Even if you’re a spontaneous person and you want to spend your holiday as your fancy takes you, it can be helpful to have at least a basic holiday itinerary. Remember that you’re only going to be in a place for a relatively short time. This means that a bit of advanced planning can go a long way to helping you make the most of it.
Start by choosing your accommodation
It’s generally advisable to book accommodation in advance, at least for your first few nights. The safest option is to book accommodation for your entire holiday. In the old days, travellers didn’t always like doing this because of concerns about false advertising. These days, however, the internet has largely put a stop to that.
Now, if you search on a term like Kota Kinabalu house for rent you can see full details about all the properties and often reviews as well. This means that you can book in advance with confidence. There are two advantages to doing this. Firstly, it means that you can look for properties near your key highlights. Secondly, you can learn about the local transport.
Spending a little time researching this in advance can save you a lot of your precious holiday time. For example, if your idea of a perfect holiday is spending every day at the beach then you can look for a place near the beach. On the other hand, if you want to get out and about and explore as much as you can, then you’re more likely to want a place with good transport links.
Figure out what transport options work for you
Your transport options will determine where you can go. Most places will offer a combination of air, rail and road options. Some places may offer water-based transport as well. You might also have the option of accessing popular locations through a private tour.
It’s a good idea to research your transport options thoroughly so you understand exactly what is available, where, when and at what cost. For example, double-check if transport stations are where their name suggests they are. It’s quite common for major transport hubs to reference the name of the nearest city but they are often located at a distance from it.
Check whether transport options run throughout the year. This is generally the case in cities. Outside of cities, however, transport is often cut back from late autumn to early spring. Last but definitely not least, check how likely it is that you’ll be able to book when you arrive if you want to. You may find that it’s far safer to book in advance, sometimes well in advance.
Pro tip – check out how to pay for local transport
This probably won’t influence your itinerary, but it can make your life a lot easier when you get there. Most local transport systems either require or encourage you to pay in advance. They may issue travel cards or they may have tokens or you might just buy paper tickets. Working out where and how to get your tickets can save you a lot of time and hassle.
Create a list of everything you want to see/do
Write down everything you can think of that you could possibly want to see and do and then rank your list in order of priority. Leave out all considerations of time and money. Rank the highlights purely on the basis of how much they mean to you.
Once you have a list which reflects your true feelings, it’s time to start figuring out what’s possible in the real world. If you’re like most people, this is probably going to involve making some compromises. For example, if you’re short on time you may have to choose between seeing one attraction with a lot of travel or seeing two or three attractions in your local area.
If you’re short on money, you might need to compromise quite a bit on what, exactly, you can do. Planning in advance, however, can help you discover options you might not otherwise have found. For example, many cities operate some kind of “tourist pass” system to give visitors discounted access to major attractions.
Book anything important in advance if at all possible
Even if you’re travelling off-peak, it can be advisable to make an advance booking for anything you really want to do. If you’re travelling during popular times it can be essential. Keep in mind that, for city breaks especially, any weekend is likely to be a popular time.
In simple terms, if you want to visit a popular attraction in a popular location, then buying a ticket on the day could mean literally spending hours in a queue. Depending on when you join that queue, you may find you spend hours waiting in line to end up not being able to get in before the attraction closes. The best you will be able to do is buy a ticket for the next day.
Generally, therefore, you not only want to buy in advance, but you also want to buy as far in advance as you possibly can, especially in summer. World-famous attractions like the Eiffel Tower often have summer tours booked out months ahead of time.
Have some backup plans
With a bit of organization, your holiday will probably go exactly to plan. You’ll see everything you really wanted to see. You’ll do everything you really wanted to do and you’ll make some great memories.
Sometimes, however, your plans will be derailed, hopefully only temporarily. Attractions can close at short notice, the weather can be unpredictable. This is why you want to have some backup plans. You’ll probably already have a list of attractions you’d quite like to see. This gives you a Plan B if you are unable to see one (or more) of your main attractions.
Think about what you’ll do if the weather takes an unexpected turn or if there’s an issue with transport. Again, you might be able to visit some of the attractions you’ve already listed. If not, this could be the time to find out what the locals do when this happens. It might not be what you’d planned but you could still have a great time.