With information so widely available now it can be a minefield when it comes to deciding where to go on holiday. And, with so much choice, it can also be hard to know where to begin.
You may already have an idea of what you fancy doing in 2015. If you’re anything like me, I like to get my travel plans organised well in advance. Only for the simple reasons such as: I need to begin saving for it; and more importantly; I need something to look forward to. I also have a mental bucket list – which seems to be getting longer and longer every year! So, I already know what places I would like to tick off.
The beginning of the year is a good time to look into whether any of your dream holidays are feasible – there also tends to be fantastic deals to be had from flight sales to discounts for early bird bookings which can sway your decision-making. These tempting offers may even open your eyes to a new destination you hadn’t even considered before.
Here’s My Travel Monkey’s top tips to help you make the right holiday choices:
This is probably the most important factor to consider before you plunge into booking anything. If you have ooodles of a cash and no monetary limitations, then the world is your oyster. However, the majority of people will have other commitments so will need to weigh up what they’re prepared to spend on one holiday.
• Work out how much you will need for one whole trip which includes transportation (flights, petrol for the car, train fares etc); accommodation; and spending money. Don’t forget to take into account how much you will pay for food and drink if you’re not on an all-inclusive package.
• Will you be taking one big holiday – or break up the year with lots of little trips?
• Consider taking a trip at home if your budget isn’t going to stretch as far as foreign climes.
• If you’re prepared to shop around, you’ll be able to find some good deals.
• If you’re not bothered particularly about the destination then wait until the very last minute before booking a trip. You’ll be surprised at how much money you will save.
• On the other hand, if you book well in advance – the same applies – flights can be cheaper and some travel companies such as Virgin or Thomson, let you pay off the balance of your trip in instalments. Handy if you don’t want to shell out a huge chunk of money in one go.
Knowing what type of holiday you want to go on will help you narrow down your options drastically. If the family all want some adventure and plenty of activities, you’re not going to choose a boutique beach resort in Seychelles. Similarly, consider what every member of the family wants to do and try to find a holiday that will cater to everyone’s tastes. Of course, the children’s needs will be a huge factor – and you may not want to stress yourself out with a long-haul flight/jet-lag to far-flung destinations. Think, too about transfer times – once you land will there still be a two-hour coach journey on top of your travelling time? To help narrow down your options ask yourself these questions:
• Relaxation or adventure?
• Big cities or more rural?
• Beaches or mountains
• At home or abroad?
• Resorts or road trips?
• Culture and food experiences?
What type of accommodation?
I like the freedom of self-catering villas and apartments. Choosing somewhere with a private pool; being able to prepare your own food, eating at a time that suits. There are downsides, though – you’re still cooking and cleaning; clearing up mess and having to get the shopping in; and more often than not, you’ll need to hire a car to be able to get about; or find a location where you able to walk to local amenities such as supermarkets, restaurants and the beach.
Resorts and all-inclusive hotels are a good bet if you want more for your money. Don’t underestimate how much children eat and drink – especially when they’re hankering after snacks and ice creams. Plus, there are options of kids’ clubs, babysitting services; spas for adults, sports activities and entertainment.
Do you have the time?
How much annual leave do you have? Will you be travelling during peak season or will you be able to go out of term time? I know that some parents are willing to do this and risk being fined as I discussed on Holiday Dilemmas but there are others who aren’t. Monkey has a two-week half-term in October, and I imagine this will be the time for us to take bigger trips when he is older.
• Are you looking to visit several areas in one holiday? You’ll need to give yourself enough time to do them justice. It’s tempting to want to see as much of country/city as you can but it can be exhausting if you are pretty much on the road all the time.
• Happy to stay put in one location? Then perhaps you won’t need to take as long a stint – therefore being able to break up your travels across the year in shorter trips.
• If you’re lacking in annual leave – then you may not want to waste too much time actually travelling to your destination. Choose places/countries closer to home – and flights that leave early in the morning. You’ll then get a full day and make the best use of your precious time.
Travel at home
Exploring your own country can be very rewarding – especially when you have time and budget constraints. Generally, staycations are easier to organise, much cheaper and packing is more of a doddle – as you can sling everything in the car. Plus when you choose a self-catering option, most supermarkets will be able to deliver your groceries. We do this all the time when we holiday in the UK, and it’s one less headache to worry about. You also don’t have to be concerned about jet-lag and time differences.
Researching travel destinations, accommodation and holidays take time and dedication… and, if you want the best deal, this can make it more difficult. I relish the challenge and enjoy trawling through all the travel and hotel comparison sites but there are many people who don’t have the time or the inclination. Seek professional help, either through a reputable tour operator or through a travel company. They can make great suggestions if you’re stuck for inspiration and arrange all the little details from airport transfers to day trips. Plus, some travel companies can offer better deals as they have good relationships with particular hotels and flight operators. It’s always worth getting a quote.