What are you most looking forward to in 2023? If you are anything like my family, it’s plenty of travel! To make the most of your 2023 travel, it’s critical to start planning now!
Take a little time this week and get your 2023 trip planning done. You’ll be thankful throughout the year every time you take another vacation or weekend getaway.
Top 5 tips for making the most of your 2023 travel
One of my goals is to travel frequently – preferably at least once a month. If you have a similar goal, read on for tips for making the most of your 2023 travel.
1. Find the time to travel more this year
Time and money are the two roadblocks I hear over and over from busy people as to why they can’t travel more. Let’s attack time first.
Plan your travel around these long weekends
If you work a typical 9 – 5 job in the United States, you probably have a number of built-in holidays.
For 2023, those days include January 16th (Martin Luther King Day); February 20th (President’s Day); May 29th (Memorial Day); July 4th (4th of July); September 4th (Labor Day); November 23rd (Thanksgiving); December 25th (Christmas).
An easy way to extend your vacation time is to plan to take an extra day or two off around these obligatory long weekends.
Although we don’t travel during all of them, we always enjoy our ski vacations in January and February on the holiday weekends so the kids don’t have to take more time off school, and we often travel over the 4th of July and Memorial Day or Labor Day so I can use fewer vacation days.
It is true that prices may be a bit higher during these long weekends, but if you are only going for a long weekend, you’re already saving money vs. what you’d spend on a longer trip, so just try to use these times to go to the less expensive places you want to visit.
Take into account school calendars if necessary
If you have kids in school, grab your school calendar now while you are trying to make your 2023 vacation plans and mark any available time on your calendar.
In addition to the long weekends listed above, many schools have a fall break, spring break, and long winter break. Plus summer of course.
Some schools even have built-in teacher workdays, e-learning days, or other days off throughout the school year that might just make for fantastic day trips or the jumping-off point for another long weekend.
Consider including day trips to make the most of your 2023 travel
If you just aren’t finding as many breaks as you’d like, consider adding a few day trips to the mix. A fun day exploring a city or town nearby, or a day spent hiking a state park can feel like a getaway – and it can be wonderful to throw into the months where you just don’t have enough free days for even a weekend away.
👉 Tips for planning the perfect day trip
Conclusion: Finding the time to travel more in 2023
By looking at the possibilities I’ve listed above, I’ve got time every month for at least a day trip or long weekend. As an example, here are my plans:
January & February – ski trips over the holiday weekends
March – spring break
April – spring break (we get two weeks, so typically do one full week and then a weekend or day trip the second week)
May – Memorial Day weekend getaway
June – summer adult-only long weekend
July – summer vacation with family
August – day trip or two as this is a busy month with school starting August 1st
September – Labor Day weekend getaway
October – Fall Break
November – quick weekend trip or day trip over Thanksgiving break
December – long weekend as soon as winter break starts
Bonus tip: if you have a child on a travel sports team, add a day or two to the weekend tournaments or college showcases for an easy “extra” vacation. We did this in early December this year when we spent the day in Tampa enjoying a Ybor City Food Tour!
2. Set up a travel fund for 2023 travel
As I’m still stuck with the school calendar, my times for trips are a bit more set in stone, but if you aren’t tied to it, you can really enjoy inexpensive travel! However, even if you are in the same boat as me, set up a travel fund for your 2023 travel now and reap the benefits all year long.
Consider opening up a travel credit card
An easy way to cut the costs of travel is to strategically open up a travel credit card. Don’t go opening up card after card without a plan – it’s counterintuitive and often you’ll end up in over your head.
However, if you want to open up one hotel card and one general travel card, this can be a great way to boost your travel funds. With just one of each of the right cards, you can easily earn enough points to stay for 3 – 5 nights for free along with points to erase other travel costs. This will take you a long way toward funding your vacations.
Related post: Here are my favorite travel credit cards and how I use them.
Sign up for travel deal alerts
If you know there is a particular place you want to visit, you can set up a travel deal alert to let you know when/if that location goes on sale. This works particularly well for airline travel as those prices change frequently.
Spend smart while you travel
While you are traveling, be smart with your spending. If your goal is to make the most of your 2023 travel, then you can’t go on each trip with the attitude “I’m on vacation, I can spend whatever I want.”
Instead, think about your spending and remember that if you don’t blow your whole budget on one trip you can take many more!
Related post: Some of my favorite tips for saving money for vacation.
3. Best places to travel in 2023
The best place to travel in 2023 is the place you want to go! However, if you are like me, that includes everywhere I’ve already visited as well as everywhere I haven’t …
Consider less expensive destinations
If traveling frequently is one of your goals, then you’ll want to consider less expensive destinations. For example, instead of heading out West to ski, find a resort closer to home that is less pricey and you could potentially drive to.
