I will be traveling on my own to Paris, France the week before Christmas. This was a pretty spontaneous decision, but aren’t they the best kind? ;)
I’ve already looked into some activities to do while I’m there. Top on the list? A full day course at Le Cordon Bleu and a night at the ballet.
I couldn’t be more excited! As of now, I’ve identified a hostel and booked my flight! I always make sure I have a few options for accommodations before I go– it makes it a bit less nerve wracking when booking.
Below is a guide for those who want to travel but aren’t that comfortable (or perhaps experienced) with doing so. There is really nothing to be scared of as long as you are prepared!
A. Identifying (a) location(s): Sometimes, this is the hardest part. If you are like me and are overly ambitious with your plans to travel the world, pinpointing 1 or a handful of locations is quite difficult. To help you decide, here are a few considerations:
1. What is your vacation goal? Do you want to relax or do you want to travel?
2. What is your budget? This can sometimes be a deal maker/breaker since some cities are much more expensive than others.
3. Depending on answer to 1, think about your top 3 locations in a specific category… places that you would chose if they were the only trips you could ever take.
4. With whom will you be traveling? If solo, depending on your sense of adventure, this cuts down the list a bit. There are some locations that just aren’t as safe for a solo-traveler (especially a novice). If with a partner, the sky is the limit (or is it?)! If with a family, I would recommend choosing a child friendly town/city…one that has activities that they can participate in. Most cities have parks and zoos that will entertain a child at least temporarily, but even the most well-behaved child can’t be expected to be engaged in the Louvre Half-Marathon.
5-Check Out Flights: For me, the price of the flight is sometimes the determining factor. I play around with dates and find the most reasonable flight. Which leads me to
B. Choosing Dates: Depending on your work allowance, there are certain times that are better than others. Based on Europe (since that’s the only place I’ve been thus far), I’ll provide you with my two-cents:
1. Decide how long you can afford (time-wise) to be there…then add a day. Regardless of taking red eyes, you need to budget a day that you’re going to spend settling in and preparing to leave.
2. If possible, and budget conscious, choose outside prime-time. November-Dec.23, January 2-March are the best times to plan a vacation. The flights, hotels, and sometimes the sites are cheaper as a result of the low-season. With that, you have to prepare yourself for variable weather….remember, there is a reason your flight is half the price as your friend who went in June. When I was in Italy in November, it rained almost every day. But believe me, it could be worse than to be waiting it out in a corner cafe in Rome.
I personally prefer the cold weather so the November-December time period is my favorite.
3. Back to flights, play around with dates and see what is the cheapest. My approach is to take an red-eye there. Then a mid-day flight back (alotting time for train delays). Also, leaving and returning midweek is typically (but not always) a bit cheaper. I use kayak.com to find my flights. It then directs you to the main site (in my case both trips thus far, USAirways).
I hope you found that brief tutorial even slightly helpful! Next up on the LAH travel series will be booking the flight and finding a hotel.