I love to travel and I always want to make the most out of a holiday, weekend break or even a daytrip!
Much to my ‘art of planning’ I can fit a lot into our holidays and today I fill you in on some of my secrets 🙂
Before going on a holiday I do a lot of research… where to go, how far apart are all these locations, where can we park the car, what are the opening hours of the house we want to visit, can we book tickets in advance, what is the schedule of the boat trip we want to do,… I must admit that one time I even looked up in advance what time the sun would be setting 🙂
Some might find that the spontaneity gets lost when a holiday is planned, but it’s not that I plan our days by the minute! No, I just do heaps of research in advance to avoid surprises (like a castle that is closed or ending up walking miles and miles because X is way further from Y than it looked on the map).
So here are some tips on how to get the most out of your next trip!
1.Opening hours & schedules
When you plan to visit a certain museum, castle, house, exposition, or even a certain shop, make sure to check the opening hours to avoid disappointment.
When on holiday I also like to make a boat trip. I check the schedule in advance to be able to fit in the boat trip in our day and just to know until what time you can get back of course!!
That brings me to that one time we visited Saint-Tropez… I had found out on Tripadvisor, that finding a parking spot in Saint-Tropez during the summer months is practically impossible and sometimes you have to park your car 5-10 kilometers from the city centre!
Of course I wanted to avoid that so I had planned the most fantastic day even if I say so myself: in the early morning we drove towards Sainte-Maxime and had no problem finding a car park close to the harbour. We took a ferry towards Saint-Tropez. The boat trip towards Saint-Tropez was so beautiful as we crossed the Golfe de Saint-Tropez in the most beautiful morning light. We arrived in Saint-Tropez in the midst of the harbour and straight into the hustle and bustle of this coastal town… without any parking stress!
At night we took the boat back… and that’s when I had looked up the time the sun would be setting to make sure we took the boat back to Sainte-Maxime during sunset! The planning sure paid off that day 😀 (see also top and bottom pictures of this post!)
Do you want to visit several locations in one day? Make sure to check the distance between them not to be surprised! On Google Maps it’s also easy to check the driving/walking time as of course 60 kilometres somewhere in the mountains will not give you the same driving time as 60 kilometers on a motorway.
When we plan to visit a city, I always look up several car parks in advance. Nothing’s more stressful than ending up in the centre of a busy city and not knowing where the car parks are!
We usually park our car at the edge of a city. A lot of cities have park and ride facilities which sometimes offer good deals for your parking ticket + public transport.
In Utrecht for instance, you pay 5 EUR to park your car at Park and Ride De Uithof. This includes the bus to and from the city centre for a maximum of 5 people!
4.Filling up the tank
Make sure your tank is filled up when you’re planning to drive a long distance. Usually the petrol stations on the motorway are much more expensive than the ones off the highway. So perhaps you could fill up the tank before you get on the motorway?!
5.Events and public holidays
When you’re travelling abroad, you might not be familiar with the public holidays. Check whether there’s a public holiday during your visit and be prepared!
Public holidays may bring extra festivities at your holiday destination. This can be ever so fun as you get to see the locals in a different perspective. We once were in St-Remy-de-Provence on August 15th which was celebrated with a fabulous procession (see above picture).
But public holidays may also mean closed shops and museums… So if you want to visit a certain museum, check in advance if it’s open or not on that specific day.
Once we were visiting Normandy as the Tour de France was passing this area. As we are no cycling fans, we avoided the places the Tour was passing to avoid detours and the hustle and bustle that goes along with such a big event.
Below you see a picture of a fabulous garden in Normandy… a day before it would have been hell trying to reach it because of the Tour de France!
I sometimes look up if there’s a market day as spending a couple of hours on a local market during your holiday can be fun.
Make sure to know where to park your car as market day tends to be busier and often the market takes place on what is normally… a car park 🙂
7.Have plenty of options!
When we go on a 7-day holiday, I always end up with things to do for at least 10 days… that way we can choose what we want to do according to our moods and the weather!
At night we look through the several options and decide what we want to do the following day.
Do you have more tips to plan your holiday? Make sure to mention them in the comments below as I’m eager to learn more about planning a holiday!