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How do you plan your holidays?

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      15.02.2012 14:01
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      Ways to plan your holiday and decide where to go.

      I'm not particularly well travelled but there are many places that I would like to visit. My husband is the opposite. After spending 13 years serving in the Royal Navy he was lucky enough to visit many places in the world. Generally when we are looking for holidays, we like to go to places he hasn't visited. I suppose a lot of places I would like to visit have come from seeing things on TV - holiday programmes and films. Also speaking to friends and family about their holidays entices me to visit places. Before we even start looking at holidays, we already have a good idea of where we would like to go. When we look for holidays, we set ourselves an affordable budget and then look at the places and holidays within our budget. We usually start by going to a travel agent to ask for recommendations and suggestions for good places to visit. The travel agents are useful in providing brochures to look through and all the necessary relevant information about currency, possible visas and sometimes their own view on what they thought. After we have spoken to the travel agents we then have a trawl through the Internet to look for better prices and holiday reviews. There are also usually more pictures to look at on the Internet to give you an idea of the surrounding areas and not just the accommodation or resort. Before we book a holiday we do like to know what there is to see and do in the area to make sure the holiday suits us and will keep us occupied as well as providing a relaxing holiday. We usually buy a guide book of the area before we travel but not before we book the holiday. We vary rarely use the guide books whilst on holiday but they are great to have a read through before the holiday. The pocket size guide books are also quite handy. We bought one before we went to Paris and it was great - it had a map at the back and useful phrases as well. We always read as much information as possible on an area, so that we have an idea of what we want to do when we get there. Sometimes we set ourselves a target for a holiday. We would both like to visit America and at the moment have planned to hopefully visit in 2014, allowing ourselves 2 years to save the money we will need. We know which areas we would like to visit and have already been looking at flights and accommodation to give ourselves an idea of the costs that we'll be looking at paying. We both have aspirations for places we would like to visit but sometimes holidays fall into our laps as well. For example 2 of our friends plan to get married in Australia in about 3 years, so we have decided to make that into a long 3 or 4 week holiday. In this instance we won't have a lot of say as to where we'll be staying for a week but the other 2 or 3 weeks will be our own choice. To decide we will have a look on the Internet at places of interest and then build our holiday around that. To sum up how we plan our holidays: 1. Internet - See pictures, find places of interest, competitive prices and read reviews 2. Travel Agents - To get an idea of prices, recommendations and important and relevant information (expert advice) 3. Friends and family - hearing about their holidays, opinions and pictures. 4. TV Programmes and Films - Places that look appealing. Thank you for reading.

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        15.02.2012 11:24
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        Lots of information available

        I only ever travel in the UK as I do not enjoy going abroad. When we are looking for a new holiday destination we always send away for holiday brochures before we decide where to go. We enjoy looking through holiday brochures as many of them are similar in format to a glossy magazine with lots of interesting information. You can find out many things about your destination by looking at a brochure first as a good holiday brochure should list ; Accomodation details--hotels, self catering, camping, caravaning etc Local attractions---museums, family fun days out, places of historic interest, family friendly beaches Entertainment--- cinemas, theatres, local music events Food --eating out,shops, farm shops , markets,festivals and fairs Public transport-- busses, trains Maps of the local area Shopping---general supermarkets ,clothes, antiques, souveniers Events---festivals, meetings, music Some good brochures will also give you a brief history of the area and should include lots of website urls so that you can check anything interesting online before you go. You can also find money off vouchers for local attractions and events in some brochures and some run competitions where you can win hampers of local produce or a short break in the area. By carefully reading through a brochure you will get a good idea of the place you wish to take your holiday in, in fact after reading all the information you feel like you know the places already. As well as reading through brochures it is always worth checking the websites out for more information,offers and competitions. Useful website/ blog http://happylady01.blogspot.com/

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          09.04.2011 14:27
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          Going on holiday is probably the most exciting time of year for me as I am sure it is for a lot of people, however planning the perfect holiday can often be quite a daunting task, especially if you are going for the first time or are a picky person like myself. I would love to be one of those people who just see something they like the look of and just book it and hope for the best but I'm just not. A holiday for me requires a lot of planning and research, some would say to a fanatical degree. As I am in the middle of planning a holiday right now, that I am going to day in early May I thought it would be a good idea to write this review as the steps and obstacles that I seem to have to overcome are fresh in my mind. ---Where to go--- Obviously the first thing that needs to be decided upon is the destination. Travel operators offer a huge choice of destinations, and choosing where to go can often be quite confusing. This is where a little research comes in handy. Most people who are about to book a holiday usually have a fairly good idea of what various places are like, but to find out more, there are thousands of websites available on the net which give pretty detailed information on the different destinations. ---Resorts--- When a country has been chosen, you then need to choose a resort that is best suited to your needs. I have always found that within any destination, there are busy parts/resorts and quiter parts if it is a relaxing holiday that you are looking for. Again, this will require some research. There are lots of websites available on the internet giving information about the various resorts. ---The Hotel--- This part of the holiday is probably one of the most important to me. Being a picky person, I like to know that the hotel is going to be decent and of a fairly high standard so this part of the planning can prove very difficult. Hotels are usually given a star rating, but depending on where you choose to go, the basis upon which the star rating was given can change quite drastically. For example, a 4 star hotel in Turkey, may not be the equivallent to a 4 star hotel in Spain. Genereally, I opt for either a 4 star or 5 star hotel, depending upon the price. When I have chosen a resort, a whole new round of research begins whereby I read about the various hotels in the area, taking into account the location of the hotel, quality of the rooms and pools. As I like to stay in the busier resorts, making sure that the hotel is in walking distance from the centre and other local amenitites is important and can easily be done using the internet. When I have a short list of hotels that I am considering, I read reviews on each hotel from people who have actually stayed there. To do this I recommend sites such as Trip Advisor or Holiday Check. These sites give a rating out of five and there is all kinds of information from past customers about the hotel, resort, staff and location. ---Board Basis--- All Inclusive (AI) I have noticed that there is an increasing number of hotels now which offer all inclusive. This is now my first choice when booking a holiday. All inclusive means that all meals, drinks incuding alcoholic drinks, snacks, entertainment are included in the overall price of the holiday. Of course, this is usually the more expensive option, but I always find that it works out cheaper in the long run when you take into consideration what you would be spending on meals and drinks for the duration of the holiday. It is a good idea to check what the all inclusive plan includes before booking as it can vary between different hotels. Self Catering (SC) Self catering is usually one of the cheaper option when booking a holiday and means that there will be cooking facilities in the room. My first ever holiday was a self catering holiday but instead of cooking meals we ate out in the evenings which did end up being quite expensive. This might be a good idea for families to keep costs down but I really don't go away on holiday to stand over a cooker. Room Only (RO) Room only means exactly what it says. Th price of the accomodation is for just a room and all meals and drinks are charged at an extra cost. Again this is a cheaper option when booking a holiday but there is still the problem of eating out and buying drinks and snacks throughout the day. Bed and Breakfast (B&B) This option means that breakfast is included in the price of the holiday. This is usually slightly more expensive that the RO and SC options. Half Board (HB) This option means that breakfast and the evening meal is included in the price. Depending on where you are travelling this can be a good option, especially if you are travelling to a country where the cost of living is cheap. Full Board (FB) Full Board means that breakfast, lunch, and evening meal is included in the price of the accomodation. This is one of the more expensive options and is usually just slightly cheaper than booking an all inclusive holiday. Booking the Holiday So you have done your research, you know where you want to go and what to expect and now it's time to book. There are many travel agents and tour operators to choose from, but it's always best to obtain a couple of quotes before booking to ensure that you get the best possible price. Amongst the more well known names are Thomas Cook, First Choice and Thomson. These companies offer a wide range of holiday destinations usually in the form of a package holiday. A package holiday is probably the easiest way to book a holiday, especially if you are not too experienced in this area. When searching for a package holiday, the price you see includes flights, accomodation, travel insurance and transfers to and from the resort. Unfortunately, I find these sites a little on the expensive side so I very rarely book with them now. Two good alternatives are Travel Republic and Low Cost holidays. The search process for these sites is a little different allowing you to tailor make your holiday by first selecting a flight and then choosing accomodation. You then get the opportunity to add extras onto your holiday. Caution is needed when booking with these sites as you need to add your baggage allowance yourself and also transfers and usually travel insurance but I find that doing it this way works out considerably cheaper and it is relatively easy to do. You may also be able to bring the overall price down further by booking different elements of your holiday with different companies. Travel insurance usually always works out cheaper when you book directly with an insurance company. Sometimes flights can also be cheaper too when you book them separately, but I would recommend booking it altogether if you are not going to be saving a considerable amount and the difference is only a few pounds. And that is how I book my holidays. It is quite a lengthy process but it does ensure that I am am able to get the best price for where I want to go and everything is planned properly and taken care of. Have fun if you are travelling abroad this year! **Also on Ciao under the same username**

