Feeling ready to unleash your wanderlust but not sure how to get started? Welcome to our holiday planning hub! We've put together a simple step-by-step guide to help you craft the perfect getaway, along with lots of handy tips and industry expert knowledge on all the travel extras that will make your trip hassle-free.
1. Choose your destination
For some, choosing where to go might be the easiest step of holiday planning, for others, a little bit of inspiration might be needed. To help, take a moment to think about why you want to travel and what you want to get out of the trip. Are you feeling a jam-packed, sight-seeing city break or are you in need or a relaxing beach escape? Maybe you need to choose a destination that fits your budget? Spend a bit of time researching - delve into Travel Guides and travel blogs, scroll Instagram or talk to friends and family. Once you've narrowed down the destination, you'll have a travel goal to work towards (and get excited about)!
Take a look at just some of our Travel Guides below:
2. Check the travel advice for your destination
It's better to be aware of any travel restrictions or advisories sooner rather than later - you don't want any last minute discoveries ruining all your holiday plans! We'd recommend using the UK Government's foreign travel advice page for the latest information on a country's security, entry and exit requirements, travel warnings, health conditions (including mandatory or recommended vaccinations), money, natural disasters and lots of other helpful travel advice.
3. Research your costs
The next step is to research the costs in your destination, including accommodation, transport, food, attractions and activities, which will help you get a better idea of how much you'll need for your trip. Having a rock-solid holiday budget is essential for financial security and peace of mind during your getaway.
4. Decide on duration
The length of your trip will influence everything from your itinerary to your budget, so figuring out how long you want to get away for is a must when it comes to planning a holiday. Make sure to consider things like: how many places you want to see, if you prefer fast or slow paced travel and (if applicable) your limited number of annual leave days and how you can maximise time off.
5. Book flights and accommodation
Now it's time to book your flight! Apps like Skyscanner and Hopper make comparing and booking the deals quick and easy. Some great features include price alerts, so you'll know straight away if prices drop, and colour-coded calendars, to easily spot the cheapest days to travel.
Next up is your accommodation. There are so many options to choose from, ranging from hotels to hostels, apartments to holiday homes - there's something to suit every budget, need and group size. Sites like Booking.com, Expedia and airbnb are some of the most popular places to browse and book. Always remember to read reviews, compare prices and check for any additional fees or policies, such as cancellation rules and security deposits before making a booking.
6. Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is a must-have when holiday planning. However, it's something many people only think of at the last minute, despite the fact that in the event of an accident, cancellations, a missed departure or such incident it's the first thing you need to turn to. The best time to buy travel insurance is at the same time you book your holiday, that way you're protected before and during your holiday. At Holiday Extras we have award-winning, flexible policies to help you travel hassle-free and with peace of mind. Find out more: Travel Insurance.
7. Book your travel extras
So your trip is booked, it's time to start getting excited! Well almost...At this point it's a smart idea to get your travel extras ticked off. Every good holiday plan should factor in things like airport parking, airport hotels and transfers. These important, but often forgotten, details can really help get your holiday off to a smooth start. And the sooner you book, the more you're likely to save!
Not sure where to start? Fear not, Holiday Extras are the holiday planners you've been looking for. We make planning your trip easier by allowing you to find and book all of the extras you need, at a price you'll love. We offer the best products suitable for your journey all in one place, as well as providing all the useful information required to make your holiday run hassle-free from start to finish.
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Airport Parking: Our extensive range of airport car parks across the UK will allow you to find parking to suit your exact needs. Maybe you're in a rush and want to park as close to the airport as possible, maybe you're travelling with young children or with a lot of luggage? A Meet and Greet package, where a chauffeur will meet you at the terminal and park your car for you, could be a great fit. Perhaps you're able to enjoy a leisurely journey to the airport or want to save as much as you can? A Park and Ride, where you simply park up and hop on a transfer bus, could be just what you're looking for. Whatever your preference our airport parking services are easy to find and have simple procedures, all at irresistibly low prices. Enjoy savings up to 70% and FREE Cancellation.
