Planning and timing your dream vacation

By ATB Financial 18 December 2019 4 min read

We all have dreams, and for many of us, they include visiting a distant part of the world for the trip of a lifetime. A luxury or adventure vacation is one of the top ways that people celebrate their success, and just in case you’re dreaming of getting away, two of our experts share their tips on planning the vacation of your dreams.

A traveller looks at the Buddhist stupas in Myanmar. Photograph from iStock Photos.

Personal Preparation

It’s a big world and there are count- less options for exploring it. Christel Frey has gone on many adventures, including hiking in Nepal, taking a photography workshop in China, and sailing the seas off Asia and the Mediterranean. Her clients see photographs of her exotic trips in her office and often ask for recommendations.

When choosing a destination, Frey suggests being honest with yourself about your ability to go with the flow. For instance, can you tolerate different food?

“When I went to China, I went to a rural area,” says Frey, who’s also visited Chile, Vietnam, Cambodia, Easter Island, and various places in Europe. “There are no restaurants where you recognize the name on the door. You are going to eat what they’ve prepared for you.”

Some people can’t be that adventurous with their diet and that’s okay. The important thing is to do enough research to determine whether or not you can embrace the differences you’ll encounter on your travels.

You’ll also want to take your health and fitness level into account when choosing your adventure because the planning stages might require creating an exercise plan or hiring a personal trainer if a lot of walking or hiking is on the itinerary.

“My Nepal trip wasn’t a trip you could book on a whim,” says Frey, offering an example. “There were fitness requirements and I had to do some training beforehand.”

"39 international and U.S. destinations served by non-stop flights out of Calgary and Edmonton."

Pre-Trip Planning

Proper preparation means you won’t have to worry while you’re on your dream vacation. That can be as easy as making sure your home and business are in good hands, and ensuring you have the correct travel insurance.

Frey also recommends taking a small supply of medication in case you experience an acute illness. “It’s sometimes difficult to find those things when you’re in another country and you can’t read the labels on the bottles,” she points out.

Research your destination to ensure you don’t offend anyone while you’re there. Other countries may have religious requirements and dress codes that need to be followed. Frey offers the example of Italy, where women must cover their shoulders before going into a cathedral. 

Talking to people about your travel plans as far in advance as possible can be a big help. Start with the people you trust, even if you wouldn’t think of turning to them for travel advice. Scott Fleischhacker lives vicariously through his clients’ world travels. He’s happy to connect people with clients who have gone on great trips so they can hear first- hand stories about what to expect.

“No one expects that I can, for example, connect them with two local people from South Africa who do personal guided safaris, but I want to make sure my clients get the opportunity to enjoy their money,” says Fleischhacker. “It’s important to talk about things like performance and taxes, but the smile on your face when you talk about a trip you went on is more important to me.”

Frey stresses the value of using a travel agent. She’s found that a good travel agent is well worth the minor extra expense, especially if something goes wrong while you’re away. Having someone to handle changes to flights or hotels ensures your vacation continues to be a dream.

“I have a library of travel agents who specialize in luxury and adventure travel,” notes Fleischhacker. “While I haven’t used them myself, I know it takes a lot for my clients to trust somebody, so if they trust these experts, I am comfortable connecting other clients to them.”

A map shows the top travel destinations from the Travel Channel.

Trip Timing

Entrepreneurs who are highly involved in their business — including many of Fleischhacker’s clients who are farmers — might find it difficult to enjoy their vacation to the fullest because they’re going to worry about their operation if they’re away for any length of time. In these situations, Fleischhacker suggests they wait until retirement before taking a dream vacation.

“I recommend planning to go in your first five years of retirement, especially if your health is good,”he says. “It may also be good to go when you don’t have any grandkids coming and, of course, when mobility isn’t an issue.”

For others, who might have visiting a particular location at the top of their bucket list, Frey suggests that taking the trip sooner, before something unexpected moves that adventure further down your list.

“You also have to look at it from the standpoint of will you still have the ability to do that when you’re 60 or 65,” she explains. “As we get older, we tend to not want to do that kind of travel anymore. You want things to be more like home, where it’s a little bit easier to get around.”

There are many things to consider when planning an adventurous vacation, and no matter what that expedition is for you, proper planning can help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime at the time it makes sense to take it.

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