The 9 Ultimate Steps on How to Plan a Holiday - Plan the Best Holiday Ever!

Luke Iles – Uploaded 20.05.2023

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How to plan a trip of a lifetime

If you thinking about sitting down and relaxing on a beach for a fortnight with not a care in the world. Sipping a cocktail whilst you relax on the white sands, soaking up the golden sun and diving into bright blue, clear seas.

Perhaps you are dreaming of exploring the bustling life and culture of a city and visiting all the sights and famous attractions. Eating and drinking as a local would and getting fully immersed in the traditions.

Or you may not even have thought that far ahead and just know you want a holiday on this certain date and that is enough to think about for the time being.

Well, fortunately as two travellers who have explored plenty of beautiful cities and countries over the years, we have had every type of holiday and vacation imaginable. Whether that be a family trip to a sunny location with the family, a party holiday with friends, a student budget holiday or a luxury relaxing vacation with a partner; we have had our fair share of travel experiences and with that, we have had to overcome certain problems.

One thing we know for sure is that when it comes to travel, planning is the most important step for a relaxing and enjoyable trip that goes smoothly. Now, we are not saying that you need to over plan and cause more stress than necessary however coming up with a reasonable and detailed holiday plan can help maximise your time, money and enjoyment when going on holiday.

Throughout this travel article, we will provide you with a fully comprehensive nine-step guide on how to plan a holiday to make the most out of your time, money and enjoyment!

man and woman ready to go on a holiday sat on a sofa with luggage looking fed up.

The 9 steps on how to plan a trip

As mentioned if you follow our nine comprehensive and easy-to-follow tips on how to plan a holiday you will be able to have a holiday that is not only cheaper than you expected but also fully maximised to your preferences on what you deem to be a fun and enjoyable trip.

Below are our 9 steps on how to plan a holiday which we have picked up the hard way by travelling the globe and encountering the problems first-hand, so you do not have to:

  1. Pick your holiday destination
  2. Decide the duration of your holiday
  3. Research the costs and start saving money
  4. Check your passport and visa requirements
  5. Book your flight
  6. Book your accommodation
  7. Create a travel itinerary
  8. Book tickets and plan your travel arrangements
  9. Pack your luggage and bags

1. Pick your holiday destination

booking a holiday on a laptop on a table.

First things first, you need to make sure that you pick a destination. Of course, it may sound silly but with no destination in mind, there will be no holiday taking place to even plan for. Now you may have a location in mind, you may have a few or you may have no idea at all!

The first thing you need to do is identify your interest and decide what type of holiday you want to have. If you are planning with other travellers such as your friends, family or partner you may also want to consider and incorporate everyone’s views. Some ideas of the types of holidays include a sunny, relaxing beach holiday, an action-packed, sightseeing city break or a cold winter sports holiday. There are plenty of choices.

Once you have settled on the type of holiday you want to have and have done a little bit of research into the holiday destinations that offer the specific type of adventure you want to have, next you need to decide what destinations are within your budget. For example, a long-haul flight will cost you more than a short-haul flight. It is also important to understand how pricey a destination is when you get there. For example, when we visited Thailand, the flights were expensive as they were long haul however the price of food, drink, accommodation and travel were very little.

You also want to consider the time of year you are planning the trip so that you ensure that you visit when it is the best weather and everything is open for your trip. There is nothing worse than planning a holiday and it is bad weather and nothing is open.

Finally, do more research on the destination and fully understand that this is the place that you want to visit and everyone is happy with it. Once this is done you can move onto step two.

Read our in depth guide written by a travel expert on how to find the perfect travel destination so you and your fellow travellers can have the trip of a lifetime!

2. Decide the duration of your holiday

people using a map to go round a city

Now that you have done your research and selected the best holiday destination that you want to visit, you now have to plan out the duration of your trip and how long you plan to stay. You need to decide when is the best time to go on holiday for you and your fellow travellers.

Some holidays may only be a short weekend away as your lifestyle and work cannot permit you to have any time off. On the other hand, you may be taking a gap year or are looking to have a few months to travel to a specific country and explore and therefore would require to plan for a longer trip. When it comes to holiday planning it is important that you know what you want to do and deciding the duration of your trip is pivotal.

