• Em and Jess

Planning the Perfect Trip - 6 Useful Tips

Updated: May 14

Welcome! Today I'm going to share with you the tips I have when it comes to booking a trip. Whether it's a beach holiday or city break, this post will walk you through the whole planning process all the way up to you arriving at your destination. So let's get started!

1) Do your research: think about the kind of trip you're looking to plan and which destination can give you everything you're looking for, whether that be a stay-cation or a trip abroad. If you're looking at going abroad, find out which times of year are best in terms of what's open, the weather, any national holidays or events that could affect your holiday, etc. Recently I was looking at visiting Monaco, but one major mistake I made was not doing a bit of research beforehand, as I realised that the dates I had set aside were not only during the half-term, but also coincided with the Monaco Grand Prix. In the end I decided that the skyrocketed prices we would've had to pay wasn't going to be worth it so we booked something for later in the year instead – but nonetheless, that is a mistake that I hopefully won't be making again anytime soon.

2) Money and budgeting: if you're needing to save up a little in order to afford your trip, consider putting aside a specific amount of money a month (whether that's £20 or £100, whatever works best for you). This will require some planning ahead, but it will make sure that you can travel comfortably and it can also be quite rewarding getting some holiday savings together and being able to put it towards what will (finger's crossed) be a lovely break. I would also suggest that when it comes to planning how much money you'll need, categorise where your money will be needed to ensure there will be no unexpected additional costs, for example; travel insurance; transport to and from the airport; airport parking if necessary; flights, transfers once you arrive at your destination; hotel; spending money; and souvenirs. Going back to tip 1, it's also important to research what you want to see and do while you're away, and how much that'll all cost so that you can incorporate that into your budget. Remember to take some of your own currency too just in case.

3) Money travel card: when I go away on holiday, I have what is called a Starling card which has proven to be very useful to me. It's basically a debit account that you can transfer money in/out of as a normal card, but there are a few travel benefits to it. Firstly, Starling Bank doesn't charge you when withdrawing money from an ATM abroad (however some ATMs may have their own charges). They also have quite a good exchange rate, it notifies you via the mobile app whenever any money has gone out of your account and how much, and a feature that I like in particular is that you can lock your card using the app, so if your card has gone missing, you can make sure that no one can access what's on it! I've used it in Thailand, Disneyland Paris, Amsterdam, and several other countries in the last few years, and it's definitely something that always goes onto my packing list now because I feel so much safer not having all my spending money in cash. However, if you are taking your usual bank card on holiday be sure to notify your bank to avoid them locking your card once they see money leaving your account in another country.

4) Hotels: when looking for your hotel or accommodation, I would always suggest reading some of the reviews to see what people have actually thought of the place and why, and don't just go by the star rating or the images. For me, the important factor to consider is location! Googlemaps is an absolute Godsend when it comes to this. Whenever I'm going away one of the first things I always check is the transport links near the hotel to find out how accessible it is and how much it is to get to/from the airport. Also, referring back to point one, make a list of the main attractions that you want to see whilst you're away, and then use maps to see how easy they are to get to from the hotel. Ideally if you can find a hotel that is central to everything on your to-do list and that works with your budget then you could just rely on walking, as you'll see so much more on foot. I tend to opt for breakfast included and free cancellation if I can, just for the sake of convenience and security. Finally, remember that with a lot of trips (especially city breaks) you'll be spending 90% of your time outside of the hotel anyway, so as long as it's safe, central and affordable then you're all set!

5) Packing: when figuring out what to bring with you, it's always good to find out whether the place you're going has any customs or dress codes to make sure that you don't get yourself in trouble or come across as disrespectful at all. If you're only going on a short trip like a city break, try to avoid taking hold luggage if you can, and I'd also suggest opting for a backpack/holdall over a suitcase. I say this because it's so much quicker on the other side if you don't have a suitcase to wait for, and sometimes if there isn't enough room in overhead lockers then the flight attendants will ask you to put you suitcase in the hold. However, it's reeeeally unlikely that they would ever ask someone to put a holdall or backpack in the hold because they take up a lot less space in the overhead, and they are not as durable in the hold as a suitcase would be. Another great packing tip would be to wear your heaviest items on the plane to make for most of the room you have in your bag. Most times I go away I also pack a capsule wardrobe, so that all the clothes I pack can be mixed and matched, therefore allowing me to pack less. If you're going on a bigger holiday and you and your travel companion are taking hold luggage suitcases, then I'd recommend distributing your items between the two cases, so that in the very unlikely (but not impossible) circumstance that a suitcase is lost by the airline, you've still both got clothes etc. You never know what might happen so it's always good to prepare!

6) At the airport: give at least 2.5/3 hours in case anything goes wrong or there are any delays to your journey, particularly if you're coming by public transport. I'd also advise taking a travel document wallet or even just a plastic wallet to the airport with you so you can keep all your paperwork in the same place and it's there on hand from A to B. I keep mine in the order I need them as well, e.g. train tickets/printed taxi confirmation to get you to the airport, airport parking confirmation if applicable, passport and boarding pass, transfer info on the other side and hotel confirmation.

A few quick-fire tips to finish off:

  •  Seriously think about who you chose to go away with, because nothing ruins a holiday more than drama, awkwardness or fall outs.

  • Take contact numbers on a card with you in case anything happens to your phone, such as family contacts or anyone you would wish to contact in an emergency, hotel phone number, etc.

  • You never actually have to take every single thing you could possibly need with you. Remember you can buy stuff there too, so sun cream, toothpaste, an umbrella... any general travel items will usually be available for you to buy anywhere you might be going.

I hope some of these tips will prove useful to you guys. Obviously I'm no expert, but these are just a few things that I've learnt from previous experience. Even if only one person learns something new from this post or benefits from it then I'll be a very happy gal. Until next time x

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