Going on holidays is exciting. It's a chance to explore and discover new places, unwind from your daily life and create memories that will last a lifetime.
But it isn't all whimsy and fantasy -- some logistics are needed so you have the best time possible. Here are some tips on how to organise your next trip
Travel Hacker is presented by the new Qantas App for your tablet, Android or iPhone. Packed with features to improve every step of your journey -- from check-in to boarding to in-flight entertainment and exploring your destination.
Create an inspiration board
It may sound a little hokey, but these aren't only a good way to get excited and inspired for your trip -- they offer some low key organisation.
It can be so easy to forget places you're interested in when you have 50+ tabs open and are 200 posts deep into some fabulous travel blog on Instagram. Sites like Pinterest can help you to quickly search and save things, and in a visually appealing way.
The cool thing is that you can make as many boards as you like. So if you're going for an extended trip -- you can have one for each city.
When it comes to everything from flight deals to hotels, restaurants to tours -- research is your friend.
Being a massive nerd, I always recommend checking multiple sources. If a travel blogger says a place is amazing, also check TripAdvisor or Like A Local. This is a great way to cross examine whether somewhere is genuinely worth visiting, or an over hyped tourist trap.
Doing your homework can also save you money. If you have a particular tour in mind, check to see whether your hotel offers discounts. It's also worth checking the local branches of Groupon to save some dollars.
And don't forget to ask friends who have traveled to that area. They know what you will enjoy the most. On a recent trip to New Zealand I found that all of the eateries and bars that were highly recommended online were a bit hit and miss for me. But everywhere that my food-obsessed bestie recommended was incredible.
It's also important to think about logistics and safety during your pre-trip research stage. Your first port of call should be Smart Traveller, whee you can check on the safety of the region you're travelling to, travel insurance as well as any vaccinations you may need.
It's also worth taking the time to check on your passport expiry -- different countries have different rules when it comes to admittance. Make sure you have enough time left. Also, don't assume that you're okay without a Visa just because a lot of countries are chill with Australians. Check first.
Get your transfers in order
If you've booked a trip with multiple transport involved, make sure you have those schedules organised with military precision. You don't want to be that person freaking out at 39,000 feet because take off was delayed and you only left an hour between connecting flights.
Whether you're taking a plane, train or automobile -- always leave yourself more than enough time to get where you need to be and have all of your arrival and departure times saved in several different, easily accessible locations.
And don't forget to download the apps for the local public transportation systems -- they will make your trip so much easier.
As an added pro tip, you can save money on hotels by tackling your longest flights at night. If you are landing in a city you've never been to before, try to land during the daylight hours. It's best to arrive in unfamiliar places when there will be more safe and frequent options to get to your accommodation.
Once everything is booked, it's a good idea to keep all of those details, booking confirmations and tickets in the one place. Personally, I feel more comfortable when I over-prepare. In addition to having an email and Google drive folder with all of my info, I kick it old school.
You never know when technology could fail you. So I have a vintage-style travel wallet that holds everything I could need -- transport tickets, public transport cards, foreign currency, booking confirmations, sim cards, passport, visa -- you name it and I probably have a hard copy of it.
There are also apps such as Google Trips and TripIt that can help you keep everything in one place. Some airlines, such as Qantas, are also offering similar app services. If you're looking for something a little more low key, such as simple itinerary apps, you might want to try something like Trip Planner.
Leave room for spontaneity
Being organised is great, especially if you don't want to miss out on things. But sometimes the best adventures are the ones that aren't planned. And scheduling your holiday time down to the hour can spoil some of the magic.
The best times I've had overseas were the ones spent wandering. Accidentally discovering the tiny bars in Shinjuku's Golden Gai district, stumbling upon an art deco movie theatre in Wellington, 11pm fried chicken and beer at a little hole-in-the-wall in Seoul. These experiences were special because they were spontaneous.
As a control freak myself, I know it can be difficult to let go of the urge to plan things down to the minutiae. But honestly, you're never going to get to see, experience and eat everything. And when you over organise, it can make things stressful when one of the plans doesn't pan out.
Leaving some room for exploration is also the best way to transform yourself from a tourist into a traveller. Do you really want to have the same experience as everyone else? Get off the beaten track, explore side streets and eat where the locals do. After all, isn't experiencing something new what travel is all about?
If you're on a longer holiday, and want to take spontaneity to the next level, book as much of your itinerary as possible on refundable tickets. This is a good idea for places like Europe, particularly if you like the idea of wandering at your own pace.
When was the last time you had a really good holiday? If you're currently scratching your head, take note. With a little strategic planning, it's possible to score five luxurious vacations totalling more than eight weeks off work without resorting to unpaid leave. Here's how to pull it off.