PLANNING YOUR HOLIDAY LIKE A PRO

“I’m the type of person with all the notebooks, files and ‘to-do’ lists out ahead of every new week, so I thought I’d share my travelling top tips so you no longer have to have that last minute panic attack, any form of heart palpitations or a mini breakdown because you have to leave for your flight in 2 hours and you still haven’t packed.”

As Harry and I are currently finalising the last of our plans for our trip to Dubai (we travel tomorrow, eek!), I thought I would share some of my top tips for planning your holiday like a pro. Yes, a pro. Sounds powerful, right?!

Everyone who knows me knows that I love things to be organised, planned out and have things down to a ‘T’. Sound a little anal? That’s probably correct. I like to know what I’m doing and when. I’m the type of person with all the notebooks, files and ‘to-do’ lists out ahead of every new week, so I thought I’d share my travelling top tips so you no longer have to have that last minute panic attack, any form of heart palpitations or a mini breakdown because you have to leave for your flight in 2 hours and you still haven’t packed. Yes, seriously, this is a real life tweet I saw last week. Just the thought of it makes me shudder.

1. Do your research

Before I book anywhere (and with cheap flight deals out it can be far too tempting to just bag a bargain and to think logistics later), I always take a look at the potential destination first. Is this somewhere I actually want to go? Is it just because it’s a good deal that I’m looking into it? What is there to do there? What airport would I be flying into?What’s the weather like at the time I’m looking to go? There are so many questions you could propose, and definitely should think about beforehand. The last thing you want to do is to book a week away, but after 3 days realise there’s nothing left for you to do. You don’t want to end up going to a destination which has nothing which tickles your fancy. If you love sightseeing and having lots to do while you’re away, a break to Costa Del Sol isn’t going to float your boat. Research may be boring, but it’s a biggy. Unless you just fancy taking your chances. But, if we’re using up our much-needed days off at work, I personally wouldn’t like to risk spending my hard earned money on a holiday that inevitably ‘wastes’ it. You get my drift?

2. Book early for the best deals

Okay, so I know this isn’t always the rule. Sure, you can get pretty good last minute deals too. But, don’t let booking a last minute deal on a whim make you fall into the categroy above – ‘we didn’t do our research’. It’s all swings and roundabouts. But, if you’re an avid planner like myself, booking in advance will fill you with happy, peaceful thoughts. Ahh. It’s in the bag, it’s sorted and you can spend months planning and looking forward to it. Oh yes! The trick to bagging this early bargain? Keep an eye out for when airlines first release their fight dates – more often than not, this is how you can seriously get a good deal. Harry and I have done this for a few of our holidays now, by checking out what was on offer when EasyJet first released their summer holiday flights. Let’s just say our flights to Sicily in 2016 were a brilliant bargain. We’re all winners when we manage to get a holiday on the cheap – it gives us more spending money while we’re there! I guess being organised and booking in advance is quite good after all, eh?

3. Buy a travel book

Harry and I have made a ‘pact’ of sorts to always buy a little travel book whenever we go away on holiday together. The main reason for this? So that when we’re old and grey we can look back at all of our travel books and realise how many places we’ve been to, and the memories we’ve made. Ahhh, cute. Disclaimer – until we started buying these books (just over 2 years ago for our first holiday away together), I thought they were a waste of money. Say whaaaat?! No, but seriously. We all basically live on the internet, and any kind of information is freely available at the click of a button. But, I soon realised this wasn’t the case. Here’s why travel books are still the one:

  • They have all of the information in one simple and easy place to browse at your leisure (rather than you having to go back and forth looking for different pages which may, or may not, be of use)
  • They also tend to include handy maps (yes, maps are still handy guys!)
  • They give you the lowdown on the best places to eat and drink (err, yes please – I mean, who has time to trawl through TripAdvisor every night of your hols?!)
  • They give you a little more in depth information about the history etc on some of the best places to go and see

Honestly, next time you go away, go and pick up one of these bad boys – Harry and I usually try to get a Lonely Planet book, and it’s so worth it. No regrets.

4. Make a rough POA

There’s nothing worse than realising you haven’t had time to fit in something you really wanted to do on holiday, and you’re going home tomorrow. Sigh. For the majority of us, we only tend to go to the same place once (or twice if we’re lucky). If you’re anything like me, you want to see as many different places as possible, which means multiple visits to the same destination isn’t likely. There’s too many beautiful places to visit, we simply don’t have the time (or the funds) to go to the same ones over and over. Which is why we need to make damn sure we do it properly the first time round. Sure, I love having the odd relaxing, more chilled out day here and there, but send me on a 2 week all-inclusive beach holiday and I’ll be scrambling to get back on that plane in a bid to maintain my sanity. This links to my very first point – to do your research first. If you’ve done this well, you should already have an idea of the things you have on your list which are must-see, and the things which you would like to see, if you still have time. And if you want to take it one step further and really be an organised pro, you could always create a spreadsheet of your POA…I’ve got to admit, I’ve done this for Dubai. Doing this helps you to organise what to do and on what days depending on what’s in close proximity of each other. I’m just here to make your life easier guys…

5. Pack in advance

This one is key to minimising your stress levels. But, I’ve got to admit, I’ve let this one slip with Dubai. Normally I’m the type of girl who packs everything 2 weeks in advance, and then unpacks, to repack to check I’ve got it all. Yes, really. So am I feeling a little stressed right now? You got it. But, packing in advance has 2 major benefits.

