I spend a LOT of time planning my trips – I love it! It’s all part of the experience for me. I like to get it right so lots of research is key (even though I know things will probably change when I arrive at my destination!).
So, here are my 15 steps for planning a successful trip:
1) Decide where you want to go! It sounds obvious but if you’ve got no idea you could spend months looking for something and end up going nowhere. You need to have a few options in mind before you start!
2) Once you’ve decided, visit your local travel agents for information and brochures. Travel agents are extremely knowledgeable and keen to help, so make use of them.
3) Do PLENTY of research online: when you want to go/where you want to go/how you want to go/travel.
4) Decide whether you are going to book a package holiday through a travel agent or book your travel independently (see my post Package Holidays vs Independent Travel for the pros and cons of both).
5) If you decide to travel independently, decide on dates and book flights and accommodation as soon as you can. Like many people, we are restricted by school holidays/other commitments so we try and book well in advance so we can get the dates we want. Also, in terms of flights, the earlier you book the cheaper it is – usually.
Obviously, if you are using a travel agent, head down there and they will help you make your choices.
6) How are you going to travel around when you get there – do you need to book car hire? If so, think about how far you’re going to travel/how much luggage you are taking/how many of you are travelling a pick a vehicle to suit your needs.
7) Buy a guide book and a map, particularly if you are planning on travelling around. It’s worth looking at possible routes before you arrive, especially at busy periods when you may need to book accommodation in advance.
8) Research what you want to do when you arrive at your destination – do you need to book anything in advance or can you just turn up? If you are going to Florida, for example, you should definitely book your theme park tickets before you go as it works out much better value.
9) Check your passports are valid – for many countries, you need to have at least 6 months validity left on your passport to be permitted entry. If not, get them sent off as soon as you can (particularly at peak travel periods).
10) Arrange travel insurance – again, research it online and find the best policy for your needs. And never ever travel without travel insurance – it’s just not worth the risk!
11) Book airport parking or travel to/from the airport if you are flying.
12) Sort our visas, vaccinations, etc, if they are required for your destination. Don’t forget, some may need to be arranged well in advance of your trip.
13) Buy your suntan lotion, insect repellent, etc.
14) Look at exchange rates and pick up some local currency.
15) All that’s left now is to pack… but that’s another blog post!