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            05.04.2009 16:53
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            Enjoy the planning as much as the holiday!

            Another holiday related review from Holidaying (who unfortunately is not currently on holiday!) Where do you get your ideas? I get my ideas from all sorts of places but two particularly good sources are other people and travel related television programmes such as Lonely Planet. I love hearing stories from other people about the places they have been to. Not everything inspires me, but I like to hear about the type of people that they met, and importantly whether they were mostly other tourists (in which case I won't be so interested) or locals, and what things they did. If they spent every day by the hotel pool then I don't suppose they can really tell me about the activities of the place they visited, but if they went somewhere where all there was to do was sit by the pool, I'll strike that locale off! On the other hand, if they visited somewhere full of fascinating markets, beautiful scenery and great places to sample the local food, I'll be all ears! Programmes such as Lonely Planet inspire me because the visual medium in which they're brought to people mean that you actually get to see what's there. This means that rather than relying on a description of a place and being told it is or isn't worth visiting, you can make a bit more of a judgement for yourself! I also like to look at travel magazines in the lead up to planning to go on holiday! What do you do before deciding to go somewhere? I have a short list of things to check before I decide for definite to go to a place. Firstly, I'll look at the UK government's travel advice, found at www.fco.gov.uk to see if there are any warnings. Before you discount this and think it's only for people that are paranoid, it can be very useful and throw up some surprising information about places we take for granted are generally safe. For example, Thailand which I visited last year and where a great many British tourists go has some quite serious political tensions being played out in the capital which means that anything can happen at any time (such as the airport shut down that occured at the end of last year) and there are serious safety issues in the far south of the country. After safety, I consider how much it will cost me to visit a country. For this, I look at flights using a site like www.cheapflights.co.uk, and then I consider the cost of accommodation, food and activities. A great website for this is www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations, under 'practical information'. I also try to find out what the weather will be like when I go on holiday. If I want to be somewhere hot and they're expecting a monsoon, I might consider going somewhere else! Of course, if you are booking a package holiday then your travel agent will be able to tell you all these things! What are the final stages of your holiday planning? Once I have booked the flights and accommodation, I try to make a sketched out plan of what to do whilst there and what to see. For this I like to refer to travel books and to pick the brains of anyone who might have inspired me to go there! The library is a great source of travel books but I like to write in mine so I am likely to get a cheap second hand book from somewhere like Ebay. If the holiday is for one week I will probably have a plan for five days and on two days just go with the flow or do that most popular of holiday activities, catch up on some sleep! I'll plan how to get to the different places and what the cost will be. How will you change your holiday planning process in future? Oh that's an easy question- I'll use dooyoo of course! There are some great reviews in the travel section, full of information and inspiration and I think the best of them will help with every stage of the planning process! Thanks for reading! Enjoy your next holiday!

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            18.03.2009 14:47
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            Its worth while to plan

