From Iceland to Peru via Madagascar: Why Preparation is Key to a Successful Trip

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We all love a holiday. However, unless you’ve fallen victim to rainy days spent locked in a barely furnished villa in the Algarve, you may not realise that enjoying yourself on holiday isn’t always a guarantee. Ultimately, your chances of enjoyment all come down to one thing: planning, planning, and more planning. Simple preparation in advance, ranging from looking at the weather to learning about the culture and activities you’ll be doing, will allow you to make the most of your time abroad. Here are just a few examples of how preparation can be key for exploring the world most effectively.

Florida, Iceland, and Japan: Weather (or not) to Travel?

Scouring the web for weather information is perhaps most important for destinations where you want some summer sun, like in Florida, where we recently focused on Key West. Know the risks if you choose to visit between June and October, normally regarded as the Sunshine State’s hurricane season. Florida is right in the danger zone when it comes to hurricanes; in fact, since 1851, only 18 hurricane seasons have gone by without a known storm hitting the state. The same weather implications can apply in more extreme ways to countries like Iceland, with 3 months of the year (November to January) where you will find your visit plunged into almost total darkness, whilst you might have been looking for midnight sun.

“image” by (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In the same vein, travelling to Japan at a time of year when the cherry blossom is nowhere near ready (or has already happened), is going to be a let-down if that’s your main motivation for going. Similarly, a trip to Hokkaido in the winter or the summer can impact upon the whole nature of your trip in terms of the landscape and wildlife on offer.

Madagascar and London: Logistics Over Leisure…

Madagascar is not only included in our 2017 top places to visit guide but is also a great example of a destination where research really matters. You’ll need a lot of it to help overcome the logistical challenges of seeing the island’s renowned wildlife. Madagascar can be a nightmare to travel around, so some might opt for a tour from a company like Intrepid, who remove the challenge of working out how to use a taxi brousse from one location to the next. Their Active Madagascar tour starts at around $3,343CAD and allows tourists the chance to see some of the 33 different species of lemur along the route.  The same tip applies when it comes to making the most of a trip to a giant city like London, UK. An open-top bus tour can help to cover all the sights of this city, instead of spending hours locked in the underground switching between tube stations. A one-day pass with Big bus London costs $56 CAD, or $78 CAD for 3 days.

Allée des Baobabs near Morondava, Madagascar” by Frank Vassen (CC BY 2.0)

Monaco: Size Doesn’t Matter

You may think that it’s only the “big” destinations that demand proper preparation, but you’d be wrong. Monaco is one of the smallest sovereign city-states (202 ha with a population of 37,731) in the world, yet it has a treasure trove of sights and activities that worth studying beforehand. If you’ve come for the Monaco Grand Prix, a new book about “F1’s greatest race” by award-winning sports journalist Malcolm Folley will be published on May 18 with exclusive drivers’ interviews. And before hitting one of the Monte Carlo casinos, play one of the world’s oldest card games – blackjack, whether you hit or stand keeping composure when up against the dealer is crucial in order to succeed at the table? Finally, you can tear up while watching Prince Albert’s exclusive tour of the Palace that was broadcast on CBS’s Sunday Morning on February 26.

"Avenue of Yachts in Monaco" by Trish Hartmann (CC BY 2.0)

Peru: Plan Months in Advance

One country where your trip is simply impossible without a lot of planning is Peru and a route to see the ancient wonder of Machu Pichu. With the famous Inca Trail often full several months in advance and no available permits or remaining passes remaining, the logistics of visiting Machu Pichu by train or plane can be a big challenge. Only licensed operators are able to buy the permits from the government – which can be checked directly on the site of the Ministry of Culture. A basic 4 days/3 nights tour will start at $820 CAD with the services of a porter

These are just a few tips to bear in mind and we haven’t listed them all – if you’re going to a tropical destination, you’ll need to get vaccines early on; some countries like Chad require a sponsor’s letter; and a visit to Russia will make US citizens bleed ink with a good 40 questions before they can get a visa. What did we tell you – planning is key!

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