Start planning your 2014 vacation now

Published by The Nashville Business Journal

When it comes to vacation, don’t take a back seat. Now is the time to start planning your vacation schedule for next year. The sooner you begin the process, the more successful you will be in obtaining a real break for yourself and your family, regardless of whether you have four weeks of vacation or one.

Communication: Start discussing expectations for next year’s travel. What does each family member want to do? Go to the beach, read a book and relax? Or explore lots of different destinations? These conversations can be particularly challenging when planning around small children or testy teenagers, but the sooner you start talking the sooner you can reach a compromise.

Research: Once some ideas are on the table, send away for brochures and travel books about potential destinations. Planning is part of the fun. Get family members involved in discussions, asking everyone to read and make recommendations.

Details: If you spend a week or more in one location, consider how you’ll allocate your time. If you want to lie on the beach, get some good reads lined up ahead of time. If you plan to take side trips, get your itineraries in order before you arrive. Making early reservations also gives you the best availability and sometimes the best prices.

Goals: This is one business tool worth applying to vacation. It’s OK to set some goals about what you want to learn and agree on some specific attractions and historic locations you want to visit. Need or want to see some old friends en route? See if a short visit fits into your travel itinerary—without sabotaging precious down time.

The key to a great vacation is to plan early, talk through options, dig into the details and set some reasonable goals. Or just take my mother’s wise advice: Take twice as much money and half the clothes you think you’ll need.

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