When to travel, what documents will you need, what tickets to book before you leave, should you reserve accommodation now or leave it until you get there, should or shouldn't you take out travel insurance, hire a car and if so what model, size, auto or manual, which guide book/s should you take with you.
How are you going to select which hotels (cost, location, amenities, etc.
) to stay in, which items should you take with you and how are you going to get the stuff you buy home? When you should travel.
It really depends on a lot of issues.
Do you have to be in a particular place at a certain time? If you do then part of the trip is already planned but if not then do you have a choice of season? If you want to laze on a sunny beach when it's warm then you need to get there in summer but if you want to see penguins in the North of Scotland then a Northern Winter gives you the best chance.
If you have a limited budget then traveling in the 'off-' or 'low-season' is best.
The reason is that airline, long ago,discovered that most people wanted to travel to catch the summer warmth at their destinations so fare went up to get higher profits and the opposite happened in the cooler winter months when for those times of the year fares went down to try and attract more people to fly to get more profits.
But for all the attempts of the airlines to increase profits we, the fly public, can benefit by grabbing those low fare times if it suits.
Northern Hemisphere flight seasons SeasonsHigh Medium Low MonsoonJune - August May, September October - April During Spring and Summer in countries near the equator August is the warmest month of the year with June and July being the most popular time to travel for most people.
If you don't like very cold weather avoid December - February.
April, May and September can be wonderful but can still be very cold in the far north.
If you want to see a white Christmas then December is the time but be aware that snow cannot be guaranteed except, probably, at the North Pole.
Also the further north you travel the long the summer days and the winter nights.
Southern Hemisphere flight seasons SeasonsHigh Medium Low MonsoonDecember - March April, September- November May - August Cyclone season is in the Summer In most southern hemisphere-based countries summer stretches from December - February.
This is when you will find the largest numbers of tourists and locals out and about but if you really want to get away from the crowds you need to avoid December - January.
The long days and nights occur here as well - it's just that you have to head south to experience them.
Map and Information sources are real 'need to knows.
' A great first stop is the tourism offices of the countries you are thinking of visiting.
These places are geared towards giving you all the information and maps you might need to get to the places you want to go.
These places are also available on the net.
Maps are sometime critical to finding your way around.
But you are going to buy a map thern do it before you leave home.
Try reading a map written in Japanese of Vietnamese and compare the experience to reading one in your own language - we'll pick our own language every time since we know the pronunciations and can read it.
Your passport is probably one of the most important items you will carry with you on your travels - don't lose it and if you do make sure you have the contact details for your embassy or consulate in the coutry you will be travelling to.
Also make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months AFTER you plan to leave your travel destination.
Money and documents are best kept on you at all times.
To help you achieve this a slim money belt that can be worn under your dress/trousers and large enough to also hold your passport will be invaluable.
- and if it's water-proof so you can wear it in the shower then all the better.
Money belts have been stolen while people are in the bath or showering so DON'T TAKE IT OFF ANYWHERE! Do NOT wear a bum-bag as they can very easily be cut off with a very sharp blade and stolen or picked by professional pickpockets.
Sometimes those blades also come in contact with flesh and cause all sorts of problems like lots of blood - your blood! Renewing a passport overseas can be very expensive and may take a long time - up to several months depending upon your country of residence.
So make sure you have a passport that has lots and lots of time left on it - especially if traveling to remote or 3rd world countries.
Image the costs of being stuck somewhere for 6 months trying to renew a passport! Fired from your job, miss your wedding and all those hotel expenses while you wait.
Visas are critical to cross some borders and they vary by nationality (eg person from country X may enter country Z with no visa but a person from country Y cannot) so make sure you have all the ones you will need to get through your travels without any delays or diversions.
If you're not sure call the relevant embassy or visit the countries tourism department for information.
If you get stuck a friendly travel agent might help.
Travel tickets for your onward journey and evidence of sufficient money to sustain yourself for the period of your stay may also be necessary before you are allowed to enter some countries - check it out before you make too many arrangements.
You cannot depend upon finding work or even being allowed to work to fund your travels.
For example; it is illegal to work in the USA without a green card but it is easy to get permission to work in Europe or Australia as a tourist.
A good way to prove the level of funds you may have available is to print off a recent ATM balance before you leave home, carry it with you and show it to immigration as evidence of available funds if necessary.
Border crossing can become a bit of an issue, especially if the border guard or official has had a bad night/day.
It is a good idea to look as neat and clean as possible and to NOT LOSE YOUR TEMPER for any reason.
Getting held up while everyone else in your group gets through can ruin a great holiday and even worse can be a body cavity search performed by a man with massive hands - avoid it at all costs.
Travel and medical insurance - don't travel without it.
FULL STOP! If you cannot afford insurance then you cannot afford to travel.
Make sure your policy covers, at a minimum, health, electronic equipment (iPod, digital camera, etc.
), baggage loss, flight insurance (for missed or cancelled flights), theft and repatriation home if necessary.
Make sure that the policy will pay service providers directly and that it does not require you to pay and then seek re-reimbursement later.
Having to pay yourself can leave you with insufficient funds to continue your trip and in a worst case insufficient funds to pay for the service delivered (ie heart lung transplant in the US - $3,000,000).
Always take out the best you can afford - can you afford that $3,000,000 for that new heart and lung? Read the small print.
Some policies will NOT cover pre-existing conditions or will not cover what they consider dangerous activities such as parachuting, white-water rafting, etc.
Some companies will also refuse to pay on a claim if you have broken the law or disregarded you own Governments travel advice.