Travel: How we plan for a holiday – Our top 5 trip planning tips.

There is nothing more fun than planning for a holiday, and it’s something that we’ve got really good at in recent years. Whether it’s a weekend away, a 3 week multi-stop trip or camping somewhere we’ve been a hundred times before, there’s a certain amount of planning that we do before, and when we get somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we often have anything totally set in stone, but we have an idea of the places we’d like to visit, and whilst sometimes we only make it to a handful of the places we set out to see – the planning has at least got us really excited about a location.

So these are our top 5 trip planning tips that will hopefully make your next holiday a little easier to plan. 

1. As soon as we have a trip destination in mind, and usually before we’ve even booked flights, I’ll create or start adding to a Pinterest board. Jim doesn’t really use Pinterest but he has an account, which means I can share the pins with him.
I’ll start by searching for the area, town, city and then I’ll check out the guides that have been written for that destination. The ’24hrs in a city’ ones are my favourites as they tend to pick out the must visit locations. I also look out for ‘see XX like a local’ as you get tips on the not so touristy spots that way, and the ‘best restaurants in XX’ guides. We look for cool areas to stay in, the best tourist attractions to visit and the ones to avoid, the places we should eat and the bars we have to visit. 

2. We try and pick up a Wallpaper Guide for the city. They aren’t the most informative of guides – they are no Dorlin Kindersly – but they do show you the best stylish neighbourhoods and some of the quirkier places to visit or eat. The maps in them are pretty good too and you get a landscape image of the skyline too which is helpful. Plus they are super small and light to throw in a bag with you. But most importantly, they look pretty on your bookshelf.

3. We look into public transport in the places we’re going. We’re fans of making the most of the our money when we go somewhere so if we can buy a week travel card for $20 that will give us freedom to jump on and off tubes and trains and busses then why wouldn’t we? On our last big trip we travelled by train, bus, tram, greyhound and only when public transport failed us in the rural areas of Vermont and Maine did we hire a car. 

4. Jim researches restaurants in the areas we’re visiting. Holidays are not to be wasted eating bad food and drinking bad cocktails. If we’re going somewhere that might have been covered by one of his favourites on the Food Network he’ll find it on you tube or catch up. He looks at my Pinterest recommendations. He checks Yelp and Trip Advisor for top rated places. And we’ve found some awesome bars and cafes just by looking at the areas we’re visiting on Google Map! Because of this research we’ve taken trips in -20 degrees for the most perfect doughnuts. We’ve travelled to out of the way neighbourhoods for out of this world meatballs. We’ve tracked happy hours across cities. A little pre-planning of our food means pretty much everything we eat when we’re away is excellent!

5. After we’ve researched where we’re going, we build a google map of all the places we have to see or visit or eat. This tends to be done initially on the computer as it’s easier (try Google Map Maker) and once we have a lot of stuff in it we then make sure that it’s available offline. You don’t want to be using data every time you try and access it. The good thing about having the map available on your phone is that it also downloads the surrounding points of interest, which means if you’ve missed anything in your planning it’ll pop up on your map too! 

So, what are your holiday planning top tips? What should we be including in our next lots of destination research? 

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