26 March 2014

Suitcase. Planning your holiday, minus the stress

Flights, accommodation, timelines, transport, locations, itinerary, annual leave, insurance, luggage, clothes... Planning for a holiday sure is stressful but I can't help but smile whilst I'm [frantically] planning all these details.

I'm not the kind of person to just cruise along on a holiday. I like to have everything thoroughly researched so that when I get somewhere I know I'm making the most of my trip that I possibly can. After all, there is no worse feeling than arriving back home and hearing something mentioned about the place you just visited and realising you missed it; major holiday-er remorse.

 Over the last month my plan for my France trip has changed so many times; where to go, what to see, how long to stay... There's no doubt that by the time I actually leave in 3 months it will have completely changed again. But each day I come across new information that's helping me to make all my decisions.

So, with this in mind, I thought I'd put together a list of hints that I have found helpful to bring together the perfectly planned trip - wherever you may be going.

  • First, hit the library. You can't go past checking out what's been written about the places you're heading. Even if you don't have an exact location in mind then research a whole area. As far as I'm concerned you can't beat the lonely planet guides, I really do think they have the best information on a range of topics and are sure to inspire plenty of ideas.
  • Next, head to the travel agent. I rarely book anything through an agency as I prefer to do it myself, but if you can grab a few brochures on places and trips, you might find they inspire your own travels. You can even play copy cat and pinch a top deck or contiki itinerary; taking inspiration from their plans will help you cover all the must see places.
  • Don't be afraid to reach out to your networks. These days if you combine all your friends and acquaintances I'm sure they would have the whole world covered, so, ask for others' advice. What was good, what wasn't, where did they stay, best places to eat? And even better if you know someone living where you're heading check-in with them; local knowledge is always the best.
  • I like to check out travel sites like tripadvisor but I do take their recommendations with a grain of salt as you can't always trust that you'll think the same as someone else; we all have different tastes. Having said that these types of sites are great for garnering a basic idea about attractions, hotels, restaurants and cities.
  • Check out Google maps. In the past I have found the best hotels and restaurants by pulling up a map and just looking at what is in the area. Quite often it is the things that aren't greatly advertised that are the best so you can easily come across them this way if you use location as a starting point.
  • And finally, remember my favourite saying; hold on tightly let go lightly. Get passionate and excited about your ideas, act like a dog with a bone and use all your skills to arrange what you think is best. But, if at the end of the day you feel it isn't working don't be so involved that you can't step back, let go and move on to a new idea. Sometimes the first ideas/locations/plans aren't the best but what you learn from them will help you make better selections the second or third time around.

I'll be sure to keep you in the loop with how my holiday planning is going. It's just about 3 months and counting until I leave and I still have so much to plan. Aside from my flights I virtually have a blank canvas. By there's been a lot of research going on so I know when I do eventually set some plans down they will be good ones.

Photos via Pinterest.