This experience is vastly different depending on who you speak to. I think this is largely due to the type of character you possess:
I HATE to think that I missed out on something that was right around the corner and like to cram as many experiences into the (usually) short time I have to explore an area. So, I will spend many an evening leading up to the trip reading blogs, travel guides, looking at maps, watching vlogs etc building up a portfolio of information about a place. And it is likely that I won’t get to see everywhere that I have found so then the narrowing process comes- picking out the must-see places and then trying to fit other stuff in around it if you have time when you get there. I’m going to call myself the Intensive Planner and I should mention here that I love planning things- so for me this in no chore but more of a hobby (sad I know- but it means I always have a trip planned if I can find the time and gather the money).
The Guide Book Planner. Similar to the intensive planner but uses fewer resources. This type of planner will purchase a guide book for their chosen destination, read it until they know it cover to cover and then follow closely what the guide book says to do. This type of planning is great but it depends on what you are looking for. These books can quickly become out of date in the quickly changing world- especially for restaurants, bars and clubs which have a high turnover rate especially in cities where fashion changes like the weather. So make sure that you are reading an up to date guide book and that you don’t always take its word for gospel. Speak to the hotel/hostel staff or apartment owner to see where are the better places to go out in the evening. Having said all this the big landmarks rarely up and move/disappear so if you are on a trip primarily for sight-seeing this is a good way to make a checklist for your itinerary.
Next is the Piggy Back Planner this type of holiday planner isn’t much of a planner! They will go on holiday with a group or following a friend or relations holiday to the same place and follow their plan to a T. Note the friends or relations will probably be the intensive planners. I suppose this is a good way to be as it takes all the stress out of planning and arranging but you still get a great holiday out of it.
Finally, is the travel planner that I envy the most; the No Plans Travel Planner. This takes a certain amount of chill to be able to pull off. They rock up to the destination having little or no knowledge of what that area holds. But they go with the flow and manage to bumble their way into all the best places and see all the coolest hidden gems. And even if they didn’t manage to find the best places they are none the wiser for they will never find out what else was there. I wish I was this type of person as it connects you better with the locals and usually creates unique experiences. Every trip I go on I do try to leave some time with no plan to see how it will end up and what somebody will point me in the direction of. Who knows one day I might make it to completing a whole holiday like this.
So what type of planner are you? Or maybe you have a combination of a few of these depending on the destination? Who you’re travelling with? The reason for the trip?
Though there are different types of planners out there, there are a few unavoidable things to consider when making a trip (some which you have t start thinking about in advance):
- Is your passport in date?
Goes without saying if you are making a foreign trip- but I had to mention it.
Also really helpful if you lose your passport- is to have a copy of it. This can be easily stored electronically now but can make it easier when making the trip to the embassy to get a temporary replacement.
- Have you got insurance?
No, my EHIC card will cover in. WRONG ANSWER make sure you have insurance- more important if you are leaving Europe but even within Europe you will only be covered for medical issues if with EHIC not if you miss your flight have your bags stolen etc. Also make sure that your insurance is covering all of the activities you are doing- that goes out to you adrenalin junkies.
- Do I need a Visa?
Check your own government travel website for this, as well as the government website of where you are travelling to as this can be different depending on your nationality.
Some visas are only available when you enter the country or from their embassy (not always helpful if on a multi-destination trip) so make sure you have on you the currency in which they want you to pay or get in touch with local travel agents in the country who can in some cases get the visas for you and scan them over to you so you can walk right in.
Other countries just require you to fill out their online form (usually with a small fee) which will be cleared and marked against your name so they will know you have been through the process when you reach their border.
- What Injections do I need?
the worst thing about travelling further afield for many! But necessary to even enter several countries- which requires you to show a certificate on the border.
Other non-compulsory injections can be advised by your doctor or pharmacist and often on your governments travel website. They will obviously try to talk you into having a vaccination for every disease known to man but use your common sense about what you need and do your research in to how prevalent the disease is in the country and area that you are travelling to.
Remember that you often have to pay for these as man are non-essential medical expenditures (in the UK at least)- though some are available on the NHS so check this as a pharmacist will charge for them all!
- Should I be taking malaria tablets?
This is largely if you are travelling to Sub-Sahara Africa. However, you will be advised to take them in areas of South East Asia and South America. Again, advise will be available on your governments travel pages and can be prescribe from your doctor and obtained from a pharmacy.
You will have to pay for these!
There are many different types with different effectiveness and side effects so some research to see what is best for you. Some tablets need to start being taken before you get to the destination- so bear this in mind
- What activities are you doing?
This will dictate what items you bring- which will sometimes save you some money as shops in the vicinity will mark up equipment that people need to do an activity (an example is the price of scarfs outside many churches and cathedrals in Europe where you need shoulders covered to go in). But this point also extends to the climate- will I be freezing and need t buy a coat when I get there? Or will I be boiling and need to buy sun cream when I get there?
The activities you are doing will also dictate the kind of luggage you take. I suggest taking as little as possible (I rarely take check in luggage unless skiing or going on holiday for 3 weeks or more). This mean it is easier to travel around and many hotels have laundry services. Backpack are often easier the suitcases to navigate around busy and uneven roads. But if you are going for a high glamour holiday with a single destination and a private transfer airport why not take everything but the kitchen sink.
- What currency do they use?
Many people like to get the currency changed up in their home country. Personally, I love my cash card- I use fairfx and they have been brilliant even when My sister had her card copied in the US we got the money back. And there customer service team were super helpful when I have spoken to them on other occasions. With this card you load your money on in GBP and then can take it out in whatever currency upon arrival or use your chip and pin in the shops like normal. Note that there are other cash cards available that you can load the money on and it will change on the load to euros, dollars etc but you can only use the card in whatever currency it is.
Also I suppose I should mention here that you should make sur that you have enough money to enjoy yourself on your trip. No point (in my eyes) in getting to a country and then realising you can’t pay to get in to any of the sights/ do any of the experiences.
Government travel info: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Health travel info: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx
Health travel info: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Travel-immunisation/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Health travel info: http://www.travax.nhs.uk
Currency Card: https://www.fairfx.com/ref/y4rpfq16 (my personal link so I get a few quid for my next trip- thanks- but you also get the account opening fees waved)
Holiday insurance comparison: https://www.moneysupermarket.com/travel-insurance/enquiry/