How to Plan Your Dream Vacation

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When I was in ninth grade, I managed to convince my parents that a last-minute getaway over spring break was necessary by presenting a comprehensive itinerary for a vacation in Florida. Why they trusted a fourteen year old to book a hotel and map out the week, I’ll never know. But from that point on, planning and researching different locations has become my thing.

Destination

Unless you have a specific destination in mind, selecting a vacation spot is like putting together a puzzle. I usually consider four determinants: cost, weather, accessibility, and lodging. I’m ready to escape to a tropical climate as soon as Baltimore gets cold, but the fall months coincide with hurricane season in the Caribbean—the last thing you want to do is trade scarves and wool coats for umbrellas and rain boots.

Up, Up, and Away

If you’re on a budget and don’t have a set destination, I recommend you start by looking for flights to various locations. I use Fly.com to compare different outbound and inbound flights and love that it compiles several airlines into one site. To minimize my travel time, I fly direct whenever possible and always opt for the early morning flight and the late night flight when traveling to and from my destination, respectively.

Snoozefest

To get an idea of hotels and rates in the area, I use a third-party site, though I only ever book through the hotel’s official website. Booking directly allows more flexibility in changing your reservation, will often land you a better room (I always request a high floor with a view), and offers comparable prices.

Socialize

A use for social media beyond stalking? Turn to Twitter to get immediate feedback, or send a quick tweet to a tourism bureau for helpful tips. I’ve discovered so many hidden gems by searching through hashtags on Instagram, screenshotting places to visit all around the world.

Hit the Books

As a planner by nature, I never travel blindly. From restaurants to shopping to historical attractions, I like to read reviews to ensure that I experience the best of the best and have logistics figured out beforehand. When you have as many food allergies and aversions as I do, looking over menus becomes the norm. Exhaust all of your resources–check out travel books from the library, refer to online forums, and ask friends and family for recommendations.

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Jewel Tones

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Whenever I need to throw on an outfit in a pinch, I default to my favorite pair of denim (I’m currently living in these), a simple top, and piled on accessories. A silk blouse is so versatile–it can be worn with a tailored blazer at the office, or tucked into a pair of jeans for dinner with friends. Equipment tops are definitely investment pieces, but well worth the price for the quality. The hard part is choosing which colors to add to your wardrobe. I love the idea of a soft palette in the winter, so I completed the look with a cream coat that I picked up a few weeks ago (a steal at only $70!).

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||coat (60% off!), blouse, denim, handbag, booties, statement necklace (similar), watch, ring (gifted)||

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Leather and Wool

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If the past week is foreshadowing what’s to come in 2015, I’m not sure that I want to know what’s in store. Between being sick in bed with the flu, losing control of my car during a recent snow storm, and maintaining a diet of grapefruits and chicken noodle soup, things aren’t quite looking up for the new year. Then again, I’m one to always embrace the unpredictable and just go with it. I might have stayed in my pajamas for three days straight and watched–oh, I don’t know–like 12 movies, but I’m not lamenting over the fact that I started the year less than triumphantly.

Similar to when a positive comes from a negative experience (I’m still waiting for the silver lining), I like challenging myself to put together an outfit using an item in my closet that I often overlook. I splurged on this coat from Kate Spade a few years ago, but never have worn it for fear that the red was a little too bold. The verdict? I love how it completes the look without overpowering the wool sweater and leather mini skirt (currently 65% off!). So maybe the red coat is a move in an unexpected direction, or maybe it’s simply an indicator that I’ve gotten wrapped up in a Pretty Little Liars marathon.

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||coat (similar), sweater (similar), skirt (currently 65% off!), heels (similar), handbag, watch, ring (gifted)||

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