            Advice on Planning a Holiday The more you plan before you go on holiday the more you should be able to see and do once you get there. First thing is you need to decide where you are going to, this will all depend on your circumstances for example if you are single, are a couple or have children. There are lots of different types of holidays as well depending on your budget from luxury hotels in far away places to going camping at home. Some things you could try out would be organised tours (these can be by train and bus) or cruises. Once you have picked the area you are going to you can chose the best mode of transport for you. If you are feeling adventures you could take your own car or hire one once you get to your destination and navigate yourself. Before I ever book anywhere I make sure I do some research on the area I am planning on going to and the hotel I plan to book. If you have the money you could buy a Lonely Planet book as these are great and give you frank and honest opinions. Or if you don't want to buy a book you could get some information out of the library. As let's face it if you don't know where your going you could end up in a dump in the middle of nowhere! Saying this I sometimes read between the lines of reviews of hotels as some people can be just too picky. If most of the reviews are good then I tend to book it. It is good to see what they have to offer you to do and what there is to see. Everyone's tastes and preferences are different as to what the idea holiday is. Some people think it is heaven lying on a beach all day in the sun, or out drinking all night, whereas other people would find that extremely boring and would rather be out exploring the area seeing different parts of it. I then get a price of my accommodation and travel to the destination. Sometimes if I am on a tight budget I try to work out how much money I will need every day and also how much any tours would cost if I chose to take them. All these wee things add up and you never notice until you come back home and have to pay it off. It is good to have an overall price so you will know roughly how much it will cost. When I do this I always add on a few hundred pounds as there are always hidden costs or unexpected things to pay for. Tipping will have to be taken into consideration if it is customary to do so in the area (this would be especially useful in America as you have to tip for nearly everything. Even in some hotels if you go to the toilet so let's hope you don't have a weak bladder!). I tend to pre-book tours and have an itinerary for the week or two weeks of the different things I would like to do. Tours quite often pack a lot of activities into one day which would be very difficult for you to do by yourself. When I go away somewhere I like to see as much as possible of the area and would hate if I missed something just because I didn't look into it, however it is not possible to do everything. If you are on an action packed holiday it is good to have a few days rest to relax. You also need to remember things like how you are going to get to the airport, how you will get to your hotel once you arrive at your destination. These can be booked in advance as well. If you are ever unsure of where to get these services once you arrive there is usually a help desk so do not panic! If you have children it is a good idea to get a travel game or something to amuse them on your journey there. Children tend to get very cross and tired on long flights so giving them a distraction is always good. Also for yourself a book or magazine can always pass a few hours. Try not to bring too much luggage, my general rule is pack your suitcase on what you think you may need then take half of it out. Everyone always brings too much with them when they go away. You spend your whole time then carrying it around with you. Trust me I went on a gap year and started off with loads of things and by the end of my trip I had sent most of it home. It is amazing what you can live without or even what you don't use as much as you think. I tend to bring a jumper and a light waterproof coat with me everywhere even if the place tends to be very warm as at night time you generally need it at some stage. Plus you need to remember suncream if it's a hot place. A small first aid kit is handy to have on hand. Quite often you can buy it at your destination but this involves having to go look for something in a place where you have no idea where it is. A small bag is handy if you are out during the day to carry things with you. It also means if you are on a budget and don't want to eat out you can make yourself a picnic. How you are going to take your money with you is an important issue. This may be by traveller's cheques (which I have always found a hassle as some places do not change them and they charge you a fee). You can bring just cash with you but carrying large amounts is not advised as if you are mugged that is all your money gone. If you do decide to carry cash make sure you split it with whoever you are with and put it in a money belt. Sometimes hotels offer safes that are locked and you could put it in here. Again you hear the stories where money goes missing. A credit card could be carried and this could be how you pay things off and carry little cash. Not everywhere will accept your card however it all depends on the area you are in. Sometimes you can use your debit card in restaurants or hotels. Failing this you can withdraw cash however you may not get a great rate and may be charged every time you withdraw. Last but not least go and enjoy your holiday! It is the only time of the year you can let your hair down, relax and forget about all your worries at home.

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              04.11.2006 17:48
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              Its always best to research as much as possible.

              Planning a Holiday to Disney world Flordia for some people looks like hard work and a very expensive task. I thought going to Disney world would be a lot more expensive than the two trip i have already been on and the one i am going on next year. A work friend told me she had been told it would cost her £5000 or more for a family of 4 ( 2 adults and 2 children). When i told her it was costs us £2856 to go and what it included she was shocked and i helped point her in the right direction. The first thing i did was research Disney world and the surrounding areas on the web. This included going to review sites like Dooyoo, Ciao and also going to sites which offered tips. All i added in was Disney world advice and got lots of helpful information on what was the best place to stay. You have an option to stay on site at Disney world or off site at many surrounding hotels. My advice is to stay on site, much cheaper if your a none driver as off-site you would have to rely on taxi's etc. I popped into as many travel agents as possible and gave them a list of what i wanted including the theme park tickets. Make sure that everything you want is included so its easier to compare prices. Some might look cheaper than others but really look into it, like some company's land at Sanford airport which means a long journey after you get off the plane and others land at Orlando international which is less that 20 minutes away. After along flight you will want to get to your hotel as quick as possible. Virgin provided us with the best deal and service all round. Once you have everything booked and your ready to go, you may want to research the area and Disney world its self. Since i have been several times you would have thought i know everything but i don't and always keep myself updated on the web. The sites i have used to research Disney etc are the following: http://www.wdwinfo.com/#wdw-top-info This site is the best for Disney world information. You will find info on park hours, maps, hotels, videos/photos, whats on, info on the rides at the parks. http://www.disboards.com/ This is just an excellent forum which you can just about find out everything you need to know, just ask a question and someone will hopefully help you out. Its a very busy board with many members to chat to and help you out, the forum is open 24 hours a day. This forum has been the most benefit to me as you can ask questions which not many sites can answer. http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/index This is the main Disney world site it helps give you a sense of whats in the park but is very basic on full info, that's where you can use the forum above to extend your knowledge. http://allearsnet.com/ This is an unofficial Walt disney world information site. Has plenty of tips and advice for anyone visiting. You can probably find some of the info on other sites too but has several parts which are exclusive to them. http://www.intercot.com/ Another great information site for park hours and up to date news. Also don't forget to join their mailing list which provides you will regular news and updates. http://www.wdwmagic.com/ This is an unofficial disney world fan site, where Disney fans give you the help and advice you need to have a great family holiday. Also includes a forum for you to ask questions. The photo album is great to see what others go to on their Disney world trips. There is also many other sites which you can discover by doing a web search but remember not all have up to date information, the websites above are the best for providing latest info and news. Another way of reaching Disney world is to buy some guide books, these can be brought from your local book stores or buy online at Amazon. Also don't forget to get an up to date book IE 2006/2007 as some of the older books might have places which don't exist anymore.

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                05.01.2004 17:07
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                I read Lookaroundcafe2?s travel questionnaire and I thought why not! Me and my boyfriend go away loads, I hope you will enjoy my attempt just as much as I enjoyed travelling! q: how many times a year do you travel? Four to five times a year, mostly in this country although we do try and go abroad at least once. q: for how long do you go away Weekend trips away in this country for a week or two when we go abroad depending on how far we travel q: do you stay in your home country or do you go abroad We like to do both. It?s good to go away to different countries to experience different cultures and to get the better weather. Q: Do you organize your holidays yourself or do you go to a travel agency. My boyfriend does all the organising and he usually surprises me, he books through a travel agent as his brother?s girlfriend works there which has its own rewards like. Q: Do you prepare your holidays in advance by reading guidebooks and studying maps?? No, I?m a typical blonde me. I don?t read books like that, I just want to enjoy the sun, sea and totally veg out by the pool Q: Do you travel alone/with family or friends/with an organized group I used to go away with my parents to Spain, but now I go away with my boyfriend, but I have never travelled alone, I would be too frightened to do so, maybe when I?m older and more confident. Q: Do you prefer the sea / mountains / plains / cities as destinations?? Definitely the sea for me, the sea is so warm and clear in other countries and there?s nothing like a swim with the fishes Q: Do you mainly relax or are you an active holidayer We both relax and soak up the sun. My boyfriend usually hires a car to travel around depending on the country and whether he fancies exploring, Im in his hands litrally Q: If you go abroad do you learn at least some words of the foreign language No, my boyfriend can speak French but we hardly ever go away to a French speaking country so it doesn?t do him much good. I can only speak English and have never wanted to learn another language Q: Are you interested in the cuisine of a foreign country Yes, I will try absolutely anything except seafood, because it is so risky, especially in foreign countries. Cheese, wines, meats, fruits you name it, I?ll try it. My boyfriend never tries anything new, I do tempt him but he is not interested, give him a plate of steak and chips and he?ll be happy, typical man really! Q: Which means of transportation do you prefer Planes definitely, it?s the only transport that is safe and gets you where you want to go fast. I did get the chance of going on concorde but I went down with chicken pox and I had to cancel, guess I?ll never get another chance now. Q: What kind of luggage do you take with you??? Suitcases and lots of them. I?m a girl who takes loads! Q: Do you send picture postcards to your family and friends Oh definitely! I?ve got a big family and they like postcards, my brother collects postcards and as we go away so much he always asks his big sister for a postcard for his collection before I go away! I hope you have enjoyed my attempt and thanks to lookaroundcafe2 for the idea! Happy new year to everyone Love Zara xxxx

