How to plan a holiday
You’ve sat down and thought hard about it. You’ve got a long list of places you want to go, things you want to see and experiences you want to have. From dog sledding in the Arctic Circle to the running of the bulls in Spain to surfing in Australia- but which do you do next? When’s the best time to try these things? When’s the cheapest time to go?
There are now a plethora of websites out there that help you plan a holiday, but few of them are as well known as they should be. HasAnyoneBeenTo… has selected our favourites to help you plan which trip should be your next.
Sites to Help You Budget
The major expense in any holiday is getting there in the first place. The main flight search sites make you go through and search on a particular date to a particular place. If you’ve a list of places you want to visit, searching one by one can be very time consuming. This is where the utter genius of SkyScanner.net comes into play. You can search departing from either a particular airport, or a whole country and best of all you can put “everywhere” as your destination. This brings up a price ordered list of all flights for your dates, meaning if budget is a top priority, you can find some real and unexpected deals. Poland from £22pp? Yes please! You can also search flights over a whole month or whole year, so if you know where you want to go, but want to find the cheapest flight to decide your dates, you can.
An easy trap to fall into is cheap flight = cheap holiday. I think even the most experienced traveller has made the mistake of booking bargain flights to somewhere like Copenhagen, only to find they can’t afford anything once there. While designed for those moving abroad, Expatistan.com is a remarkably handy tool for working out how much things will cost where you’re heading. Flights to Turkey might be more expensive, but the money you can save once there more than compensates. At the moment, it calculates that Paris is 61% more expensive to live in than Istanbul. You can break down this calculation and see how much it is to eat out in both cities, how much to get a taxi and how much a loaf of bread is, among many other things. The prices are all user generated, so never 100% accurate but it tells you how many people have submitted and so how accurate they are likely to be, and we find it indispensable.
When To Go
Also available as a physical book, weather2travel is far more than just a great pun. You might have an idea of where you want to go, but when to book that all important time off? Just search for you town or country and the climate guide will tell you how hot it is each month, how much rain is expected, how many hours of sunlight there is and even how suitable the sea is for swimming at that time. It does also simply tell you when is best to visit, but take care with this. It is based entirely on people wanting warm, dry days, so for example, for Tromso the best time to visit is June. However, most people heading to Tromso will be going for the Northern Lights, which means the coldest, darkest days of January are best. With it’s clear, handy charts though, you can’t really go wrong.
What to Do and See
Atlas Obscura is very much tapping into the current Victoriana revival in style, but its content is ageless. Another site consisting of user generated content, Atlas Obscura has information on any weird event or sight or museum you can think of. From the famously weird, such as Iceland’s Penis Museum, to obscurities like the Turnip Shaped Rock in Lake Huron or some ancient Buddhist Caves in India, you’ll find something nearby for you to go and see. It’s even good looking at where you live- we found a medieval church fresco of the Judgement just 3 miles away we’d never heard of before.
A great website that has recently been revamped. It only deals with big European cities, but it does have 44 of them, so it’s pretty comprehensive for weekend city breaks. Just find where you’re going, and read the places that locals recommend for eating, drinking and having a good time. Spotters are all vetted before being allowed to submit so all recommendations are genuine and a little under the radar compared to regular guide books.
Once you’ve worked out where to go when, you’ll probably still want a guide book to browse though. The best travel bookshop we’ve ever found. It seems to have everything in its large Covent Garden Store, and what you can’t find there, you’ll almost certainly be able to order online. They are also a map specialist, and have a huge range available, as well as a customised map printing service for those who need something really specific.