Your leave is booked, you’ve saved the cash, you’ve sorted out the where’s and now all you need is some top tips for planning your holiday! The best holidays are planned not within an inch of their lives, but with some fun and flexibility allowing for some spontaneous action. Don’t do what we did once – do the planning on the plane on the way there – really think about what you want to do in each location and we have some top suggestions which can ensure your holiday is the best ever!
We’ve been inspired by YTravelBlog‘s article How to Plan a Trip That Works – tackling the travel research and added our own personal travelling insights.
1. Its about the travellers
Our holidays are always different if they are planned with the kids in mind! For example, our kids (teenagers now) hate the multitude of “BOBS” (Big Old BuildingS) but are more than happy if we throw in some active activities including zoo visits, walking tours even a theme park day. It doesn’t have to be ALL about the kids, but there are only so many museums and art galleries (and even shopping malls!) which can hold their interest over time.
Think about the location too – your idea of bliss might be sitting on a beach reading a book or visiting local towns, whilst your fellow travellers might be talking hiking, canoeing, white water rafting, surfing and maybe even a balloon ride. Pick a location which can cater for all tastes and has activities to inspire all the travellers.
2. Allow for inspiration
Create a file of things you really want to do. Don’t research anything yet, just get the ideas flowing. This can come from photos, articles from travel blogs, websites, people – friends and family, social media. Whenever something attracts, make a note of it.
Bookmark it into your travel ideas folder. Pinterest is a fabulous tool for planning.
Do not allow thoughts of why you can’t do something, just put it on your bucket list.
Have a family conference. What do others really want to do?
Create a group pin board – where others can save their ideas too.
You read/dream about staying in a luxury beachfront holiday home and think “that’s only for the rich and famous” – but you may be surprised. Holiday homes (particularly for groups) can be a great alternative to five-star accommodation – and we’ve done the research – can often be cheaper too (and with more great facilities!)
Swat it away.
Don’t allow limitation in. If it is something your heart really wants to do add it to your file without even thinking about the how’s. If not for this trip, it could be for another.
3. Have a clear idea of your WHY and your travel goals
Why do you want to travel? Why this region? What are you hoping to gain from your travels? What do you want to experience? What are your priorities or must dos?
You really have to be clear or your travel planning will be muddled and long-winded.
Take a step back and ask, Does this experience align with my travel purpose?
If it doesn’t – knock it off the list or put it on for something to possibly do if the conditions are right, or for another trip.
4. Use maps to plot out your journey
It is very difficult to plan a trip without giving your brain an overview of the travel route. The brain can connect the dots better if it knows the overall travel plan.
Grab a map and start plotting. Have a look at how best you can get between your destinations – think train, plane, automobile, bus – and then make the most of the time you have. We have often planned our holidays with a mix of planes, cars and trains (no buses – but that is a whole other story!) – and find that sometimes taking the leisurely train trips allows the “driver” to relax and take in the scenery too.
5. Travel Planning ideas
We do this via spreadsheet with a column for “getting there” another for “accommodation” and a third for “must see attractions”. We allow some space for costs and any website links and contact details and you have your travel planner handy. Or, if you are tech savvy, think about a travel app – we found this article on the Five Best Travel Planning Apps for a start.
Don’t plan the trip within an inch of its life so you end up feeling stressed if you “miss that train” or have unexpected hiccups along the way. Our best tip for this when travelling over a longer period (and with kids) is spend 5-7 days in each location and branch out to all the attractions from there, then move on. This allows for some downtime (we also “booked’ in a rest day every 5th day – but found we hardly ever used it as having more time in each location allowed for a more leisurely pace)…
Travelling every 5-7 days also reduces the stress of unpacking/packing every few days and when travelling in a group is a big factor. Having time also reduces the risk of items being lost – whilst you are still in a hurry, you are not continually chasing things down.
Add in some local events and activities – think markets and exhibitions. Check out the local what’s on – Carols at Christmas? Bluesfest at Easter? What is happening when you are in town and experience these events for yourselves.
6. Use tourist brochures
Tourist brochures are a fantastic resource for travel planning.
They are free. They have beautiful pictures, which is great for inspiration and the insight you need to see if it is for you or not. There’s also great general knowledge on each region and a plan around what they can offer as part of their package. The brochures are always clearly set out and usually highlight the best reasons for visiting a place.
