How to Plan Your Dream Vacation
Recently, I wrote a piece about the genius of shopping for swimsuits during the winter. In it, I championed the benefits of buying swimwear now. It’s smart to take advantage of the off-season sales so you’re extra-prepared for summer. Part of what led me to this discovery is my penchant for mood boarding.
The mood-board — aka vision board — is my staple way to express my creativity, exercise my personal style even when winter restricts my fashion sense to thick sweatpants and puffer jackets. It’s time to get excited for activities and celebrations that are months away.
Creating mood-boards to bring summer closer led me to buy my latest swimsuit at a fraction of the price. This simple action sent my imagination soaring. I clearly envisioned the pools I’ll swim in, the oceans and lakes I’ll plunge into, and the boardwalks I’ll strut about on while flaunting my leopard, plunged-neck bikini.
So — six months in advance — I’ve effectively pulled my summer plans together. I’ve always been a planner as it goes a long way to actually achieving whatever I’m meticulously planning, be it a goal or an awesome trip.
However, this summer’s arrangements are more fraught than ever, as my imagined itineraries ride on the hope that there’s not yet another COVID variant looming in the wings. One that cancels my flights and banishes me back to my apartment. But — in the spirit of positive thinking — I'm not going to let logic obscure my vision. I intend to go full-speed-ahead with my dreams.
Currently on my list: La Residencia, a Belmond Hotel, Mallorca
Starting early also means I have clarity about my budget. This provides greater incentive to save money this year. I have more options than ever before. Flights are cheaper, hotels will welcome me with open arms, and my inspiration awaits.
Here are some of my tips for planning your dream vacation:
Even before I started making concrete plans, I’ve already stockpiled ideas for future vacations for a future self. The pandemic taught me that life is too short to wait on those enjoyments for a future me. So, I’m taking the plunge and setting out on one of my bucket-list vacations rather than settling for a more local trip.
In order to make my biggest dreams happen without falling into credit card debt, I’m putting aside money every month that goes towards my vacation. Before making non-essential purchases, I ask myself: would I prefer another iced coffee from my neighborhood cafe or a croissant and coffee in Paris? Chipotle or a gourmet meal in Mexico? Put that way, the choice is simple.
A app like Meet Cleomakes the money part a little easier and seriously keeps me accountable for my spending. After all, there’s no better way to stop those credit-card-swipes my credit card than depending on an app that keeps it real. Meet Cleo reminds me of my regrettable purchases before I rack up another one.
In arranging my itinerary, I don’t just plan hotels and flights, I plan out every single day. Sure, I leave time to explore neighborhoods and wander through museums and stores. But even that time is scheduled. This helps me visualize more clearly what I’m going to do, but it also provides a realistic ballpark budget. When and where will I need to flag a cab? How efficient is public transit? How can I schedule my days most efficiently and cost-effectively?
Leaving seasonal shopping to the last minute often leads to panic buys, overpaying, and desperately buying forgotten items at the airport. Shop smart, and start shopping today. Taking cues from my swimwear hack, I have price alerts on critical purchases so I’m notified whenever there’s a sale.
That means no more frantic airport shopping for me — my Meet Cleo app will be proud.
Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
This end-of-summer super sale is a game-changer for your travel plans through the end of the year. Summertime travel gets all the glory. But why not take advantage of your long weekends, holidays, and PTO this fall. You’ll be surprised at how much travel you can fit in. Keep the fall/winter season exciting with domestic trips that give you all the excitement without breaking the bank. All thanks to Southwest.
Here’s the breakdown:
Where can you go?
You’ll find discounted tickets to and from most airports. Sale fares apply to cross country travel, and even Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean! Whether you’re visiting a new city or revisiting your last beach vacation, this sale has fares to make your travel dreams come true.
What do the fares cover?
Southwest Airlines has multiple fare tiers, each with various benefits. Wanna Get Away fares start at $59, while Wanna Get Away Plus fares start at $89. You can also find great deals on Anytime fares, which offer priority boarding and express lanes. Then there’s Business Select tickets for a luxe experience at an affordable price point.
Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member?
You may think these sale fares are too good to be true. Is there a catch? Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member to access them? You’re in luck — anyone can attain these fares for a limited time.
But, insider tip, you should consider signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards. With a free sign up, you earn points and miles with each trip you take. And with this sale, each dollar you spend on these discounted tix can stretch super far until you eventually earn free travel. The only thing better than a sale is free stuff.
I’ve been browsing the Southwest Airlines site, checking out flights and dreaming.