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                  08.05.2002 01:14
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                  Planning holidays. Strange concept, but here we go. The are. of course, 2 kinds of holidays. The ones you are obliged to take (family commitments, usually) and fun ones. Family commitment holidays are easy to plan - let someone else do it. The SEP method of planning holidays is one to be taken at every opportunity unless they are your idea. Which they never are. Fun holidays are a whole different idea. I still can't get used to the idea that you have to spend money to go on holiday. It's something that Australians as a rule dont do (even when they travel to the UK). So its gotta be cheap, its gotta be at least a million miles away from the nearest venue that provides package holidays, and you've got to be able to get there without resorting to charter flights. These are the three main criteria. Cheap, of course, could mean a UK holiday. I've had plenty of these over the past 5 years, and all of them have been value. I see no reason to chase the sun - it will only kill you. So first stop is the book of maps. Stick a pin in. Chose your place. Look it up on the net, find a cottage nearby. RING the owner - dont email, dont do online booking. Certainly under no circumstances use an agency. If it costs more than £100 per head per week, you're being shafted. Of course, you can always sponge......... Work out the cheapest and quickest way to get there. If I can go by train, I do so. This, of course means using public transport when you get to the other end, but so what - let someone else do the driving - it's a holiday, remember?? If you want a car, hire one once youre there. You will always find a cheap care hire place where you are - phone the local garage. You wouldn't want to drive most of them 400 miles along a motorway, but they're fine for pootling. Now...O/S holidays. Choose somewhere untrendy, that no-one has ever written a travel review on. cert ianly don't go anywhere where there is timeshare or tour reps. Lithuania appeals for this year, but then again so does Corsica. Look up flights on Cheapflights.com but phone the agent - don't book online. Look up hotels on the web, and phone them. Go to a translation website and write down what you want to say on a piece of paper. Of course, revert to English at the first opportunity. Book bed and breakfast. One you're there eat local produce, talk to local people. Try the local beer and dont voice your opinion too loudly. Yes, it may be a diabetic goat's piss, but the locals might like it. Don't be trying to have an English holiday somewhere warm. They will only hate you and spit in your salad. Buy beer for people (or if in Chile, Pisco). Do take the Michelin Green Guide ( if there is one for wherever you are). All other travel guides are pants, the Time Out ones especially. Learn to love the local tourist information centre. Try something you've never done before. I guess what I'm saying is plan the basics, and dont let ANYONE plan anything for you. OK, so I've had Amoebic Dysenty in South America, and been robbed at knifepoint in one or three European cities over the years. This might not have happened if I'd gone on a package tour, but I DO know what I've seen and how to get back there. Because I travel the way the locals travel, I have made friends all over the world. You can't plan that.

