Top Ten Tuesday – 10 tips for planning a trip.

Top Ten Tuesday – I’m sure it’s been done before but I’m doing my version. Hopefully weekly but I’m making no promises. Who knows what’ll get in the way of a regular Tuesday post.

I’m starting with my 10 tips for planning a trip. These are simply my own personal recommendations and I’m sure there are those who would disagree and have their own ideas about what should be on this page. I am under no illusion that my opinions may will differ from those of others and theirs may be more valid but, for what it’s worth, here are my thoughts.

1. Time – Give yourself plenty of it when planning anything more than a weekend away. I always find the research and planning stage exciting.

2. Know what type of holiday you’re after – not everyone wants the same thing out of a holiday. There’s a fair bit to decide on, do you want a relaxing around the pool, massage and meditation type holiday, do you want to see the sights or learn about the history of a place or do you want an adventure type holiday? Do you want to stay in one place or do you want to travel around – the area, the country, the continent. If you want to travel around, how? Train, bus, car, motor home? There’s a lot to decide on – refer to item 1, give yourself plenty of time otherwise you may make hasty decisions you’ll later regret.

3. Do your homework – spend night after night trawling the internet, see what’s out there. If you’re passing the local travel agency, pick up some brochures. They may seem a little redundant when you’ve got the internet but I’ve always been a lover of brochures and all their glossy pictures. You can leave them around the house and you’re constantly reminded of the places you want to go.

4. Go somewhere you haven’t been before – be brave! It’s very nice to revisit places you’ve enjoyed and feel comfortable in but you’ll never conquer the world if you stick to one little part.

5. Be realistic – work out your budget, figure out how much you can save before you go. If you can’t afford a month in Paris, then don’t plan a month in Paris. Make it 2 weeks or go somewhere slightly cheaper for a month. There’s nothing worse than standing in front of the Eiffel Tower knowing that you can’t afford the price of going up it or itching to do the white water rafting when you know you really have to eat tonight and you can’t do both.

6. Be flexible – itineraries are great and you need them, or at least an idea of what you want to see and do, but always be open to changing those plans. Often the best memories are made when something unexpected happens.

7. Pack light – or at least as light as you can. I know, this is an age old problem and I’ve bemoaned the fact before, that I hate packing. Packing light makes travelling all the more enjoyable and less stressful though. When you’re struggling up steps or through railway stations with a suitcase stuffed to the seams, a large carry- on bag and maybe a laptop and a winter coat slung over your arm, then you realize you should have left half of it at home. Follow the advice of those travel sites that explain how to coordinate so that you just take a few basics and they all fit together to make several different outfits. I haven’t succeeded in that yet but you may have more luck.

8. Figure out how you’re going to deal with the currency situation – we have options now, so make yourself aware of them. Gone are the days of organizing travelers cheques and banks to cash them in, now we can use credit cards, debit cards, pre loaded currency cards, even cash. Get advice if you’re not a frequent traveler or if you haven’t visited that area or country before, talk to people who’ve been there, figure out what will work best for you.

9. Documentation – make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork – passport, visas, letters of introduction, extra passport size photos, insurance documents, emergency phone numbers – double check and keep copies. It’s also a good idea to leave copies with a relative or friend at home – just in case. Leave an itinerary at home too and a list of places where you can be contacted.

10. Prepare to enjoy –you need to have the right attitude, leave the stresses of life and work behind as soon as you leave your front door. Do NOT plan to check work emails while you’re away, I know – the temptation’s there, but DON’T DO IT!