Travelling | 6 Tips For Planning Your Next Vacation

June 19th, 2013


No one likes breaking up.

But you’re about to dump your travel agent. Sorry.

As a former travel agent customer, I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself for recently managing to plan out a 3 week overseas trip all on my own.

Unassisted. Flying solo (quite literally).

As always, I’m willing to share with you my new found wisdom. Here’s my 6 best tips for planning your next holiday, based on what I’ve learnt.

1. Start planning early.

Timing is everything – and the earlier you can start booking flights the better.

This is especially important for destinations that are more expensive to stay/eat/play at. You’re going to want to save money on flights so you’ve got more leftover for your actual vacation.

I regrettably put off booking my flights for a couple of weeks once I was ready to make the purchase and that mistake ended up costing me an extra $400!

2. Pack like a pro.

When it comes to luggage – less is always more.

Check with your airline to see what your baggage allowance is, then aim to pack well below that. Also, be wary if you’re flying with more than one airline – their allowances may be different and you don’t want to get surprised with any hefty excess luggage fees.

Here’s what I do when I’m packing.

  • I only pack items of clothing that I consider versatile (i.e, they can be worn a few times before they’ll need washing and can be layered if the weather is unpredictable).
  • If I’m going somewhere where the shopping is cheap, I’ll try and leave myself an extra 5kg or ¼ of my suitcase empty to accommodate for extra stuff on the return trip.
  • Shoes and toiletries down the bottom, heavy clothes on top of that, then light items that crease easily on top, either laid out flat or rolled into one another.

3. Back up your finances.

If you’re planning on using a credit/debit/travel card overseas, make sure you have a spare that you can keep in your suitcase or the hotel safe.

I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having my debit card captured by an ATM machine on the second day of a trip in a non-english speaking country. It was hectic. I had no back-up and had to try and communicate with a bank assistant what had happened before I could get some cash out.

(Also, did I mention that if you’ve got a Nimble VISA Prepaid Card, you can use that all over the world wherever Visa is accepted? I didn’t? Well. There you go.)

4. Compare everything.

There are a number of excellent sites you can use to compare everything online – from flights to car hire to hotels. If you shop around before you purchase, you’ll be able to find yourself a deal that suits you and will hopefully save you a bit of money.

I’ve had really good experiences booking through Expedia, Kayak and SkyScanner. I find them easy to use and it’s an easy way to see all your options in one place.

5. Consider buying vs. hiring.

If you’re planning on doing adventure activities or sports while you’re abroad, you’re going to need the right equipment.

Depending on what you’re doing, it can sometimes be cheaper to hire, and sometimes it can be cheaper to buy your gear (especially if you have a view to do said activity again sometime).

For example, I went on a ski trip last year and found it a lot cheaper to hire my skis and boots than purchasing my own set. I did, however, purchase my own ski clothing. I know that I’ll go skiing again in the future and since I found my gear on sale, it made more sense to get my own.

6. Check for a coupon code.

Before I purchase tickets to any shows, museums, zoos, theme parks or tours I always jump on Google and search (for example) “San Diego Zoo Coupon Code”.

There are a bunch of websites that are regularly updated with current coupon codes that you can enter into the checkout when you’re purchasing tickets online. It takes very little effort and if you end up saving yourself a bit of money then it’s definitely worthwhile!

That’s about all I can think of right now! Hopefully I won’t have to write another blog post when I return from my trip to tell you all of the horrible mistakes I made with booking my own trip.

Anyway – it’s all part of the adventure. If you’ve got any nifty travel tips of your own, leave me a comment below.

Happy travels!