Whenever we plan a holiday, or arrive in a new place, I like to take time to read about every detail so time won’t be wasted looking for things, or time wasted once there ‘reading’.
This trip has been 5 years in the planning, and although we used a travel agent for part of it - due to me being time poor, working - I have still spent hours and hours researching each place, and each mode of transport, each hotel, each activity, where to eat ....... and you know what? I like doing it. It’s our holiday and I want it to be the best holiday. I want to know the history of each place. I want to know what makes different places what they are. For me it’s part of the fun of travelling. So here are some of my travel planning tips:-
Places to visit are the easiest to choose. Our last overseas trip – 5 years ago – was to see the autumn leaves in the north-east of North America, and that we did via Disneyland for Jonnie and Heartbreak Hotel, Memphis for Peter. We had the most wonderful time and we would go back to exactly the same places again if we could. This trip was to be a spring trip, but that didn’t fit in with my work commitments, so we are going in summer, not ideal - more crowds and more expensive – but it is what it is. Spring west coast North America turned into Summer west coast North America.
First thing I do is look at a Google Map of the place. I look at all the choices of accommodation. Price is important, especially when on a budget.
We also like a hotel that includes breakfast in the price. Other inclusions may or may not be important. Free WIFI, although not a necessity, like breakfast, was preferable. If we hire a car, we prefer free parking. Location - If we are doing a lot of walking in a central place, a hotel there would be preferable. If doing bus tours, a hotel near the pick up point is a must – saves money on transport to ‘get to’ the transport.
For example, in Seattle we preferred a hotel near the Space Needle – lots of walking we can do around there. There were many hotels, but we chose one that included free hot breakfast and free WIFI and free transfers to and from the cruise ship.
I like to check TripAdvisor to read other travellers hints and see their photos. I read the good and the worst and the most recent reviews. Reading the traveller hints on a particular hotel can make the difference between an ok stay and an enjoyable wonderful stay. Also remember when booking to state the bed configuration preferred and floor or area of the hotel.
Of course in overseas travel, international transport is by plane. We like to fly QANTAS, and we were going to until our Travel Agent told us to wait for the Travel Show specials. We did and we are now flying Air New Zealand.
Transfers from airports to hotels need to be researched as does the types of tours one wants to do. As I said above, we like to stay in hotels near where the transport is. So hotel and transport and tours all go hand in hand and we don’t book any until we have a plan of what it is we want to do.
Once we know which city / town / village we want to visit, we look at all the different types of tours available. We do like the Hop on Hop off buses as that gives us freedom to do what we choose to do. However, they are not the only tours available. I compare different tour companies that offer the same tours and choose what suits us. Hours and hours are sometimes needed to research each place. We need the tour pick up to be close to our chosen hotel and we needed to take into account the tour times. Sometimes we do our thing, but the information gained from researching the tours is very helpful.
A lot of the tourist sights are well known, but sometimes while researching a place one will find interesting, but little known places or sights that would be good to see. Research is the key. I like to use a Google map to show all the sites of each place.
We all have to eat, and when travelling one needs to be aware of what the availability of dining venues are. If we are staying in a hotel that does not include breakfast, or have a restaurant, we need to be near food outlets. Lunch can usually be purchased at or near many of the tourist sights and dinner can be purchased on the way back to the hotel. So, on our Google city map I would ‘pin’ places that have a reasonable menu – after of course checking their websites. Even though fast food is convenient, it gets a bit tiresome if eaten many times during the weeks away, so we try to only have fast food when nothing else is available. We also buy fruit, cheese, biscuits and butter to have just in case ..and we do travel with our Vegemite.
Research pays off.
No matter where we roam, travel is our destination.