Life is the art of drawing without an eraser ~ John W. Gardner

Trip Planning

It is amazing, that I received a lot of comments on my Jiufen, Taiwan page. I’ve only been to Taipei, Taiwan once, that doesn’t make me more of an expert in planning a trip to Taipei. All I did (and still do) was only sharing what I know and my suggestions. I am honored that the readers took the effort to read and I am delighted to know that I could be of some help.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Bersak

Planning a trip is always a painful one, trust me. You’ll know what I mean only if you’ve been there, done that. There’s the time to think, the how, the where and the cost. It makes thing even tougher if you’re travelling with a group of people. Each one of them has their own suggestion and opinion. The disagreement that may arise every now and then, could well be a time bomb if you don’t handle it carefully. Sometimes, and just sometimes, it all drives you up the wall and you wish you could throw it all away. Perhaps someone else could do it better than you. Guess what, once you’ve started it, you’ll just not want to let go. Planning a trip is a painful process, but it is also an addictive piece of art.

Thanks to the golden age of internet, all the information is just a keyboard away. If you do not have the time (or merely lazy) to read the remaining of this post, here’s the summary of it:

  1. Figure out exactly how long you would love to visit/stay in one place.
  2. Before clicking the “Book” button for your air tickets, check the time of departure and arrival. They pretty much affect your trip.
  3. Look up as much information as you can about the place that you’re going to visit, if it’s your first time visiting. (There’s no need to buy a travel guide book, internet connection and a computer is all you need.)
  4. It’s time to look for your accommodation. If you’re relying a lot on public transportation, you’ll appreciate it if you stay near to a transportation hub/interchange.
  5. Money is your main concern? Budget hotel or hostel is all you need. But do not compromise on the location. A cheap hostel isn’t cheap if it takes 1 hour of travelling to reach all the other places of interest.
  6. List down the attractions that you would like to visit. Do not waste time on things/places that aren’t your priority. If sight-seeing is your priority, don’t go shopping and museums that will take up a big part of your time.
  7. Check out the weather forecast as frequent as possible, so that you know what to expect/prepare. Also, by knowing the weather, you’ll know better which places are best to visit or avoid.
  8. Take note of important message or tips from others who have been there, and the operating hours of the places you are visiting.
  9. Do not rely on one particular source of information. Read a few and make your own decision.
  10. Draft your plan by prioritizing on what or where you’d like to do first. Follow by sorting out the transportation. Visit the attractions in the same location at one go, avoid travelling to and fro to the same location few times during a trip.
  11. A trip planned/drafted isn’t carved in stone. Improvise as you wish during the trip.

Where and When

You know the air tickets are going to be on sales and you can’t wait to book the flight to the favorite place that you would like to go. Hold on right there. Before you start the searching and booking, you must first decide where exactly you would like to go and when. Every place has its peak and low peak season, do take note of that. If you’re visiting a country with difference between seasons in a year, you have to check which season is the best to visit. However, the best season for tourists isn’t always the best time to visit. The crowds, the availability of hotels, the clothing to prepare, the opening and closure of places during the season, the price of the air tickets and accommodation, these are the things you have to take into consideration. No point getting a cheap air ticket only to find out later that it isn’t the best time or paying a whole lot more for the accommodation.

The Information

I know how attractive those travel guide books in the bookstore could be, sometimes you just want to buy it for the sake of the photos inside. However, trust me, they’re not as informative and flexible as the world wide web. Everyone seems to have a computer and internet connection nowadays, why not make full use of it? It’s just a matter of typing the keywords in the search engine and hit ‘Enter’. Voila! There you go with so many search results. Don’t like what you see? Just twist your keywords around a few times until you get what you want. You certainly can’t do that with a book. Be careful with the information on the internet though. You may want to check a few websites/forums to get a more accurate and clearer information.

The Money

I’ve been travelling, but I am not filthy rich. Instead of sitting around whining about the peanut salary I earn each month, I make an effort to travel to at least one overseas country a year. The best time to travel with cheap air tickets and a good budget hotel is all I’m looking for. I usually plan months ahead. That allows me to save up, look for more information and plan well. That also, allows you to look for the best available budget hotel. I am a person who emphasize on convenience and cleanliness.  These are the 2 things that I do not compromise. I’d rather pay that extra few bucks to stay near to the city where food and public transportation is never a trouble or problem. However, if you’re going for some luxury rest and relax trip, you may want to stay as far away as possible from the bustling city then. With the limited dime, you too could go for a trip so long as you know what do you want to achieve at the end of the trip. I always set an expenses budget during a trip. Let’s say from the information I gather, AUD1000 is enough to last me for a week in Melbourne (exclude air ticket and hotel), I will then save up and only spend within that budget.

The Places

Like I mentioned above, if sight-seeing is your priority, don’t go shopping and museums that will take up a big part of your time. On the other hand, if you do not have the budget for shopping, don’t go wandering around the streets and shopping malls. I personally do not like museums, unless they have some special events, I do not like to waste my time in museums. I’d rather go to the park or visit a gallery or walking around the city. Don’t go to places where everybody says it’s nice but you do not like it. Rule of thumb, do something or go somewhere that you know you’re going to enjoy. However, if you’re a risk-taker, go ahead then. Nothing beats the experience of it.

Improvise

We are not carving our plan/itinerary in stones! Unexpected things could happen during a trip, don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world. Re-look into the plan, make some changes and you’ll be well back on the track. So what if you missed a few places on your plan? You must have been enjoying what you were doing. If you like a certain place, stay a little longer, no one’s gonna shoot you for staying extra long. I missed a few planned places in Taipei and Melbourne, but hey, I still enjoyed it. :) Another rule of thumb, it’s the experience that counts.

 

Most importantly, bring an open heart with you. Don’t sweat over the small stuff during your holiday. Whatever disagreement that may arise during the trip, bear with it, you’re not going to die because of it. Be happy and enjoy the trip. If at all you feel uncomfortable with something or someone and you really need a break, the best thing to do is distract yourself with other things. Look, the sky is so blue today and the sea is so beautiful! Take out your camera, smile and take a picture of yourself. A beautiful smile is a perfect match with the pretty scenery, a frown is a no-no. What are you going to get from the trip, depends on how are you going to enjoy it.

Have fun planning and travelling. :)

2 responses

  1. Great tips. I love travelling (I just don’t get to do it as often as I’d like).

    In like the way you say ‘be happy’. It’s so true. A trip away should be a memorable time for good reasons.

    April 8, 2011 at 4:49 AM

    • Ashley

      Thanks Jamie for reading. :)
      My recent Melbourne trip did give me some bad memories, but I try not to remember those.

      Lovely blog you have there. Now I have another blogger to follow. :) Cheers.

      Oh, know that you’re coming to Kuala Lumpur. If you need any help or tips here, I’m more than happy to help. :)

      April 8, 2011 at 9:46 AM

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