Get reading those guidebooks…
My best bit of advise before planning any trip is to invest in a decent guide book. My favourite guide book go to is Lonely Planet (obvious I know, but they’re great) they do great pocket city guides with pull out maps and suggested walking routes. Berlitz also do some great mini guides. Both the Lonely Planet and Berlitz mini guides are great for city breaks as they break down the different areas of the city into small sections, so it’s easy and quick to look up information.
Lonely planet also do huge country guide books, which are great if your planning on stopping off at several places in that country.
Plan and prepare…
When starting to plan and organise any trip or holiday do not book the first thing you see. Do your research and ask people you know if they have any suggestions on travel sites, and where to look to get the best deal.
I always tend to search several different sites that I use all the time and that I trust. When looking for flights I tend to look at my preferred airlines and also search for cheapest flights available on sites such as STA Travel, Kayak and Sky Scanner.
I like to see what flights are available and which ones are direct and non direct as sometimes the non direct ones are great too. If you can get a long layover in places, you can go off exploring somewhere completely new and helps break up a long journey.
I recently did this when flying to Melbourne my husband and I stopped in Abu Dhabi for 24 hours and packed loads in. We just paid for a hotel, it really helped break the long trip to Australia.
It’s always good idea before booking any flights to check out accommodation and to get an idea of what’s available and the cost. I like to stay in a variety of places, literally from one extreme to another.
I’ve roughed it in some pretty grim hostels and guest houses and also some amazing and quirky hostels and guest houses and then stayed in luxury hotels. Sometimes it’s good to mix it up, if your staying in cities I tend to stay in cheaper accommodation as normally I’m out sightseeing all day, so all you need is a bed and shower. When staying on or near a beach I like to spend abit more and go for something abit more fancy and with more facilities. Check out some sites such as Travelsupermarket, Hostelworld, Airbnb, and my favourite Agoda. Agoda have a great and easy to use app and the more you book with them the more rewards you earn such as money off your next booking etc.
Another way to help with planning your dream trip is to check out things to do in the area your staying at. Have a look at Trip Advisor, Google and Viator to get ideas and inspiration of things to see, do and tours.
Everyone loves a list…
When planning your holiday and trip write up or type up on your phone, a quick list of things you need to research. I always do this as there is always something to be missed such as forgetting a visa etc, I know so many people that have done this and I have done this myself in the past too.
I always write up a quick list such as flights, accommodation, tours and sightseeing, visas, internal transport (hotel transfers, flights, ferries etc), currency, travel insurance (check your fully covered for where your going).
Even if you don’t book everything in advance it’s still a good thought to get an idea of how much everything is going to cost, so you don’t get any nasty surprises when your away, and have to worry about money.
So your fully prepared and not forgetting anything also make a packing list, I have one permanently saved on my phone as with my job I travel a lot, so handy to have it ready to glance over when packing. My list literally covers everything from clothes, shoes, toiletries, make up and mini first aid kit etc.
Money, money, money…
Once you have done all your research and worked out the cost of everything, you will have a better idea of how much your going to need when you get there.
Keep a note on your phone of how much local transport may cost etc, as many locals especially in developing countries may see you coming, it’s better to have a rough idea of the cost. In a lot of travel guidebooks they tend to give you a breakdown of an average cost of things such as taxis, food and accommodation.
Enjoy, Relax and take tons of pictures…
When your away on your trip best thing to remember is to be yourself and relax. It’s always best to keep an open mind when travelling as you will meet some of the most amazing people along the way. Try to take part in as many amazing experiences as possible.
Remember to have a laugh and don’t take life too seriously, have a laugh with the locals and don’t be afraid to chat with them. Theres always a common ground where ever you are in the world. Basic English is spoken widely around most parts of the world so don’t be afraid to get stuck in making new friends and sharing a joke.
In many places locals like to practice their English and you to can have a practise at the local language or learning a few new words.
Wake up early and make the most of the day and to avoid the crowds in popular attractions. Take in the daily life of a destination by sitting outside and watching the world go by, you really get a feel for the area when just stopping for a little while and taking in the local life, smells and sounds.
Take tons of pictures when your away, they’re always great to look back on and reminisce when you return home. Always try and back up your photos too, just incase you loose your camera/phone or it gets stolen.
Most importantly just let go and have fun and enjoy yourself, life is far too short, cliche as it sounds live the life you love.