It’s always challenging planning a vacation. But once you put together a draft itinerary of where to go and what to see, it gets easier from here on out. Most people live in a world of work, school and other obstacles that prevent us from picking up and going anywhere at any time. If you are among the percentage that can vacation at the drop of a hat, good for you. For the rest of us, here are some helpful tips.
Most Europeans have a nice holiday of 4 weeks or so and usually travel around Europe during the months of July and August. Since the summer months have ideal weather, it is considered prime season. In other places around the world, like the US, June through August is also prime season for vacationing families. Since prime season is going to cost more, no matter where your destination, you may be able to get better rates “off season.” Google the destination to research the prime and off seasons before booking travel.
While researching travel, be sure to look up dates of town festivals, country-wide or religious holidays (unless celebrating these events) to avoid crowds and higher transportation and lodging rates. Also, during some holidays, many shops will close during these times. Sometimes entire towns are closed for specific holidays.
In Belgium and France, at the end of May, there are two holiday weekends back to back. In the towns we went to visit, hardly anything was open. Most of the restaurants that we wanted to try were also closed.
A few years ago, we went to Peñíscola. We were surprised at how costly our hotel was, for being such an unknown place. Once we arrived, it was apparent that we coincidentally booked during their “Running of the Bulls” festival. It was fun and quite an interesting experience nonetheless. Just don’t take the bus!
Review your vacation day allotment and itinerary to determine how much time is needed to see and do everything on your wish list. Remember that it is important to split up overnight travel when taking long road trips. To avoid too much travel fatigue, alternate with planning 2 overnights in one town then 1 overnight in the next. This will make travel more enjoyable to not feel so much like a nomad.
Last year we visited Ireland, and drove around touring the country for about 5 days before moving on to our next destination. What we failed to realize is that we only spent one night in each place, touring everything along with driving by day. We didn’t get a chance to stop and mesh with the local culture enough since we were so focused on seeing as much as possible.
On all our trips, we always make sure to take a few days at the end to relax and not plan much; maybe try out a few beaches, boat rides, etc.
Last year we spent 2 ½ weeks trekking around Europe. Every day we stayed in a new place, moving on to the next and so on. To decompress from a busy several weeks, we planned to stay put the last few days of our trip in Ischia, Italy. The days were filled only with drinking, eating, swimming, hot springs, boating, you get the point. Those last few days really made it easier to get back to reality.
Weather may also be a factor in determining when to travel. If you want to swim or sunbathe, it may not be a good idea to visit Northern France in January. Or if you can’t drive in snow, don’t take a road trip through Sweden in December. Daylight in certain parts of the world may also play a factor. In Ireland, daylight lasts longer in the summer than in winter. Also keep in mind, in parts of South America the season may be opposite from where you live. For example, December is the winter season in New York and in Brazil it is the summer season (and hot). Research your destination to find out when the rainy or hurricane season is. For instance, in November, it is the rainy season in Southern Italy. Most likely it will be more cost effective to travel during these times of year, but saving money may not be worth it in the long run. Do your research and bring your umbrella.
When it comes to flights or trains, check scheduling because transportation may be seasonal or weather permitting. Also, more localized flights/trains may only be scheduled to depart and arrive on specific days. Some rental car agencies are closed on certain days as well, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Now you should have a better idea of where to go, what to do and when to go. We can finally add some information to the itinerary and start the second phase of traveling plans. See the below example and how it looks now compared to before.
Schedule well and you will have a much better travel experience. You shouldn’t need a vacation from your vacation. As per my prior post and in conclusion, try not to pack too much in and always leave a buffer to allow enough time in each place to get some rest.
Speaking of packing…………………