Attractions are highlighted and you can use these ideas as a start. But, don’t limit yourself! Extra research can deliver some non-traditional locations and activities which are sure to impress your travellers.
7. Turn to the travel guide books – we use Lonely Planet and The Michelin Green Guide
The travel guide books aren’t the only place for inspiration and stories. Friends and family love relating their experiences and can offer some hands-on advice and tips.
The guide books are great for a general overview, logistics and often some quirky restaurant ideas or attractions. They can help us to plot out our route and give us a rough idea of things to do and see in an area and the costs. We’ve found some great restaurants and activities in guide books we would not have thought of and really value the background information they provide.
Now you have your map outlined and a better idea of where you want to go and what you want to do, start writing a list of experiences you want in each region.
Asterisk those that are must do.
Include any tours, attractions, festivals and even food or accommodation you might have already noticed. Don’t forget to add in the contact details and any information such as opening times etc. You don’t want to schedule something only to turn up and find out that it is closed that day!
9. The deep and meaningful
Now you have used your maps and offline materials to get the general overview of where you want to go and you have your list of potentials, go online and do your deeper travel research.
The internet world can be a confusing and frustrating place to get lost in, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for to begin with.
Have your map next to you and your list of potentials. Search for these things only.
- Start with those travel blogs and websites you already know and trust. See what information they have.
- Then go to the state and local tourist boards websites. The Australian ones are excellent with their information. This can help you ourmy friend when planning travel trips and we use it for everything from flights to holiday home accommodation to attractions. Remember that there are many attractions now where you can “beat the queues” and book your ticket in advance. This is particularly helpful on very busy tours – like Villa Borghese in Rome or Alcatraz in San Francisco. The only way you can ensure you can get into these is to book in advance as their waitlist is always around 5-7 days.
- Then go to your social networks and ask if anyone has any advice or suggestions.
- And of course don’t forget your family and friends.
Make sure you have a system in place to bookmark any fantastic resources you find.
10. The edits
Now you should have a really great idea of where to go, what to do and see, where to stay and what to eat.
Consider your time and travel budget and the practicalities of transport and location. (NB: you may not have worked out your travel budget yet. That is okay, some people like to do the planning first).
Edit your list to get your best possible plan. Refer back to your original travel goals.
11. The plotting thickens
Now plot out your travel plans using your travel app/calendar/schedule. Work in any deals (ie. holiday homes can often be the same price for 5 or 7 nights) and make a plan for how many days you wish to spend in each new location.
Your list of things you want to do should give you a basic understanding. Add in a few days here and there for travel and for rest.
12. Research prices
As you are doing this research, it is important that you work out the costs for accommodation, transport, tours, and general daily living costs. You might discover that that whale watching adventure in Byron Bay is too expensive, the better option might be seeing them offshore on the nearby Cudgen Headland for free.
Whether you have to book ahead will depend on your time of year, travel style and nature.
If you love things organized, you might want to have everything pre-booked. If not, allow for flexibility. Book maybe the first couple of nights and any places that are popular.
You may have to do the same with your tours. Consider booking your absolute must dos as these are the things you do not want to miss.
Now you can spend the build up to your trip excited and stress-free. Continue this process throughout the whole travel planning stage until you feel like you’ve created the best possible experience for your wants, time and budget.
14. Its time to go!
Your planning’s done, bookings made and you are ready to go. Now all you need to do is the packing and here is some great tips for packing!
Happy holidays – dream about what is possible; believe you can do it; make the most of your leave; plan, book and enjoy your holiday; then dream about where you will go next! It is your turn!
…and… if you are looking for a resort-style luxury beachfront holiday home for your family holiday, romantic break wedding accommodation, (watch our video here), or a girls getaway contact us at La Maison Pacifique for availability and a quote…. Remember, our rates compare really well with local 5-star resorts – and La Maison Pacifique is private – on the beach – walking distance to cafes at Cabarita Beach – perfect spot for whale watching (June to November each year) – children optional!
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Until next time – enjoy your day wherever you are from La Maison Pacifique “The Peaceful House” and your boutique designer luxury holiday home vacation rental in Casuarina, New South Wales, Australia – half way between the Gold Coast QLD and Byron Bay NSW, Australia.
Property Consultant & Interior Designer
La Maison Pacifique
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