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                    07.05.2002 19:54
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                    Planning anything is really not on my top ten list of favourite hobbies. Rather strange really considering I am a professional planner and Project Manager! The will is always there and I really do try but I am just not that kind of person. You see, when God was handing out ‘Organisational Talent’ I was somewhere near the back of the queue. My colleagues tut and mutter about the state of my desk (I prefer to call it ‘organised chaos’). My home is also a bit of a mess (again I prefer the term cluttered!). Planning anything turns into a kind of strategic military operation which is why I don’t enjoy it very much. When it comes to holidays, experience has shown that I have too very different approaches to planning – the ‘Lets find out where we are going’ method and the ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ method. Both of these methods are very different in approach and style. I have used real situations to highlight both of these methods. So sit back and enjoy. The ‘Fly by the Seat of my Pants’ method – the usual approach ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - Scenario! My boss has ordered me to take 2 weeks off at the end of this month. I have to go and ‘relax’ and ‘recharge’ (my boss is big into that kind of therapist speak!) and he expects me back with a sun tan. My first reaction is panic – I only have one week to book, pack and leave. HELP! How much? Right the boss says I need to go on holiday, so how much can I afford to spend. I am as organised with money as I am with everything else in my life, so I quickly flick to my online account to check my finances. Good all my overtime and premiums have come through so I can afford to splash out a bit. 1000 squid should get me pretty much anything at the kind of short notice I am being forced into. So who can I con into coming wit h me? Who to travel with? Now experience has told me that your travelling companion (or companions) can make or break your whole holiday. So I decide to choose carefully. As I fancy a bit of a girlie break, I give my buddy Isa a call. Nope, sorry no can do – she can’t get the time off work. So I decide to ask the mancsoulfiance. He is definitely the reasoned one in the partnership. He finds the whole thing hilarious, but promises to take the time off and come with me. On one condition, I decide where we are going and book the trip. He takes one look at my budget, sniffs and slashes it – he always does this and keeps reminding me that I have credit card bills that need paying – yeah yeah!!! Where to go? Now this is going to sound grovelly but my first port of call is dooyoo. I race to the travel pages, randomly click until I find a crowned opinion in a part of the world that sounds interesting (i.e. South America – Brazil - go!), I read the op and if it sounds good, make a quick note. After work I rush to the travel agents, a very nice lady who is used to my bizarre requests and non-sensical time scales. I tell her I want to go to Brazil as I have heard it is very nice. She smiles, indulges me and then suggests somewhere completely different – ‘you would much prefer Uruguay I am sure?’ – ‘Ok, just book me something for the 15th’. So half an hour later I am booked onto a flight and into accommodation in a small resort outside of Montevideo (Who? Where? What?). The tickets will arrive in 1 weeks time, just in time for me to fly. The good old Travel Agency will also sort out what visas etc I would need for the trip so I didn’t have to worry about that. What to take with me? This is a nightmare - I have no idea where I am going? I know nothing about the place, the climate or the cost. Time is running out so going out and buying lots of new stuff is really not an option. Hmmm ok lets be practical. I start with the usual things I always take, and put them in the suitcase so I don’t forget. Uruguay is in South America right, so it is bound to be hot and I think it has a coastline. Well even if it doesn’t – tough - I dig out my bikini, t-shirts shorts and floaty skirt anyway. Then a horrible thought hits me, what if it is like Chile or Peru, they are cold. So as an afterthought, I stuff some stout walking boots and several warm sweaters in my already overflowing suitcase. Damn too much stuff! I suddenly remember a tip on a travel show I watched years back. Put everything you want to take with you on your bed and then half it. So I do it . Ok I won’t need the camping stove or the manicure set after all. Oh just shut the suitcase and forget about it. What to do when you get there? Having arrived in our lovely hotel. We start to think about what we can do. To plan the 2 weeks we go to the tour reps pep talk (well at least you get free booze!) and think about the tour options. One or 2 sound good so we sign up. The following day it’s into town to the tourist information centre. This is actually surprisingly full of good ideas, and so we sort a few trips and visits out. Our holiday is now planned so we can sit back and relax. Result Despite all the hectic, this was actually a great holiday. Although I think more forward planning would have made the whole thing more enjoyable. This is not always the case when planning holidays using this method. I can think of plenty that turned into a complete disaster because everything was far too slapdash and last minute. Not to be rcommended if you want to keep your sanity. The ‘Lets Find Out Where We Are Going’ method – the planned approach ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------- Scenario For those not in the know, I am getting married in the near future to my Dutch Mancsoulfiance. One of the nicest parts of this whole wedding thing (which is an organisational nightmare and the worst thing to plan in the world!) is the honeymoon. I was determined from the marriage proposal, that I would plan the honeymoon with great care and affection to ensure that the honeymoon is perfect. This is still in the planning process although it is approaching it’s final stages. How much? Well as this is my honeymoon, I am tackling it with a ‘money is no object!’ attitude. Even the otherwise penny wise mancsoulfiance is prepared to splash out. The mancsouldad has even promised a contribution (and he is a right old skinflint!) So the budget can be stretched to cover pretty much anything. When and how long? Hmm, do we go straight after the wedding or wait a few weeks. We thought about this for quite a while weighing up the pros and cons. The weather would be better later but it is more romantic to go straight after the wedding. It would make the wedding seem like it had gone on for longer etc. So we decided to look for a trip straight after the wedding. The how long was dependent on our bosses. Giving a boss as much notice as is humanly possible proved to be the best approach and he agreed to let us go for 3 weeks. Where to go? – The Research phase We have taken several different approaches to this. We want to go somewhere we have never been before. We want somewhere warm but with plenty of things to do. We want romantic luxury and a few honeymoon perks. When we started we both had absolutely no idea where to start. TV Programmes I have never been a big fan of the Gloria Honeyford style shows and never found them particularly interesting. They always seemed to send people off to the same places and the prices were through the roof. However in my hour of need I strangely found myself drawn to them. I watched not only specific holiday programmes but fi lms and documentaries with keen interest. The variety of things I watched of the next few weeks was enormous. I saw everything from the Tierra del Fuego to Romania. Anything that seemed vaguely interesting I made a note of to follow up later. The good thing about the TV as a media is that you have a lot of visuals. Unlike books and brochures, they are not necessarily only trying to show you the beautiful things. You can’t help put pan over some of the not so nice things as well. They also provide a valuable feel for culture and people. I had seriously underrated their appeal. After 2 months intense TV watching I had drawn up a list of a few destinations that seemed to be what we were looking for. Fiji – Holiday programme Mauritius – Holiday Programme New Zealand – Lord of the Rings Malaysia – Documentary The Maldives – Diving Programme Burma – Documentary So on to phase 2 Internet and internet guide books With my list of destinations, I then went to my humble laptop. I think the online Rough Guides are fabulous. Not only do they provide valuable information (which is also contained in the guide books), but they also offer links to other official sites with yet more information. So I started my research. I went to each of the online ‘Rough Guides’ and read up as much as I could on each of the shortlisted countries. I was specifically interested in the things to do and attractions sections. They provided a wealth of information. On each of the destinations I made a small pros and cons list which I weighted. After I had read all the travel guides I then surfed over to dooyoo to see what the community had to say on my shortlist. I personally think this is the great strength of dooyoo. It allows your average joe soap the chance to look at what people who have tried the products/places etc actually think of them. This has a huge advantage over brochures etc be cause you are reading an opinion and not what some marketing chappy would like you to believe. When I enter dooyoo as a consumer, I never rate! It is good for dooyoo revenue to prove that so and so many people have viewed the sites who are not members. Having taken the dooyoo ops into the equation and written yet more notes, I then moved onto the holiday sites, to see and compare prices I have been very badly stung by these holiday sites in the past and am still very sceptical about using them. The service is generally not so good and the offers they make are extremely unflexible. The only 2 exceptions in my opinion are the British based site myfirstresort.co.uk and the German site billiger-fliegen.com. Billiger-fliegen offers the best flight prices around combined with excellent after sales care. Myfirstresort.co.uk also has some great bargains and is more of an all-around site. Both of them are extremely helpful for working out costs and for finding the best deals. In this particular case I used these 2 site to compare prices and look at how this would affect our budget. At the end of my research the list had been narrowed down to Fiji Mauritius New Zealand Now on to my favourite phase. The Travel Agent Travel Agents have come in for a lot of criticism lately which I think is a little unfair. In my experience they offer an excellent service and are extremely helpful. As I live in in Germany, I regularly use a German based agency, Atlas. The ladies there know my quirks and my preferred tastes and are able to offer advice based on this, which is something no online site is able to do. I personally don’t have a problem paying a little extra for this as it means I get what I want. I gave the agent my list and she handed me over the relevant brochures and told me to look through them and then come back in a day or 2 to discuss what I thought and put together an agenda. My Htb (wedding speak for husband-to-be) and I went through the brochures that evening and weighed up what we thought. We disgarded Mauritus as according to the brochures there didn’t seem to be a lot to do there apart from sun and the prices for a good hotel were extremely high. From price and quality we still couldn’t choose between New Zealand and Fiji and decided to ask the agent’s advice. She came up with an excellent idea, why not combine the 2. She put together a holiday plan whereby we spend just over 10 days in each country and combine this as a kind of stopover with the flights. She offered us a permanent base in Fiji but a touring option for New Zealand with a series of vouchers for hotels and a suggested route. The price was quite high but considering it is our honeymoon we are prepared to pay for this. She also gave us an info pack on the countries, with tips for travellers. This seemed like the perfect solution to our problems and so we signed on the dotted line. Post booking preparation After I had signed on the dotted, I went to a book shop and browsed the travel books. I decided on The Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand. As the trip we have booked gives us pretty much a free choice on where we go, we are currently using this and the online Rough Guide to plan out our route. Both guides offer a wealth of experience and tips and single out the most interesting regions. Although both lack a little in photos, the written descriptions are able to provide you with all kinds of information. We can even plan in which hotels we would like to stay and know about some of the better restaurants. Although the route is not planned yet, the book will accompany us on our trip. I am also thinking of buying a book version of the Rough Guide as reference on holiday. What to take with me? Well as I know where I am going and what it is going to be like I can prepare accordingly. I have plenty of time to buy new clothes and refill my first aid box. I know I need summer clo thes for Fiji but that I will need some warmer stuff for New Zealand. The packing could not be easier! Why don’t I always do it like this Result I have picked up information from just about every source I can think of and have planned my honeymoon accordingly (if you can think of anything I have missed or could consult please leave a comment – I would be most grateful!). I have also made great use of other people’s experience and most available services. Fingers crossed the honeymoon is a great success – with this amount of planning it should be. To be honest I don’t have the time for the more considered and planned approach normally although I think being prepared is far easier if you know what you are letting yourself in for. I am not going to change the habits of a lifetime overnight but I feel that planning for my honeymoon has certainly helped me see life from the other side. I am going to make a supreme effort to do it more often.

