Every time I tell someone that our next holiday will be to Uruguay I get the same question – ‘Why?’ Which got me thinking about the rather complex process we tend to go through when making a decision on where to take our next trip. Often people say to me, when it comes to holiday planning ‘I don’t even know where to start!’
Well, start by asking yourself 5 key questions:
1. What kind of holiday is it going to be?
The first question should always be, what do you fancy? What kind of holiday are you looking for? Sun, snow, city, architecture, history, sports, culture, food, beach? All of the above? Full-on adventure, roadtrip or as relaxing as possible? And, which countries are on your bucket list?
I quite like looking at travel blogs or roughguides.com for inspiration.
2. How much can it cost?
For most of us, the question of money then follows pretty swiftly: What’s your holiday budget? How much do you want to spend on flights? On the trip overall? This often helps narrowing down a continent quite quickly.
3. How far do you want to travel?
Money often somewhat determines distance, but not always. So have a think about how far you want to travel. Do you fancy travelling half way round the world or rather stay local? How long do you want to spend on the plane or in the car? This is especially important when travelling when pregnant or with little ones.
4. When are you planning to go?
Season is another important factor for consideration. When do you want to go on holiday?
The time of year you want to travel is particularly crucial for regions hit by extreme weather such as hurricanes, monsoon, intense heat or extreme winter. But in general, always worth checking the average temperature and rain fall to make sure it’s suitable for the kind of holiday you’re planning.
Most online travel guides have a ‘when to go’ section, which provide a quick overview of the best times of the year to visit a country.
Personally, I’m a big fan of shoulder seasons – you tend to still get the best weather and a decent atmosphere, but with fewer crowds and at lower prices.
5. Is it safe?
Finally, check out the official travel advice by the foreign office to ensure your dream destination is safe to visit and you meet the necessary immigration requirements. Always read the health advice in case you need vaccinations or there are risks you’re keen to avoid (e.g. Zika Virus has been a big one for us to avoid recently).
Once you know where you’re going, the fun really starts – itinerary planning!
Unless I know exactly which places I want to visit, my starting points are usually tour operators like STA Travel, for example. The tour itineraries they offer provide a useful and quick overview of the key sights to visit and what is possible in a certain time frame.
Gather some ideas and get planning!