Seven Easy Steps to Planning Your Dream Holiday
By Tracey Bell
There is so much to do in planning a dream holiday; it sometimes feels very overwhelming, especially if you have been thinking about choosing a completely new destination. And now with the internet, so much information is available to us, how can we sift through the overload? Here are seven easy steps that will make planning your next dream holiday much easier. Follow these, and you'll be enjoying that first celebratory drink on arrival before you know it.
1. We start the countdown at twelve weeks before departure with initial research. You have holidays coming up in December and you want celebrate a hard year's work with something special; the latest you should start dreaming about what to do is September. There are several resources to look at to choose a destination:
- Government travel advisories - these are usually found from your government's foreign affairs department website.
Research specific activities you may want to do and where those are offered. For example, if you are interested in engaging with communities or volunteering, you might check out local NGOs who are looking for assistance or tour operators that facilitate community visits.
- Set your own personal goals for the holiday. What's your dream? Do you want to photograph wildlife? Do you want to learn about a specific culture? Do you simply want to relax and reconnect with your family after a stressful work year?
2. This research will narrow down your options so that around ten weeks before departure, you are ready to make specific enquiries and request information. Who do you ask?
- Contact tour operators for itinerary suggestions
- Determine your preferred travel style - basic, mid-range or luxury
- Travel forums are an excellent source of information. Try Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, Fodors, and Trip Advisor to start with, there are plenty more though!
3. Eight weeks before departure is recognised as the optimal time to book flights. There's a few ways to do this:
- Online flight search engines give you a selection of airlines and prices. My suggestion is to use the search engine to find the most suitable flight (according to your preferences for price, less transfers, etc) and then book directly through the airline's website. Examples are Kayak, Expedia, SkyScanner, Wotif, etc.
- Go to your travel agent to book flights. You could take the fares you found on the search engines and ask the agent to match it or beat it.
- Your passport should have six months validity from the end of your holiday and at least one blank page for every country you will visit. Your government passport office can offer assistance in applying for or renewing your passport.
4. Six weeks before departure is when you should be ensuring your traveldocuments are in order.
- Fully comprehensive travel insurance should be taken out, covering emergency medical treatment and repatriation as well as lost luggage and cancellation fees. iSelect in Australia compares insurance policies to help you decide what is best for you
- Check specific visa requirements for the countries you will visit and your nationality. Do not rely on a travel agent or tour operator, check with the embassy yourself to ensure you have the correct information for the nationality of passport you hold. Some visas need to be obtained before travel and you should allow sufficient processing time for this.
- Visit the travel health clinic to find out what vaccinations you need for your destination.
5. Four weeks before departure, your dream itinerary should be finalised.
- Complete booking or client information forms as required by your tour operator
- Pay deposit and/or final balance as required by your tour operator
- Start to learn a bit of the local language
6. Two weeks before departure and we are getting excited now! It's time to pack.
- Check climate information through guide books and weather bureau websites
- Arrange pet care
- There's an online tool called the Universal Packing List, which allows you to enter your trip information and it will produce a tailored packing list.
7. The final countdown! Just a few last minute checks before getting on that flight.
- Pack some small gifts or souvenirs from your homeland to give to people you meet in your travels.
- Check your luggage allowance for your airline and ensure your luggage is not overweight. If it is under weight, consider topping it up with some clothing or stationery supplies to donate to a community project.
- Finalise transport arrangements, both to get to the airport in plenty of time for checking in and passport control, and also the arrangements for a pick up when you arrive at your destination.
Now you are set to go. By following these seven easy steps your holiday should be well-organised and fulfill your travel dreams. Bon Voyage! Safari Njema!