A 10 steps roadmap to great holiday planning

We all want the perfect holiday, the one where you get to a great location, stay in a relaxing accommodation, eat great food, discover local site for specialties and get along nicely with friends and family.  So what’ my secret tip for a great holiday? Planning!

Yes it’s not exciting and it requires work before the holidays. However I can assure you that if you do a bit of this work months in advance you then be able to reap the benefits.

So here are the 10 steps to planning your holiday in style. Oh and there’s a free checklist for you to download as well.

1/One year to 10 months in advance

  • Book accommodation especially if it’s a villa. The best ones are reserved year on year. Places like Ile de Ré, Cap Ferret, Mallorca, Ibiza, Provence, Côte d’Azur, Sicily book fast in advance.
  • There are of course plenty of ideas on this blog for accommodation: here are all the villas and all the hotels.
  • Check the rental terms to ensure that you can get your money back if you decide to cancel 6 months before
  • Make sure that your passport will be valid at the time of travel, if not start applying for a renewal now.

2/ Nine months in advance

  • Figure out the best way to your destination. I personally love rome2rio.com
  • Book flights/trains to be guaranteed the best rates. Here are some guiding points:
    • Eurotunnel: 9 months in advance
    • Scheduled airlines: 10 to 12 months
    • Ryanair: 8 to 12
    • EasyJet : 6 to 9
  • I also recommend that you sign up to the mailing list of Ryanair or Easyjet as they usually send an email to alert when bookings open
  • here is also a handy link in Skyscanner http://www.skyscanner.net/bttb/best-time-to-book-uk/
  • Book car rentals

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3/ Six months before

  • Do your research for the activities or restaurants, places to visit around your location
  • Bonus tip: add them to Google MyMap like this one I did for New York
  • If you are going to Europe and don’t have a Europe health card, apply for it now. This link is for the UK but there are links relevants for each country.
  • Book car park at the airport if you’re going to go there with your car

4/ Six weeks before

  • Crazy as it sounds, this could be the time to book restaurants and activities.  From experience, it was absolutely essential in places such as Cap Ferret and Costa Brava

5/ Four weeks before

  • Look into babysitter services.  Your hotel may offer them or the owners of the villa may know some friendly young students free for the summer.
  • Book treatments at hotels

6/ Two weeks before

  • Check in with some airlines, some only allow check in 48h before though.
  • Start thinking of packing: what are you missing? Should you go shopping for it? It also means you’ll have less stress the day before travelling. I personally always find packing a bit stressful.
  • Plugs: are they the same, do you need to buy adapters

7/ One week before

  • Start packing – again less stress, allows you to see what to wash, buy etc
  • Ask who would be kind enough to look after your pets
  • Ladies, it’s time to book your beauty treatments: waxing, nail polish, spray tan…
  • Plan meals if you rent a villa, you can always adapt on site depending on market but a general list/framework can help.
  • Do you need to have some prescription renewed?

8/48 h before

  • Print directions to the accommodation
  • Check all papers: boarding passes, tickets, hotel reservations, instructions to get the villa keys, car rentals vouchers, travel insurance passport, travel directions, passports, phone numbers of people to join when arriving,
  • Download movies for kids to watch on the iPad in the plane

9/ 24 hours before

  • Online checkin
  • Charge all devices fully
  • Pack : main luggage, and what you take on the bag in the plane. I always prepare a separate snack bag as the plane may run out of food (plus it’s often expensive and not good).

10/ Day of travel

  • Relax!

Do you have other tips to help me and fellow travellers plan a relaxing holidays? If so I’d love to read about it in the comments.

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