Five great reasons why you should plan your trip before you leave


The great French novelist Gustave Flaubert once said: “Pleasure is found first in anticipation, later in memory.” It’s hard to think of a better adage to apply to your travels. Here’s why.

Planning is almost as fun as the trip itself

Instead of enjoying your holiday for a matter of days, you can savour it for months, imagining what your dream vacation might be and turning it into reality. You can escape the stress and pressure of your everyday life with a virtual tour via the internet or immerse yourself in an exotic new environment courtesy of a good guide book. Take the time to source a perfect tour or a knowledgeable guide. Research where the best city district is for the sightseeing you hope to do or the best time of year to dive, ski or go on safari. With a bit of background knowledge, you’ll appreciate the place a whole lot more.

Planning is almost as fun as the trip itself

You won’t waste time

Holiday time is precious, so why waste it cooped up in your hotel room looking through leaflets and guide books? Instead, with a bit of forward planning you could be out immersing yourself in a new culture: people-watching over coffee in Venice’s St Mark’s Square, wandering Marrakesh’s labyrinthine souks in search of a bargain or gazing at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Or, you know, you could always just stay in and read those leaflets instead…

You won’t waste time

Being spontaneous is likely to cost you more money

There’s a place for being spontaneous in every vacation, of course. After all, wasn’t Columbus looking for Asia when he stumbled upon the Americas? But booking things last minute can cost you dearly, especially when there are deals to be found rewarding those who plan ahead. Sorting out flights and accommodation early means you’ll have more money to splurge when you get there.

Being spontaneous is likely to cost you more money

Treat yourself to the very best

Often, the very best can be booked up well in advance: that hotel room with the view to die for, that impossible-to-secure table in the latest fashionable restaurant, or front row seats to the hottest show in town. There are often special offers to be had if you are willing to stump up some cash in advance, meaning you can upgrade your holiday without blowing the budget. Plan ahead, and you’ll be the envy of your friends.

Treat yourself to the very best

Make sure everyone’s happy

Travelling as a family or group of friends is fun, but it brings with it specific challenges, most notably accommodating everyone’s tastes and needs. Spontaneity in these situations can be fraught with tension as everyone fights to get the vacation they want. No one wants to spend their time arguing, so sit down well ahead of departure and compile a group wish list. You might find that sometimes it will be best to split up for a morning and catch up on everyone’s adventures over lunch, or even have a lazy afternoon beside the pool in preparation for a big night. Sharing ideas is great – and someone else in your party might come up with something you hadn’t even thought of.

Make sure everyone’s happy

But don’t over-organise…

The key thing is flexibility: make plans, for sure, but allow yourself a bit of breathing space. No one wants to get home and realise they’ve overlooked a top attraction, but equally, if an unexpected opportunity arises, you don’t want to miss out. Don’t forget to build in a little down time to stop and reflect on what you’ve experienced.