Top Tips For Planning Your Trip
Table Of Contents
Destinations – Where Do You Want To Go?
Before deciding where you will travel to it is important to ask the following questions;
How Long Is Your Holiday? Don’t try to travel too far if you only have 1-2 weeks after all it is much better to be at your destination in a few hours than by using up precious holiday time sitting on a plane for hours and hours.
If you only have 1-2 weeks consider holidaying in your own country but if you need to have that stamp in your passport here are a few ideas
If you live UK or Europe you are lucky enough to have a number of countries that can be reached within an hour or two.
From North America there is the Central America and the Caribbean that can easily be reached in a relatively short time.
Australia and New Zealand – well we are used to travelling vast distances to get anywhere. South East Asia and the Pacific Islands are a good option.
If you have 4 weeks or more the world is your oyster and the options for travelling further is much better. While 4 weeks may seem like a long time it will go very quickly. My biggest tip is to go to less places and see more.
What Type Of Holiday Do You Want? Have a good think about what are you looking for when you travel. Do you want –
- Historical Monuments
- Beaches or Mountains
- Cities or Country
By understanding this it will help you chose a destination that matches the type of experience you are wanting.
Who Are Travelling With? The people you are travelling with will impact the destination and type of travel journey you will have. If you are travelling with parents or children you will have a different travel experience than if travelling as a couple or with friends.
When travelling with others it is important to have regular and on-going communication and for one person to be the elected leader.
Check Your Documents.
Is Your Passport Valid? Most countries require 6 full months left on your passport. Many countries require 6 full months validity on your passport from the date you leave their country. Always check your passport and have 6 months plus the amount of time you are travelling of date validity left on it before leaving the country – you do not want to be turned away at customs in your destination country for not have a valid passport.
Visas – Do Your Need A Visa?
Many countries across the world require a visa to enter the country with different rules for different nationalities. Visa are obtained in a few ways;
- Visa on Arrival. Often just a stamp in your passport but sometimes a cool sticker in your passport.
- E-Visa. E-Visas are becoming more and more popular with countries. Usually applying for an E-Visa is a simple process of going to the relevant countries consulate or embassy website, following the links to the E-Visa, filling out all the relevant details, pay the fee and a visa will be emailed to you often within hours but some countries take a day or so. HINT When applying for an E-Visa ensure you always use the authentic website of the consulate or embassy. There are many many companies out there often with similar looking URL’s who charge a lot more for the same thing.
- Visa via Embassy. Some countries require you to send to the Embassy or Consulate in your country your passport, a completed application form, documents showing proof of travel and health insurance, a self addressed envelope for the return of your passport along with the visa fee. This type of visa can take up to 2 weeks to be processed so some organisation is needed. Exact time lines is available on relevant consulate websites.
Before booking your trip always check the Visa requirements by visiting the website of the countries you are interested in.
When booking your trip there are a few things to consider.
How do you want to travel?
- Pre-Organised Tours. While popular with a great many people I have an aversion to group tours so therefore have never been on one.
- Independent but fully planned and booked. This means you book all transportation including flights, all accommodation and all places to visit. It requires you to have a detailed plan of where you will be on what day and leaves little to no room for flexibility.
- Independent with some planning. This is the way I would probably recommend. Have a general plan of where you want to go and what you want to see with accommodation booked in key locations but allows enough flexibility to change along the way.
- Winging it. This how I travel. A flight into a point, the first nights accommodation booked and a flight out at some point in the future often in another country or city to the arrival country / city. Not for the feint-hearted and usually only popular with experienced travellers.
Booking your trip.
Booking Accommodation I use – Booking.com, HomeAway or its subsidiaries or AirBnb. I like booking.com as you can usually book accommodation with free cancellation which allows better travel flexibility.
Booking Flights I often book directly with the airline after shopping around for best prices. Skyscanner is also an excellent search function which gives you multiple options and prices for your chosen route
There are some critical things you need to do before you leave for you trip before you go;
Copy Your Documents – If you are a abroad and lose your bag containing all your documentation it can cause a huge headache and ruin your holiday. To prevent added stress make sure you have made a copy of all your documents before leaving home.
- Store a copy at home or with a relative or friend.
- Keep a copy with you in a separate bag or wallet to your actual documents.
- Store a copy in the cloud. Use a cloud server that can be accessed off line and that files can be made available off line. I like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Documents to copy
- Travel Documents
- Travel Insurance
- Immunisation Card.
Get Your Immunisations – Many developing countries still have diseases and viruses that can be caught by visitors. It is advised to check with your doctor or a travel doctor who sepecialises in this area and can give you up to date information on what vaccinations are necessary. Travel doctors will issue you a yellow vaccination card which records all your vaccinations, always take this card with you when you travel.
Organise Travel Insurance – Leaving home without travel insurance is just plain dumb. If you are injured or become ill when overseas it can cost many thousands of dollars to be repatriated home. Organise your travel insurance when you book your travel.
Global roaming is expensive so it is better to use other options. When on the road we travel with a duel sim phone and do 2 things;
- Buy local sims – in most countries you can buy a local sim card which will give you calls, txt and data enabling you to be connected. These sims are usually pretty cheap.
- We also use travelcard.com.au which is linked to any necessary businesses at home and we can use if we get stuck and don’t have a local sim. We generally leave this sim switched off and only turn it on when needed.
Get a VPN which will protect your information when you are using the internet in hotels, hostels or via public WIFI.
Packing for a trip can be a headache. What to wear, how much can I take on the plane, will it be hot or cold? The list goes on. Different people have different styles of packing some people like a list while others just throw things in a bag and see what happens. Here are my tips on packing.
- Weather – Check the weather averages at your destination for the time you are going which can be found with a bit of internet searching. This will help you with knowing what type of clothing you will need.
- Activities – What are you going to do when you get there? Hiking, cycling or surfing will require different type of clothing to if you are having city breaks and visiting top end restaurants, the ballet and galleries.
- Spares in your carry on – pack a set of underwear and tee shit or top along with some basic toiletries in your carry on in case your luggage gets lost or you get stranded in an airport. I didn’t follow my own rule recently and was grounded in Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport overnight with nothing and it was most uncomfortable.
- Always use packing cubes – always!
The day before your flight visit the website of the airline you are travelling with and check the time schedule. Checking In Online can also speed up the check in process.
Get there early – When travelling internationally most airlines require you to be at the airport 2 hours before the flight and if travelling to the U.S 3 hours before the flight.
Don’t forget when travelling overseas you have to go to the check in counter and drop your bags, proceed to customs and clear customs then pass through the security checks and then get to your gate. The queues are always long and it can take a long time and can become stressful. Avoid the stress get to the airport with plenty of time to spare.