Where to next? 8 considerations that help me make my mind up

I’m in a very strange and unfamiliar position right now – I don’t have our next holiday booked, or even planned; thankfully, the UK heatwave continues or I’d be getting a bit concerned, as this is not like me. Normally I am at least 2 trips ahead and it’s not as if I can even blame a lack of airline and hotel miles… I really just seemed to have dropped the ball!! This is not because I am holidayed out, or intentionally planning on spending the rest of the year in the UK – I’ve just not got around to it and October is going to be on us before we know it and I’ll be wanting to get on a plane again (and not to go and visit a client!). Last minute breaks are fine, although they leave me a little nervy that I’ve missed something, but whenever we get out of the country I always like to leave a month between booking and flying to do some proper research on what’s what! Globe So I thought I would think about what are the key things that my husband and I look for when booking our holidays. Also, what can we do without a holiday to still make sure we get to relax and spoil ourselves when we don’t have any plans. Here are 8 considerations to muse over. Why are we going away Sometimes it is literally just to read a book and get a lot of sleep, other times it is to explore and see something new. We’ve had some of our best and most rewarding relaxing times on UK holidays in the Autumn when the weather isn’t so cold and is very changeable. Nowhere is busy and it’s certainly a good time of year to be out of doors or to hole up in a nice pub and read the papers or put the world to rights! That said, it’s nice to get on a plane to somewhere warm at this time of year as it feels like a bit of a treat to get the Summer clothes and flip flops out for one final time in the year… What funds are available The best holidays are often the simplest because luxury is totalling what you make it – sometimes being squirrelled away in a little cottage in the middle of nowhere is more relaxing than anything else and is certainly a darn sight cheaper that a foray abroad that needs a flight, hire car, airport parking etc. Splurge type trips are definitely best spread out – they are so much more valuable if they remain as special treats. Airmile flight availability If we are verging on a last minute booking and haven’t really worked out where to go then I often take the lead from what BA have available; everywhere you can go has something to offer and it is almost more exciting finding out about a place after having booked some flights. Timezone How busy are we with work? It is almost better to head west or east and get into a new timezone if work is manic, as that way if emails do need to be monitored then an hour or so in the morning normally deals with the whole day’s traffic without impacting on the whole day’s holiday activities. If work can’t be avoided during a holiday then it is definitely best to pigeon hole it into a certain time every day so that it isn’t a niggle throughout the day. Safety I’m a risk averse type and so watching what is going on in the news always keeps me on my toes. Lots of countries seem to have strife currently but are probably still more than safe for tourists; however, I always err on the side of caution – it’s less stressful in the run-up and also better for my parents while I’m gone! That said, Jamaica and South Africa have to be two of the best places I’ve visited, often in the press for different reasons, but it just takes a bit of common sense and forward planning and you can visit places like this with absolutely no issue. In fact, that makes them all the better as they aren’t the sort of countries overrun with holidaymakers on all-inclusive package deals. Ease of getting around I want to visit a country where I can see it myself. Much as a few days of R&R on the beach or by the pool is lovely in sunny climes, seeing the country you are visiting is more important otherwise you may as well just sit in your back garden. Each to their own though! In Jamaica the two posh hotels we stayed at looked at us like aliens when we arrived under our own steam and didn’t need an airport transfer – yes, it was an ‘interesting’ place to drive around but I’m sure it was more enjoyable once we’d got over the initial scare of driving through Kingston at night. In Oman we arranged tours with the hotel, but having met other hotel guests who had hired a car they didn’t have any issues and so on another trip I think we’d have a car and see more of the country and at a much cheaper cost to us. Go back to somewhere we know or try somewhere new? Two of my favourite places are Norfolk and South Africa. I’m lucky to know the former like the back of my hand and to have been to the latter a number of times. If I want an easy going holiday at the drop of a hat then it is always going to be somewhere like this – know what to expect and know what you want to do. Somewhere like Norfolk doesn’t take planning as there is a plethora of self-catering cottages and so many restaurant options. South Africa is one of those splurge type holidays, but I know that I would like to investigate the Wild Coast or take a trip up the west coast to Namibia to discover new things alongside a few more days in Stellenbosch! What’s on the ‘must visit’ list My husband and I jot down places we want to visit based on what we hear or read about – it’s like our wish list, and it is getting longer the more we travel, and the more we get a taste for travel. Currently at the top is the Greek Peloponnese, Majorca, the classy side of Ibiza, the seaboard from Annapolis down to Atlanta, Gozo, Namibia, Tanzanian coast, Tuscany, Kuala Lumpur and a remote island paradise, a trip to any other Grace Group or GHM property, Swedish archipelago, more of New England, Venice, more time in Cornwall… the list is pretty long! But it keeps the travel buzz going – if we don’t have something to get excited about or dream of, the 9-5 is going to become mundane. In the meantime, long weekends are a great reward to a busy time; no need to go anywhere – a pub cycle, a fancy supper or just a night in an inn/pub in the New Forest – it all works wonderfully at creating the luxury that is time to ourselves with the Blackberry switched firmly off!

Anna Parker

I am happiest when travelling in style with my husband, enjoying the outdoors and taking photos to keep the memories! On the lookout for luxury and unique stays. Based in the UK. Find me on twitter @aeparker81 or at www.travelwithpenelopeandparker.com

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