10 Steps To A Perfect Vacation

Does the perfect vacation exist? Most people will say "no," but you can get as close to this idealistic dream as possible. Meticulous planning, which has been scientifically proven to improve mood, is one way of ensuring you're going to have a jolly time. But you also have to know your audience, budget and costs. A lot of trips don't end up being perfect for many reasons. Learn a few steps about how to plan and enjoy the best break of your life.

Decide what kind of place you want to visit

You have to match the location to the person. Subjectively answer the question of what you like to do – this is always the first step towards getting exactly what you want. Why not explore new destinations where you have never been before, and experience adventures that you can't find just anywhere? Or maybe you want to go to an exotic place but would prefer to fly there as opposed to hike. You have plenty of options to do just that. Going away to a secluded location that only few people visit can be very thrilling as well.

Know who are going with

Your companions can break or make your vacation. Destinations that are usually perceived as guys-only getaways may not be good options for a family with two small children. Also, how adventurous are your friends? What if you tend to be spontaneous and want to see how the locals live, while your friends want to remain in the tourist areas? Are the people you're traveling with impatient and want everything to go their way? Consider all possibilities so you can avoid nasty surprises.

Plan every day as much as you can

Making vacation plans and getting ready to stoke your wanderlust have been scientifically proven to improve health. The largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. If you've heard of the expression "Life is about the journey, not the destination," this is what it means. Also, having a plan will save you time looking for what to do and places to go while on you're supposed to be having fun.

Pack for the duration of your trip, not longer

If you really try, you can travel around Europe for a month with a backpack. While this is an extreme example, there is often no need to take large suitcases packed with everything you think you may need at some point. Don't make your life any harder than it should be. Unless you have servants who carry your luggage, pack smart and don't take your entire house with you. You can always buy whatever you need while on vacation. This may even be better than a dust-collecting souvenir.

Leave electronics behind

It may be easier said than done, but unplugging is important. Avoid the stress. Your friends on Facebook will still be there when you get back, and so will your work. You are on a holiday. If you want to make the most of it, realize and accept that this time should be about relaxing, recharging and exploring new things.

Befriend locals

Do you want to go to secret locations only locals know? Be nice to them and make friends. Unspoiled and almost empty beaches, forests, valleys, camping locations and hiking trails may be within a few miles of where you're staying. But you may be missing out because you were too close-minded and only read the travel brochure.

Book all car services ahead of time

You know where you're going but you should also figure out how to get there. If the best way is to take a cab because the bus or subway doesn't go there, make sure you call for one in advance. Hotels usually take care of that. You want to avoid a situation where you're calling at the last minute because you can end up waiting longer, there may be no cars available, or the service may be more expensive.

Know what to expect

Set realistic expectations. It's better to be nicely surprised than deeply disappointed. Read the reviews of places you plan to visit. Anonymous visitors tend to tell the truth, no matter how harsh it is. If you are going to a cheap hotel so you can spend more money on thrilling things to do, don't expect room service and toiletries at the hostel. If you're going to a place known for its serene atmosphere, don't be disappointed if you can't find many bars that are open all night.

Be impulsive

The unexpected experiences often end up being the most fun. Plan as much as you can, but leave some room for maneuvering. What if you knew you were going to visit a museum but didn't like it? Don't endure it for another minute and leave. Go hiking, BASE jumping, or surfing. Don't eat cheeseburgers all the time because "you know what's in it" and try exotic cuisine. Avoid the tourist traps and enjoy a real adventure.

Know your costs

Oftentimes, saving money on travel depends on the timing. People look for cheap flights without really counting the cost of living – hotel, food, transportation, shopping – for the number of days they plan to be away. The value of the local currency is overlooked when it should actually be a priority. Travel doesn't have to mean bankruptcy. In the interest of saving money and your desire to explore new places, don't let the cost of a plane ticket determine where you'll spend your hard-earned money.