Airport Hotels: Booking an airport hotel is something people often consider a luxury, and whilst our hotels can provide luxurious surroundings, the convenience and the time saved by waking up close to the airport tops the list for reasons to book. An overnight stay in one of our airport hotels across the UK allows you to start your holiday early and with our great deals the prices are cheaper than you may expect. Add parking for added convenience in a single, money-saving hotel and parking package.
Airport Lounges: Why not add on an airport lounge? You can enjoy a secluded part of the airport away from the hustle and bustle. All our lounges have free wifi so if you are travelling on business you can sit in calm, quiet surroundings and continue to work. The food and drink that's included in the cheap price offers a delicious way to start your holiday.
Airport Transfers: After a long flight there's a friendly driver waiting for you, ready to take you to your hotel. No fussing with public transport or hailing taxis! Airport transfers save you time, hassle, and the stress of navigating unfamiliar roads, so it's smooth sailing from the get-go. Choose from shared airport shuttles, private transfers, minibuses or even a private coach, provided by the most trusted holiday transfers suppliers.
Book online, by phone or on our handy app - HEHA! With one search HEHA! will compare all the best travel extras and will tailor these towards your trip, considering your flight details, destination, and other travel details. Plus, you get to enjoy exclusive app discounts and receive price drop notifications on products.
8. Create an itinerary
A well thought out itinerary is an important step in the holiday planning process as they help to maximise your time, manage your budget, and prioritise the things you want to see and do most. Places like Lonely Planet, Tripadvisor, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and travel blogs are all fantastic places to get inspired on how to fill your holiday days. To find the best bloggers, when Googling your destination, try adding "travel blog" (e.g "New York travel blog"), this way you're more likely to find more personal guides and recommendations, not just the usual tour companies.
While planning your itinerary it's a good idea to think about transportation between your must-sees. Do you want to travel by public transport or car? How long do you need to do this activity? How long is it from one place to another? Looking into this now will help you evaluate if your itinerary is realistic and will save you stress when you're there. Trusty Google Maps and Rome2Rio will be able to help you out.
9. Check your travel documents
Checking and double checking you have all the necessary travel documents, such as passports, GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card), visas and any other required vaccination documents is a crucial step when it comes to planning a holiday. Forgetting your toothbrush? Easily fixed. Forgetting your passport has expired once you're at the airport? Nightmare. Save yourself the stress and make a checklist well ahead of time. Find more information about visas and vaccinations below.
10. Time to pack
We've all been there - the night before the big day, looking down at an empty suitcase with no idea of what to pack. To save you from this last minute panic we've put together our Ultimate Holiday Checklist which will help you tick off all of those absolutely vital items, as well as reminding you of the things that aren't always at the forefront of your mind.
Of course the list of what you need to pack differs depending on your destination, a skiing holiday compared to a summer holiday, an adventure holiday compared to a business trip, the differences are huge. The core items however, still remain the same - underwear, toiletries, any medications, just to name a few. Even your passport and tickets, although very obvious items, it's surprising what you can forget when you're excited to set off.
Visas and Vaccinations
Let's look at visas and vaccination in more detail. Sometimes this information can get clouded by your excitement to jet off or possibly get lost in translation due to travel industry jargon. Visa this, ESTA that, immunisation this, EHIC that!? ...Sounds confusing doesn't it. Well not anymore, Holiday Extras are here to help.
Something to always remember when you are planning your holiday is to be mindful of your destination. This may seem like a very silly thing to suggest but, whereas a lot of items on your holiday planner will be generic for any destination, many countries have different rules and regulations for a range of different things, such as duty free, visa requirements and vaccinations.
Travel Visas: In its simplest form a visa is official documentation allowing you entry into a country. Visas are required for many countries; Australia, Egypt, Turkey and America to name a few.
Visas are dependent on your nationality and can be needed for different reasons, the duration of your stay, maybe the particular territory you are travelling to and whereas some visas can be gained on entry, many need to be obtained in advance, so it pays to be organised. Let's face it - there would be nothing worse than arriving at the border of your chosen destination, excited to start your holiday and having paperwork issues!
