Oh holiday planning. Surely it’s time for holiday planning? Well last night I had a pedicure. When I booked in a month or so ago I imagined I would be driving home in my open sandals with my newly buffed feet drying in the spring air. Errr, no. I had my winter boots on replacing the wellies I’d worn for much of the weekend.
While I’d quite happily just settle for some general March-like weather rather than all these minus temperatures, all this cold weather does start to make me think about summer holidays and warmer climes.
When it comes to holiday planning I like an itinerary. I’m not one of those people who can step off the plane and go where the mood takes them. My down-time is very precious to me and I’m only likely to visit a place once so I like to make sure I soak in as much of the sights and scenes as possible.
I’m sure everyone is quite capable of planning their own holiday but I remember telling one of my friends about one of our upcoming holidays with several stop-offs and I remember her exclaiming – ‘how do you know how to do that without a travel agent?!’ So here we go…
Ask For Recommendations
Once we’ve decided on a rough location I usually put out a request for recommendations maybe through my personal Facebook but more likely through Instagram. (Though last year I took full advantage of the RMS community and opened it up to you lovely ladies). There’s nothing more irritating than someone telling you about an amazing festival that you’ve missed out on by a week. On the flip side it all pays to avoid key events like that too as it often makes the trip cheaper. I’ll check the weather to see what we can expect at the time of year we’d like to visit.
Then comes the research; the instagram hashtags, the pinterest perusing, trip advisor checking and the general web research. I don’t scrimp on this part and can literally spend hours bookmarking and saving articles, especially from previous travellers who have spent a similar amount of time in the location. As with our food shopping, James and I often have a shared google doc to make a note of all the suggestions, and it means it’s accessible anywhere.
I also jot down recommendations for restaurants and activities that it’s advised to pre-book so we can get them booked from the UK. When we went to Turkey a boat trip was recommended over and over again. When I went down to the port to book it for the next day it turned out I was about six weeks too late.
I’ll also check out Amazon for a top rated guide book and add any post-it notes to any points of interest. These books are generally good for maps, transport info, a bit of lingo, customs and highly reported crimes.
Plot The Points
With last year’s Sardinian Road Trip I got so many recommendations across the whole island it was difficult to work out where to go. In the end I plotted every single recommendation on a google map to see how closely together the suggested spots were and from there on a natural itinerary formed.
Booking The Trip
It’s not until I have a general view on the itinerary that I book flights and accommodation. In the case of our Sardinia trip it made sense to fly into one airport and out of another so we could cover more ground.
Wth flights we always try to be flexible with dates to get the best pricing, however I’m never fooled by a flight that’s £30 cheaper to fly home later in the evening – you’ll just spend that on food hanging about waiting to come home. Well maybe you won’t but I often weigh up the cost of the cheaper flights and what that will mean in relation to any additional expenses.
When it comes to booking the trip I generally use booking.com and Airbnb for accommodation taking advantage of all the reviews and flexible cancellation policies.
At this point too I’ll check out all the transport options and if we’re not booking a car then I’ll be checking out the trains, trams and taxi prices to get from a to b dependent on the time of day we’re landing.
I’ll email everything to both my email address and James’ so we can access anytime we like. Generally I’m used to folks asking for recommendations when we’ve been somewhere so this makes it easy to share after too.
Before We Leave
I’ll screenshot the accommodation details; the address and the map so if there’s any internet access issues I know exactly where we need to head to. I also download a Google Map of the area to use offline so it doesn’t use up valuable data.
When We’re There
Saying that these days free wifi is available in so many places and in Europe we get to use our phone’s standard data plan so it’s easy to adapt your route when you’re on the move. No-one likes organised fun so we try not to be too rigid. It might be that we have a dinner reservation in mind but have lunch wherever takes our fancy. When we were in South Africa we ended up having four meals in one day as there were so many recommended restaurants. No wonder I came home about a stone heavier.
So that’s how I plan my trips, how do you plan yours? Where are you off to this year and how have you decided what you’ll see and do when you’re there?