Get Organised: Trip Tips From A Type-A Holiday Planner
Type A [adjective]: relating to, characteristic of, having, or being a personality that is marked by impatience, aggressiveness, and competitiveness and that is held to be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Every time we agree to travel someplace, the dynamic duo that is me and my Type-B husband are happiest doing what we do best. Me: Planning. Him: Letting me do all the planning with the occasional input.
And while trip planning is my happy place, not everyone feels the same dopamine boost I get from perusing countless travel blogs, booking tickets and just making sure I
don't screw up get everything organised. Fret not, here are some pointers on how you can ace the planning process without an increased risk of getting a heart attack:
Make Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets) your best friend
Name a better way to store all the bits and pieces of information, tabulate your expenses, create a to-do list, and plan your itinerary. I'll wait.
The worst part about holiday planning is having access to a large set of information that you just can't seem to piece together in order to make a decision - which is why I set up my "command centre" like this:
I like to throw all the information that I get from various sources into the sheet aptly named "Tips" and group them under the relevant categories for easier reference later on. You can also make lists of must-see/must-eat/must-do's that you've seen on social media and this will help greatly when crafting your itinerary.
Set up an expense tracker to keep tabs on your spending – we don't want to overrun our budget even before setting foot in our dream destination! Last but not least, start a to-do list of bookings that you have to make before departure (never hurts to get a reservation made). I'll admit, the Type-A in me loves ticking off each accomplished task on the list.
1. Never settle for the first price you see
Whether it's admission tickets or hotel stays, never ever settle for the first price you see. Chances are there are other platforms out there offering the same thing at a lower price, especially when there's a flash sale or credit card promotion.
Did you know that for certain attractions such as museums, you can get tickets at a reduced price or even enter for free on certain days or at a specific time of the day? For instance, on the first Sunday of every month, selected museums in Paris are free to visit. Wah seh.
Is it always more expensive to book directly via the official website? Not necessarily. I've had instances where the early-bird price on the official site is lower than the non-refundable price on third party sites. So, don't go dismissing this option just yet and do your homework.
2. Take note of opening times and days when attractions are closed
There's nothing that puts a dampener on your trip than going all the way to an attraction and finding out that it's closed. Always check opening times and take note of any public holidays/rest days. For that extra level of safety, do check out the social media pages of the attraction to see if they've put up any announcements on opening times – the official websites might not always get updated immediately.
3. Plan your meals for the day
I can already hear collective groaning around the room.
Wait, before you dismiss this as typical Type-A behaviour, hear me out. Planning your meals for the day and around the main sights you want to see is a no-brainer, because of the following reasons:
- You won't make impulsive (and possibly wrong) choices such as opting for a tourist-trap restaurant just because you're tired from sightseeing, and have no energy to wander around to take stock of the dining options.
- You get to control the budget! My rule of thumb is to go for one expensive/higher-end meal and one cheap meal in a day to minimise the damage to my wallet.
- You can cover a huge variety of cuisines, especially regional or seasonal delicacies that you won't be able to get in Singapore. This would be harder if you pick where to eat on a whim every time.
- And lastly… no more "Want to eat what? IDK leh, you pick" situations.
I take this to another level by even choosing back-ups; in the event that my selected restaurant is closed, I can always pivot quickly to the next choice.
4. Set up real-time alerts to notify you on favourable exchange rates
If there's one thing that all Singaporeans love, it's getting more bang for our buck.
No more googling "USD to SGD" every day until it's your top search of the week when you can easily set up FX rate alerts on money remittance apps such as Wise and XE to notify you when the currency pair you're monitoring hits your desired rate.
BONUS TIP: Trawl forums for travel gems – and no, I'm not talking about TripAdvisor!
boomers retirees favour TripAdvisor for all things travel planning, I go on Reddit to look for useful tips, off-the-beaten-track gems and food recommendations, or just general travel etiquette in the city I'm planning to visit. A foolproof way to do that would be to search for subreddits such as r/[insert city name here].
Locals are generally happy to give you a tip or two about their city. Besides, you can also keep track of developments that might affect your trip such as scheduled strikes, closure of attractions or warnings of bad weather.
All the best and happy travels!