Planning a vacation can be a time-consuming and stressful experience, especially if you are planning an overseas trip. Fortunately, the following tips will give useful advice you may want to follow before you book your next holiday.
1. Select your destination
Whether you are travelling at home or abroad, the starting point is your destination, taking into factors such as budget, time of year, attractions and likely availability of accommodation.
2. Time availability
Consider how much time you are likely to have for your vacation. If you only have a limited amount of time available, do you want to spend much of it travelling to and from your destination? On the other hand, if you have several weeks, you can afford to plan for a longer trip.
3. Going alone or with a group?
If you are planning on going with a companion or a group of friends, you will obviously need to consult them before planning any trip, including choice of destination. Make sure that everybody is happy before making any plans. On the other hand, if you are planning on going solo, you are free to make whatever decisions you want.
4. Deciding on the type of trip
Decide what type of vacation you would prefer. For example, you could choose to visit a city or the countryside, enjoy an organised tour or arrange everything yourself, opt for an adventure holiday or a road trip. There are likely to be a wide range of options available, so make your choice.
5. Best time to visit
Decide on the best time to visit, taking into factors such as climate, and the peak times and off-season for your selected destination. If possible, try to avoid travelling during the peak season – it is likely to be very busy and prices will be higher. However, if you are travelling with children, when you can go on vacation is likely to be conditioned by their school holidays.
6. Book your air tickets
Once you have chosen your particular destination, your next step is to book your flight tickets. Air fares can be the biggest single cost item of any travel budget, so try and book cheap flights wherever possible.
7. Scout around for suitable flights
Try and find suitable flights. There are lots of options, including air travel websites, airline company sites, and bargain travel operators. Download apps which offer top travel deals, and explore if you have any air miles you can use to cut the cost of your flight with a particular airline. Also look out for any “Early Bid” deals or other promotions which may be available.
8. Choose your accommodation
Next choose your accommodation, taking into account factors such as budget, location, amenities and cancellation policies. Either book directly with the hotels themselves or use one of the numerous user-friendly hotel reservation and price comparison sites. Make sure you are sure of the exact price of your room, including surcharges and taxes, whether breakfast is included, and check-out times.
9. Mode of transport
When choosing a destination, you need to consider how you are going to get around once you get there. For example, will you be using the bus, taxis, underground railway, internal flights, hire cars or what? Check out what is available locally. For example, in Australia you will need an Opal Card to travel via public transport, whilst an Oyster Card in London is a cheaper way to move around the city.
10. Places to visit
Make a list of the places you want to visit, using online travel reviews, guide books and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Ask friends and relatives who have been before to that destination what is worth seeing. Remember though not to schedule too much during your visit. It is meant to be a vacation, so take some time to relax!
11. Food and drink
Don’t forget to check-out the restaurants, cafes and bars you might want to visit during the course of your journey. Research the local cuisine, street food and pubs that are worth trying. Again there are numerous social media and review sites that can give you some information, but do not always be put off by negative comments from previous guests or visitors. Their opinions are subjective ones, and might be coloured by any number of factors.
12. Passport procedures
Every time you travel abroad, you need a valid passport, so if you do not have one, it is time to make an application, bearing in mind that it can take a month or more for your request to be processed. If you already have a passport, check its expiration date, and whether it will remain valid during the date of your trip. If not, expedite applying for a renewal.
13. Visa formalities
Check whether you need a visa to travel to your preferred destination or not, and, if you do, the visa application policy. Some countries will issue a visa on arrival, whilst, for other countries, you need to apply for a visa before your visit, perhaps from their local consulate or embassy in the city where you live. If you are booking through a travel agent, they may be able to handle the formalities for you. Never travel to a country like the US without a valid visa. They will not let you in and will send you straight back home on the next flight.
14. Other official formalities
Many countries may ask for proof that you have been suitably vaccinated against infectious diseases like bird flu, SARS and the Zika Virus by demanding to see medical certificates before letting you enter. Others, where immigration policies are strict, may demand to see a return ticket and even a bank guarantee, before allowing you to pass border control. Make sure you know what documents you must produce when you land.
15. Get travel insurance
It is always wise to get travel insurance before you make any sort of trip. This will cover you in the event of cancellation and may also offer health cover and emergency care.
In addition, cross-check all details of your trip, including the date and timing of flights, ensure you have got room confirmations from your hotels, and any necessary receipts for any onward travel. Also make sure you have the address and telephone number of your local embassy or consular office in the country you intend to visit, and, if booking through a travel agency, their local contact person on the ground.
Enjoy your vacation!