How to plan a travel - Before you fly

How to plan a travel?

First get the dates right. Check with your travel mates on the dates they are most comfortable. Some, like my hubby has particular dates in which traveling is a huge no no -  such as the last week of the month. As for me - I have to base my dates around my son's school holidays. When both the above match -  I will have my dates. Dates also play a bigger part in the travel - which I will explain later on.


Secondly - which country have you been eyeing? You must have an idea of where you want to go. Maybe you would like to see some snow, or sand, or the tallest structure in the world, or animals, or cultural activities -  so only you know where you want to go and ensure your travel mate share the same interest. My mum has a religious obligation in India and also wanted to see the Taj Mahal along the way. My other half wanted to be anywhere warm. So India was set.

Thirdly -  If you have the country planned -  check out the cities or the actual locations you want to go. In my last trip, the actual location we were supposed to go was in Rajasthan. But surrounding that - there were other touristy spots that we could be as well. Hence all the famous landmarks nearby  - I made a list, factored in the time we had, interests of the group and of course the money and finally had a complete list of places to go.

At the same time - try not to cover too  many places within the time you have. If you only have a week, try to cover 2-3 places a day. And if you only have a week -  it will be hectic to plan cross country travel such as going to UK then hopping over to Scotland and then ferrying over to Ireland and then back to London or something like that. Its madness to cover 3 countries in one week. Plan well ahead on this.

Fourth -  Accommodation. I am not sure about the others -  but when I look for accommodation -  I have the list of places I intend to visit along with a google map of the location next by side on the PC for reference. The objective is to find a place to stay near the places I want to go ,or near a bus or train stop, or near some busy landmark, or near a touristy place and of course affordable.

When I planned visiting France - I picked a hotel that was near a train station, walking distance to the Eiffel, and also near some grocers. Paris was easier to plan like that. But when I planned North India -  I chose hotel that was quite well known, 3 stars and above and somewhere central, cheap and easily accessible.

Reason being - all my transportation needs were met by a tour guide who would bring us to and fro the location and hotel. So I didn't have to plan so much on the exact details but what we needed was a hotel that was deemed safe and secure. All I focused on was the affordability and the reviews of the hotel on reputable booking sites such as Booking.com and Agoda. I look for keywords such as "clean", "safe", "good" and  "will come again".

What I usually look for in an accommodation:

  • Review -  its important to know from actual people who went there
  • Location  - its distance from bus stops and train stations and landmarks
  • Price  - Has to be affordable
  • Facilities inside the room
    • such as bed, extra cot for child
    • water kettle or microwave
    • mini fridge
  • Comfort level
    • My hubby will outright leave the room if its not big and airy enough 
    • My son will whine and complain if there's not enough channel in the tv
    • I will whine and complain if the bed creaks and I feel one kind.
Usually if the duration of the holiday is more than 3 days and we are staying put in the same hotel or location - then we would book a room with a kitchenette -  we'd have food in the room instead of wasting money outside. I did this in France, Copenhagen and in Malaysia. 

Fifth - Travel.
Based on your list of places to visit - you would have an idea how to go on about visiting. Places like Paris ,London, Melbourne -  have train stations in every corner in the city and you can cover most touristy spots by taking the train or even by walking. But if you venture out to the suburban areas -  then you need to have a car. There are some places outside London  where it would make sense to drive instead of taking the local transportation. In my case, when I went to Delhi, there was no way I could travel like the locals in buses and train with my mum and kid in tow and if you ask me  -  I rather not. So check out if you need to rent a car when you land or if you can make do with a visitor train card.

And if you do intend to drive when you are there, find out if they drive on the left or right. Load all the co ordinates of the places you want to  in your GPRS in your phone or tab before you leave home or your hotel ( with their free wifi)just in case there's no Satnav in your car.

Some places have hop on hop off buses like in Singapore, Paris, Melbourne and London ( there must be other places too - not exactly sure where else) where you can purchase the tickets (online or at the airport) and you go checking all the places out in the route the bus go.

Last -  When you should go

I did mention I will talk more about the travel dates. Usually not many people think to check this out before planning.If I am going to Chennai to visit my family -  I don't bother to check the weather. But if I am going somewhere else - it  will do me good to check the local weather before I plan to leave.

For example -  if I plan to go to London -  I'd check before hand when is the right time to go. If I leave during the December school holidays -  I can forget about checking out the greenery locations and cottages and gardens and castles and theme parks because its winter. Grass is no longer green. Theme parks don't open in winter. ( Found that out in Copenhagen -  very unfortunate).

But  - you'd get softer hotel rates cos its the off peak season. But again -  if you intend to see snow in its full glory  or you want to wear your winter gear - then November to February are the best time in places where Winter is in their season.

Likewise - if you plan to go to middle eastern locations such as Dubai -  you need to know the weather you most likely are able to endure and avoid the fasting season.

On and one more -  it pays to check beforehand if there is any local holidays on the dates you have planned in your holiday destination. It will be a waste to arrive on your dream vacation -  to see all attractions closed because of long holidays or something.Unless of course you want to partake in the holiday festivities such as Holi and Durga Puja and so on in India.

Now once you have planned the date, country, location, accommodation and travel -  you are almost ready to go. 

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