The first thing you want to consider when deciding on your trip duration is if the destination you are visiting requires you to stay for a long or short time. For example, some cities and countries may have very little to do and explore for the type of holiday you want whereas others may require you to have a lot more time to fully see and do everything.

Furthermore, you need to estimate your budget and research whether you are financially viable to plan a trip to stay as long as you want in a particular destination.

On top of this, you need to consider your lifestyle and work schedule and whether you will have enough holiday time to book this trip from work. Furthermore, you may be a college or university student who has to be in class to learn and revise at some points so it is all worthwhile consideration.

Ultimately, the trip duration is an important thing you need to consider when planning a trip and the final decision is down to you and the people you are travelling with personal preferences and circumstances.

3. Research the costs and start saving money

piggy bank on the beach with sea shells and sun glasses on.

So you have now established both the destination you are visiting and how long you are staying for and that part is now all planned out and sorted.

Next, you want to research how much the tip is going to cost you so you can minimise overhead costs and look to save money where possible. This step is particularly important for those travelling on a budget however who doesn’t like saving a bit of money in the process, right?

Researching the costs of your trip and looking to budget and start saving money is pivotal if you want a successful and enjoyable trip. By doing this step you can save money and make it so that you have more spending money available when you are actually on holiday.

Some of the ways that allow us to travel as frequently as we do and tips that have actually saved us thousands of pounds when travelling across different countries and cities are the following:

  • Setting a budget – By setting a budget and allocating funds for all parts of the trip including flights, accommodation, travel, food, drink, activities and overheads you can look to save money by sticking to a plan.
  • Compare prices – When looking to book flights and accommodation you can use travel comparison websites that can help you find the best deal.
  • Travel off-season – If you have the luxury to have the ability to travel just off of peak season you can save hundreds of pounds. Simply research the most optimal time to save money and still enjoy yourself at a specific destination and you can save hundreds of pounds. We use this trick when we travel and it helps us save a lot of money in the long run!
  • Choose cheap accommodation – You can cut costs by choosing cheaper accommodation.

When it comes to saving money for your trip away, the best tip that we can give is by setting aside an amount from each wage bill that you currently get. This is what we tend to do each month and by depositing an amount that will still allow you to live comfortably and not have any effect on your bills or livelihood we manage to travel fairly frequently. You can set this amount into a new bank account which is specifically for travel and holiday payments so that way you will not be tempted to touch it and can keep track of how much money you have to spend for your holiday.

If you need more help on how to set the perfect travel budget for your next trip, read our guide on how to set a travel budget. It documents the preparation stage, the holiday spending money stage and the reasons to set an emergency fund if the worst case scenario was to occur.

4. Check your passport and visa requirements

passport on a map with toy plane on top.

Now that you have everything in check and you are ready to visit your specific destination, it is important that you have all the necessary legal documentation to allow you to fly. There is nothing worse than booking a flight and then realising your passport is out of date.

Therefore if you follow some simple checks you can avoid having the potential for any mishaps to occur and for you to not be allowed to enjoy your holiday as you planned to. Please remember that this step is pivotal and should not be ignored as the fate of your holiday could depend on these simple checks.

Firstly ensure that you have done your research on the country that you plan on visiting, that means looking up the official government website or consulting reliable and trusted websites such as an embassy website or consulate for accurate and current information for your trip.

Next, find your passports and ensure they are up to date, this means making sure they are valid for at least six months after your departure date from that country. If your passport is not, you will be refused entry and therefore will have to sign up for a new passport to get it renewed.

Once your passport is up to date, you will then want to check over any necessary visa requirements. As you have done your research, you will know what type of visa you require and whether the country you are visiting from allows entry without a visa for a limited period. When looking to apply for a visa application it is worth remembering that visa applications can vary in the amount of time they take to process, some countries can be instant whereas others can take weeks to validate. Therefore, get your visa application submitted in plenty of time if it is required.

