Holidays are supposed to be a relaxing experience, right? Sometimes, between last-minute packing and ticket dramas, trying to jam too much into your itinerary, uncomfortable long-haul flights and disappointing accommodation, they can end up being quite the opposite.
But with a little preparation, you can have that serene, enjoyable trip you’ve always dreamed of.
Create a travel itinerary that’s detailed, but also flexible if you’re the type of person who appreciates spontaneity.
Sometimes it’s nice to change your plans on the fly if you love a cute little village too much to leave when you’d originally planned, or if you feel like you’ve seen all you want to see in a town you’re still locked into for 2 more days.
On the other hand there’s no point wasting hours every day working out where you’re heading to next and trying to book travel and accommodation at the last minute. It goes without saying that this approach could cost you some serious coin too!
Booking hotels with free cancellation included in the price is one way around this conundrum. Keep in mind that many of these will have a cut-off time when the free cancellation no longer applies, for example 48 hours before check-in.
Do your research on accommodation options before you book. Reviews from other travellers are always a great place to start. If you’re staying in a city, book a hotel as close to the centre as you can afford – you don’t want to be spending too much valuable time on trains in and out of the city each day.
Nothing’s more stressful than running out of money when you’re on the other side of the world. Make sure this doesn’t happen by creating a watertight budget for your trip and sticking to it.
It also pays to have an emergency fund or credit card you can access wherever you are if the worst happens.
Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all. You’ll only end up frazzled and exhausted. Ask yourself why you’re travelling in the first place: to tick things off a list, or to enjoy new experiences and create lasting memories?
Our advice is to stay in each place you’re visiting for at least two nights if you can, preferably three or four nights depending on the size of the city and how much there is to see nearby. That means you’ll have a break from the grind of the daily check-in, check-out cycle too, which can become draining after a while.
Remember, it takes some time in a new place to start to really get a feel for it. You’re cheating yourself out of a rich travel experience if you constantly jump from one place to the next and spend all your time on trains or in airports.
The same goes for prioritising your time each day of the trip – don’t expect to see 10 different sights every day or you’ll run from one to the next without truly appreciating any of them.
Doing everything yourself and letting your travel companions simply come along for the ride is a recipe for resentment and arguments.
If you’re travelling with your family or in a group, give each person a job they can take ownership of and feel proud of. For example your designated hotel expert could be in charge of scouring TripAdvisor for cute B&Bs in the area, or the family foodie could be in charge of leafing through the guide book to find the most amazing restaurants in town.
Involving your travel buddies in the planning has its upsides for them too, as they can help shape a trip they’ll truly enjoy. This approach should help avoid those frustrating ‘Do we have to see another museum/church/market today?’ questions from your friend, partner or kids. Tell them you’re open to suggestions!
Put aside a little time each day to just sit quietly, whether you’re soaking up the atmosphere at a street café or watching the birds in a park.
Making time for a quick power nap back at your hotel in the afternoons can work wonders too, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready for the local night life!
And getting enough sleep each night will ensure you’re fresh and ready to tackle those art galleries, ancient ruins and festivals the next day – for most of us that means at least 8 hours.
If running, stretching, yoga or meditation is part of your daily routine at home, don’t skip it just because you’re on holidays. You’ll want to stay at your physical and mental peak on your trip and balance out some of the overindulgence that’s inevitable on vacation.