As a Tax Analyst, planning is of the utmost importance in the tax profession as deadlines are tight and requesting extensions with tax authorities might cost the company thousands in interest payments and penalties. My skill in planning ahead has helped me a great deal in my travels.
At the start of the year when people are making resolutions to lose weight, quit coffee or go on a diet I make a resolution to visit one country where I have never been before. I don’t decide on the destination straight away but spend the first few weeks of the year researching and planning. Once I decide on the destination, I follow a particular pattern which has helped me immensely in my travels. Here are a few key indicators I check before I make my final plans.
- Does my travel plans coincide with any school holidays (both home and my travel destination) or any special festivals or occasions, Christmas holidays or any sport events? If you don’t check you might end up paying more for your accommodation and other incidentals. The best place to research is the tourism board of that country to get first hand information or refer to travel books but be aware that the travel books might have been written 3-4 years ago and some of the information could already be out of date.
- When is the best time to visit? The next important thing is to check the tourist season. During this time the prices are 2-3 times higher than off-peak rates and you may spend a lot more time waiting in queues, especially at a museum or popular attractions. I always check the dates of the shoulder season, they usually fall at the beginning or end of the tourist season. A shoulder season doesn’t mean that the weather will be awful or the doors to the attractions might be closed (except for a few cases if you want to take a boat ride at Niagara Falls then you are out of luck). It is usually just before the busy tourist season starts and after the tourist season ends. Recently I travelled to Scotland with my travel companion J and the shoulder season was May so we were able to plan the trip on a minimal budget. The weather is much better in May in Scotland and there are more sunny days in May than any other month of the year and no midges… (small insects found in the Scottish Highlands and the female midges love to suck blood as they need the blood to develop yolk in her eggs. Don’t worry no one has ever died being bitten by midges but they are nuisance).
- The next important element to check is the weather as we would all love blue skies when we venture out to travel. Weather is an important element to consider, especially when you start a conversation in the United Kingdom or in Australia. We in Australia love to talk about the weather. I always check what time of year has the lowest precipitation or rainfall and also the day time temperatures. It’s individual preferences as I prefer to travel to Europe in Winter or Spring as it is much more spectacular when it’s covered by snow in winter or the first blossoms on the deciduous trees during spring. So it’s just individual preferences but as I always say “wherever you are, whether its raining or overcast or sunny enjoy the scenery” as weather is out of our control but sometimes pictures can turn out to be spectacular on an overcast day as too much sun can interfere with the light and you will spend hours editing your pictures to get them just right.
- The next stage of planning is to select the cities and towns you would like to visit, the best way to decide where to go is to print a map of that country and get orientated with the geographical setting of that country. This helps you in creating an itinerary for your trip.
- Once I have decided on the dates to travel the next thing to do is prepare an itinerary, I prefer to use Microsoft Excel as its much easier to use and is also useful to keep track of your travel costs. Here is an example of my itinerary that I created and followed for my recent trip to the United Kingdom UK May 2017 Itinerary 1.09 The itinerary will be useful when you book accommodation, internal travel bookings and other attractions that require advance bookings, you may be surprised at the discounts you can achieve by booking in advance so planning ahead can be financially rewarding and allow you to spend your savings on other attractions or some nice souvenirs.
Before you finalise your trip always make sure to check whether you need a visa to travel to that country and the time required to get a visa. Always carry your dual passport and residency cards every time you travel as you never know one might come helpful.
In my future blogs I will write about when is the best time to book your accommodation, flights, car hire and internal bookings.