OK, after months of deliberation you’ve finally made up your mind. You want to go on holiday!
Great! Fantastic! But that’s the easy part. Now all you have to do is organise it!
First things first – where do you want to go?
It’s a simple question really. The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination (and your bank balance of course). But the reality is that everyone will have a totally different version of what their perfect holiday is and where it would be.
Ideally you will have some idea. Maybe you’ve seen something that may have sparked your interest. Or there’s that special somewhere that you’ve always dreamed of going.
Do you have visions of sandy, sun drenched beaches, palm trees and pina coladas? Or maybe snowy mountains, a ski lodge and mulled wine is more your style? Whichever way you want to go it might be easier to choose if you narrow it down.
For example- its pointless looking at a cruise to Antarctica is you don’t like cold weather. And a trip to Thailand which is incredibly warm even in the wet season is probably not somewhere you’d like to go if you suffer easily from heat exhaustion.
Personally, I hate the cold. Yeah, its great to snuggle up under the duvet on a freezing cold night. But during the day I just never seem to be able to warm up. So, the first time I decided to go on holiday, hot and sunny Phuket was my destination of choice.
And when did you want to go?
So, you’ve decided where you want to go on holiday. That’s great, but when? Tomorrow, next month, next year?
When you go is actually just as important as where. And that is because of several factors beyond your control that you may have to take into consideration.
School holidays – In the US and other countries in the northern hemisphere the summer break is approximately 10-12 weeks long and spans anywhere between the end of May to early-mid September. Whereas summer break in Australia, New Zealand and other countries South of the equator typically runs from mid-December to early February. During these times travel and accommodation is often in high demand and as such is classified as High or Peak season. As demand increases and availability declines prices can rise outrageously.
This is also the case for other holidays such as Christmas and New Year which are often blackout dates for accommodation, or if available may attract a Peak Season or compulsory surcharge.
Unfortunately, I have firsthand experience of just this scenario. I had purchased an amazing holiday at a 5-star resort in Thailand through a popular deals website. I chose when I wanted to go, checked for available flights and booked it all through the booking calendar on the resort website. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to go. Unfortunately, I hadn’t bothered to read the fine print on the booking conditions which clearly stated that the time period in which I would be staying would incur a $100 per night surcharge, payable to the resort at the time of checking in! Thank goodness for credit cards!
They say a mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn anything from it. I can honestly say that it was a lesson learned that I will never forget!
So, if you are determined to travel during these periods, please use due diligence, do your homework and don’t get caught out with any unpleasant surprises.
Luxury, budget or something in between?
This is very much a personal choice. There’s something to suit everyone. You just have to know where to look.
Some acquaintances of mine choose all their vacations based on cost. The cheaper the better. These are also the same couple who constantly complain about their flights, accommodation and anything else that they didn’t enjoy about their trip. I’m not implying that you can’t have a great holiday on a budget but the saying ‘you only get what you pay for’ often rings true if you don’t do the groundwork first.
When I planned to go on holiday for the first time I spent literally months researching. I know that may sound extreme, but things were a bit different a few years back. Before the ease and accessibility of the World Wide Web everything would have to be done the old-fashioned way. Off to the travel agent you would go and search through their myriad of travel brochures for that perfect destination. Then comes the hotel selection. Hundreds and hundreds of places, with an equally large range of prices and facilities. And the most expensive did not necessarily offer the best.
Since then, I have travelled to numerous destinations staying in a variety of accommodations ranging from 5+ stars to 2 stars. Each and every one of them had positives and negatives. Some were memorable and some I’d rather forget. One of the worst was at a 5-star over the water resort! My point is that no matter where you go, you really do have to think about exactly what it is you want when you get there.
Some 5-star resorts can often feel very impersonal and a bit sterile, where a smaller boutique type establishment may be friendlier and more attentive. But if you want to be pampered, waited on and spoilt then maybe that 2-star B & B just isn’t the right choice for you.
Typically, when I travel I like to try somewhere different, for a new and exciting experience. But on more than one occasion I have actually enjoyed staying somewhere so much that I have made a return visit. These are the rare places that you are sad to leave and look forward to visiting again.
I must also add that as I get older I do appreciate the creature comforts. No longer do I select the rowdy, crowded venues in the busier, more popular tourist spots. Now I’ll often find myself gravitating to an area that offers all that l desire without the hustle, bustle and noise.
Is there anything special you’d like to do?
Before you finalise your dates, it might be helpful to do a bit of investigation into what activities are available at your chosen destination. Do you want to do them? And are they available at that time of year?
Theme parks are popular, with many outlets offering discount tickets and package deals. These parks can be found all over the world with the biggest being the chain of Disney resorts in 6 different locations (California, Florida, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai). Their respective websites state they are open every day of the year, EVEN Thanksgiving! I’m not to sure about Chinese New Year in Hong Kong though, I’d definitely contact them direct to clarify.
The Gold Coast in Queensland Australia has the big 3 – Movie World, Sea World and Wet n Wild. These are open every day of the year EXCEPT Christmas day and in the event of extreme bad weather.
Whereas Adventure World in Western Australia is only open from the end of October through to the end of April every year.
Jet skiing and parasailing are common activities found along the beaches in Phuket but probably not something you’d like to do during the monsoon season, typically from late may through to October.
Heading to the UK and looking to take a tour of Buckingham Palace in London or maybe Edinburgh Castle? Generally, tours are only available from Mid-July to late September and the state rooms of the palace are open to visitors throughout the ‘Annual Summer Opening’ during August and September.
Or are you really hankering to do some skiing in Japan? The height of ski season in Japan is typically from December to April. So a skiing holiday in August is probably not going to happen.
So, spend a bit of time deciding what you want to do and prepare a sample itinerary before you go on holiday –
• Where are you going – Destination
• Where are you staying – Accommodation
• When are you going – Departure time/date to Return time/date
• How are you travelling – Air/Fly, Road/Bus/Car, Rail/Train or combination of any
• What are you doing – selection of activities
And now, you’re good to go!
By now, you should have decided where you want to go; when you want to go; where you intend to stay; how you intend to get there and what you want to do while you are there!
Now it’s time to put all that newly acquired information to good use.
Let’s go on holiday!