Making holidays more memorable with Travel Supermarket
I have so many happy travel memories. Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland for instance, or watching the sunset from a helicopter ride over Manhattan. Drinking sangria with my best pals in Barcelona is another one that makes me smile, or celebrating my cousin's wedding with my whole family in Italy.
Holidays with our loved ones are often some of our happiest times and I love looking back at old photos and remembering the smells and sights and experiences. However, sometimes holidays can be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Like the time Sam and I nearly missed our flight to Berlin because we miscalculated how long it would take to drive to Manchester airport at rush hour and ended up boarding the plane as sweaty, stressed out messes. Or the time when I lost my passport in Hamburg the day we were due to fly home and didn't have any travel insurance (thankfully I was VERY lucky and some kind person had handed it in at the police station, but I definitely learnt my lesson!).
Going away is bloody lovely but can also cause a lot of stress and bickering if you're not properly prepared. So when the lovely folk at Travel Supermarket got in touch to ask me to share my tips on how to make holidays more memorable for the right reasons, I didn't need much convincing...
1) Find a destination that works for everyone
The very first holiday Sam and I ever had together was to Rhodes way back in 2011. I'd just finished my degree and was SO excited about doing very little other than laying by the pool and stuffing myself silly with Greek food. However after about half a day of sunbathing Sam was bored and desperate to explore - beach holidays just aren't his thing and he definitely needed more entertainment than the recommended reads I'd picked up in WHSmiths. Now we always try and do our research up front and find a destination that works for us both - Lisbon and Barcelona were both great holidays where I got to have a bit of chill time but also where there was lots to do for Sam.
2) Plan your journeys to and from the airport
For me, the holiday starts as soon as you leave for the airport, so you really don't want to be getting stressed out because you forgot you needed petrol or your train is delayed. Make sure you leave plenty of time for your journey (factoring in potential traffic or diversions) and always book an earlier train or bus rather than risking the one that gets you there with only 5 minutes to spare. This is just as important for your flight home from your destination too - we almost missed our flight back from New York once as we didn't factor in rush hour traffic near Newark airport and I spent the entire bus journey stressing out and panicking, which wasn't the dreamy end to the holiday I had in mind.
3) Find accommodation ticks all the boxes
There are so many options for holiday accommodation now - hotels, apartments, Airbnb - that it's hard to even know where to start in finding your perfect home from home. There's nothing worse than arriving to find that you're staying in a total hovel or that you're miles away from all of the big sights, so it really is worth doing the research up front, even if it can be time consuming. Ask around for recommendations, think about your budget, check out some maps and always always read reviews - that way you can travel safe in the knowledge that you won't be spending all of your time arguing with hotel receptionists.
4) Agree on what you'd like to do before you travel
I've been on so many holidays where loads of time has been wasted bickering about what we all want to see and do or where we want to go and eat. Nowadays I like to arrange an evening with whoever I'm travelling with a few weeks before we go so that we can make a bit of a shortlist and have some sort of plan in place before we arrive - that way we don't spend any precious holiday time arguing about it! Another good way of doing this is letting everyone have a day or an evening where they plan their ideal itinerary - it means everyone gets to do at least a couple of things that they want to do and you might even have your eyes opened up by trying something new.
5) Know your budget
I remember when I first went to Ibiza with my friends when I was 18 or 19 - we had planned all of the clubs that we wanted to party at and the sunset strip restaurants where we envisioned ourselves drinking cocktails and being all sassy and chic. Then we rocked up on the Balearic wonder island only to find that at most clubs it cost about £15 for a small bottle of water and the only place we could afford to eat was KFC. After a bit of research and rearranging in the Internet cafe (LOL, so old school) we still managed to have an ace time, but you can definitely prevent any budgeting disasters by agreeing what you're willing to spend on before you go.
*This post is in collaboration with Travel Supermarket, but all holiday tips and travel disasters are my own...