You will also want to consider entry and exit requirements from a country meaning you may need proof of tickets, accommodation and funds. Furthermore, some countries require specific requests such as travel insurance or vaccinations to enter the country.

Finally, you want to ensure that you have a double copy of everything including passports, visas and other travel documents. This is vital in case the worse happens and you forget or lose an important document. Always make sure you have a paper copy at hand to avoid any troubles!

5. Book your flight

lady in airport watching plane take off in sunset

So now it is time to put the plan into motion, you have planned and checked over everything you need to make this holiday a success so now go ahead and book it!

As two friends who have travelled across the globe visiting places all over Europe, Asia and North America, to name a few options, we have plenty of tips and tricks that you can use to make sure that you find the best flight prices and the best flight tickets.

When it comes to searching for the best flight it is ideal that you pick a flight time that is early in the day that you want to fly out. The best time we try to go for is around 9 am, this is the perfect flight time for when you are doing a short-haul flight that is less than four hours. it means you don’t have to wake up too early to visit the airport but still means that you can make the afternoon and get to spend a night at your destination. For returns for a short-haul flight, we typically try to book a flight that is departing in the afternoon of that day so we can be nice and relaxed before getting on the plane to leave. For long-haul destinations, the flight time is not as vital as the plane flight is going to take a while anyway, however, that is where the price comes into.

We recommend using a flight comparison website such as Skyscanner or Google Flights. These two websites are the best we have come across and provide regular flight deals so that you can find the best flight prices and times.

Once you have found a good flight to the destination you want to visit, go ahead and book it through the websites that the comparison websites suggest. You will then be one step closer to that holiday!

Ensure you keep a record of all the documents including plane tickets for all the flights and keep a record of any check-in processes you may need to follow. In addition to this ensure that you have booked the correct overhead baggage, luggage and any speedy boarding tickets if required.

6. Book your accommodation

two people checking into a hotel

No holiday can be complete without booking accommodation and the place you stay can make or break your trip very easily. Trust me, we know from experience!

Therefore, do your research on the particular area you want to stay, ensure you know how far it is away from all the other attractions and whether you would like to stay in a hotel room, villa, lodge, apartment, bed and breakfast or Air BNB.

You will also want to do your planning on how good that particular place you are planning to stay in. Have a look into what they have going on in the day and night. Is there a popular strip with bars, restaurants and clubs? Is it by the attractions you want to visit? Is it out of the way of all the noise? These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself.

We recommend using Google reviews and Trip Advisor as well as travel forums such as Reddit plus Google Maps to plan the best area to stay when you go on your holiday. Youtube and TikTok are also great apps that can provide insight into the best locations to stay for the type of holiday you are wanting. Just do your research on the location and the actual accommodation you are staying in!

Once you have made your choice on the type of accommodation and area you are staying in, it is time to find the best accommodation at the lowest price. This is where comparison websites come well and truly in handy.

When staying in a hotel we recommend using Trivago to find the best deals and save the most money.

If it is an Air BNB just be cautious and take your time using the filters to find the best choice for your destination.

No matter what site you look to book on, just do your research and look around other websites and places first. We even recommend entering the name you are planning to stay at into Google and investigating if any other reliable websites are offering better deals and prices.

Just remember research is key when booking accommodation, so take your time and don’t rush it!

If you need help on how to find cheap accommodation for your next holiday, check out our in depth guide and save money on hotels today.

7. Create a travel itinerary

pen and paper on a world map

No holiday plan can be complete without a travel itinerary. A travel itinerary helps you stick to a rough plan and allows you to make the most of your time within a destination so you can do and see all the things that you planned to do and see.

There is nothing worse than not being able to do everything that you wanted to in a destination because you did not plan out the trip well and didn’t have a travel plan, trust us we have been there too.

Again when it comes to creating a travel itinerary make sure you do your research, whether that is watching Youtube videos, using TikTok or searching Google for all the attractions and things you want to do in a particular destination.

Once you have that plan, map out the number of days you are staying at the destination and map out all the activities you plan on completing. It is up to you how detailed and intense you want the travel itinerary to be.

