As a couple - one of us loves a good spreadsheet and the other one hates them. As a couple we are vastly different in our holiday outlook but we can both agree that doing a bit of holiday planning can really help you make the most of your trip. When we first started travelling we never planned anything but we spent too much time wandering and ended up not seeing as much of our destination as we wanted.
Preparing for your trip will be really easy when you utilise the following holiday planning tips. Spend less time thinking 'where to next' and more time actually seeing and visiting all the places you want to go. It doesn't have to be time-consuming and having a plan makes all the difference.
Holiday planning tips
1. Work out your budget
The first step for any holiday planning should be establishing a budget. The amount you have to spend will factor into your choice of destination. Some destinations are much cheaper than others. Although, even those with tight budgets can still enjoy great holidays. When we visited Budapest earlier this year our accommodation and flights combined cost us just over £100.
2. Create an itinerary
Don’t buy your flights and accommodation before sketching out an itinerary. Do research on your desired location or on multiple locations to work out which of those that you have the time and budget to travel to.
At this stage dependent on your budget you can work out how you'll travel there. For example if Paris is your desired destination you could travel by Eurostar, plane or coach.
3. Book your flight
Depending on your destination airfare may be the costliest part of your holiday. Booking this first will allow you to choose the dates that give you the biggest savings. Check a variety of operators and compare multiple search sites. For certain operators booking direct will be cheapest and for others flight comparison sites like Skyscanner may be the best option.
4. Book your hotel
As part of your itinerary it would be useful to note down some hotel ideas. You want somewhere close to the places you visit to ensure you get the most out of your time. For us, location is important with facilities being secondary. But if you have some ideas of what is important to you before booking it'll make it easier to make your selection.
Check out reviews of the places on your list to hear what real visitors thought instead of relying on the hotel's marketing spiel. Don't just limit yourself to hotels either, we've had many amazing stays by utilising airbnb.
5. Buy travel insurance
Travel insurance is vital when travelling abroad. You need to be covered in case you fall ill, lose your luggage or face a cancellation. Compare plans depending on the coverage that you need, be aware of the level of excess ie how much you'll have to pay yourself. If travelling to the EU don't forget to check out the EHIC medical card to cover your healthcare.
I find comparethemarket to be a good place to compare various insurance providers in one place.
Start your packing at least a week before heading off is key to holiday planning. No packing the night before. I usually make a list of the item i'll need and then tick them off as I pack. The benefit of packing early is that it will allow you to have time to purchase anything that you may have forgotten.
To maximise space buy some packing cubes. Amazon sell them and they are a lifesaver. Make sure that your luggage fits the weight and size requirements of the airline.
7. Getting around your destination
Getting around your location is vital to get the most from your trip so we need to find out what the transportation options are.
How are you getting to and from the airport in your destination country? Does uber work there or will you need to pre-book with a local company? Is there a bus or train available from the airport to your hotel? These are all questions that will need answering during the planning stage.
Knowing what the deal with transport is will save you time and minimise the stress.
Most airports have rental car companies on site but you will need to pre-book these to get the best deal. Nobody wants to try and secure one at the airport after you've been travelling all day.
Comparison sites would be your best bet for securing the lowest price and the best terms. The earlier you book your car the better as it'll likely result in lower prices.
8. Get your visa
Certain countries require visas and this is even more likely if you are not a UK, US or Australian citizen. Do the research and find out the visa requirements for your desired country. It will save a lot of heartache. No one wants to find out the day before that they need a visa that takes weeks to acquire.
Check out the relevant country's embassy website to get visa info!
9. Get any required immunisations
High-risk countries may require immunisations from your doctor.Look online for information and book in with your doctor for confirmation. Some countries won't allow admittance unless you have evidence of immunisations so make sure to keep evidence of any jabs you have.
10. Make copies of any important documents
We always make copies of all my important documents and then email them to ourselves. We like to be forearmed just in case we lose our luggage or anything goes wrong.
We make copies of the following:
- Flight tickets
- Hotel reservations
- Rental car reservations
- Travel insurance
Print off hard copies of everything and keep them on your person when travelling. I usually have a folder that I keep them in and have them in my handbag whilst travelling.
11. Phone/Internet access
Check out the costs involved with using your phone abroad. My carrier allows me to use it abroad with no extra costs but it will depend entirely on who you are with. In some cases you may need to buy an unlocked phone along with a sim card suitable for use in that country. As with everything else do some research. There is nothing worse than being without access to the internet and your phone. Phones can be very helpful when you need to find somewhere at your destination, check public transport times or search for a local restaurant.