by Grant J Everett
If you are new to traveling, or haven’t been involved with the planning stage in the past, here are a lot of great tips you might find helpful.
• Get to the airport early by AT LEAST two hours. You want to be sure that your luggage arrangements are sorted, you have your boarding pass and there aren’t any dramas.
• Unless you have children, try not to take a vacation during school holidays. Theme parks, beaches and other popular destinations are swamped by millions of kids during these times, and it’s a sure-fire recipe for frustration.
• Social media has become a very useful tool for criminals, so resist the urge to tell all of Facebook that you’ll be leaving your home totally vacant for a fortnight. You don’t want to come back to a bare house.
• Don’t go on trips alone. It’s cheaper for two or more friends or family members to go somewhere together than separately, and it’s more fun to share your vacation with somebody. Better yet, go on holidays with a bunch of people. A lot of places offer group rates that will slash your bills.
• It’s good to apply for annual leave as far in advance as possible. Don’t leave it to the last minute, or you’ll annoy your boss.
• Hotels and motels aren’t your only option. Backpacker organisations such as Youth Hostel Accommodation have beds for as little as $27 a night. Be sure to explore what’s on offer.
If you exceed your baggage limit, there will be a surcharge. Be sure to do your homework, or you may encounter unwelcome surprises.
• Make the most of your trip, as most places are known for something. Katoomba is about the Three Sisters and the Scenic Railway, while the Gold Coast is about beaches, theme parks and sweltering heat. If you choose a time of year when the most popular drawcards of a place aren’t as appealing, prices will plunge. For instance, beach resorts are cheaper during the colder months. Obviously there are drawbacks to going somewhere off-peak, but the savings can be colossal. If you’re paying to stay at a hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast or a hostel, there should be plenty of information about what there is to do and see in the local area. If not, just ask a staff member.
• You’ll be more likely to splash out on luxuries when you’re on vacation, especially with food. As a result, eating out can easily become one of your biggest expenses. To keep costs down, enjoy home-cooked meals as much as you can. As my wife and I are major foodies, it was difficult for us not to overdo it with Melbourne’s famous coffee and cuisine. Don’t beat yourself up if you crack!
• Convenient flights are tempting, but flying very early in the morning or late at night can save you a lot of money on your tickets. It’s up to you to decide if it’s not having to get up in the middle of the night to catch a plane is worth it.
• Driving isn’t esssential. A car would make getting around easier, obviously, but as long as you have Trip
Planner and an Opal card (or the local equivalent in whatever state or territory you are in) you shouldn’t have too many dramas getting around.
• Unless you want to be throwing out fifteen kilos of mouldy produce and rotten meat, sort out your fridge and cupboards before going on vacation.
• Be sure to take out your garbage before leaving the state. Trust me on this one!
Does a trip like ours sound overwhelming? Reaching for your dreams can be stressful, so that’s a normal feeling to have. A good way to lower your stress levels is to prepare as much as you can. Consult Trip Planner when you are creating an itinerary and discuss what you would do if you missed any of your trains or buses. Gradually chip away until you’ve got an airtight plan.
Panorama would love to hear about your adventures. Be sure to let us know about your holiday experiences by contacting us at: firstname.lastname@example.org