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                      07.05.2002 01:16
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                      The first thing about flying is to be nice to everyone from A-B. From the trolley dollies to the baggage handlers. They deal with thousands of people day in day out and only remember the nice one and the bad ones. If you treat them well then they may just return the favor somewhere along the line. Be friendly with the check in desk and 99% of the time that gate will miraculously open when you are late. Don?t show any arrogance either, as they absolutely hate that. Don?t start showing off when you get a bum deal, all flights are legally allowed to over book on the premise that passengers will chop and change on schedule flights. Remember they have to give you the next available flight or travel and over night accommodation if its unsuitable. If you are not in a hurry and give up your seat to a panicked flyer back in the queue they will pay you great compensation to sooth frayed nerves. You get a nice hotel where the stewardesses are staying and very thankful for your courteous behavior and everyone else is delayed further down the line. I have done it three times now and can tell you it?s a very good idea, especially in the bar with the pilots and their stories, let alone the girls!. Get there early if you want a window seat. More and more airlines are limiting seating and smoking areas after September 11.Two hours should do for international flights as you also have time to get those last minute souvenirs or a nerve settling drink. Airport lay-outs can be very confusing so its also a nice idea to know how long it will take to find and get to your gate in those big clumsy airports. Checks In girls have heard it all before excuse wise so make sure you have your story straight. If you are looking to brag an upgrade then make sure it a cracking tale. I like to take my Daily Express holdall I won for the letter of the week in the sports dept. Coupled with a press type flack jacket with a roll of film in it can surreptitiously in fluence the desk babes to the coveted biz or first class. Remember that if you have booked a scheduled ticket and thiers space in those business or first class seats which are unlikely to be filled then they have to upgrade, be it for a small fee. Take a small blow up cushion on the long haul flights. No one I know can sleep on those economy ticket seats in this life or the next. I have many numb legs and elbows on those jumbos through the years and wish I had bothered with those inflatable gems. A fruit drink is also a must as the recycled air can dry your mouth up like a screaming opera singer to an uncomfortable level. A packet of mints will also help to get the taste of those airline meals of your tongue!. Oh and bring your headphones in your hand luggage as those headphones never work they dish out with the thongs. The only time I want to se a stewardess with a thong is in the Rio Hilton<smile>. For all those first time flyers who think they will crash and burn listen carefully. If you want the best chance of surviving then don?t travel on scheduled flights in the third world much and sit in the tail section. Most planes crash on landing or take off which means the fuel tanks will probably ignite under the wing. Even though that sends a fire wall down the fuselage towards you,it means it tends to break up or flip the plane that allows that section to break free of the fire. And of course if you hit a mountain you want to be as far away from the impact as possible. The two recent crashes in Taiwan and Nigeria proved this theory. Try and arrive at international airports in the early morning, as that?s when tempers are mellow and traffic flow low. The daytime brings out the fake taxi cab drivers and airtraffic control delays along with shorter fuses and longer queues. Customs tend to get their highest drug hauls in the late afternoon so stop more people then. You also have a better chance of getting a free seat on another airlines connecting flight if yours wasn?t held back. Airports are free and easy places at 6am I can tell you!.

