I used to be very laidback about planning holidays. Finding flights and hotels was the job of my sister and mum, and once we were there we tended to be a ‘we’ll discover it once we’re there’ kind of family. My boyfriend is the polar opposite and wants every single detail planned out. Over the trips we’ve taken together in the past year, I have (sort of) balanced in the middle. So here are some of my tips for planning the big and little bits of a holiday…
Choosing Where To Go
Sounds easy enough, but sometimes it’s not. This year there have been a couple of trips where the destination has been set (New York with my family, Abu Dhabi with my boyfriend), but the others have been more a case of ‘let’s go away, but where shall we go?’. The main way I’ve been choosing destinations is by searching ‘Everywhere’ on Skyscanner, picking the cheapest flights, and researching those a bit more. But also try googling ‘cheap European cities’ in case you’re worried about it being expensive once you’re there.
Choosing Where To Stay
I like to look on Secret Escapes for more affordable luxury, but generally I’m a HUGE fan of AirBnb. I’ve used them three times now and each time it has been fantastic. I’m sure some of you are a little apprehensive, but there seems to be more and more that aren’t even lived in, the property is only for letting out on AirBnb. I love that you can get a more homely feel whilst your away, and that they tend to be cheaper than hotels for GREAT locations.
Planning What To Do
This has been my biggest downfall so far. But I’m learning.
The first thing I do now is figure out the best way to get from the airport/train station to the hotel/AirBnb, whether this be walking, public transport or a cab. It makes life so much easier once you’ve stepped off a flight to know exactly where you’re going next.
To find tourist attractions and other things to do, I look at Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet guides to see generic things first. My new way of checking things out is by googling ‘what to do in [city] blog’. This way you can see the viewpoint of someone who has actually been to the place and see their travel hints and tips, what they did and where they ate. It also says things that generic guides won’t, such as where not to go.
Once I’ve picked out the things I want to do, I go on to Google Maps and select all the places on the list, and figure out a logical order to do them in, and what to do on different days. Once I know the order, I can once again figure out how to get to each place (makes life so much easier if you don’t have internet abroad).
Planning Where To Eat
To find places to eat, I either pick specific places that were reviewed in blogs, or I use the ‘Search Nearby’ function on google maps to find restaurants near to where we’ll be. The main reason I do this is that I have had too many average or just plain terrible meals on holiday when I know I could have had great ones. I look at menus to see if it’s somewhere I want to go, and then I look on Instagram to see whose tagged it. This way you can see the food that they serve (never appreciated food pictures more) and how popular it is. If it is somewhere I definitely want to go and it can be booked online, I’ll do that. If not, I make a list of a few places in that area that would be nice, so that if when it comes to it one is busy, I have back ups ready.
This level of planning may all seem overkill, and for a two week holiday it would just be exhausting. For a city break where there is a lot to see but not a lot of time, I think it’s really useful to be able to know what you want to do, find some things that maybe you didn’t know you wanted to do, and just make the most of your time there. I never stick to the plan I create completely, and I add in extra things for if we have time that we can pick or choose between.
I hope you found some of these tips useful, and let me know any tips you have that I can use for the next trip… Currently going through this process for Hamburg if you have any recommendations?!