Visit VisaHQ to do a quick and easy search to find out if a visa is required for your holiday.
Vaccinations: Vaccinations are something we're sure a lot of people would like to forget when it comes to planning your holiday. However, if you're off to a tropical country, we're afraid vaccinations come part and parcel so you may need to put your brave face on.
Most of the vaccinations needed to travel to tropical places are free, such as yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A. There are of course exceptions, malaria tablets being the most obvious. Antimalarial medications are considered vital if you are travelling anywhere Malaria exists. The trouble is these can be expensive which means many people often choose not to bother. Here at Holiday Extras we don't believe it's worth the risk!
Most travel vaccinations need to be done within a certain time before you travel, this allows your body to build a protection against the disease before you reach the affected area. Also some countries require certification as proof of the vaccination.
Below is an indication of the most common vaccinations/medication you might need with an idea of how far in advance it is needed.
Yellow Fever: At least 10 days before you travel
Typhoid: At least 1 month before you travel but can be done closer to your travel date if necessary. You will be covered for 3 years, after which a booster can be given to make the protection effective again.
Hepatitis A: Should be given 2 weeks before you travel but can be given up to the day before you travel if necessary. It lasts for a year but if you have the booster 6 - 12 months after the first vaccination you are covered for 20 years.
Malaria: There are different medications available all at different costs. These are the three most common:
Atovaquone plus proguanil - One tablet a day. It should be started one or two days before your trip, taken every day that you are in a risk area and for seven days after you return.
Doxycycline (also known as Vibramycin-D) - One 100mg tablet a day. You should start the tablets two days before you travel, take them each day you are in a risk area and for four weeks after you return.
Mefloquine (also known as Lariam) - One tablet weekly. It should be started three weeks before you travel, taken all the time you are in a risk area and for four weeks after you get back.
There are a lot of things to consider if you are travelling to a country where a vaccination may be required. These can include: the time of year you are travelling, the length of your stay, your age, any previous medical conditions, pregnancy plus many more. National Travel Health Network and Centre is recommended for you to check exactly what vaccinations are needed for your chosen destination along with lots of other useful information.
Once you feel sure you have everything in place take a look at our live flight timetable. It's jam packed with useful information including terminal details, directions, the weather at your destination and latest news updates. Once you've checked our flight pages you will feel confident that you've covered everything.
Follow our simple guidelines and we are positive you will set off not only stress-free but with a spring in your step, after all you're practically a holiday planning expert.
Holiday Plan FAQS
How do I start planning for a holiday?
To recap, follow our easy, 10-step guide on how to plan a holiday:
- Choose your destination
- Check the travel advice for your destination
- Research your costs
- Decide on duration
- Book flights and accommodation
- Get travel insurance
- Book your travel extras
- Create an itinerary
- Check your travel documents
- Pack like a pro
Which site is best to plan a trip?
Whether you're searching for travel inspiration, hunting for cheap flights, or looking for ways to make your life easier during your trip, there's an app or site that has you covered. Take a look at our 40 Best Travel Apps page for all of our top recommendations that make holiday planning and travel a breeze. Some of our favourites include:
For holiday planning inspiration:
For getting things booked:
Other handy sites/apps
How far in advance should you plan a holiday?
For the big trips, we recommend holiday planning between 6-12 months in advance. This gives you plenty of time to research your destination in depth, find the best deals on flights and accommodation, and ensure your travel documents are all up to date. For the shorter, slightly cheaper trips, giving yourself around 1-3 months is a good amount of time to plan your holiday.
How do I make a holiday checklist?
Use our Ultimate Holiday Checklist to help you pack faster and smarter - we've included the essentials, along with dedicated checklists for: family, beach, and walking holidays.
Want to ditch scribbling messy checklists? Be sure to check out Packpoint. This smart (and free) app customises your packing list based on destination, travel dates, trip duration, and even the weather. You can personalise it further by adding or removing items, adjusting quantities, and checking off things as you pack.