Pack your bags, cause we’re jetting off…
Over the past Bank Holiday weekend, which feels like it was last year ago now, Mark and I found ourselves knee-deep in honeymoon planning. Part of the reason why we had a small and relatively budget-friendly wedding day (see all the details on it here) was because we wanted to go completely BALLS OUT with the honeymoon. Whilst we’ve travelled a bit together, often with friends and for short weekend breaks away, with the odd week-long vacation here and there, we’ve never done a longer stint abroad; plus Lily still holds the title of ‘My most travelled with person ever’. Love you LP. So it’s time to get some airmiles in with Mark and it didn’t take us long to realise that New Zealand would be our destination of choice. The natural beauty, the food, the cycling trails (for Mark,not me), the spas (for me, although Mark is trying to elbow in on the action) – it covered all bases.
In the past I’ve been in charge of sorting out a seven-night long holidays with my girlfriends, but I’ve never been faced with the prospect of having to sort out flights, accommodation and an itinerary for 26 days. SAY WHUT!? How do you even start? Well today I’m breaking it down because we’re finally able to see the light after spending a solid 48 hours browsing airbnb – ‘oooh this one has a hot tub! Oh wait, it’s booked already‘ – and wondering why we decided to go away over the busiest/most expensive time of the year. So here’s how to plan the most (hopefully) epic holiday ever…
STEP ONE: PEN AND PAPER AT THE READY
When it comes to booking flights or accommodation first, I’m always partial to getting the flights in the diary first because accommodation options are much easier to come by, even if you do have to spend two nights in NZ in their Butlins equivalent because everywhere else is booked up (it’s cool, who doesn’t want to spend Boxing Day in a cabin with a shared bathroom?). Once you’ve pinned them down write yourself up a little calendar so you can pencil in your travel plans and sleepover details each day. We found this really helpful to be able to see our trip in this visual way as we’ll be travelling around, so it made it easier to see how long we could spend in each spot, whilst it still being mildly relaxing.
Of course if your trip is just in one place or on the shorter side, it might not be necessary to make your own calendar, although I still like to because it almost acts as a travel diary after the trip (it’s one more thing to bore people with, along with your 1000 photos) and makes it simple to see what days you’re away for and what to do on each one. Come on, you know I love a good plan.
STEP TWO: SET A BUDGET
Having never been on a long trip before, budgeting had always been an element of holiday planning but not something of the highest importance because we were never staying anywhere for that long and we weren’t exactly going to live like rockstars whilst we were there. However, when you go away for almost a month, it’s really bleedin’ expensive (yep, can you tell I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to travelling?). Of course we want to have an awesome trip as it’s a place that we probably won’t get the chance to visit again AND IT’S OUR HONEYMOON, but we also don’t want to fritter away an amount that would make a serious dent in our mortgage. #Adulting at it’s finest.
We want our visit to be relaxed. There’s a lot of travelling involved so if we want to spend the evening slobbing out on the sofa and seeing what delights New Zealand Netflix has to offer, then that’s cool. We’ll be driving ourselves around, would like the option to cook our own food if we fancy eating in one night and quite like the idea of playing cards out on the front porch because we’re in our eighties. We opted to spend our first night in a hotel because of the obvious connection between jet-lag and room service, but for the rest of the trip we went for airbnbs and motels. By doing that we’ve managed to keep the cost down and will be able to spend more on experiences and ridiculously large plates of sushi when we’re out there.
STEP THREE: DO YOUR RESEARCH
You know I like to throw this tip into every advice post that I write, but I feel like here it’s real important. So important that I actually have a folder in my inbox that’s solely dedicated to NZ recommendations that I’ve been sent by you lot. We’re lucky that we have quite a few friends that have travelled there, some even lived and studied there for a year, so we’ve got suggestions by the bucket load. We found that the best method was to take our mate a map and watch as he stuck little stickers onto it, told us the BEST places he’d visited and basically planned our trip for us. This combined with the Lonely Planet guide was how we devised our initial itinerary. Matt and Lonely Planet, that’s all you need.
Whilst I find the guide books really handy for area and activity recommendations, I find that they can be a little shoddy when it comes to food and accommodation recommendations so that’s where your pals – and you lot! – have come in. Over the coming months I’m planning on combing through all my emails and favourites tweets to write mini little guidebooks of our own for each place we’re visiting, so that when we’re there we can look to that, instead of browsing TripAdvisor for two hours whilst we try not to pass out with hunger. I’m sure I won’t look like a tourist AT ALL with my stickered map, pencilled out calendar and self-written guide book. Not at all.
Photos by Lauren Shipley
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