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                        14.01.2002 17:23
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                        I asked for this category to be placed under the ‘working holidays’ section of dooyoo as I simply couldn’t think what else to refer to excavation as - unfortunately, the powers that be didn’t wish to create such a category. I have spent some time trying to figure out where the best place is for this to go - I suppose it could come under hobbies (although this might undermine the notion of excavation as research) or in a category about a ‘career’ in archaeology (ha ha). It was a difficult one to decide a place for, but ultimately I decided that a holiday would be what most readers interested in archaeology would do it as. I hope you purists out there wont mind me being a little bit flexible with the categories in this situation! I am writing this as advice from my own personal experience for anyone considering doing an archaeological excavation, whether as part of a course, for a holiday or simply to try something new, and I intend what I write to be aimed at those of you who are digging virgins! Firstly, I would like to mention what my own experience actually is. Having become interested in archaeology while at sixth form college - I did a GCSE in it while studying for my A levels - I ended up taking it as my first degree (I am currently a postgraduate). During this time I have undertaken nine weeks excavation on four different projects: - Wat’s Dyke in Easter 1998 (part of Manchester University’s Offa’s Dyke Project) - Hayton, East Yorkshire, in summer 1998 (Durham University training dig looking at the local Roman features) - Arddleen, Powys, in summer 1999 (investigating a prehistoric bank and ditch structure that had shown up in an aerial photo) - Poulton Research Project, Cheshire, in Summer 2000 (a medieval church site, previously features on the BBC series meet the ancestors’) (Unfortunately I had to miss the summer 2001 digging season due to work commitments ). In cannot escaped many people’s notice that archaeology is getting increasingly popular these days, and that this is reflected in the growing number of TV programmes and popular books about the subject. In addition, there are more courses (evening, distance learning, weekend, academic) to cater for the public’s interest. I find that I have frequently been asked about how you go about getting involved in a dig and what it involves - information that is generally lacking to anyone outside of archaeological circles. This op aims to set out this information, and I hope it is useful to anyone wanting to get involved in digging. - Where can I find out about digs? Inevitably, this is one of the first thing I am asked when I mention archaeology. There are several places that you can go to to find out what is taking place for the coming season (Easter to September, although mostly in July and August) and where: 1) The Archaeology Handbook, published annually by Current Archaeology Magazine. All major excavation and fieldwork projects across Britain requiring people submit their details to the magazine, which publish them in the spring in a small book. The book is arranged by geographical location, and each entry includes a summary of work to be carried out, the dates, any costs, which organisation is leading the work and contact details. If you are not a subscriber, this information is also posted on www.archaeology.co.uk. 2) Your local archaeology society should be able to provide you with details of any fieldwork opportunities in your vicinity, although you may have to be a member to access this information or participate. A summary of local organisations is also available at www.archaeology.co.uk 3) A personal recommendation of mine, especially to anyone living in the Welsh Border region. Porth Y Waen study centre offers a variety of short courses throughout the year, as well as organising summe r digs with excellent training programmes. Contact them at The Paddocks, Porth Y Waen, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 8LX or at portharch@hotmail.com 4) Visit the guide to UK archaeology at www.britarch.ac.uk - How much will it cost? Archaeology is one of the many worthy causes that these days finds itself under funded. Virtually all excavations find they have to charge volunteers to take part, although there are still a small minority where it is free. Charges vary from project to project, and range from small fees to cover the cost of insurance (around £10 to £20 a week) to full-scale training digs where you pay ‘tuition fees’ (expect anything from £50 to £200 a week depending on the level of tuition you are being offered). Some excavations also have day fees or taster sessions for those who do not want to commit themselves for a full week - these may range in price from £1 to £15 a day. Although this may seem quite pricey, you do get what you pay for, and a well taught course is worth far more than going to a free dig and just shifting wheelbarrows all week! The money you pay will typically go towards the cost of insuring you, providing supervision, refreshments and generally funding the project to allow it to exist for another year. If you do go a free dig though, you may not be insured - check with the organisers if in doubt, as if it is not provided then you need to make sure you are covered yourself. - What will it involve? This is quite a tricky one to answer, as each excavation is different - there are variations depending on who is running it, what you are digging, how long you attend for and whether you are on a structured training course or not. Generally, you can expect to learn basic archaeological techniques and principles (such as trowelling and filling in context sheets as records of what you found) and something about the site itself and perhaps the period you are investigating. It certainly will involve physical work and you can quite reasonably expect to get very tired and muddy - if this does not appeal, then excavation is perhaps not for you! For this reason, it is advisable that anyone considering participating in fieldwork is reasonably fit, and that the supervisors are aware of any medical condition that may affect what work you are able to do (such as asthma). - What will I need to take with me? The following list is of things that are useful to take with you on digs. In addition to this, it is recommended that you wear clothes that are lightweight and comfortable for outdoor work (not jeans!), that you don’t mind getting wet and muddy and that you can wear in layers in case the weather changes during the day. Walking boots, rather than trainers, are best for your feet from the safety point of view. 1)WHS 4 inch pointing trowel (if not provided as part of a training course) 2)Waterproofs 3)Bottle of water (especially if hot) 4)Sun lotion (yes, you can burn even in a British summer) 5)Sun hat 6)Cash (for post dig pub visit!) 7)Any medication you take 8)Food (if not provided) 9)Gardening gloves (to protect you hands if you are trowelling a lot) - Is it safe? Health and Safety are very important issues on an excavation site, and you should be given guidelines before you go anywhere near the trenches. Personally, I have never seen an accident on a site I have worked on, but this does not mean that they cannot happen, which is why caution and insurance are advisable. The basic points to remember are: - Never swing a large tool without checking to see if there is anyone behind you first - Always take care walking around edges of trenches, especially when the marking out string is still in place - Never sit on the edge of a trench as this could cause it to collapse - If you are working in a trench where your head in below ground level, wear a safety hat - Never enter a trench (especially a deep one) when there is no one else on site - Never lift a bucket or wheelbarrow that is too heavy for you in case you damage your back - Never do anything that you do not feel safe doing; talk to your supervisor about it - Always remember that working in summer does carry risks of sunburn and dehydration, so wear high factor sun block, drink plenty of water and try to stay out of the sun round midday Overall, excavation can be a very rewarding experience and it is something that I have really enjoyed getting involved in. I would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in the past; the excitement of finding an artefact or making a discovery is something that you never forget. If you are a complete beginner, it is worth paying out for a proper training dig - as you gain more experience, you can attend excavations as a volunteer rather than a novice. As well as being interesting, it is an activity that looks good on your CV, and you can have a warm and fuzzy feeling from knowing that your time and money is contributing to valuable research. :-) A word of caution though - please do not expect it to be like on Time Team! There will not be mechanical diggers to do all the hard work for you; neither will there be a range of experts on obscure topics to hand or a resident archivist. (You might just see the odd stripy jumper though!) I have met plenty of first time diggers who are disappointed by their experience because, having watched TV archaeology programmes, they have unrealistic expectations. The chances of finding the sort of ‘exciting’ artefact that you see on TV or in museums is actually quite small, and in real life most of what you find is pottery and marks in the soil - but this information is just as (more?) important to archaeologists and should not be undervalued. Happy digging!

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                          06.12.2001 15:48
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                          ~~ Update At The Bottom ~~ It has been said that I take a lot of holidays. I was filling in a job application form this morning, and it asked which countries I?d been to in the last 4 years, and how many times. Needless to say, their 1 and a bit lines were not enough. How I plan depends on the purpose of my visit ? am I going for educational reasons (to practice a language, say), or for work purpose, or just because I want a break. The first two are pretty simple ? I immediately have a short list of target languages / countries and go from there, but with the last one I sometimes need help. I?m currently planning 3 holidays, including a week somewhere hot at Easter, and a working holiday for the summer before my work placement in Germany starts. The last came to me yesterday when I was sitting in a German lecture ? I realized that after my exams finish I?ll have 2 weeks of doing nothing, so might as well go away. 20 minutes later I was getting quotes in the travel agencies, and now, 24 hours on, my trip is as good as booked. I?m going to Rome because :  I want a big city with lots to do  I want to go back to Italy before I forget all my Italian  I want somewhere I can fly to directly from Manchester  I want somewhere I?ve never been before  I just feel like it?? I think in terms of, well, terms being a student. I have 3 breaks available each year in which travelling is ok, but if I want to go during term time I have to be more careful in scheduling so I don?t miss too may lectures.. I can usually decide pretty quickly the type of holiday I want ? dependant on time off available from work, time of year and so on, but once I?ve chosen from the beach / city break alternatives, I need some ideas. I can take my inspiration for destinations from a number of places. At work when we have quiet periods (NOT at the moment, I h asten to add) I sometimes walk the 5 m to the Thomas Cook department, pick up a brochure and retreat to our office for a quick read. Pictures are important, but so are words, and I?m getting quiet good to interpreting ?lively? to mean ?unbearably noisy? and ?tranquil? to mean ?no shops for miles around?. When I?m reading fiction, I often take ideas from places characters live in or go to, same goes with television and films ? I can see a location on screen and think, ?I have to go there?. I don?t usually use holiday programs on TV, probably because I never watch them, although I must confess than a few to many hours last year were spent cooking while TV Travel Shop blared away in the background. I do enjoy guide books, but only once I?ve booked the holiday itself ? never beforehand. I do use ops too, but only once I have some vague ideas. Yesterday I read some on Rome just to make sure there are things to do there, places to stay and eat in and so on. Sometimes though if a new op on travel comes up, I?ll read it and be inspired, although all to often they are on destinations out of my price range - Europe?s the best I can usually manage at present. To be truthful, though, my main inspiration seems to come without a direct reason, if you see what I mean. I usually just think of somewhere I want to go, check it?s affordable, book the time off work and take off. Just like that. There are so many fabulous places in the world that I want to visit. My main planning comes once the holiday is booked. With flights and accommodation sorted, I can sit down and make up an itinerary. It?s never a definitive guide, but it certainly helps. I use Eyewitness travel guides because they have all the information I need collected together. With New York, I drew myself a map of Manhattan with all the places I wanted to visit marked on it. Combining this with a list of all the subway lines and stops in question, I could make up a plan for the week th at didn?t involve too much overlap. While I like a day to day guide for myself so I can do everything I want in a short space of time, I?m also flexible so that when something unexpected crops up I can go along with it. Oh and when hospital visits are necessitated, I can reshuffle my day to fit in. Oh and back to the title. Well supposedly most guys think about sex all the time. I can honestly say I don?t ? I?d never be able to squeeze it in along with all the daydreams of holidays to come, because that?s what I think about all day long ? travel, and the adventures that are to come. ~~ Update ~~ It's several monts later, and all I wanted above has come true. I got a week in Barcelona with Quy in January, and another in Tenerife over Easter. As for the working holiday? Well that starts tomorrow with a training course for a week, followed by a flight out to resort and 3 months working in the sun. Excited? You bet ya :)

