get together that night with the family or friends that you intend to travel with. You can do this even if you aren’t able to be together. My best friends all live in different locations, but platforms like Zoom bring us all together! Zoom Happy Hours are definitely a thing, and if you have friends in other places, you have to try it. You have a couple of options with this whether you are physically together or just virtually together. You can select one person that gets to make the destination choice for that year, or you can have each person choose a place of interest and you discuss the options. I have even heard of families having each person put together a fun Powerpoint presentation on where they want to go. Everyone then votes and that is their vacation for the year. You can also write the options on pieces of paper and draw from a hat. There are several ways to do this, but the important thing is to commit to a destination.
-For those travelling alone or with pets: The world is your oyster, and you can do anything you want to do. This is a great position to be in. What is it that your heart most desires to see or do? This year, you get to do that. There is nobody that can change your plans and once you commit to that destination or experience, start your planning!
-For those on a budget: Vacation does not have to be an expensive thing. You don’t have to leave the country to have a great time. You don’t even have to leave the state, or your town for that matter. Sometimes just grabbing a tent and heading out to camp in your own town is the best getaway. You are away from home and your daily responsibilities, and you still have a chance to have a completely different experience from your everyday routine. My favorite trips involve being outdoors. There is just something about fresh air, trees, and water that rejuvenates my soul. There are definitely ways to have this experience on a smaller budget. Your vacation can also be a long weekend-you don’t have to be away for weeks at a time. If you do need a little more money for the experience you are dreaming about, start saving now. The great thing about planning for vacation in January is that you can start budgeting sooner. Look at the areas where you can save. For example, if you are spending $10 to eat out everyday, start making your lunch at home. That $10 over the course of a year will save you $3,650. That’s a good amount of money to put toward your next adventure!
Making the Commitment
While you don’t have to plan the whole trip on January 25, there are a few commitments that you can make on that day.
-Pick your destination
-Pick your dates
-Put in your PTO for those dates now so that your employer can plan accordingly for you to be absent from work
-Post a picture of your destination on social media and tell the world about your goal. Once you tell others your goal, you are more likely to keep it.
-If others are coming along on the trip, delegate tasks of who will plan what parts of the trip.
-Order a vacation guide from the destination of your choice. If you are interested in visiting the Lake Martin area, you can order one here.
Now that you have made the commitment of where you are going, when you are going, and who you are going with, the fun really begins! Aside from the actual trip, the dreaming and planning phases can be pretty exciting too! If others are going with you, let everyone get involved-even the kids. Let them pick one thing they want to see or do. Someone can be responsible for picking lodging, activities, meals, etc. Letting everyone pick at least one small aspect of the trip gets everyone excited and gives them all something to look forward to.
When I have been planning a trip, I have often printed off a picture of where I was going and taped it to the top of my computer monitor. Whenever I was working, I would frequently gaze at that photo and it gave me instant happiness and motivation. I truly believe that seeing that made me work harder, because it showed me what I was working toward.
Get Your Free Zoom Backgrounds To Show Off Your Vacation Choice
In honor of National Plan for Vacation Day this year, Lake Martin Tourism Association has created a special little gift for you. Instead of taping that picture to your computer monitor like me, we have something even better to help you get excited about that trip if your travels happen to be bringing you to Lake Martin. As a way to show off to others where you are headed, we have chosen some of our favorite spots, and created free virtual backgrounds for you to use on your next virtual meeting, featuring some of the coolest spots on and around the lake. You can also use them as free downloadable wallpaper for your computer and mobile devices. We hope this helps you as you get excited about your trip!
If you want to know more about the Lake Martin area, get some insider tips from some of our locals here.
And if you need one on one help, you can reach out to me directly anytime Lakemartintourismassociation@gmail.com and I am happy to give you advice on the area.
Whether your travels bring you to Lake Martin, or someplace else in the world, I just ask one thing of you-make the commitment to make the memories this year. You deserve it!