Today’s post will be on planning a Break.
Yes, I’ve always been of the opinion that having good, quality time off work/studies increase your capability of retaining more information, boosting not only your mood but your creativity as well. And we all know that creativity is key in every single area. And, I can add, if you have breaks now and then, you will be much more sociable and understanding to others. I also believe that most discussions and upsetting situations are born from people being tired. And being tired is not always evident. You might be sleeping 9 hours a day and still be tired.
Planning a trip is exciting. The thrill of preparing and booking places to visit, to eat or to sleep is unique. And then, when you get to experience everything you put together, learning with the less positive and enjoying the great chances you allowed yourself, is just a blast!
I have the distinct idea people believe that planning a trip might be too expensive. It will all come down to what are you up for?
I can give you some tips of how I do my planning and some rules I tend to preserve while I hope you too are willing to share yours; improving our skills as travellers is always worthwhile.
1. Decide where you want to go and with who;
Believe it or not, this is crucial. You might be BFF with someone, but in the end, you don’t share the same way of travelling. If you are travelling with people that are going for clubbing and you want to do sightseeing and a cultural programme you might have a problem! Either you adjust to each other and plan how both are going to make good company for each other, or in the end, neither will be happy. Or enjoy as much as you can. Choosing the location where you want to go should depend more on your interests and curiosity. But, if you just want to explore Europe or the wildlife, then you can jump to step 2.
2. Book your flights and accommodation previously;
I have a rule concerning planning my breaks. I always divide the month expenses. What do I mean? Well, if I’m going to Italy in March, I will try to pay my hotel in February and my flights in January. I know that planning too ahead is complicated, and obviously not always you can book flights months prior to your break. And plus, I’m referring to breaks, during work/classes. Holidays can follow some of these tips, but if you want to go to Australia, managing that should follow other timings. So, if you feel you can manage travel expenses (museum and other attraction tickets; food; transportation) plus accommodation, then you should only worry first about the flight tickets. Because I love to find deals, I tend to book my rooms in advance. You can find good bargains.
FLIGHT SEARCH: You probably know this one already: Skyscanner. This search engine really gives you the best deals. But, obviously, the best user you are, the most of it, you will get. For instance, sometimes you might struggle with flight’s timetable. If you are departing from Portsmouth, the closest you get from one of London’s airports is Gatwick. You can also find good deals from the Southhampton one. But, departing from Gatwick Airport you need to think when is the earliest train that can take you there and the last one, on the return. This will already limit your flight search. Usually its less expensive to book the flights combined, because of booking fees, but don’t be strained by it.
Because a break usually is short, you can also combine your options. For instance, you can combine London airports, and then you might find more interesting flights. In March, I’m planning an escape to Lisbon and because usually the more economic return flight is at 6.30am, I selected the return to Heathrow and then I was able to pick an equal-priced flight at 10.30am. This will make my return flight management easier.
ACCOMMODATION SEARCH: I am, without any doubt, a Booking.com user. I think that making an account is quite easy and it is worth it. With time, you will become a .genius member, and some promotions will be available only to you. For instance, I booked a hotel room in a fancy place in Portugal for 35 euros, when, for someone else, would cost 40 euros. You need to be patient and not rush for the first option. I usually tend to use the map to explore accommodation options in respect to the city. The map will appear in the left sidebar after you’ve put your search details. But you have other options. I’ve used Tripadvisor as well, but only once. My experience was great. I think it is more limited, with fewer options. But, you might find different ones. So, just check with the same search details. For the past two years, I have also used Airbnb. I do like this website, because not only is its structure very secure, but you can also find apartment/house deals. This is interesting if you are planning a more cozy escape, with friends or boyfriend, and you want to cook and spend some indoors time. This will decrease your food costs and probably it will be a cheaper alternative to accommodation as well. You have rooms as well, so you can have fun exploring it. The downside of this one is that you need to pay right away whilst with Booking.com you might find some options where you can just make the reservation and pay once you get there. Plan ahead your intentions so your search can be more effective.
TIP: take your time searching. You don’t need to book right away, just because you’ve started. Do it now and then, so maybe you can find the best deal. Finding flight bargains is much like gambling, you never know.
3. Visit the tourism websites and read blogs beforehand;
Having set up the time you have got for your break and the real time you have to visit your destination, then you should focus on a realistic plan. Don’t start putting all the attractions in your plan. This is a rookie mistake, I’m afraid. Depending on the distances and the time it takes to visit whatever you want, sometimes you can go to 1 to 2 attractions in the morning and the same amount in the afternoon. Obviously, this will depend on the time you need to see what you want. That’s why blogs are an effective way to help your planning. Others usually have good tips and they are willingly sharing their know-how. It is better to see less, but better. Just rushing all the way and only having a grasp of what you are visiting is not the proper way of getting to know your surroundings. If you want to taste food during your break then you should allow yourself a good two-hour lunch or dinner.
I do like starting from the tourism websites, because not only usually do they have an English version, but they are very well organised. It is easy to get a good idea of what you can visit. And they are more up to date than Google is. You can easily get information on the attractions timetable and any last-minute news. Put everything into your tablet or, as me, an old-fashioned gal, write it on paper. This will be your route guide. You can save it later with postcards you might buy. Memories can last, but some items usually help them crawl out of our head.
4. Be responsible with money;
I don’t like that feeling of counting my money to make sure I can get back home. And not being able to enjoy where I am! That’s not a good way of ending your escape journey. Therefore, and though it might seem silly, I do like the idea of putting money in an envelope. So, if I want to go somewhere next month, I will put £40/50 (depending on what I want to do) there. This is like the life-jacket. I might use it or not. But is good to have a backup plan. If you can’t do it, then just make a Plan B during your stay, so you can still enjoy but not go overdrawn.
This weekend I had my Break. I went back home and I had a really enjoyable time though the weather was quite depressing. It was raining cats and dogs and the winds were crazy. We were in a red warning zone. Nonetheless, I planned on doing indoor activities that could fill our time and, unfortunately, we had to forget about most of the outdoor ones. We went to Sintra, one of my favourite places in the world, and we managed to visit two Palaces, one in each afternoon, do Geocaching (not as much as we wanted!) and just doing some sightseeing in the end. Overall I spent more £30 than I was expecting, which for a 3-night accommodation and everything else included I thought was okay.
The weather conditions made this visit even more mystical – welcome to the Pena Palace
The fog and the cold made us think how living in the Palace in the old days could have been harsh
The king that bought the Palace was of the romantic type
And he was very inspired by Asian culture
Because we were in the route of palaces – welcome to the National Queluz Palace
This is called the music room, with an extension to the next one; imagine the balls…
and the delight of musicians, playing for kings, princes and nobles of that time
This palace is very well known because of its gardens
I feel like travelling connects me more with different cultures and situations, which makes me feel more alive and human.
Hope you find my tips useful and do let us know if you are planning a break.