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                            21.11.2001 21:40
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                            I have just reached another milestone in the planning holidays stage. My youngest daughter wants to spread her wings and have a holiday with friends next year instead of with Mum and Dad. I dont blame her. You have to let your children grow up. Up to know it has been family plus a friend or two of the children going with us. So, our next holiday is to be just my husband and me. Dont get me wrong. I am very very excited by this, but also a little sad as it mans my baby is growing up! We have never planned a holiday for just the two of us. Mind you we did have a week in the States last year just the two of us as we won it! It was absolutely wonderful. Although they are all old enough to look after themselves my Mum came up and loved the chance to have them all to herself and she will for us next year. They love this too as it is nice to spend quality time with a Grandparent that is quite "with it" and you dont see very often. So the first thing for planning our holiday is a date that will suit everyone. When we are on holiday we are awful at time keeping so the second thing has to be that it is self catering then we can come and go, and eat as and when we wish. Where, that is the next thing and that is the thing that is the hardest to choose. Should we go to the places we have been and loved before or try something new. Travel Agents have a lot of books you can take home with you and now a days they tell you all, the weather, where the shops are and even the bad things about the place you are staying. I shall of course be paying a lot of visits to dooyoo to see other peoples opinions on places. Though as my husband was in the RAF and travelled and lived in many many countries abroad, in the times when they had places over seas, we might go back to one of them as a civilian. Price is another thing. We want a good holiday but not too expensive and we have only one place that we can book it. But it is a good agency and has a good reputation. Why there? Well our daughter started work as a Trainee ABTA Travel consultant this year and has told us that we have to book with them! which of course we will, so you see she might not be coming with us but she will still have a lot to do with the booking of our holiday

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                              02.10.2001 00:47
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                              When planning a holiday the first question for everyone must be the same - where and when? The last holiday for which I really did some serious planning was a fortnight in Scotland, the first week touring and the second week on our beloved Isle of Skye. We decided to take a week to get there so that we could see a little more of Scotland on the way. I got the maps out and planned a route that would give us a week touring parts of Scotland; a week on Skye and, as Dave had three weeks leave from work, the return journey could take anything up to a week depending on how much cash was left! The first stop was to be Edinburgh, where we would stay for three nights, then on to St Andrews for one night, Loch Ness for two nights, Ullapool for a night and then on to Skye for a full week. My next job was to sort out some accommodation. We didn’t want to spend a lot, as our finances had been a bit tight due to my being on half pay. I had juts started to use the Internet as a source of communication so it was here that I turned for my holiday information. I decided to keep a file of all the information that I printed off the Internet about the hotels etc., together with maps and any letters of acknowledgement that I had received. I also filed any other sundry information that I had found about the places that we were to visit. I have kept the file full of information, as it will be useful when we visit Scotland again. One of the best sites I found for accommodation is www.smoothhound.co.uk. This gives details of all sorts of accommodation from the most expensive hotels to cheaper self-catering accommodation. It also gives maps, which can be accessed on various scales giving the general area or the specific street. I found a bed and breakfast in Musselburgh on the outskirts of Edinburgh for our first stop. This turned out to be run by a couple with a wonderful sense of humour and a wealth of local knowle dge. We planned a visit to M & D’s theme park in Glasgow whilst we were here and got the tickets at a reduced rate using our Sainsburys Reward card points before we came. We also had won two tickets to see a film in a Showcase Cinema so we used those in Glasgow too. So the part of the file for Edinburgh held the acknowledgement from the bed and breakfast, the tickets to M & D’s and the tickets to the cinema. Our next stop was a converted mill house at a place called Boarhills, just outside St Andrews. This was a find indeed. It was lovingly restored to its former glory with oak beams and window seats, heavy wooden doors and polished wooden floors. What a shame our schedule only allowed for one night here, I could have stayed forever! Next it was on to a hotel at Foyers on the shores of Loch Ness, for a spot of monster hunting. This was probably the least enjoyable of our stops. The hotel was nice enough and the food was Ok, but the proprietors seemed more interested in their position in the hotel hierarchy than in the comfort of their guests. Our final stop before Skye was a bed and breakfast in Ullapool, which was very comfortable and at £18 per person per night was the least expensive of them all. I found our accommodation on Skye from the website www.visitscotland.com. It was a cottage on the shores of Loch Snizort and the peace and quiet was wonderful. I booked this one by direct email contact with the owner who lives in Inverness and we will be returning there in the future without a doubt. We also took a lot of food and drink with us, bought over a period of time making use of any special offers at Tesco’s, as we were self catering on Skye. This meant that we didn’t have to spend a fortune stocking up on the obvious stuff like tea, sugar, cereals, booze(!), etc. when we got to Skye. I bought an Ordnance Survey map of the Isle of Skye so that we would be able to do some walking whilst we were there. I booked a night at the Colquhoun Arms Hotel at Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond on the way back. We had been to this hotel before and knew it would be good. I must admit we did come home from there as the money had indeed run out. I logged on to the AA site the day before we were due to set off and printed off the lists of roadworks so that I could map read around them to minimise delays. I also had a section of the file containing some vouchers that we had received from Mc Donald’s together with a ‘two meals for the price of one voucher’ from Little Chef, so we had the basis of a couple of free meals too. I also always take any books that I have such as touring guides or reference books about the area to which we are travelling as it helps us to find places that we may well otherwise have overlooked. The planning for me is half the fun of a holiday and it gave me a sense of purpose and a great deal of satisfaction knowing that a bit of forward planning had saved us a fair bit of money.

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