6 tips on planning a city break

Where is the time going?  We are almost at the end of February already and it has made me think today of spring breaks and places to go and visit.  I have a list of places I have never been to and it is long, it is very long and filled with the most fabulous destinations.  It is a list broken up into two categories (because that is important in a list, you know, categories, it is, trust me…unless you are normal and think that it is a little bit OTT) City breaks and Holiday breaks, they are my categories.  I look at the list and I dream when I want to be happy.  I have, in all seriousness, been very lucky and have travelled quite a bit over the years, there is so much to see out there and take in!  Many beautiful places and over the course of the next few months, I will share my experiences of just a few that I visited recently.  But, today I’m sharing with you my 6 tips for planning a break away.  My first tip on planning your break away is…..

Tip 1:        Search online for deals!
If you have a bit of cash to spare, look for deals online, sometimes it is best to book at least 4 months in advance if not more, you may be lucky and get deals if you leave it later but if you have your heart set on a certain destination, they are rare in my experience.

Some of you will like to have a travel agent do all the worrying and booking for you and that’s good if it works for you.  I book online myself.  I use booking.com and expedia.com (for deals on flights & hotels), and the hotel websites themselves for accommodation.  For flights, what I tend to do is look at the Aer Lingus site when the sales are on.  They have deals pretty much all the time.  I mention Aer Lingus because that is my preferred airline at the moment, there is never any hassle of extra charges if you sneeze, for example, on your carry-on bag, like some airlines.  I want to arrive at the airport knowing that there is not going to be some hidden charge.

Another tip for flying, is check-in on your mobile phone, the boarding pass is there on your phone and can be scanned by the airport staff.  Very simple.  Also, if you do use Aer Lingus, they have a loyalty programme called Aerclub, you can sign up online and you collect points, Avios points, every time you fly and with their retail, travel and leisure partners, you can convert the Avios points into flights eventually! This is not an advertisement for Aer Lingus, this is my own opinion of my experience of travelling with a few different airlines and I prefer them. I’m a member and I get priority boarding, which is great, I never have to worry that my hand luggage will be put in hold!  I’m reminded of a friend of mine who was an Air Hostess on British Airways some years ago, calling for any passengers with children to come forward to be boarded first and this dear little older man came up and stood quietly in front of her, she asked him if he was alright and he said to her, that he has five children and proceeded to tell her what they were all doing now!  I don’t think he realized that the criteria for priority boarding was the children would actually have to be there!

Tip 2:    Decide how much you want to pay for accommodation
Now, unless you are very rich and can afford such luxuries, the majority of us don’t stay in 5 star accommodation when we are on breaks away.  My tip is to decide how much you want to spend a night on accommodation and multiply by the number of nights.  Most European cities also add on a City tax, it is a few euros per person per night, depending on which city you go to.  For example I paid €3.50 City tax per person per night when I stayed in Florence but the price was just over €1 City tax per person per night in Barcelona. There is no City Tax after 6 nights.  So don’t forget to add that in to your budget.

Tip 3:    Save for your spending money.
What about spending money?  You gotta eat!  When I am on holiday, I don’t want to worry about budgeting my spending, I am on holiday, so I make sure that I have enough spending money to suit my needs.  Everyone is different, budgets are a personal thing, but I tend to calculate my spending money at about €100 per day at least.  Some days I spend more than that and some days less, I take my credit card too, with me, just in case, I see something I want.

Tip 4:    Pick a place to stay (obviously)
This could be anything from a tent, hostel, boat to hotel.  I was told once, a long time ago, that many travel sites run deals on Tuesdays.  I have in my experience, found this to be true.  I booked a hotel in London last December on a Tuesday and on Wednesday, it was €50 more expensive.  Now, I know this wasn’t a major saving, but I have saved a couple of hundred on previous bookings by looking on a Tuesday.  Again, I don’t know if this happens to be a fluke, but I found it worked for me!

Don’t book yet before you check out the reviews on tripadvisor.  I never book a hotel unless I have checked tripadvisor.  But, do note that not everyone can be pleased all of the time and lots of people do like to complain when they are unhappy about something and give a bad review.  I would take into consideration if there are more good reviews than bad?  A person who was really happy with a place and then made the effort to go online and do a positive review makes me think that they liked it.

Tip 5:    Cancellation fee.
I don’t book a room that has a cancellation fee, especially if I am booking far in advance of my arrival.  Always look for free cancellation, you never know what you will be doing or what will happen in your family or life that you are unable to make the trip after all, you don’t want to be charged for something you did not use!

Tip 6:    Only bring what you need
Yep, I am guilty of not following this tip!  Although I am much better than I was!  For years, I was convinced, I must bring at least 5 pairs of sandals with a heel, 6 pairs of flat sandals, runners, boots, flip-flops, slippers and I haven’t even got onto the dresses, tops, vests, t-shirts, jeans, shorts, skirts, hats, handbags, toilet bags, hair products, hair dryers, iron, bikinis, swimsuits, underwear, cardigans, jackets, jumpers, hoodies etc etc……STOP I’m exhausted!!! It’s not needed!!! We NEVER wear half the stuff anyway!.  Make a list of things to bring and then revise the list and cross most of it out! (yep, I knew your list would be very long, I’m a mind-reader, did I not tell you that?) For a 7 day holiday for example, a couple of bikinis, 3 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of linen trousers, 3 tops, 2 skirts, 2 dresses, 1 cardigan or jumper for when the night gets cooler, 4 vest tops, 2 pairs of flat sandals, one pair of heeled sandals and one pair of runners and underwear of course, that is all you need! you can wear your jeans and jacket on the plane.

Happy planning for your next trip!

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