Weekend getaways and day trips are fantastic times to enjoy less expensive destinations. Even smaller cities have enough fun attractions and delicious restaurants to keep you busy for a long weekend – and will cost a LOT less than a big city like New York or San Francisco.
Plan one or two BIG vacations and lots of little ones
I like to mix up our vacations each year by planning one or two bigger vacations (like a week at Disney or the beach) with lots of long weekends and day trips. Every trip doesn’t need to be that big “once in a lifetime” vacation to create a lovely family memory!
4. Best websites and apps to use for trip planning
Want to make your travel planning a little easier? Here are a few of my favorite websites and apps I like to use for trip planning. All three should help you make the most of your 2023 travel.
Travel Zoo for hotel deals
Travel Zoo is a great resource for weekend getaways – especially the hotel rooms. We’ve found fantastic deals on hotels in nearby cities that often include upgraded rooms and free breakfast – for way less than I could have found on my own.
If you have a few weekends that you have blocked out for potential travel but don’t know where to go yet, sign up for the weekly Travel Zoo email and keep your eyes open for potential options within driving distance.
Trip It for tracking spend
I love to use the Trip It app for tracking my spending. Although there is a paid version, the free one has worked just fine for me.
At the end of each day, I input my spending (or sometimes I do it throughout the day as we go) and by the end of the trip, I have an accurate record of what we spent on the vacation.
As you can view your spending by category, it’s a great way to discover areas you can cut spending in (coffee? cocktails?) and it can help you determine how much money you’ll need to budget for similar upcoming trips.
Skyscanner for flights
Although I’m a huge Southwest fan (due to my knowledge from the Families Fly Free membership), if I just want to find the cheapest flight, I’ll look at Skyscanner.
I keep the app on my phone and when I have a few free moments I’ll do a quick search for a place I want to visit later in the year. I don’t always book through Skyscanner, but it does help me know which airline to look at when I do decide to book.
5. Help with planning the details of each trip
Once you’ve decided where you are going, how you are going to pay for it, and when you are traveling, you’ll need to get down to the nitty-gritty of trip planning. Although that’s a whole different post, here are a few tips to get started.
Know how you will get to your location
If you plan on flying to a location, that will be the largest cost of your trip. Once you’ve decided where you are going, start looking at flights. Contrary to the past, these days the earlier you book your flight the less you will probably spend.
Driving is much easier on the budget, but you’ll have to allow for more time – I typically drive to a location if it’s five hours or less. Any longer and it eats into the vacation time too much.
Insider tip: with all the travel uncertainty these days, I’m a huge fan of travel insurance. Some credit cards offer you insurance and it’s always smart to book travel that can be canceled or rebooked without penalty, but if you are really concerned you might consider adding travel insurance.
How to decide where to stay
I love staying at great hotels and resorts so this part of the travel planning is a lot of fun for me. Start by deciding where in a location you want to stay. If it’s a beach vacation, do you want to stay on the beach? Or is inland fine? In a downtown city area or the suburbs?
Once I know where I start looking on Booking.com to find the highest-rated sites.
Once I’ve narrowed my selection down to a few options I’ll check the specific hotel website to see if they offer a better price and/or check my points balance with that brand to see if I have enough points to book a free stay.
If I can’t get a better deal elsewhere, I head straight back to Booking.com. It’s easy and often the cheapest rate.
Include experiences on your trip
Finally, don’t forget to include experiences. In addition to the standard attractions in a location, do a quick search on Viator to see if there are any special deals or tours available. We’ve found some really interesting and unique things to do – at a great price with a simple Viator search!
👉 GoCity is another fun resource for finding things to do on your vacation. If you are planning a trip to a typical tourist destination, check to see if they have a GoCity option – you’ll save a bundle on the best attractions!
Why is trip planning important?
I’ve found that if I don’t plan a trip, odds are it doesn’t happen. It sounds great to be all spontaneous and go with the flow, but often the time gets taken by other things if it’s not pre-booked.
And if money is a concern, when you’ve done a little trip planning you know how much money you’ll need for each vacation and can start saving accordingly.
Plus, a bit of trip planning can elevate your mood. It’s exciting to think about where you’ll be going and having a few trips on the calendar gives you something to look forward to throughout the busy times of the year.
👉 Check out this post for my 3 favorite travel review sites to help you find more things to do on your vacations!
How far in advance should a trip be planned?
It depends upon the trip.
If you are planning a Disney Vacation or a trip overseas, the earlier you plan it the better. Ditto for hot travel destinations. As long as you book travel that can be canceled or changed, you might as well book it early.
For weekend getaways or day trips, you can get away with booking closer to the time of departure. Just take a little time before you leave to secure a hotel room and do a bit of research to be sure that the places you want to visit will actually be open (speaking as someone who hasn’t done those checks before …).
Conclusion: Making the Most of Your 2023 Travel
Are you ready to plan some epic vacations for 2023? Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be ready to enjoy lots of long vacations, weekend getaways, and day trips with as little stress as possible!