You are so busy juggling work, kids, home, and all the things that Instagram tells you you should be doing for self-care. You need a vacation, but when you sit down to start researching a destination, choose an accommodation, and plan an itinerary, you end up going down internet rabbit holes, reading thousands of reviews that aren’t even helpful and wasting time you didn’t have to begin with. I read somewhere recently that the average consumer spends 40 hours and visits at least 20 sites while planning a vacation. I am one of the few people who enjoy planning – give me a color-coded spreadsheet and some post its and I am happy! But working with hundreds of busy families over the past 5 years I have learned how to help them avoid planning overload with these simple tips.
The earlier you book the more time you have to spend on each step. The idea of spending 15-20 minutes planning with a glass of wine every few weeks is much more relaxing than spending hours trying to cram everything in. You can stay ahead of important dates and milestones and not rush to throw something together. It also ensures that you have better availability. Especially with Disney booking early is important as dining reservations open 180 days prior to your check-in and some of the most popular places book up quickly.
This one is definitely easier said than done but I promise it is worth it. I used to start to research accommodations in a place I have never been to before and end up spending hours looking at restaurants I want to try. If you focus only on the steps in sequential order you can easily maximize your time. A lot of this is based on your priorities – if you have limited flexibility in your calendar pick when you are going first and then where. If you can travel whenever decide where and then pick the ideal time to go. Then spend no more than a few minutes developing your must-do list so you can pick a location centrally located to what you want to experience. THEN start planning your days and making reservations.
I used to spend so much time checking confirmation emails to figure out final payment dates or constantly calculating when I could make my Disney dining reservations. You may think that this seems obvious but I can not tell you how many times people forget to do this. As soon as I receive the booking confirmation screen I ALWAYS put all of the important dates in my calendar. It is important to do this right away before you get distracted checking your emails or scrolling through planning resources on Pinterest. I go one step further create reminders for myself about a week before important dates. For my clients as soon as they make the booking I input their final payment, dining reservation opening, and anything else right into a system so they get automatic reminders 7 days before, then 3 days, and finally 24 hours. There is nothing worse than scrambling to figure out what cards have enough credit on them when final payment dates sneak up. I always recommend processing payment at LEAST the day before in case there are any issues. I have had clients not realize they have transaction limits on debit cards or have had their cards frozen when their bank thinks their payment is suspicious activity. Processing it early will just ensure your reservation does not face the risk of cancellation and avoids the stress of trying to figure it all out.
You don’t want to avoid overwhelm just when you are planning but on your vacation as well. This is what I used to struggle with the most. I jammed my days full and created minute by minute itineraries and would be incredibly upset when the slightest thing went wrong. I now approach planning in a much different way and enjoy my trips so much more. I make my list of things that my travel party wants to do and organize them by priority. I plan 2-3 per day from the high priority list usually based on location. I then make a list of the other items on the to-see list that are in the area but didn’t make the list. As an example for a day in London I plan to spend the morning visiting Buckingham Palace, I make a list of potential lunch spots (so we can choose in the moment) between there and my afternoon visit to Westminster Abbey. My visit to the Abbey takes less time than I allotted but I have a list and I know the Florence Nightingale Museum, Winston Churchill War Rooms, and St. James Park are all nearby and I can make a selection based on how the family is feeling in the moment.
When you have a few minutes to sit down and work on some vacation plans, put some parameters around your time. I set my objective for the time I have whether it is 10 minutes to choose one restaurant and make a reservation or an hour to read hotel reviews. I ‘Ask Alexa’ to set a timer for however long I want to spend on a task and only focus on that task.
Of course, the best way (and I am a little biased but if you want to hear real customer experiences check out my testimonials) is to use a travel advisor. I walk my travelers through each step so they do not get ahead of themselves. Especially with Walt Disney World, it is incredibly easy to join a Disney Mom Facebook Group and be instantly overwhelmed, I deliver personalized recommendations, tips, and tricks directly to your inbox so you don’t have to wade through resources you don’t need or advice that doesn’t apply to you. I send you all of the reminders you need and make sure you don’t overextend yourself. You don’t know what you don’t know and an expert can really help you save time, money and have a vacation you can actually enjoy. The best part is that I work on commission so my planning services are included in the price your vacation, it is the same cost as booking direct but now you have an invaluable resource.
If you have already and are finding yourself overwhelmed I can still help you! Disney allows you to transfer a reservation to a Travel Agent as long as it is within 30 days of booking and not paid in full. If you want to discuss your vacation transfer or just pick my brain schedule a call using the button below.
I understand how you’re feeling, I know all too well how easy it can be at the beginning to start researching online, just to find yourself 3 hours down the line more confused than when you started. But don’t panic! I can help you plan your dream Disney vacation without any of the stress of hassle – starting with the ‘A Disney Trip without Overwhelm, 5 Easy Steps’ Guide. These 5 steps will help keep you focused on organizing the best trip ever, while giving you peace of mind that everything will be done, and nothing will be left out.
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