After a few holiday disasters and a few successes, I think I can offer a bit of advice on the way to organise the sort of holiday that does not leave you feeling more stressed at the end of it than you did at the start!
1) Take plenty of time to plan your holiday. Last minute improvisations and impulse buys are the enemy of relaxation. If you are planning a summer holiday then start thinking about it when the nights are long and frosty. Look online or in your weekend newspaper’s travel section and makes notes on possible destinations. It is a relaxing way to spend an hour on a long winter night.
2) Sort out the money question as early as possible. As we know money is the source of all stress. So take a cool look at your finances and decide, honestly, what you can afford to spend on this year’s holiday. When you have arrived at a figure, add a bit more for emergencies. That is your budget. Stick to it. This is not a relaxing exercise, but you will feel relaxed afterwards knowing that the money question has been dealt with well in advance.
3) Now it is time for the big decision. What sort of holiday do you want? The choice is staggering and there is plenty of advice around. Again take time and do not be selfish. Avoid springing last minute surprises on the rest of family.
4) Book everything well ahead. Use your travel agent or holiday provider. They are the professionals. They speak the language and have the contacts. Let them book your flight, your room, your hire car and anything else.
5) If you find that inoculations or booster shots are recommended before visiting your holiday destination, then for goodness sake go to your doctor and have them. A trip to Africa should be memorable enough without an attack of malaria to make it utterly unforgettable. Also, follow advice on water safety, food hygiene and the like.
6) Leave plenty of time to organise your travellers’ cheques and foreign currency. Talk to your credit card company about insurance. Make sure you know what to do if something bad happens.
7) Medical insurance – again this is something to think about and arrange well in advance. Once you have done it, you can relax a bit.
8) Packing should be a simple process but it never is. Again, start well in advance. You could even make a list. If people start using words like ‘control freak’ about you, just smile happily.
9) Accept the fact that your children will get bored at some stage of the holiday and prepare suitable distractions for them, be it colouring books, comics, favourite tunes, games and the rest.
10) Finally, keep it all low key. Do not hype up the coming holiday to a degree where it cannot fail to be a disappointment. In other words, stay cool and enjoy your holiday.