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How to plan a holiday?

Updated on April 16, 2013

Where do you start?

Did you ever have to plan a holiday from scratch? Book your own flights, hotels and decide what you want to do at your holiday destination?

Planning a holiday is hard work. That's why most people go to a travel agent to do it for them. However, travel agents usually do not give honest recommendations and receive commission for their advice. Thus you may not be getting what you want.

But what are the alternatives? Well, you could plan your entire holiday yourself, for instance.

The benefits are great: If you do your research well enough, you will get exactly what you want and you save money.

You may be thinking that you won't be able to get a good deal if you book everything by yourself.

That is not true. The great deals that most travel agencies lure you into their offices with, usually include a huge commission and you are more likely to find a better deal if you do your own research.

But where do you start?

Here are a few tips that will help you in researching your own holiday:

1. Book your flights. This will give your itinerary structure. You know exactly when and where you will arrive and when you have to leave again. Booking directly with the airlines is not necessarily more expensive than going through a travel agent. Some airlines offer great deals, especially during low-season, that can save you a lot of money. Also consider budget airlines. Most budget airlines are just as safe as the major ones, but they are able to give you a better deal since they avoid major airports and you have to buy your own food on board.

2. Once you have got the flights, get a map and trace down which places/cities you want to visit. Based on the distance between them, you will get a rough idea how long you can stay at each location.

3. If you require local flights or long distance train tickets, it is advised that you organize them before booking accommodation, in case there are no daily flights or they are already booked out.

4. Now it is time to book your accommodation. There are many, many websites out there, where you can book and review most hotels. On tripadvisor.com you will find reviews from other travelers that will help you find the perfect hotel. Inquire with the hotels directly to see whether they can offer you a discounted rate. Alternatively use major hotel booking websites, such as hotels.com or booking.com. Some hotels and websites accept a deposit only and you only pay when you get there. You will need to read the specific terms and conditions for each deal, to find out whether payment in advance is required. Many hotels offer their own special promotions, so don't think that you will pay more if you book with them directly.

5. Most of your itinerary is done now. If you like to plan ahead, find suitable restaurants and activities for you to do on your holiday. This includes researching information on the local modes transport.

6. It is always advisable that you check visa and health requirements a few month before your date of departure, in case vaccinations are required. Visas for certain countries can take a few weeks to be processed, so ensure that you will leave enough time for your passport to be returned back to you. Most foreign affairs offices offer free travel advise on their websites. This includes safety alerts for specific countries and general information on visa and health requirements. It also includes a more general suggestions on what to avoid and when to be cautious.

If you think this is too much work and you would rather find someone to do it for you, then check out www.escapedesigners.com.

Escapedesigners designs customized travel itineraries for any destination and budget. They do the research, you do the booking. That way you can maintain flexibility and you know that you are getting the best price without any hidden commission.

For more helpful travel tips visit Escapedesigners Travel Blog.

Happy travels!

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