I hangout on a couple of travel forums and see that people, all the time ask extremely random or vague questions about the place/country they want to visit, or they expect other forum users to design an itinerary for them.
Some of the questions look like this:
1) I am going in *month*, whats the weather like? Will it rain or snow??
2) I have 5 days and I want to see *list of 10 places*. Is this doable?
3) What do you think I should see in *name of place/country*
4) Should I take a bus or should I fly or drive or….???
5) I am going to *name of place/country*, do you think I will enjoy a visit to *name of attraction*
and it goes on….
No two people are same and neither is their taste in travel. So no one else can decide what you must see or do on your vacation.
Once you decide where you want to go, here are some key items that you must look at:
1) Is it the best time to visit?
2) What kind of per day budget would you require
3) What are the different things to do
You will find answers to all the questions above and more on the country’s official tourism website.
Browse through travel-related websites like Lonely Planet (I always refer to LP to answer questions 1&2 listed above) or TripAdvisor and the country forums on travel websites (these forums are a treasure trove of info!).
Shortlist the places you want to visit.
If you still have questions ask them on any of the travel forum and you can be assured of a quick and reliable response from forum users.
I think researching for a trip is loads of fun. You discover so much about the place! Once you know for how long you wish to travel and what you want to see you must align the two together. Due to lack of time sometimes one is forced to strip down the wishlist a bit. I feel its better that way (so you see one place/attraction well) than try and throw in more than there is time for. Try to have a good mix of the usual must-sees and things off the beaten path.
Remember to include travel time between places. Every time you change your base you need time to get from Place A to Place B, check in/out of your accommodation and orient yourself in the new place.
I believe slow travel is the best way to see a place, to soak in all that it has to offer, to feel like you belong there, to familiarise yourself with the smells and sounds and culture and people! In other words, I am not fond of the idea of trying to squeeze in a day visit (!!!) to another neighbouring country when you have, say, 7 days which in itself is insufficient for country A.
Travelling should be relaxing and not a race against time to see it all and do it all. That will only tire you out and the trip will be a blur (the 1000 pics in your camera might help you a bit….but only a bit).
If you are travelling with kids, depending on their age, remember to respect their eat/rest/sleep schedule as much as is possible so that you can utilise their waking hours fully and without having to deal with too many tantrums. Make sure to throw in some kid-centric activity to make them happy. Let your teen participate in planning the itinerary and include things that s/he wishes to see.
Google and GoogleMaps are your best friends:
Use Google to find out more about a place, restaurant, hotel, attraction, ratings, etc. Download local apps that will enhance your overall travel experience by recommending offers and deals on say entrance tickets or restaurants or shopping or suggesting quick routes.
Use GoogleMaps to choose where to stay – Once I know where I want to go, I find out how far apart the places of interest are from each other. I try to find a hotel closest to as many attractions as possible or a hotel close to a bus stop/metro station. A good hotel will always have info on their website about how to get to them from the airport/train station or by car.
Watch out for airline deals.
Is it peak travel season there? In which case you should go during leaner times or if you must go then and only then, book flights, trains, accommodations and entry tickets quickly.
I hope these pointers will help make planning much more fun and easy!
How do you plan your holiday? Drop a line and let me know!
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