TRAVEL PLANNER… Rest and Recuperate on a budget
Yipeee! Time for a trip. I know it’s too early in the year to talk about resting because we always feel like we need to work hard, achieve some of your targets and only then should treat ourselves to a holiday. It’s however important to take a break from your routine duties just to rest and energise yourself at different points in the year so that you do not get burnt out. One of the first things I do each year is look at all the public holidays and long weekends and make a plan. It’s never too early to plan for that holiday. It is always cheaper to take a holiday when you plan in advance, save some money and take advantage of the sales being offered.
Here some tips on planning that get away, whether alone, with your partner, friends or family.
1. Decide in advance where you want to go this year. I always think of places to go in the country and outside. For this article let me emphasise outside more and inside in subsequent articles.
2. Do some research about the possible holiday destinations. Google is your friend. There are so may travel sites and information about any destination you would like to go to. Some of the user friendly travel sites include Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet. The bookshops also have a good collection of travel guides which you can look at for inspiration. World Ventures, Satguru, Roundbob and other travel companies also have some good travel offers globally. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast for the period you intend to travel.
3. Your travel budget. It is important that if you intend to travel during the year you make a budget and begin saving up for the trip in advance. Your budget should include the following costs; ticket, visa (if required), accommodation, transport, meals, activities, shopping and some miscellaneous.
4. Buying Tickets. Many of these airlines have promotions running at different times of the year. So if you have decided your destination keep checking online for sales. I have found that many times it is cheaper to book your own ticket online than booking in the agency office. However be mindful that some tickets are non-refundable. You could also register on the airline mailing list so you are updated whenever there are offers. One of my favourite sites for ticket comparisons is skyscanner.com. Countries that have their airline passing through your home airport may be cheaper to travel to.
5. Processing a VISA. Find out well in advance the VISA requirement and begin to compile the support documentation you need. If you intend to travel to the UK, USA or Europe it is important you make your VISA appointments way in advance otherwise it is difficult to make appointments at the last minute.
6. Looking for accommodation. If you are travelling on a tight budget plan to travel where you have friends or family who can host you so as to reduce your accommodation costs. This of course also has it’s social dynamics. Other options for accommodation include booking through platforms such as airbnb.com and booking.com. These two platforms will enable you to search for accommodation according to your preference, whether high end or budget. I find that when you are travelling in a group or with young children it is best to book an apartment as opposed to a hotel. It also enables you to cook (if you wish) which also reduces your budget.
7. Planning for activities to do in your holiday. Even before you travel it would be good if you could plan in advance on the activities you want to do. Some websites offer discounts for advance booking online. So plan advance to take some of these offers. In many countries though you will find service providers once you reach your destination. However be aware of getting bad deals or being conned. For whichever place you plan to visit pick at least 3 activities you can do. I normally first look for free activities.
8. Transport. If you travel to a place where there is Uber online booking you can easily download the app and use Uber to move from one location to the next. It is also necessary to find out the public transport in the country and whether you may use that. Find out the discount offers for buying a train or bus ticket in advance.
9. Shopping. Personally I am not big on shopping however I think the best things to buy are the things which are unique to that country. These will be reasonably priced. Lonely planet and some of the travel books advise you on where to shop and what to buy in specific countries. Dubai has a fairly priced gold market, Ethiopia has good leather, US has good clothes sales etc. We should shop only if it’s a bargain or really good quality stuff that you can’t get back home.
10. Checklists. Begin to save in advance for this trip. Divide your expected cost by the time left to take the trip. Apply for your VISA, if you see a good sales buy your ticket in advance, pay for accommodation and do your check list. This should include all the things you need to do before you travel, medical check-ups or vaccinations, have a caretaker at your home, carry pocket money or your VISA card and leave all important bills sorted.
Finally when the day comes, enjoy yourself. You have endeavoured to save and plan for the trip so have fun and let loose because you will be coming back to all the pressures at home or work. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and make memories.
Later in the year I will share a budget template, a travel check list and a list of a few ‘must do’ destinations.
Let’s talk – What do you think are the key things one should do in order to prepare for a holiday?