This is by no means an exhaustive list but certainly is useful in helping you achieve your objective. Here are 8 tips which apply to pretty much all travel destinations:
1. How is the place rated by other writers?
Never take one person’s work for anything that is subjective. Scan through a few reviews and you’ll get an accurate picture of your holiday destination.
2. Does the electricity voltage match yours at home?
Today, you have more electronic gadgets than ever before. Make sue it will work where you are going or else you’ll carry extra weight with you. Worse still, you may damage your devices.
Also pretty much every country I have visited, has a different electrical plug and socket standard. Buy one a universal electrical adapter kit and read the fine print to make sure it covers your travel destination. Alternatively, buy only the one adapter suitable for your destination which will be cheaper.
3. How far is your hotel from the airport?
Be careful here. There are many exotic places that are really far from the airport. It sounds silly but you can suffer a lot of discomfort if you are not prepared.
Imagine after a long journey of several hours in the air, you then spend another 2 or 3 hours on a coach to your hotel. Now imagine it is hot and humid and your coach is not air conditioned! Children will particularly suffer.
You will then need a day to recover from your journey. This scenario happens so often you wouldn’t believe it. Why do you think some of those hotels are so cheap!
When checking distance, also check the traffic too and find out the journey “time” and not just the travel distance. Back in the year 2000 I traveled to Dubai. A great place in itself and I stayed in a 5 start hotel that was only 20 – 25 minutes from the airport in spite of heavy traffic. Now, seven years later, that same journey can take anything up to one or even one and half hours. Be prepared.
4. Is public transport efficient or will you need to hire a car?
How are you going to get around? Far too many travel locations have poor public transport and at the same time very expensive and difficult private transport, be it taxis or hired cars.
I was in Istanbul back in 1997 … I enjoyed the city, the weather and so much more but getting around in taxis was not easy nor cheap. And note that Istanbul wasn’t a particularly expensive place but the demand for taxis was high
Also the language barrier meant that inevitably there were times that I paid more for a short journey that I expected. But that was OK because I had done my research including about transport and knew what to expect. I needed a day to recover from my very long journey. After that I haggled (bargained) with the taxi drivers as well as others “before” accepting their service and everything worked out just fine.
5. Try to work out an estimation of the budget that you’ll need, so that you avoid any shocks and embarrassment once you get there.
This one is obvious and yet many of us over spend while on holiday. I always work out what I need and then add plenty of extra to the total estimate. It works very well. I come back with plenty of spare cash rather than end up in distress in an unfamiliar place.
6. Are there plenty of restaurants nearby or will you have to dine at your hotel for the duration of your stay?
Big, big point: Think of the effect on variety, cost, etc, if you only have a limited choice within one hotel or one complex. Bear in mind that the laws of supply and demand apply here too. If your stay is not all inclusive, then expect to pay a huge price or suffer low quality or even both. The local outlets of course know if you are a “captive” customer and their prices will be adjusted “up” accordingly.
Back in 2001 I enjoyed a Latin dance holiday to Cuba. I absolutely loved it. The people, the music, the dancing, all wonderful. But if you know anything about Cuba then you know that food variety and quality is an issue.
I won’t go into the politics or economics of it all. The point is that I spent a portion of my time in an all inclusive resort outside Havana. I experienced first hand the quality issues and lack variety that can happen as a captive customer. Such situations aren’t suitable for children at all and barely acceptable for adults. This can happen any place you are a captive customer.
7. Is your hotel or resort able to provide a doctor in case of an emergency?
Don’t wait to find out the answer when you really need a doctor. It is a fact of life that we or a traveling companion will need medical attention at one time or other in our travels. The difference between being prepared and not is huge.
My best friend and business partner traveled to a newly built Greek resort. While taking a mid-evening stroll around the poorly lit pool area, his wife stepped into “hole”. It was one of these holes around most swimming pools where workmen access pumps, pipes and wiring etc that service the pool. They had left the cover loose and it just flipped when it was stepped on.
Long story short, the local hospital would “not” send out an ambulance! Something to do with not having an arrangement with the hotel because the hotel was outside their region. The hotel knew this but my friend and other hotel guests didn’t until the accident.
8. Do you know anyone else who has been there and how did they find it?
Personal experiences are so valuable and worth knowing. Make it a part of your conversation with friends before you travel to your destination. Find out if they or anyone they know has been to that region.
Knowing the answers to the above can make all the difference. A little homework will save you so much precious time once you get there. When you get there, you’ll be able to do as much or as little as you desire. Happy traveling, where ever your travel destination.