View Full Version : Planning a vacation

5-9-11, 1:13am
I've never really traveled. I have no real experience with it, nor the budget to support it. But the thing is, I may have an opportunity to actually have some unexpected money. I talked to my daughter about going somewhere. I'd like to visit the UK. Now, my question is: I've never traveled. I don't even have a passport, so of course that would be step one, but how would one go about planning such a trip and do it wisely? Should I just hire a travel agent and trust them? Try and plan it out on my own for cheap rooms and hostels? I haven't the faintest idea how to go about it. I only know I would have limited funds to accomplish much and would want to stretch funds while at the same time maintaining some comfort. Where do I start??:help:

5-9-11, 5:30am
Fisrt of all, how exciting for you!

As you said, the first thing is to get a passport! I don't know how quickly that can be accomplished in other countries, but I recently had to renew my passport (here in the UK) and it took only 5 days to be returned - but that was a renewal, not a start-from-scratch process.

Decide on the time of year you wish to travel to the UK (if that's where you finally decide to visit!) - the weather would make quite a difference, and some attractions (including some stately homes and castles) are only opened for a specific portion of the year.

Then make a wish list of where you want to visit. When you've done that, you can start to look at the logistics of HOW you plan the trip to maximise both time and money available!

If you would like specific info on sites of interest you might be visiting, I'd be happy to give you any help I can!

5-9-11, 8:20am
We like the Lonely Planet guides for initial information. When DH and I traveled in Germany 10 years ago, we took that guide and nothing else. We traveled from day to day - we awoke, decided where we were going to go that day, and called ahead for lodging that night, using the phone in our room and the number from the book. We did some activities and had lunch in the town where we awoke, then when we needed some down time, took the train to the next destination.

There are often bed/breakfast guides for larger towns, online, as well - but if you plan to use the internet for information, you need to be sure that you'll have access at every point of your trip.

If you're making a long trip, plan ahead how to do laundry. In places where it rains a lot, it is difficult to have things dry by hanging in a hotel room, and laundromats are not as common in some cities as you might expect.

We renewed DH's passport this year and it took about 2 months to get it back in the mail.

5-9-11, 11:56am
Passport first. My first passport took about 6 weeks (a long time ago) and subsequent renewal turnarounds were 2-4 weeks. I planned 2 trips to the UK myself through research but then found a way to cheat. I found a local high school group that was going on a tour and hitched a ride with them for the transportation and lodging discount - meals were included. Once there my husband and I could be on our own or tag along with their tour. It was nice to have theater tickets just handed to us and transportation to and from the theater already arranged. They were very accommodating to our wishes. I’m not in the position to travel freely now but if I were I think I’d try the tour group route for the group discount plane and hotel fare and on my own otherwise.

5-9-11, 4:59pm
This site: http://www.visitbritain.com/en/US/ has a lot of information. Don't get overwhelmed!

One thing to be aware of is that travelling East you'll have pretty bad jet lag. The first day is usually kind of a write-off. I like to spend the first day on a bus tour, where I can just sit and be driven around and kind of get the feel for things.

Things will be a lot cheaper if you can play it by ear, but I sure understand your nervousness, esp. if you are travelling alone. I second the Lonely Planet rec. How long are you planning to stay?

Maybe there are some folks in the UK on this forum that could help you out??

5-9-11, 5:58pm
Gardenerarian: I've offered!

5-10-11, 2:55am
Hi Tiam,

I've travelled quite a bit, so here are some of my thoughts...
Decide what sorts of areas you like: cities, countryside, seaside etc.
Decide how active you want to be in your trip... structured tours, self guided tours, come and go as you please, etc.
What kind of experiences do you like... informational, historical, entertaining, nightlife, etc.
For transportation, lodging, and meals think about whether it's important to be close to events, inexpensive, accessible, local etc.
If you have any activities you enjoy, like hiking & walking, quilting, or your religion, etc. try to find a local group(before you go) and attend one of their events.
Research online before you go, for example some theatres are dark some evenings, or other places closed for holidays.

Personally, I love hostels and local B&B type places, a bit of history and museums mixed with some local quirkieness, and the local food items. Some of my memories in the Uk were
London- the Victoria & Albert Museum, 10 Dowing St., Big Ben, St. Pauls, seeing CATS in the theatre district, parks and pubs
out of London- Stonehenge, Bath, and old castle & estate, and the towne of Olney where my Grandfather was a vicar in the 1630s, and local pubs

Cheers, WorldFoodie

5-11-11, 4:36pm
>8) I missed that Ishbel!