Have you been dreaming about a holiday for so long now but don't know how to start organising it? I actually know how you feel. I used to think that it wasn't possible, it was too hard to be able to plan that dream trip that I always wanted to take. I have a travellers heart and have been lucky enough to see a huge chunk of this world but it's taken me years to learn the hacks for organising a great trip. Below are some of my best hacks/tips in order to make that dream holiday a reality.
1. Budget! - The most important part. Set a preliminary budget that you are comfortable with. You will find that as you do more research, that budget may change. Take into account how much you earn, how long till your holiday, what type of holiday and how much you can realistically put away each week.
2. Research - Sometimes we get terribly excited and just book things because we are excited, it's easy or someone suggested something amazing. I always suggest doing loads of research first. Start with dates (do they suit you/your family, is there something happening at your destination that may alter prices, activities etc); check multiple websites for accommodation options, read reviews, look at maps; think about all the extra's you might encounter that you may forget to budget for (I spent almost $200AUD at Starbucks in 10 days in NYC including breakfast each morning and 3 hot beverages a day trying to keep warm and awake!); Make a list of non-negotiables. What are the things you MUST do? How much do they cost? What days are they available? Do they fit into your itinerary; Join groups on social media that often have locals in them giving advice.
3. Start Planning - Start planning an itinerary as if you have booked everything. Add costs next to each thing on your itinerary. This gives you the ability to review the timing of all travel/activities as well as your budget. Is it realistic?
4. Paying upfront - I like pre-booking as much as I can and paying for it before I leave. This helps cement my itinerary and I also know when I get there that I have paid for the majority and now I just have spending money. Thankfully, a lot of tickets you buy these days can include insurance to allow you to change days/times etc should things change. Also, you can purchase a lot of tickets at an early bird rate rather than on the day.
5. Set your Itinerary - Once you have researched, planned and booked as much as you can, set that itinerary. Break it up onto days. I also add my accommodation details, bookings, travel plans, places I want to eat at and points of interest I'd like to see but don't need to book. I try to stick to that as much as possible but I don't stress if I can't tick everything off. Every night when I get back to my hotel, I check the list and make note of anything I missed that I can potentially add to another day. (check out the photo - this was part of my itinerary from my Canada/USA trip of Nov/Dec last year).
6. Copies - Even in this electronic world, make sure you have hard copies of the important things. I also store all itineraries/docs in a Google Drive folder and share with my travel buddies (and someone at home). This was helpful sitting in an airport when one of us couldn't find our Canadian visa and needed the other to log in and find it ASAP!
7. Enjoy it! - Not everything will go according to plan on a holiday. Most of the time, the only thing that you can control is YOUR reaction to it. Enjoy your holiday. Chances are you've worked long and hard and spent a bucket load of money to get here. Why waste time getting annoyed that something wasn't perfect. My motto is ''everything is as it should be''. We often found on our last trip that every time something didn't go according to plan, something even better happened to or for us! We'd then look at each other, high five each other and enjoy every moment that was now presented to us!
If you're feeling overwhelmed with researching and planning, reach out. This is one of my all time favourite things to do as a virtual assistant!