This paper presents a contextualized study of vacation planning starting from a naturalistic perspective. Series of indepth interviews have been conducted during the period of a year on 25 Belgian households in order to follow their decision-making process for summer vacation. Data were analyzed and interpreted following the grounded theory approach. Findings show that vacation planning is an ongoing process, which entails a lot of adaptability and opportunism. Fantasy and emotions also play an important role in shaping vacation and destination choices. This departs from existing decision-making models that propose a (bounded) rational, problem-solving vacationer. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.