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These essential travel planning hacks will make your next trip a breeze

A good vacation refuels your zest for life like nothing else. Leaving your country to immerse yourself in the wonders of a foreign land and culture is a prospect that most people look forward to each year, especially those of us with limited time off work. It is natural to want to treat yourself with an enthralling trip to make those leave days count.

Here’s the wrench, though: Travel planning is a chore with a capital C. Booking an air ticket to a destination is akin to ascending one step as a whole mountain looms before you. There’s still accommodation to lock down, travel insurance to buy, transportation to arrange, routes to plan, currency to change… On and on it goes. Head spinning a little now? So are ours.

A recent, regional survey conducted by Beringer Vineyards sussed out the travel planning habits of over 5,000 participants and found that a majority hated to coordinate holidays. At times, the stress of travel planning can be so immense that some of them chose to forsake any involvement in the organisational process, and made it someone else’s problem, not theirs. Fifty-one percent of the respondents admitted this, and the result of such a hands-off approach was ultimately visiting a destination they did not care about. In our books, that sounds like a tragic loss of money and time.

If you’re wondering what a Napa Valley wine producer has to do with travel, the connection is simple. Travelling, like enjoying wine, is meant to be a fun and engaging social experience. Having a bottle of Beringer wine together makes the planning process far more enjoyable, which sets a fantastic foundation for the holiday you will embark on together.

Just like how one has to open a bottle of wine before they get to savour the magic within, a journey needs to be planned before you can reap its rewards. To help you get over the hurdle of coordinating a holiday, here are some essential travel planning hacks you can use to make the process easier. With these, you’ll never find yourself going on a trip you hate again.

1
Use this handy microsite

Beringer Vineyards has collaborated with the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, to launch a nifty microsite that helps users plan their holidays better. The microsite is chock full of useful travel planning tips, as well as a page that details popular destinations, ideal times to travel, and recommendations for where to visit in your destination of choice. Not only is this microsite a useful tool to help streamline your groundwork, its “Trending Destinations” page is also helpful for indecisive folks who aren’t sure where they should embark for their next holiday. Click here to check it out.

2
Plan it with your friends and a bottle of Beringer wine

One of the main problems with travel planning is when a sole individual is tasked to organise a trip for everyone involved. That is a huge amount of pressure to place on a single person, and that pressure could breed resentment among the travel group even before the trip begins. Keep that at bay by making travel planning a social affair, and not a rigid one either. Have your friends over for dinner to discuss the destination you have in mind, and to get everyone’s opinions on the table. Open a bottle of Beringer wine to get the conversation flowing, and to transform the discussion into an enjoyable one. Ninety-four percent of the survey respondents said they found such a mode of vacation planning far more delightful — that many people can’t be wrong.

3
Set up price alerts for flights

Few things cramp your enthusiasm for an upcoming trip like finding out you overpaid for a flight. Mitigate that by setting up price alerts on airline service provider applications within your desired price range to ensure you never miss out when your flight prices dip. Be sure to get this set up once you’ve confirmed your destination, at least a month or two before the actual holiday so you’ll have room to wait.

4
Keep all your travel details online

Travelling requires you to have a barrage of important information on hand. Anything from your accommodation information, to your personal particulars, will come into use at some point during the journey, so avoid the dreaded scouring session through the clutter of your email and chat histories by having them all in one place. Be it a compiled document, a cloud storage service, or an app, being organised in advance will truly eliminate the stress you might face.

5
Make a list of places you need to visit

Travelling in a group means having to accommodate different preferences. Some prefer food trails, others want to sightsee, and so on. Keep any resentment and tension at bay by planning your itinerary as a group. Have a face-to-face meeting (with that glass of Beringer wine, of course) where you can bounce off the sites each of you wants to visit during the holiday and plan your time around those landmarks. Everyone gets their interests accounted for, which guarantees a more congenial trip to come.

6
Book accommodation as early as possible

Last-minute bookings will always be more expensive. Accommodation, in particular, will have you splurging unnecessary dollars just to have a place to stay if you’re booking it at the eleventh hour. Don’t let the system cheat you. Just be sure to get your lodging sorted once your flight has been confirmed, or at least within that same week to avoid feeling duped when you’ve paid a few times more than the space is worth.

7
Bring extra cash

Budgets are great, but people usually fail to account for emergency expenditure. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances require you to have a bit more cash to spare, and being in a foreign land does not give you the same flexibility like being at home, where a swipe of a credit card solves all. Sure, you could do that too, but there are overseas transaction fees to consider. Make it easier by bringing a small surplus of cash over to use whenever the situation calls for it. If you don’t want to bring foreign currency over as you can’t be sure if you’d use it, have your local bills on hand to exchange when needed.

8
Google Maps is your best friend

Google Maps is every traveller’s best friend. First of all, it’s a fantastic planning tool as it allows you to collate your routes, be familiar with travel times and distances, as well as drop important pins for places you need to visit. This gives you a comprehensive overview of where exactly you’ll be going throughout your trip, so you don’t land on foreign territory feeling completely lost. Also, Google Maps is a lifesaver when you do lose your way, so it is ideal to have it downloaded. To save on mobile data, you can simply download your map of choice, with the pins and routes you’ve marked out, and have that available offline, always.

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.