How do you plan your perfect holidays?
For a lot of people, the perfect holiday demands the perfect conditions. It’s a rare thing that only happens if you’re particularly lucky, just like winning the lottery. As a result, their holiday planning might suffer from lack of preparation. As simplistic as it might sound, anything could happen during your holiday.
It’s your ability to prepare for most common eventualities that guarantees the best travel memories. In short, before you can escape everyday routine and enjoy a well-deserved break, you need to sit down at your desk, grab a sheet of paper and a pen, and get your to-do list ready.
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Here’s the ultimate travel planning list to make sure that you can always have the best holiday ever, wherever and whenever you choose to go.
Where to go next?
So, you’ve decided you wanted more adventures in your life. You’re ready to explore a new country for the summer. Traveling is an exciting opportunity that can dramatically shift your perspective on life and help you to grow your personal skills. But as amazing as travel can be, it’s a world of opportunities.
There are so many places that one wants to see in the world that it’s difficult to decide where to start. In fact, wanting to travel without knowing where to is a common phenomenon, similar to the writer’s bloc. You just need inspiration. And just like any writer would do to conquer the blank page, you need to break the process down into small and manageable pieces to better choose a destination.
Starting with the basic, namely how much time you’ve got. A weekend getaway and a 2-week trip are very different things. So use the time to define the distance you can safely cover without ruining your holiday. Traveling with friends, solo, or your sweetheart will also help you choose the best destination. Additionally, the weather and the type of experience you want will help to exclude locations that are not suited to your needs. And finally, your budget is an essential clue!
Researching your destination – administration
Once you’ve selected a destination, you can start your administrative planning. Indeed, traveling, especially traveling abroad, requires additional preparation, both in terms of transport and foreign authorization. If you’re traveling to Europe from the US or Great Britain, you’re in luck as the EU doesn’t need American citizens to apply for a visa when entering the Schengen zone. However, this is only valid is your trip will last less than 90 days. All you will need is a passport, and you are free to enter the territory.
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If you intend to spend more than 90 days in Europe, you will need to apply for a visa. For this, you will have to disclose your flight itinerary for a visa, which is a list of the flights you intend to book. Be careful not to book them before your application has been accepted, though! You can find similar visa applications for other countries in the world. More often than not, authorities make it easy for tourists to obtain a visa, assuming you provide all the necessary documents. But it’s a long process so you’d better start early!
Researching your destination – visits
While everyone can use Google Maps to find their way abroad and discover the best local restaurants and monuments, there’s no denying that nothing can replace a travel book. Indeed, the Internet is not flawless… and there are plenty of useful details that you wouldn’t spot online.
One search lets you filter, compare and sort over 12,000,000 available properties from the world’s top vacation rental sites including HomeAway, VRBO, TripAdvisor, Booking.com and more.
For a start, you can be sure to have everything at hand, from map to recommendations, as well as a fantastic source of advice to make the most of all local amenities. But also, your guidebook is the ideal planning tool, letting you know in advance when and where all the must see and must try are, and also how to get to them so that you can schedule your days accordingly.
These guidebooks have been designed by people who have not only visited your destination but also tried its restaurants, hotels and contacted the local authorities to get all the emergencies services sorted out for you. In short, it’s like taking an expert with you.
What about the local currency?
When you’re traveling abroad, it can be easy to get carried away and spend more than you should without even knowing it. Indeed, you need to keep an eye on your budget when you’re on holiday. For instance, it’s always a good idea to check currency conversions before you leave.
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While you may not want to travel with a lot of cash in your wallet, changing a small amount to cover for emergency cash expenses after your arrival, such as a late night cab, can help you to cut costs down at the local ATM. If you prefer to pay by card, you need to be careful, as not all credit cards are accepted around the world.
American Express, for example, can be an issue in small shops and towns, while a visa card causes fewer issues. And finally, you might need to download a cross-currency app that lets you find out exactly how much you’re spending every day. Not that you want to deprive yourself, but there’s nothing worse than overspending and coming back home to new debts.
What’s in your bag?
If you’re a cabin bag kind of traveler, you’re certainly aware of the 100ml regulation. A lot of travelers wait until the last minute to prepare their travel-size toiletry bag. In reality, you should start as early as possible, as you will need to source small-size products for your beauty routine.
What are your essentials? You can find excellent kits in your favorite beauty shops. Net-A-Porter has devised a skin cleansing kit that is perfect for all skincare on holiday, and it comes in its own plastic bag so that you don’t need to add anything! For long journeys, you might want to pack an emergency comfort bag with earplugs – while you might get some on the plane, there are not always quality products – a handy tooth kit, and an eye mask, so that you can have a quiet night.
The efficient packing
Do you know where most people fail when it comes to planning their holiday? Packing! Indeed, not everybody knows how to pack efficiently. Saving space is an art that is difficult to master, even though it’s necessary for the comfort of your journey. After all, nobody likes to carry heavy luggage!
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So start by choosing the right bag for your travel. Here’s a hint: Avoid heavy bags as airline companies apply weight restrictions. Packing light requires sacrifices, so unless you’re traveling for business, you need to pack what you’d wear on an average day.
More regular travelers choose to pack for a week only, regardless of the duration of their trip. They then look out for laundry solutions, which are available in all resorts, hotels, and towns around the world. Last, but not least, remember to wear the bulkier items and to pack the lighter and less-space demanding ones.
No, speaking English isn’t enough
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that English will get you anywhere. It doesn’t. While you will always find someone who understands you in popular destinations and large towns, once you wander off the beaten track, it will be extremely difficult to meet people who speak English.
That’s where phrase books are essential! You don’t need to learn a foreign language each time you want to visit a new country, but knowing the basics such as “hello”, “thank you” and how to ask for direction can be a huge help. More people are happy to help tourists, so don’t let language be a communication barrier. With a phrase book, you can get by in most situations.
The memories you want to keep
When you’re on holiday, you want to make sure that you can bring images of the landscapes and scenes around you. If you’re not a keen photographer, your smartphone can take quality pictures that are sure enough to record beautiful moments in memory.
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If you’re a photo geek, you can bring your camera with you, assuming that you take good care of it. Leaving your camera unattended might lead to theft, so don’t be one of those tourists who put the camera on the restaurant table before going to the bathroom, for instance! Why do you need to pack a tool to take pictures? Because it would be foolish to let your memories disappear once you’re back home.
Don’t take work with you
Unless you’re trying to make a living abroad, you shouldn’t bring your laptop on holiday with you. You can do most things on a smartphone. A laptop means that you might be tempted to check your emails and potentially do some work in the evening. Remember: It’s your holiday. It’s the time you take off work to recharge your batteries. So leave work where it belongs, which is at the office!
So, hopefully, you’re now ready to plan your perfect holiday. What else would you do to make sure you’re ready to face any eventuality?