Travel is a part of my everyday life, yet the more I travel, the more attention I seem to pay to the finer details of my arrangements, never assuming for once that I will just automatically have it covered. I double check the arrangements, arrive early for my flight and linger at the correct boarding gate just in case they leave me behind. It’s because I know as well as anyone how much meticulous planning goes into perfecting a dream trip and that being prepared is the best way to approach it.
While it is of course possible to make a last minute booking, pack a bag and head off on a spontaneous holiday that may run smoothly with no major issues, it’s a better idea to put some thought into it.
To help you with this, I have prepared a list of five points you can reference when planning your dream trip, as winging it should be left to the pilots, only …
1. Decide on a location
With so many countries to to choose from, each hosting everything from teeming capital cities to quiet, unspoilt coves, your destination will be one of the most important things to decide on when planning your trip.
Ask yourself these questions. Do you want your trip to feel like an adventure into the unknown, or have a reassuring ‘known quantity’ to it? Are warmth and sunshine important to you? Are you looking to be constantly stimulated, or to relax and unwind? What things do you wish to do on your holiday? These factors will all make a massive difference when you are attempting to select the right destination.
2. Consider your budget
The amount of money that you have at your disposal will not only shape your choice of location – South East Asia and South and Central America tend to be more affordable than Europe, for example – but also the format of your trip.
If you need to get more value for money, consider a cruise holiday from a reputable provider like Imagine Cruising, which offers packages enabling you to sample numerous destinations in quick succession. If your dream trip is a city break, look to booking a budget hotel or hostel, or cooking meals in your apartment instead of eating out, you can visit the local markets to make this more interesting.
3. Choose between solo and group travel
This is one of the most easily overlooked elements of holiday planning. You may be used to always travelling as part of a group tour, for instance, and may therefore forget about the freedom that solo travel – including separately booking your own choice of travel and accommodation – can bring you.
But on the other hand, group tour packages do take the stress and hassle of having to arrange all of the aforementioned things away and offer some great perks – like no queuing at top attractions. Remember that there are also holiday options that allow you to combine the best of both group and solo activities, like day tours from your accommodation or activities off your cruise.
4. Give thought to timing
It’s good to be flexible about the timing of your trip if you can. Going somewhere near the start or end of peak season can enable you to enjoy many of the advantages of the most popular times of year, while avoiding the crowds and saving money.
Even if you aren’t able to be flexible, you can enjoy a great holiday by going during the off-season of your chosen destination, with these periods having the advantages compensating for a bit of dreary weather and shorter periods of daylight.
5. Make sure you’ve got the right documentation
Check if a visa is required for your chosen destination? Also, a valid Passport, bearing in mind that you won’t be able to enter certain countries if your passport is within six months of expiry. Is an international driver’s license needed if you are to rent a car in an unfamiliar country, or will your home country’s license be OK?
I’ve learnt never to be complacent about the importance of thorough holiday planning, but at the same time, not to be afraid to enjoy myself and allow a lot of time and freedom for spontaneity and unplanned discoveries. After all, a dream trip is supposed to be about revelling in the moment, rather than constantly worrying about what you should or shouldn’t have done before you embarked on your journey. Its about consciously living the moment.
This list may offer some added info – Holiday Extras’ holiday checklist – covering everything that one could need to think about before setting off.