Never Traveled? Here Are 25 Things To Do To Plan Your First Vacation
Photo Credit: Cathy Yeulet

Photo Credit: Cathy Yeulet

Never Traveled? Here Are 25 Things To Do To Plan Your First Vacation

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Maggie J.
Maggie J. Mar 10, 2022

Planning your first vacation has a lot of moving parts. Where to stay? Flying or driving? Do I need a visa? These are just a few of the questions people have when planning their first getaway.

Brining friends along can be fun, but is it what you want to do? A group trip, or a solo trip may be the best for your first time. Think about all the things you want to do, write them down and boom, you’ve got your first vacation planned.

Whether you’re staying in the country, or you are going out of the country, here are the 25 things you’ll need to plan your first vacation.

1. Apply for your passport

Even if you don’t plan on leaving the country for your first trip, it’s still a good idea to apply for your passport.
If you are planning to leave the country, be sure to do this one ahead of time (up to 90 days is recommended).  Take a picture, fill out some paperwork, pay some money and make an appointment to turn it all in at your local DMV.
Then, just wait for your passport to arrive in the mail.

2. Plan a budget 

Plan a budget for your vacation. Write down how much money you want to spend on the hotel, activities, food, transportation, shopping and souvenirs. How long will you need to come up with that money? If you have it now, would you want to save and have an even more luxurious vacation in a few months?

3. Decide your length of stay and dates of travel

Think about how much time you can realistically take off. What time of year is best for you to travel? Short on time off? You could take a day off on either side of a long weekend and make a 5 day trip out of it.

4. Research different destinations

How to plan your first vacation
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Research destinations that interest you. Find books and magazines that focus on travel to specific regions. Join Facebook groups that are specific to the locations you’re interested in visiting.

Sometimes, travelling off season or finding interesting flight and hotel packages can lead you to an unexpected travel destination. Who knew a quick trip to San Diego would be so fun?

5. Narrow it down to 3 places.

Now may be a good time to start your travel bucket list. There are 195 countries in the world and unending beautiful sights. Narrowing it down to 3 may be difficult. But it can be done in 10 days or less.

6. Select your destination 

You’ve narrowed it down to 3 places. You’ve slept on it a few times. It’s time to pick a destination. Don’t worry, this is just your first trip. You can start planning your next vacation as soon as you get home from this one.

7. Consider who you'll  travel with

How to plan your first vacation
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Taking friends or family on a trip can be fun. Travelling solo can be a great time too. Group travel is another way fun way to travel. Consider who you want to travel with and see if it fits their time and budget. If not, don’t wait for them. Go anyway!

8. Find travel deals

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Look for credit cards with travel rewards, bank accounts without big international fees. Sign up for travel newsletters to get last minute travel deals on hotels and flights. Look for student discounts too. They hit different.

9. Create a trip itinerary

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Create a list of unique restaurants and a list of activities that catch your eye, and then narrow it down from there. Make sure you know if you need to reserve activities or restaurants ahead of time and plan for that as well.

10. One last check for last minute deals

A couple of weeks before you book, start looking (in incognito mode on your laptop) for last minute deals to your destination. Sometimes, you can find a nice cheap flight that is only around for a day or two.

11. Reserve your flight

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Since it’s your first time flying, we recommend booking directly with the airline. Delta Air Lines, United and American are all great choices for domestic and Caribbean travel.

Red eyes, or late night, flights have fewer people and cost less. Look at the type of plane and seating chart for clues on how packed the flight will be.

12. Reserve your hotel/Airbnb

How to plan your first vacation
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This is one part of planning we always take our time on. The decision of where to stay is always one of the big ones. Great amenities, a unique experience and nice accommodations are all a plus.

13. Reserve Transportation

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Depending on your destination, you may need a rental car, train ticket or even a taxi. Be sure you have this squared away before you leave, and be sure the company you are working with is reputable and safe. Look into and, if necessary, reserve transportation to your activities as well.

14. Book/finalize activities

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Activities like museum visits and beach days may not require a reservation. But, sunset cruises and dolphin tours will. Be sure to book in advance, especially during high season.

15. Vaccinations

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If you’re traveling out of the country, be sure to check to be sure you have all the vaccines you need. Certain countries require the COVID-19 and yellow fever vaccinations.

16. Travel Insurance

While it’s wise to insure your domestic travel, it’s required in order to travel to some countries. Look into the requirements of what the coverages need to have before buying travel insurance.

17. Visa

How to plan your first vacation
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There are countries that grant you a visa upon entry. Other countries require that you apply ahead of time. Be sure you know before you go.

18. Shopping for your trip

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While you may be tempted to go shopping for clothes, shoes, bags, swimsuits, travel size everything and brand-new luggage. Remember that you can also take a day to go shopping at your destination. Is it cheaper to shop when you arrive? Shopping on vacation is our jam!

19. Order Cell Phone (Or SIM card) for foreign country

Pre-paid cell phones or SIM cards may be your only way of communicating with friends back home (or to post on Instagram or Facebook). Check with the country you are going to visit to see what their cell phone service is like. At worst, you may have to get a SIM card when you arrive, which could take up half a day.

20. Packing for your trip

How to Plan your first vacation
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To keep from over packing, plan your wardrobe ahead of time. Remember, your toiletries won’t actually go into your bag until the day you leave. And leave a little space for the things you’ll buy when you’re on your trip, too.

Your carry on should have your laptop, an extra outfit, snacks, ear pods and chargers, at the very least.

21. Download map of the area

Download a map of the area you’ll be visiting on your phone and screenshot directions to your hotel. Write down the address of where you are staying and go over your transportation reservation. The key to a good vacation is a seamless start. Knowing where you’re going is on the top of the list.

22. Get your travel cash

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Be sure to pick up enough cash for your trip. If leaving the U.S., you can get the country’s local currency from your bank. As long as you have an account, there won’t be an exchange fee.

23. Travel Day Outfit

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A good travel day outfit takes careful consideration. Some want to be cute, but comfortable. Others, stylish yet cozy. Layers work best, but pick what works best for you and lay it out for travel day.

24. Send a copy of your itinerary to your loved ones

Let your friends and family know where you’ll be. Email them a copy of your itinerary (and check in with your parents while you’re away, you know they worry).

25. Airport Check-in

How to plan your first trip
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You can check-in 24 hours before your flight through your airline’s app. You can pay for luggage and pull up your boarding pass there too. Skip standing in the check-in line at the airport. If you have luggage, drop it in the luggage drop and head to security.

Be sure your water bottles are empty and take your laptops out of your bag. You’re ready to take your first vacation!

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