There is nothing I love more than to plan trips. I love researching how to get where I’m going, what trips to take when there, what hotels to stay at and where is good to eat!
But there is no denying it can be extremely time consuming – I literally lose hours when I start planning a big trip.
I am currently planning a trip to SE Asia in summer 2020. This is my itinerary Malaysia – Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hoi An) – Cambodia (Siem Reap) – Thailand (Phuket and Bangkok). As this is quite a big trip it has taken a lot of my time to plan but I think I am almost there.
- I started by booking my main flights arriving in Malaysia and coming home from Bangkok
- I booked with British Airways, not because they were the cheapest but because I had a companion voucher and some Avios to use.
- Next I booked the internal flights using Skyscanner to see what flights were available on the days I wanted to travel and how costs of different airlines compared. Most of the flights I booked are with Air Asia, one is with Vietnam Airlines and one with Cambodia Angkor Air.
- Next on to hotels and trips
- I use a variety of sites to research hotels, Trip Adviser / Trivago and Booking.com
- As I am booking very far in advance I like to book rooms that give me the option to cancel and don’t require a pre-payment – that way I can stay flexible if plans change
- Then trips again researched through tripadviser, I am looking for a high number of reviews at 4Star and over. My trips are mostly booked through Viator.
- Once I have planned everything it doesn’t stop! I still look at other options especially for accommodation.
- I also read a lot of guide books and blogs on the destinations I am travelling to, so that I make sure I know what I want to see when away.
- Relax a little bit, knowing the trip is mostly planned 🙂
Travel Planning Tips
Questions to ask yourself:
- Where do you want to go?
Obviously you can’t book anything until you know where you are going! If you aren’t sure and would like some inspiration you could use Skyscanner (Can’t decide where? Click here to search everywhere) to see what is available ou can do it for a specific date or a particular month or search for the cheapest month available. I do this all the time!!
- What time of year will you go?
If you are tied down to a certain date range you will need to research the weather in your chosen destination(s). I was all set on going to Mauritius one summer until I realised it was actually winter there when I was planning to travel. Do your homework before you book anything…
- How much time do you have / do you want to be away for?
Again this will dictate where you might want to travel, if you only have a short amount of time you may not want to fly long haul. If you have a lot of time you may want to visit several desinations.
- Who is going?
Is this trip for a group or solo? Who will be travelling, you need to know this so you can book something everything will be happy with.
- What is your budget?
This is pretty important. If you don’t want to spend a lot then you probably don’t want to look at 5 star hotels. Work out your budget and importantly how far this will go in your chosen destination. For example flying to Reykjavik is pretty cheap but when you are there everything is mega expensive, so it could balance out.
- What type of holiday do you like? Beach/active etc.
What sort of holiday do you want to go on, so you and anyone else travelling want a beach holiday or an active trip? Do you want to do activities or sightseeing?
Once you have some answers to the above questions a rough plan will probably start to emerge.
So time to start the fun stuff:
- Book flights
As mentioned above I always use skyscanner to look at flight availability. I know there are other options but Skyscanner does everything I need it to, so have never felt the need to look elsewhere. I also subscribe to Jacks flight club and get emails and alerts about fantastic flight deals. I’ve never booked anything off the back of these mainly due to not have the flexibility on dates, but there sure are some amazing deals out there.
- Book accommodation
Once you have booked your flights and know where you are going, you can start looking at accommodation. I always work out where I want to be based, if I am only going somewhere for a few days I want to be based near the biggest attractions so that I can walk around and don’t need to waste time with transport. For example in a few weeks I will visit Milan for 48 hours, I booked a hotel right in the centre which was a little bit more expensive but this was important to me as I won’t have long to see the main sights. Most hotel sites have filters you can select your criteria (distance from X, Price range, how may stars etc.)
- Book transport – to/from airport… Train/bus/boats/hire cars.
I like to know that my transport to and from the airport is booked, or at the very least I know what I need to do / where I need to go when I come out of the airport. In Venice I booked a water taxi as during my trip research I read that it was a magnificent way to enter Venice and when I was cruising down the Grand Canal I was so glad I had!
Some people are just happy to wing it and find out what’s what when they arrive but for me I like to know what I’m doing, also a lot of the time I am on my own so can’t rely on anyone else to know.
- Work out what you want to see and do (if anything!) while away and book tours in advance
I like to book any trips I definitely want to take before I arrive, mostly to avoid disappointment and also I like to have a plan. I realise sometimes things are cheaper to book in the locations but I’m ok with that.
- Where do you want to eat? Is there anywhere you simply must visit that requires a reservation in advance?
If there are any particular restaurants you want to eat at that you know are popular you should consider booking in advance, especially if you are a big group. Otherwise I note down the location of places I want to go to so that when there I can google map it. In case you haven’t worked it out by now I like to be organised J
- Is your passport valid?
Seems such an obvious question but so many people realise just before a trip that their passport has gone missing or needs renewed. Not a nice surprise, so keep on top of renewal dates.
- Do you need a visa?
I don’t think I have ever been anywhere before where I have needed a visa but next year I am going to Cambodia where visas are needed. Find out how long in advance you need to apply how much it will cost etc. There are a lot of scam visa sites out there so make sure you are on the legitimate site (by checking on the government website https://www.gov.uk/)
- Do you need any immunisations?
Again you need to do this in advance as certain immunisations have to be taken at particular intervals before travel. Also we found out this year that we had to fill in a form at our doctor’s surgery something like 8 weeks before travel to get then, otherwise you have to go private which can be costly. The NHS only fund certain jabs so you may have to pay anyway but it’s a no brainer that if they are recommended you should have them.
- Travel insurance?
Again obvious I know. Very easy to arrange.
- What money will you take?
How will you spend money when you are there?
- Technology required? From plug adapters to mobile battery’s
- Packing tips
- Checking in for flights