Recharging the batteries. Spending quality time with friends or family. Soaking up some sunshine. Seeing the sights.
Enjoying good food and drink. That’s what a holiday is supposed to be all about.
But increasingly, more of us find planning that much-needed getaway leaves us badly stressed.
Why? According to recent research it’s the sheer volume of travel recommendations we get from online reviews, social media, TV, family and friends.
The Icelandair study said millions of Brits feel this overload makes booking a break daunting.
It’s so bad that 40% of us say it can remove the fun of looking for, and finding, the perfect trip.
And a fifth feel this deluge of data leaves them “overwhelmed”, “confused” and “anxious” about what trip to book.
So how to banish these getaway gremlins in the age of Instagram-fuelled FOMO (fear of missing out) and a torrent of TripAdvisor and Google reviews?
Type “cheap holidays” in Google and you get a bewildering 1.05 billion results! (Well, I did).
So I’m going to revive the spirit of Doc Holiday, the Mirror’s late getaway guru from the Noughties, and try to cure your travel troubles…
Obvious, but oh so important.
Beach? City break? Lakes and mountains? Culture? A mix? Focus and make the decision.
Try to look at the basic needs – typically, it’s sunny weather, a good deal, foreign food and culture, quality time with partner/family/exploring the sights.
No surprises that Spain is the box-ticker, with 18.5 million Brits saying “hola” annually. We also flock to France, Greece, Italy and Turkey. So in short, short-haul flights offer us excellent prospects around the Mediterranean region.
Also it’s staycations like never before. All the Brexit craziness has put off some of us from going abroad. Scotland, Yorkshire and Wales look great choices this year.
Again, blindingly obvious but often overlooked.
Lots of people go to the same place at the same time every year. Nothing wrong with that if it works for you and you can always get the holiday time off.
Others may be competing with colleagues for school breaks or waiting as they are unsure where to go (plus that Brexit factor).
For starters, just get the right time off sorted as early as possible if you can (it’s probably less essential if you travel outside the school holidays) and take it from there.
Set a realistic one and stick to it. Simple as that.
All-inclusives are your foreign holiday friend in 2019 for their Brexit-beating value and there are amazing deals now: £165 per person for a three-star all-inclusive week in Majorca sound good? (teletextholidays.co.uk or 0203 0011 273) Does to me – cheaper than staying at home!
Online or offline?
Much planning stress depends on if you use the internet and social media. If you prefer to browse a good old brochure, I suspect you’ll have fewer hassles.
For those who surf against the tide on laptops, tablets and smartphones, here’s an old-fashioned idea. But it works…
Try a travel agent
Funnily enough, the professionals at the high street (or increasingly a shopping mall) are extremely good at finding you the right holiday at the right price. It’s what they do!
Get away from that screen and have a chat with a friendly,
knowledgeable human being.
I reckon there’s a very good chance you’ll get the trip you want and walk out stress-free.
Spend time away from it, it’s very liberating. I abandoned Facebook months ago, though admittedly that was mainly because I was sick of people ranting about Brexit.
But I also severely restrict my use of Instagram. There’s only so many hotdog legs by the pool and pictures of beaches, sunsets, cocktails and food you need in your life… never mind those posts with wonky coloured type all over the photo of a fancy dan cocktail.
What’s that all about?! Who cares?! Have I missed Instagram? Not. One. Jot.
(Disclaimer: I do still use Twitter extensively as it’s essential for my work and I like the brevity – 280 characters is your lot.)
They can be very useful but in my view all too often a review site is a platform for moany-pants who get a kick from whinging in public.
The Icelandair research says our trust in online reviews is dropping as we are more aware of fake ones.
So perhaps take some of the reviews with a pinch of salt – unless you know the person and trust their judgment.
Or, better still, why not read about travel destinations in national newspaper travel sections, magazines and the many excellent guide books available?
If you’re not a solo traveller (a growing trend), do try to split research.
For example one person does flights, another the hotel, another the airport travel arrangements etc.
Then again, a package holiday pretty much takes care of the lot.
All main operators have pretty decent websites and many comparison sites do a lot of the hard work for you and are intuitive to use and well set up.
You can book by price, date, destination, flight time, sometimes even by average weather.
You’ll need to experiment a little to see which ones you like. I have go-tos (often because their apps work better on my phones).
If nothing else, the internet is excellent for research before making a travel agency booking.
Know your limits
That long “to do” list for your trip causes you stress? Planning often includes a lengthening schedule of things you want to see or try.
Maybe reconsider what you have on it. You’re supposed to be on holiday so try not to be over-ambitious with box-ticking stuff.
Alternate a day by pool/beach with a day out sightseeing? (Note to self, this means you too, matey).
Good luck with the stress-free travel planning and have a wonderful, safe holiday wherever you go this summer.
Oh, and don’t take travel surveys too seriously. I see dozens every month and they’re usually nonsense.
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