How to Plan Your Summer Vacation

Dolce far niente “The beauty of doing nothing”. Italians have it all figured out don’t they?… Why not set aside that work-hard-play-hard North American mentality, and embrace the Italian way of thinking for a minute. Take the time to daydream a little with this new refreshing perspective; escape reality and plan your perfect summer vacation. You can surf the web, get lost in a travel book from Indigo, or follow our convenient step-by-step guide below. Get planning!

Step one – The destination

They say that life is about the journey, not the destination, but when it comes to summer getaways, it’s all about the destination!  A trip planner such as inspirock or Budget Your Trip can help you plan your entire trip from start to finish. Simply enter your desired vacation dates and budget.  For additional information and reviews, you can always go to TripAdvisor. If you need inspiration before you get planning, listed below are a few destinations we have fallen in love with.

THE AMERICAS

Of course, Guatemala and Costa Rica would be obvious choices, but July and August are the busiest months for tourism, therefore probably not the best time to visit. Northeastern Brazil offers beautiful beaches, acres of tropical lands, perfect weather (300 days per year), and it’s not nearly as crowded as its neighbouring countries–perfect for some well deserved R&R.

However, if an exhilarating excursion is more your cup of tea, visit Peru. Its majestic Machu Picchu Mountain, green valleys, and adorable llamas will leave you with some unforgettable memories. And, last but not least, let’s not forget gorgeous Bolivia–we love it for its salt-water lakes and breathtaking desert views.

The island of Fernando de Noronha in Brazil – Credit: AirFrance
Salt desert Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

More of a city gal? The windy city, Chicago, Illinois is waiting for you, with its timeless architecture and fine dining. Not to mention 2 kilometers of captivating beaches on Lake Michigan. Basking in the sun with your favourite book by day, and trading up your flip-flops for dancing shoes by night. Talk about the perfect combination of sand and city.

Chicago River, downtown Chicago

What if we stayed in the United States but still had to leave on a jet plane? You guessed it, we’re heading to Hawaii! More specifically, what some would call “heaven on earth,” The Waipi’o Valley. Its stunning beaches, sunny weather, and impressive volcanic views will take your breath away.

Waipi’o Valley, Hawaii

Maybe you’d prefer to stay in familiar territory and explore what Canada has to offer. Our country is home to some of the most picturesque landscapes on the continent. If you prefer wilderness and wildlife, this might be the right option for you–in the East you can whale watch off the coast of the Gaspé Peninsula, and in the West, you can lace up your hiking boots and explore Banff National Park located at the bottom of the Canadian Rockies. If you’re lucky, you might even spot deer or elk grazing in the distance. A magnificent scene for all those fresh-air loving, outdoorsy types.

Peyto lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

EUROPE

Europe in all its glory, is the perfect continent for summer vacations, with tons of unique destinations to choose from. Made up of 50 countries, each one as beautiful as the next, offering a variety of things to do. For instance, the French Basque Country, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountains, offers beaches that are not as crowded as the popular Azure Coast. In addition, it is a region rich in gastronomy; food, wine and sun–what more could you possibly want?

Bidart Beach (Pyrenees-Atlantiques), France

Roughly a thousand kilometers further, beautiful Croatia, located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea is rising in popularity for its quaint, seaside accommodations. Gorgeous Dubrovnik offers coastal views and well-preserved architecture; buildings from the Baroque and Renaissance eras, surrounded by charming pedestrianized limestone streets lined with shops and restaurants.

Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Sea

Spain–always a popular summertime favourite. But as you know, warm weather brings tourists, which is great if you don’t mind the hustle and bustle. However, if that pace is not for you, opt for a quieter little town in the South. Try charming Seville, in the Andalusia region for example.

La plaza de España, Seville, Spain

AFRICA

We often forget that Africa also has some great spots to visit, offering picture-perfect savannahs and exciting animal encounters. Visiting Kenya and Tanzania is a dream come true for nature lovers who also enjoy toasty climates. Why not try a safari and observe giraffes, gazelles and zebras in their natural habitat (don’t worry–lions are admired from afar).

Savannah, Kenya

ASIA

July and August is monsoon season in Asia, which calls for some heavy rainfalls and hot, humid weather–not ideal for sightseeing. That said, thankfully a few countries in Asia do remain dry, such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Offering volcanic mountains, iconic rice fields, beaches and coral reefs, Bali is a must-see. However, brace yourself for the heat, humidity, and the buzzing of tourists.

Rice Field, Bali, Indonesia

OCEANIA

Of course, this gorgeous island is located across the globe, and the flight time can be a little daunting, but it is so worth it! The photo below should definitely motivate you to take a chance on the 24-hour trek. An overseas collectivity of France nicknamed l’île la plus proche du paradis (“the closest island to Paradise“) might be just what the doctor ordered.

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia, Pacific Ocean

Step 2 – Getting organized

Let’s start at the beginning: buying the plane ticket. Certain websites like skyscanner, google flights or flighthub scrape the internet for the best available prices by calendar date. For the adventurers who prefer last minute bookings, backpacks and hitchhiking, my job here is done since the rest of this post doesn’t concern you. For the rest of you structured folk who enjoy the comforts of a hotel room and a shower, keep reading.

Depending on your budget, a few different accommodation options are available to you. Do you prefer 5-star treatment and all-inclusive deals? Go to Booking.com for the best finds. Hotwire also offers hotel rooms at cheaper rates. Here’s the catch – you don’t know which hotel you’re booking until you make the payment. Surprise!  If you prefer to immerse yourself in the local culture, opt for Airbnb. If you like being extra-organized and want to be able to get around hassle-free once you get to your travel destination, don’t forget to arrange for transportation in advance. Rent a car or reserve a seat on a shuttle bus.

Important Travel Tips

  • If you have a pet, and no sitter, do a search for local pet-sitters that will be able to take good care of your 4-legged friend.
  • Make sure to have travel insurance coverage – double check with your health insurance from work or with your credit card company. If not, you can easily purchase insurance through your bank. Be aware of all the terms and conditions.
  • Let your credit card company know you are going on vacation to avoid account freezing due to fraud prevention.
  • Currency exchange should be done before you leave. It’s always a good idea to have a little bit of cash available in case credit cards aren’t accepted. You don’t want to be stuck washing dishes to pay for your dinner ;).

Step 3 – Pack your bags

In addition to packing your toiletries, make sure to bring certain medications (especially if you are travelling to an exotic place) Advil, anti-diarrhea, allergy pills, antiseptic, bug spray, Band-Aids and sunscreen. For packing tips from the experts and easy-to-pack style recommendations, check out our next blog post.

Bon voyage!

 

Adapted from French by Jonelle Larouche

 

Written by Pauline Ponchaux

Straight from Northern France, Pauline has a great admiration for “baked-just-right-baguettes”, waffles, and sweets at brunch. Films from the '80s and '90s are almost a religion, and she adores reciting memorized lines from her favourite movies at any given time. Since she moved to Quebec – two years ago – Pauline has developed a passionate curiosity for the reoccurring discrepancies between the “current temperature” and the “feels like temperature” advertised on The Weather Network. She also likes: reading in the metro, strumming the strings of her ukulele while dreaming of beaches and sunshine, trips to exotic places, Barcelona and Güell architecture (and let’s not forget sangria of course), cats, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, and The Beatles.

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