Holidays! Who doesn’t love a holiday, be it at home, your local area / country or somewhere overseas. But and this is a big but, holidays are very personal and before you go off madly booking things, you need to sit down and really think about it what you want your holiday to look like. This can be a bit of a “what comes first, the chicken or the egg” thing as one thing can dictate all the rest, but you do need to decide what is the main driver.
Now I am not an expert, but I have done a few trips, local and overseas and have organised them myself. This is not a definitive list, just what I think you need to do. You may also think that this is all common sense, but I have had many a conversation with people who have said that they never thought of xxx or “I didn’t know that”, so this is my little way of hopefully helping you to have a great holiday.
When I start thinking about going on a holiday, I personally think about:
- How much time off do I have (including the getting there and back)
- What sort of holiday do I want i.e. resort, camping, trekking, backpacking, 4 stars etc
- The destination (local or overseas)
- How much do I have to spend now or do I need to save?
- If there are others travelling with me, what do they want to do or see?
This is where you need to decide how long will the holiday be or how much time can you take off from work. Here in Australia we are extremely lucky that we get a generous amount of annual leave (or vacation leave) and some companies like mine allow you to purchase extra. It is normal for us here to get 4 weeks of leave as a minimum. At my company, we get this plus up to 5 extra weeks, a total of 9 weeks. And if you are lucky like me and have been at your company for a certain number of years, you can get another leave type called long service leave. Depending on which state you are from it can either be 7 or 10 years of service. As I live in NSW, this is 10 years of service and last November I reached my 10 years and I have another 8.67 weeks of leave.
That aside, how much leave you have, may or can dictate where you go. If it is a short break of say a week, going overseas may not be practical. Living here in Australia we are miles from anywhere and in most cases, going overseas can mean up to 24 hours of travelling. Just getting across our country east to west takes 5.5 hours. So deciding how much time off you have can help you decide on a destination.
Maybe you already have your destination. If this is the case, and with the above in mind, think can I really get there including the travelling to and from and will I really see what I want to see. If you only have a short amount of time, you may need to zone in on a specific part of where you want to go and have a quality holiday when you get there. Maybe you are the person who doesn’t mind moving every day or so trying to cramp everything in in a short space of time.
The type of holiday & the destination:
These topics can start world wars and make or break holidays. There is nothing worse than being on a holiday with someone who is unhappy due to the activities or where they are.
Take us for example, Hubbie would love to go on a cycling or hiking tour, but there is no way on earth I would do this; I could think of nothing worse than sitting on a bike for hours or carrying my gear on my back. Actually any type of exertion is not my idea of a holiday. Whereas I want to one day go the United States, but Hubbie won’t set foot in the country while Donald Trump is in charge.
We do know the destinations or type of holidays we both like and dislike. Neither of us are into cruises, no interest in going to places like Bali and we could think of nothing worse than sitting around a pool or a beach. We both like visiting places and walking around visiting museums, art galleries and exploring. We like travelling by train, and as Hubbie doesn’t like flying we minimise this where we can.
So we sometimes have to compromise. We are lucky that on our holidays we generally like the same thing, but we will go and see something or do something that the other person wants to do. We also will go on separate holidays if there is something we specifically want to do that the other person doesn’t. So next year I am off to New York… I have been on two other holidays where Hubbie hasn’t come along; we are totally fine with this.
What I am trying to say, is that there needs to be give and take and that everyone has to agree to this. Compromise and let everyone have a say in what they want to do or won’t do. Maybe you have to organise a few days where you do separate things; don’t be afraid to go your separate ways for a bit. And if there is something you really want to do and no one else does, say a cycling tour, go on a holiday by yourself! Don’t be afraid.
This is the big one. Once I have decided that we are going on a holiday and have picked out the destination, I do some research to see how much it could cost – ballpark figures. Once I know this, I know whether we can afford it at this point and if not, I know how much I need to save and then set out a savings plan. This could mean that the holiday may need to be moved if I can’t afford it now.
With our upcoming trip, I knew that Scandinavia was expensive so we have been saving for this for a number of months. We budgeted some extra each month and knew that we would have the money by September. I have an account that I just put money into purely for holidays and I can’t get to it too easily. I just keep putting money in here every month as par for the course and once we know we are going on holiday, we will ramp up what goes in there and once the holiday is over, drop it back to its normal amount.
It also might mean that you don’t have enough money for your chosen destination, or for how long you go. Don’t put yourself in debt for a holiday. Select another destination or shorten it, or maybe you can’t do all the activities you wanted to do. We have been lucky that we always come back with money left over, but I reckon with this upcoming holiday we won’t. Sometimes you may have some small credit card debts etc, but if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it, I believe it is best to try and stay within your means. Believe me, you won’t enjoy it if you know you will be paying it off for ages afterwards. But of course, if that is what you want to do, knock your socks off.
I research airfares, accommodation, prices of meals, any other transport costs and some of the main attractions. I also see what tours etc are available and cost them. You really need to do your homework here. It also helps to know what standard of accommodation and the type of travel you are willing/wanting to do. If you have not really travelled before, it could be a shock. For instance, a 4 night stay in Stockholm for us is going to cost AUD$1100 and we knew this before we started booking. We also chose to stay close to the city, if not right in it as we don’t want to waste time travelling to and fro.
If you do find that you can’t afford the holiday, one option is to change when you go. We tend to travel Feb/March and Sept/October. I have never been to Europe in the height of summer as we don’t want the expense nor do we want to be around all those peoples. Think about it.
Do you want to hire a car, travel by train or bus? Research these. I will talk about transport in another post and the sites I use and how to get some good deals.
A few years ago one of my sisters and I knew we wanted to go on a 7 week tour of the UK for one of my birthdays. We saved for 3 years for this trip and we still came up a couple of $$’s short, mainly because the exchange rate for the Euro plummeted just before we left. We hired a car and drove around Ireland, Scotland and England, caught the Eurostar to Paris. This was a big trip, which I planned on my own. Everything went to plan and that was because I did my upfront homework, we saved and was organised.
So the main points? Research, communicate and be prepared to be flexible.
Well I hope this helps you once you decide that you are going to go on a trip.. next post will be about accommodation, transport and itineraries. I will also put in some cost comparisons to help you decide.