Planning for an upcoming holiday? When it comes to deciding the destination – dates, tours and attractions it can be a daunting task for some and not so much for the others who enjoy holiday planning. As for me, I throughly enjoy the process of planning, exploring, researching for places to stay, airlines to choose from and a whole lot more.
Whether your jet setting for a short/long holiday a checklist can come in quite handy and you don’t need to rely on a travel consultant to get your job done instead, take charge of your holiday and go through the step by step guide below to book it all by yourself – nothing feels better than booking your personalized holiday!
Here are 15 tips that will assist you in planning your holiday effectively:
- Destination: If you know where you want to travel to, then you’re done with step 1 of your trip planning (proceed to step2 below)! If not, close your eyes and place a dot on the map and jet set…(well, not literally)! If you have your holidays around the corner and want to travel to a destination and not sure exactly where to go then I’d suggest browsing through Pinterest, Instagram and TripAdvisor to get some travel inspiration. Choose a continent or zero down a few countries that you would like to explore that will help you narrow down your choices a little more and consider the weather in the destination city before hand. Once you’ve shortlisted the countries it’s now time to look up the cities you’d like to visit on the map, read up a few travel blogs on things to do and activities around your area of interest or even talk to your friends/family who have been there before. Does that match what you are looking for? It could be the cobble stone streets/ architecture /cafe culture in Paris, the hustle and bustle of Oxford St. in London or the glitz and glam of Dubai.
2. Passport Validity/Visa Requirements: Once you’ve made up your mind on the destination that you want to travel to, its about time that you double check the validity of your passport. The passport should have a minimum validity of 6 months. Keep aside 3 weeks before you plan your travel as renewal can take a while.
Contact your destination’s embassy or read up online regarding the visa requirements, banned items and online/offline visa application process. Based on your passport you will either have to apply before hand or you will receive it on arrival at the immigration.
3. Budget: An important part of going on a holiday is setting your budget. Looking to bag pack, staying in a luxury hotel or booking an Airbnb – set aside a budget and use the filters while browsing through potential properties for your stay. Budget your stay, food, shopping and travel costs through apps such as Tripcoin, Trailwallet and Spent that organize your day by day spend just a few taps away. Let the apps do the tracking & calculations for you while you explore the city.
4. Things to do: The best way I like to research on things to do in the city that I’m travelling to is by browsing through Trip Advisor, Expedia or the city’s website (eg: www.visitdubai.com or www.visitfrance.com). Viator is also great platform where you can book your day tours, passes, tickets to a museum/art galleries and city excursions at great prices through the website. As I continue to research, I make a tentative itinerary that I refer to every now and then to revise/add more during the trip planning process.
5. Getting around the city: Rent a car if you’re keen on exploring the country side and all by yourself. It’s a great option for couples, luxury travellers and families. Having the comfort of your car while exploring the city is extremely convenient. Look up options on public transport available. Metro lines, buses, trams and taxis. Transit App is a must have for those who heavily rely on public transport as it updates real time transport data for buses and trains.
Download Uber and Lyft as they are greatly safe and reliable options to commute around town. For directions, traffic reports, carpool rideshares – Waze is a great app to download. Google Maps is an obvious option for IOS users.
6. Compare & Book: Finally down to the most exciting step in the holiday planning. Booking flights at great prices and constant comparison between different websites can be a cumbersome process. Hopper comes to rescue – it predicts prices and helps you book your flights and hotels at the right time, saving you up to 40%. You can plan and book your tickets well in advance up-to a year in some cases – setup an alert to get the best deal. However, it does not compare budget airlines so you might want to compare those separately. Hipmunk is a another great app – scours top travel sites and compares thousands of options in seconds – including major airlines, hotels and booking sites – so you don’t have to.
Expedia, Trivago and Booking.com are excellent travel sites that have been trusted through years of travel and are my most preferred travel websites. The clean layout, specific filters, rewards system and savers keep the travel excitement going and wanting me to come back for more.
7. Make an itinerary: My most recent find has been a website named Inspirock and I’m quite glad to have stumbled upon this website. Inspirock is a website that is built to fill the gaps in travel planning and is extremely user friendly. It is a platform where you can customize a day by day itinerary for your up coming trip from hundreds of well curated attractions/places to visit. The recommendations are informative and fit well with what you have on your mind. You can easily add or delete any detail as per your requirements. It allows you to share it with with your friends who are on the same trip and enables them to coordinate with you.
8. Consolidate: Google Trips is a great platform where you can organize, plan and book things to do on your trip. Quite similar to Tripit but the pros are it works offline and is free to download for both Android and IOS users. Google Trips syncs all the emails from your gmail inbox and consolidates it one app accordingly. Extremely convenient when you are on the move. You can find information on places to eat, attractions, tap the “magic wand” to see nearby sights and a lot more.
Tripit is an app that stores your reservations, Airbnb bookings, flight details, airport transfers, miles and all your important documents in one place. It provides real-time information on your flight status and on any delays. It basically is a document holder for you to refer to at any time during your travel without the hassle of loosing hard copies. It also enables you to set alerts/reminders.
9. Currency: You get better rates when you order for foreign currency from your local bank or credit union before you travel. Calculate the exchange rate prior to your travel as you might feel confident while buying something in the country you’ve landed in. Carrying Dollars or a credit card is always a safer option as it’s widely accepted everywhere. However, check with your bank before hand on the international transaction rate on your card or withdrawals.
For a hassle free currency conversion download XE Currency Converter app that will do the conversion for you within a second. Alternatively, you can use google to convert the currency.
10. Protect: As much as this seems like an unwanted expense it can always save you from any unforeseen circumstances while your on your trip such as – flight cancellations, misplaced luggage, medical attention, theft etc. It’s always a great idea to buy a travel insurance cover beforehand to avoid the escalated costs on last minute recoveries. Ensure that the policy you sign up for has a cover for any outdoor sport activities that you might be interested in doing as most policies do not extend the cover and you have to add that at an extra cost. Check your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to be aware of any cover limitations and T&C’s.
11. Priority Access/Lounge Access: Lounge Buddy is an app where travelers can access any of the lounges in their network — no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Pay $25 for your lounge access at their website and take your airport experience to a whole new level. Get comfy before your flight and enjoy the premium amenities featured at the lounge by presenting the confirmation at the counter.
Priority Pass and Lounge Key are a similar concepts and work extremely well for customers, businesses and specific card holders.