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How to have an epic travel year, stress free

Have you ever thought how great it would be to have an entire year of travel adventures mapped out in advance? Imagine the anticipation! What are we waiting for? Let’s make it happen.

Arlington VA travel agent
Looking to the future! (Virtuoso Travel Week selfie.)

Here are my no-fail steps to planning for an epic travel year for the coming year or beyond. I’m talking here about finding the time to travel and capturing it in writing on an actual paper calendar. (Need a calendar? Check out they have nice ones you can personalize. I am not affiliated with them, but I like the quality of their paper products.)

You can easily complete your travel calendar in a few hours over a weekend, so you can start looking forward to a year's worth of travel, from weekend getaways to longer escapes.

Step 1. Gather up important personal dates that you already know, for example:

  1. School calendars, including days off, sports commitments, and teacher conference days

  2. Business schedules, including conferences, holidays, important meetings, business travel

  3. Retired? Not dealing with kids’ schedules? Just enter the dates for which you already have other plans.

Arlington travel agent recommends future travel
Make it fun! Enjoy planning with a snack.

Step 2. Get a calendar, specifically a grid style paper calendar with a full page for each month.

  1. First, using ink, write in your family’s birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates. Pro tip: write them at the bottom of that day's calendar square.

  2. Second, using pencil, draw a light diagonal line through each day that represents time off (e.g., school vacations, business holidays) and an “X” through days on which you have existing obligations, be they business, school, or personal. (If you have too many "time off" days because you are retired or otherwise more flexible, simply "X" out the days you cannot travel.)

Bluetail Travel Arlington Travel Agency
Are the Galapagos Islands in your future?

Step 3. You’re almost there! Once you’ve completed the above steps, you should have a good visual representation of your potential travel dates. Let’s refine those travel dates further:

  1. Pencil in family visits first. Whether you’re hosting family or you’re traveling to visit them, this travel should always go on your calendar first. For many of us, family travel tends to be around certain holidays. So, for example, you might enter “visit relatives in Ohio” across the dates 25-29 November. (Tip: sometimes, you can turn family visits into fun multi-generational vacations. Why not have your Thanksgiving gathering at a resort?)

  2. Next, mark off some three- or four-day long weekends. These can be reserved for a close-to-home hotel stay or just enjoying some down time at home (get those honey-do lists ready ;-). You can write "weekend away" or "long weekend at home" across the dates.

  3. Once you’ve done all of that, your vacation time should be pretty easy to spot! Mark it off, penciling in the word “vacation” across the dates.

That’s it, you did it! Wait, you’re telling me it’s not enough? You want actual trips on the books? I hear you, but seriously, your heavy lifting is really in identifying the dates. I’m guessing you already have a pretty good notion of what you want to do on vacation, whether it is super specific (for example, “Tahiti cruise on the m/s Paul Gauguin”) or a more vague idea, like “river cruise in Europe.” Right here is the point where a professional travel advisor comes in: whether it’s me or another certified travel expert, turn to a pro who will make the actual travel planning and booking a breeze. For luxury ocean and river cruises, I make all that magic happen, and I promise it is stress-free and simple from the get go, with all the details taken care of for an amazing travel experience.

As a bonus, here are my tips for how far in advance to plan different types of travel:

Festive travel (November / December / early January holiday times): 6 months - 1 year

Spring travel: 7-9 months

Peak summer travel: 6-9 months out (ideally farther out for European travel)

Early / late summer travel: 5-8 months out (ideally farther out for European travel)

Bluetail Travel Arlington travel agency cruise agency
South Africa deserves a spot on your travel list

River cruises: The earlier, the better - 1 year out is reasonable

Small ship ocean cruises: The earlier the better - 9 months or more is ideal

Short local hotel stays over a long holiday weekend: 1-2 months out (depending on locality, may need to reserve even earlier)

Honeymoon travel: reach out as soon as you have your wedding date set and wedding venue booked

Specialty travel: Specialty travel often requires even longer advance planning. Reach out to me as soon as possible for this sort of travel. Examples include: River cruise with Oberammergau passion play, Galapagos cruise with Machu Picchu extension, Nile cruise, expeditionary cruises, and world cruises.

In any case, just reach out to me when you’re thinking about your future travel plans. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you if we’re still too far out. You can connect with me through my contact page linked here. Dream big and let’s travel like we mean it!

Happy Travels Always,

Photo credits: photo of Christina copyright Christina Schlegel, all rights reserved; photo of snacks by Liubov Ilchuk on Unsplash; photo of iguana by Simon Berger on Unsplash; photo of South Africa by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash.


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