How do you plan for your holidays and getaways? How do you decide on which places to go in the city? How do you know that you’ll have enough time to cover it all? A lot of people have been asking me these questions, so I’ve decided to put together a post on How to Plan the Perfect Holiday / Getaways! Or at least the most effective way I have done it. These 10-steps have worked very well for me over the years and I’m still using this system so I thought it would be good to share it with you guys. Grab a free downloadable checklist when you subscribe to my newsletter! :)
10 STEPS TO PLANNING THE PERFECT HOLIDAY / GETAWAY
1. QUICK RESEARCH
Can’t decide on where you would like to go? I assume you already know which continent you want to travel to (if not you can still follow the steps below, Googling Continents instead). Asia? Europe? That’s great! But can’t decide on which country or city to go to? Do a quick research. I usually just Google Top Places to visit in Asia/Europe and choose a few places on the list. For me, images are the main attractor, so I would Google Image the cities listed and whichever catches my attention the most are the ones I usually end up in.
Alternatively, go on to Skyscanner and lookout for the cheapest flights. There are a lot of airlines which offer an Inspire Me tab on their website, this shows flights to different locations and the prices that come with it. This way, you can decide on a location based on your budget.
2. WHAT YOU KNOW
After you’ve booked a flight, write down what you know about the city. From here on, I will be using Malta as an example to better explain my points as this is my upcoming trip.
What do I know about Malta? What is it famous for? When I think of Malta, what comes to mind? What made me choose to go there? These are the questions you should ask yourself at this stage. Based on what I know about Malta without any research yet, I know that Malta is famous for the Blue Grotto and the Azure Window. I’ve seen images before and from what I can see, the main towns are by the port and are the places seem more rocky than sandy.
3. FURTHER RESEARCH
Planning the perfect holiday is all about research! The worst thing that could happen is after a few months of returning from your trip, a friend of yours who also recently went to the same city posted something absolutely beautiful and you’d be wondering why you didn’t see such a thing when you were there! That’s gotta suck no?
How I do my research is that I usually key in the city on to Google first. For example, I would type in Things to do in Malta and write down the suggestions given by Google. Among the things I would list down are the places that I may have heard of as well as those that look interesting in the little image icon. The good thing about using Google’s list as a starting point is that Google usually gives you a long list, yet you could still cut it down based on the image icons beside it.
Next, I would click on the top 3 links showed in Google. One of the choices would usually be from the city itself (for this case, www.visitmalta.com) which is a good source as you can see what they are most famous for. I usually skip TripAdvisor at this stage as the list can seem pretty infinite when you don’t really have a clue of the places to go yet.
I do this to cross-reference the new list and that of Google, any places that appear more than once in these websites would be highlighted, which then acts as a must-see for me.
Pinterest is an essential stage in my opinion as the things you find here are usually recommended by people themselves instead of brands or companies. Key in Malta in the search bar and click on anything that interests you. I usually find a lot of interesting places through Pinterest that aren’t listed in Google Search. It was through Pinterest that I found out about Malta’s amazing doors and balconies which I should look out for when I’m in Valletta.
This is my favourite stage in the planning process as not only do you discover hidden places, you also get to see how you may capture these places in photographs when you’re there. I could spend hours just navigating through these pages as it makes me even more excited about the trip!
5. HOW MANY DAYS
List down the days you have for the trip.
Eg: Day 1- 02 June 2016 (Thursday)
Day 2- 03 June 2016 (Friday)
I like listing the day of the week as well as it makes it easier for me to split up my itinerary later on, especially since certain attractions close on certain days of the week.
6. SPLITTING THE DAYS
This is an important step to plan for the perfect holiday / getaway as this helps you see whether you'll be able to cover all the places you would like to visit during your time. I usually search for any Museums first as many museums offer free days/ timings. Also because by booking tickets online, you are able to skip the queue on the day itself which saves a lot of time! Sometimes, these museums are also open to public at night on certain days so if you’re looking for a “Night at the Museum” kind of feel then you might wanna try it out! Fill in these museums in your table according to the days that are the cheapest/ of most convenience to you. Don't forget to check the opening times of the places you would like to go and take note of any places that close on a certain day so that you could split these places up easier.
The above example is taken from my Downloadable Guide & Checklist to Planning the Perfect Holiday, which you can obtain when you sign up to my newsletter at the bottom of this page! :)
This comes the part that is a little bit more complicated. List down the places you have from your already-researched-list into Google Maps. Keep adding your options on the side with a little plus + sign and change the way of transport to the walking route. I usually split my itinerary up based on clusters of attractions shown. For example, all the sites in Valletta would be seen in a day, whereas that in Gozo would be in another day. Although the above example are for towns across Malta (as Malta is a very small country), but you can use this same method for attractions in a single town as well.
I usually have some of the tourist attractions under a Maybe section, these are for places that I wouldn't mind not going to, in other words, these are places that I'll only go to if I have extra time.
After you’ve done this, screenshot the image so that it can act as a map for you when you’re in town as well.
Now that you have an idea of where the attractions are, where would you wanna live? Which is of a higher priority to you, the location or the price? Go on to different websites to find the best accommodation suited to you. Sites like AirBNB, Hostelworld, Booking.com, Trivago are all very useful sites that have advanced search options to help narrow your search.
How much can I spend on this trip? Write down what you have spent for this trip so far. Your flight tickets, transport to and fro the airport, accommodation and any other tickets you may have purchased before the trip itself. List down how much you may need for museums, attractions etc and take note of how much you’ll be bringing to the trip. It would definitely suck whilst you're on your trip and then realise you don't have enough money to spend! My suggested website to use is BudgetYourTrip as you can choose the country you're visiting as well as your budget type and it will show you roughly how much you need for a day in terms of accommodation, food, transport etc.
I usually don’t go into much detail here as I prefer “stumbling” across great food when I’m in town. The only thing I research when it comes to food is what the place is known for. For example, I would search for Food in Malta and take note of their famous food but that’s about it. I rarely write down the best restaurants that serve it as everyone has their own opinion on things and the "best" restaurant in town is a personal preference that differs accordingly.
10. LET'S GO
Now that you're all set, it's time to count down the days to your trip! Woohoo!
Here's a preview of my downloadable step-by-step checklist on Planning the Perfect Holiday for you to use on your next trip. You can grab a free copy of it by signing up to my newsletter at the bottom of the page. Please note it may take up 24 hours for you to receive it.
How do you plan your trip? Do you have a more efficient and quicker way? If so, do let me know in the comments below or email me with your thoughts!
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