  • You can properly organise what you need to take. This is really useful if you have a limited luggage allowance. Planning in advance means you can sort your clothes into outfits (day and night) and only take exactly what you need. Excess over-packing can be a thing of the past!
  • Going through what you’ve got in advance allows you to make sure you’ve got everything required. Need another swimming costume? You still have time to get one. Realised you don’t have any sun cream? Best pop to the shops!

Make’s life much simple, doesn’t it?!

Book ahead, and this time I’m not talking about flights. If you’re holidaying at a peak time, it may be worth booking ahead if you’re visiting any attractions or restaurants. For example, with Dubai, Harry and I are pre-booking to go to the water park (it also means no queuing while we’re there, as well as us not having to factor in this cost to come out of our spending money). From experience, if you’re going away during a busy period, it may also be worth booking ahead for any restaurants which are popular. I know we when we went to Croatia in the summer of last year, many of the restaurants were fully booked, which consequently meant we spent a good hour each night walking here there and everywhere to try to get in anywhere with a good rating. Save yourself the time and effort and just pre-book. It will be worth it, honest.

6. Learn the basics

Harry and I enjoy going on holidays which aren’t ransacked with tourists (if possible). This means, for most places we go, English is not their first language. This isn’t to say the locals can’t speak English, in fact it always amazes me just how many people can speak more than one language. Unfortunately, my brain does not seem to soak up languages easily. But, before we go away, we always take a look at how to say ‘the basics’. For example, “hello”, “goodbye”, “please” and “thank you”. It may be the case that locals will automatically speak to you in English (I’ve had this on a few occasions), but as you’re holidaying in their country and going to embrace all their culture has to offer, I always think it’s nice to try to fully immerse yourself (and by that I mean by saying the basics at least). It shows politeness and that you’re making an effort. This goes a long way. This is also much easier to do if you have a travel book, as they include common phrases in these, which I regularly have to delve back into to remind myself of how to say certain things. I mentioned how bad I am at languages didn’t I…

7. Book ahead for activities

Book ahead, and this time I’m not talking about flights. If you’re holidaying at a peak time, it may be worth booking ahead if you’re visiting any attractions or restaurants. For example, with Dubai, Harry and I are pre-booking to go to the water park (it also means no queuing while we’re there, as well as us not having to factor in this cost to come out of our spending money). From experience, if you’re going away during a busy period, it may also be worth booking ahead for any restaurants which are popular. I know we when we went to Croatia in the summer of last year, many of the restaurants were fully booked, which consequently meant we spent a good hour each night walking here there and everywhere to try to get in anywhere with a good rating. Save yourself the time and effort and just pre-book. It will be worth it, honest.

8. Get your files organised

Print off all of your booking confirmations, travel plans, boarding tickets etc before you go away, and put them all into a folder (or a travel wallet if you’re that classy) along with your passport, so that there’s no chance of anything being left behind which you may need. I always make sure I print all of the details I may need so I have them to hand just in case. I never rely on email confirmations when going abroad – who knows if your phone will work, have signal etc. You most likely won’t need it, but it’s good to have anyway to double check your timings. Once you have everything printed and in your folder, put it into your hand luggage so it’s all ready to go. You may now sleep easy. Almost…

9. Get enough spending money out – in cash and on a card

When I used to go on holiday, I always used to just have cash as my spending money. However, in more recent times, I also now get a travel card too. For Dubai, Harry and I are splitting half of our spending money – with some of it on a travel card and some in cash. Having both options means you’re covered for all scenarios. The cash will most likely come in handy for taxis and when going to the markets, whereas a travel card is probably easier when paying in restaurants etc. Having two different forms also acts as a back up, just in case you lose one or the other. Having a travel card is also really beneficial. If you’re not sure how much spending money you’re going to need, having a travel card means you can simply just ‘top up’ the card if you use it all, and carry on spending. No hassle, no worries.

10. Hire a car

Whenever Harry and I go away, we always (or at least have done on every holiday we’ve been on so far) hire a car. This is something I would highly recommend doing (in particular if you’re 25 and over, as the cost to hire a car is much cheaper). Having the opportunity to venture out in a car means you don’t have to rely on public transport, which is a good option if you don’t feel too confident using this (especially if there’s a language barrier). It also means you really get the chance to see all that you want to. You’re not limited to the proximity of where your hotel is based, so you can go further out, see more than you would otherwise and really get the most out of your holiday.

So, next time you go away, make sure you start planning like a pro and consider these 10 things you should be doing before going away. You never know, you may find they bizarrely help. Especially if you’re a well known procrastinator, or last minute Lucy…

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