passport-web.jpgAfter a Florida winter with temps that dipped into the 30s, it’s time to prepare for the hazy, lazy days of summer filled with weekend get-a-ways and vacation escapes. But charting an adventure and a where to go and what to do itinerary can be daunting.  To plan a vacation that will be talked about for years to come, I went to world traveler and lifestyle writer Marian Anderson, creator of the popular blog Haute Travels ( for a few tips.

Think about what your dream vacation would look like. “It all begins with your personal preferences and what your idea of a vacation should be,” Anderson said. “Really take some time to think about not only where you want to go but what’s important for you to do and experience while you are there.”

Narrow down your search.

Don’t know where to start? To help you narrow down your list of travel spots, take a few virtual tours. Cities from Paris to Panama have visitor and tourism bureaus where you can find out what the city has to see and do; learn about the local cuisine and research lodging

Many tourism bureaus also offer discount tickets and other special on-line exclusives.  If you desire a more historical or cultural experience or you want to get travel insights from an African-American perspective, check out

Readers explore cities around the world, post their experiences, and provide travel recommendations.

Create a budget.

Yep, the “B” word and Anderson says that it’s the next step in planning your great escape. And to help remember all the little travel expenses associated with the trip, there are several free travel calculators available. I recommend the one available at    

The calculator includes both big expenses like airline and hotel costs as well as things that might be forgotten, like public transportation, Internet access and updating travel documents.

“A budget will help you prioritize the must haves and nice to haves for a stress free excursion,” says Anderson.

Flexibility is the key to cost savings.

“When you are planning a vacation, flexibility is king,” stresses Anderson. “Travel during the off-season when hotels and airlines need to fill rooms and seats with bodies.”

She finds that traveling during the off-season can be even more pleasurable because there are smaller crowds and better service.

Another budget saver is to select a destination where the dollar is strongest. “Check the exchange rate to see how far your budget dollars will go,” says Anderson.”

By using a simple conversion calculator you can choose a place from your vacation bucket list that will allow you to do more, upgrade your accommodations or do some shopping with local artisans so that you have some special mementos of your trip.”

Anderson recommends shortening your stay as another way to cut costs. “If you have your heart set on a particular destination, you can also save some money by being flexible with your visit and shortening your stay.”

She adds, “Remember you can always go back for a second visit.”

The perfect trip begins with the perfect plan.

Anderson’s final tip is to remember that the perfect trip begins with the perfect plan. Make a list of those things that you don’t want to miss while you are away. Write down those special sites that will make the trip the most memorable, and do some research so that you can explore some parts of the destination that are off the beaten path.

Also available are specialty tours designed around a hobby or special interest, like the Walking the Spirit Tours that provide in-depth Parisian black history tours and includes information about historical figures like Josephine Baker and James Baldwin.

It’s time to stop dreaming and start planning. Far away places await your arrival. You’ve got places to explore and adventures to create, and now you have the
perfect plan…all you have to do is get packing.