1. Plan it yourself
As far as possible, stay away from canned holiday packages and plan your holiday yourself. Research the place, make a list of things you want to see and do; and then do it. You’ll find that planning becomes an enjoyable part of the experience and gives you things to look forward to on your trip.
2. Research, research, research
The more you know about your destination before you reach there, the greater your chances of making the most of your vacation. Take time to find out about the history of the place, interesting sights and sounds in the cities, and off-beat places to visit apart from the major cities. There are various tools available for this, from our own Small World to Wikitravel, Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor. Use them well.
3. Book at the right time
Timing is essential to get the best price; especially for international flights. Book too early, and you block a ton of cash. Leave it for too late and the fares will be high. So as soon as you have a destination in mind, set a Fare Alert to stay informed and know when to book.
4. Be prepared…
…for the unforeseen or the unexpected. Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance and pay special attention to co-pays and deductibles. Check the weather for your destination and carry warm clothes or wet weather gear as needed. If you’re renting a car, inspect it thoroughly for existing damage before taking it; and take the “Super Cover” to ensure you don’t have to pay for any potential damage to the car. Always pack a small medical kit. Many “common” drugs in India are not available over the counter overseas.
5. Do less with more
Don’t try to cram too much into your vacation. Make it about quality, not quantity. Take the time to enjoy each place you visit before you move to the next one. And if possible, include a relaxing day or two in the middle of your trip. Day after day on the tourist beat can wear you out. A relaxing day on the beach or just by the pool side can recharge your batteries.
6. Go off the beaten path
Sure, visit the touristy spots. But explore the hidden gems as well. Do your research well or talk to the locals, and you’ll most likely find places that are not so well known, but are well worth visiting. Make the time to visit them.
7. Explore the countryside
Leave the hustle and bustle of the cities and take time to explore the countryside. Those are the experiences that will stick with you for a lifetime.
Rent a car and go for a long drive. There’s no better way to experience a new place. And carry your Indian driving license with you. You’ll be surprised how many countries it lets you drive in.
9. Stay calm
The surest way to screw up a perfectly good vacation is to have an argument, especially with the family or friends you’re traveling with. So stay calm and don’t let small things fluster you. Don’t worry too much about a small delay here and there. Remember, you’re there to have fun. Deadlines are for the office.
10. Wing it a bit
Make a plan by all means, but don’t get too hung up about sticking to it. That spur of the moment detour or cup of coffee might turn out to be the best part of the trip.
Did we miss something? What do you do to ensure your international holiday will be perfect? Let us know in the comments.