All we recommend is that you use it as a rough guide rather than a strict plan of action you must follow and don’t worry if things go wrong and you can’t follow it to the maximum. You are on holiday, after all, just relax and enjoy it.

If you want the full breakdown of how to create a detailed travel itinerary read our travel blog which includes a free travel itinerary template that you can download.

Furthermore, if you have had enough of research and planning why not speed up the process within five minutes you can create a free travel itinerary using AI, read our travel blog to find out the best three ways to do this all for free.

8. Book tickets and plan your travel arrangements

ticket at orlando resort florida

If you are visiting a popular tourist destination there may be activities and things you want to visit that require booking tickets online to avoid disappointment. The same goes for if you require transport such as a bus or rental car.

Make sure that you research and book all the main activities you want to do online, through a reputable and official website. sometimes tickets for big attractions will only be released a few months in advance so just double-check and ensure you are prepared to book the majority of things online if you want to avoid disappointment. The same can be said for travel arrangements also, particularly if you are relying on a transport option to make your holiday a success.

Once you have booked the particular ticket or event ensure that you have an online copy as well as a hard copy that you can bring in person in case of an unforeseen circumstance. Make sure you are always prepared.

We recommend pre booking your holiday activities, guided tours, tickets and excursions. To learn more about the best websites to book guided tours read our guide!

9. Pack your luggage and bags

person packing luggage with clothes

Finally, get your bags packed with all the essentials you need for your trip. Ensure that you have weighed each of your luggage bags when full to make sure that your luggage will meet the requirements that you paid for on the ticket otherwise, you may be met with a hefty upcharge when you visit the airport and attempt to board the plane.

We recommend you create a list of all the necessary items you need to bring and check them off as you pack them.

Also, don’t forget to pack spares for your important documents such as your passport, boarding passes, visa documents, plane tickets, hotel receipts and any tickets or booking passes you require for your time away. If you are looking to save money and make the most out of your limited space in your suitcase, check out our guide on how to pack a suitcase to maximize space!

Most importantly once the list is checked off, relax and get ready for the best holiday of your lifetime!


Now you should be more than ready to go and can sit back and relax with not a care in the world. Hopefully, this nine-step guide has provided you with a full detailed easy-to-follow plan so that you can go and enjoy the holiday of your dreams with your friends, family, partner or just by yourself.

As avid travellers ourselves, we know that over-planning and being too strict on the trip planning process can have just as big a negative impact as not planning at all so try and find that happy medium and balance when it comes to preparing for your big holiday away.

However, just remember you are about to start a big new adventure and don’t stress if you feel that your holiday plan is not detailed enough or you are worried about forgetting things. Before you leave for the airport do one last big check and that sit back and relax.

By using this trip planning process as a guide you can be sure you are fully prepared for your holiday away and that you have covered all the vital and necessary things that need to be done so you can have a trip that is within your budget and as accustomed to your definition of enjoyable as possible!

If you are a first time backpacker and what to be even more prepared, why not check out our list of essential travel tips so you can make the most of your backpacking trip.

Read Travel Blogs and More

If you enjoyed reading about our travel blog and are looking to read more of our blogs, here at HandL Blogs, we have a selection of articles across a range of categories including fitness, cooking, travel, tech and more. Read our travel blogs today!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to HandL Blogs at no cost to you if you decide to purchase through these links. These are products we have personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

Picture of Luke Iles

Luke Iles

Luke is a leading travel writer within the travel niche and is also a co-founder of HandL Blogs one of the UK’s leading travel blogging websites. Luke has a love of all things travel.

Initially becoming friends with his other co-founder, Harry, at the age of four years old, they let their love for travel evolve, making it their mission to visit every country in the world!

Today they want to share their passion and experiences of travelling across the globe with written blogs on topics that are most important to them. From travel, cooking, fitness and tech blogs!

Whether that be trying new food in a new country and sharing it in a cooking blog; visiting a new gym in a certain city and reviewing it in a fitness blog or learning about the newest tech within the travel industry.

Read Luke's Story

 Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to HandL Blogs at no cost to you if you decide to purchase through these links. These are products we have personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

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