Let your wanderlust develop freely
A multi-centre trip is the opportunity of a lifetime. Few people are able to travel extensively due to cost, time or other restraints pressed upon us in adult life. Because of these limitations, it’s important to let yourself dream.
Let your imagination run wild and fuel your wanderlust by feeding it with the pages of guide books and snippets saved on pinterest!
It’s only by this browsing process that you can truly understand what you want from your trip and what’s available to you! If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up wanting to see and do almost everything so be prepared to have to prioritise!
Choose your ‘main destination’ (and be flexible on the rest)
When you’ve settled on a ‘main destination’ or area, nail it down. This is the focus of your trip and once you set the ball rolling, ideally shouldn’t change!
For our honeymoon, our focus was the south island of New Zealand. Hong Kong, Sydney and Bali fell into place around that destination. We dedicated 10 of the 21 days to our ‘main destination’ and agreed this time would not be compromised!
Use a professional
Whenever I’m considering a multi-stop holiday I take a trip to Trailfinders. The travel consultants there are well-travelled (it’s actually part of their training), passionate about travelling (so can share in your holiday-booking-buzz) and best of all, they know how to put together a realistic and balanced itinerary.
Take the time to go and bounce your ideas off someone who knows what they’re talking about – they might even have some ideas to improve your trip that you hadn’t really considered! When we booked our honeymoon to New Zealand, we hadn’t really planned on going to Sydney, but our advisor pointed out that it would actually make our flights cheaper to go via Sydney back to Hong Kong and that we could make it a 2-night stop over for a relatively low cost! Win!
Be mindful of where you might want to go next
Unless you never plan to travel again, you don’t need to cram all of your dream destinations into one trip! If you’re going to be traveling long haul, consider where you might want to stop over and try not to duplicate it with your next adventure.
When we went to New Zealand, we used Hong Kong as our ‘hub’ and stopped there for a couple of nights. We could have chosen to visit Dubai or Los Angeles instead, but we knew we wanted to do a Californian Fly-Drive holiday so decided LA could wait. We will undoubtedly visit New Zealand again and I have list of places I’d love to visit which could require a stop-over in Dubai, so Hong Kong was the natural choice!
Price check every hotel and flight
I know it sounds boring, but it’s really worth doing your homework when it comes to booking hotels. Follow the tips I’ve laid out in my post to make sure you get the best deal!
For flights, check the price for booking direct and compare it to the offer your travel agent has provided. You’ll need to be more hasty with flights though as they do tend to be cheaper if you book in plenty of time (especially if you’re going long-haul)!
Package what you can
Package holidays offer a greater level of booking protection, but the main benefit of most packages is that you need not pay for it all up-front.
Typically, when you book flights and hotels separately, you’ll need to pay at the point of booking for your flights and then on check out for your hotels.
When you book a package, you’ll need to secure the booking with a deposit (typically around 10%) and then pay the remaining balance several week before your departure date.
If you’re booking a multi-destination trip there’s good chance there will be a few flights in your itinerary and therefore if you can book as a package, it’s much better for your personal cash flow!
Each travel agent has it’s own rules regarding packaging your holiday components, so be sure to ask! We booked our flights and some hotels through Trailfinders for our US trip last year, meaning we only needed to stump up £350 at the point of booking, rather than a couple of grand!
Be diligent and organised
I work in finance, so naturally I use spread sheets for all elements of my life. I joke… Sort of.
I used a basic table to keep track of where we would be on each day, what I had booked, what I had paid for and what I would need to pay for when we were overseas (such as resort fees, taxes and hotel bills).
Regardless of whether you use a spread sheet or a notepad, you absolutely must keep track of everything you have planned and keep hold of all necessary documentation! Don’t miss payments. Don’t miss visa deadlines and check how long you have left on your passport in good time!
Group similar climates together in one trip
Packing for a multi-centre trip is hard enough without mixing winter and summer climates. Grouping warm weather climates together makes more sense than both hot and cold, because you only need to pack one concise ‘wardrobe’ for your trip.
It’s also the perfect excuse to go on two holidays – one hot and one cold! Wahoo!
Invite your friends!
If you’re visiting several different places over a 2-3 week period then you’re probably covering quite a lot of ground! It might be that you’re able to meet up with any friends who are also travelling at that time!
When in New York, our second night was also the last night for our friends who happened to be doing the same trip but in reverse!
When we were in Vegas, we had a 2 day overlap with two of our closest friends so we were able to visit the Grand Canyon, take the freemont street zip line, go clubbing and recover by the pool together!
I’m not saying you should change your plans to match those of your friends, but it’s certainly worth seeing if your itineraries align so you can share some of the big experiences, or perhaps even share the cost.
Check travel insurance and visa requirements
If you’re travelling between different continents, make sure your travel insurance covers all of the areas you’re visiting. Never just assume that your cover is worldwide. This is true for any holiday, but you’re more likely to fall foul of this rule of you’re planning on continent-hopping!
Similarly, apply for all visas as soon as you can for your travel dates. If for some reason there is a problem with one visa, you’ll have plenty of time to get the problem rectified or in the worst case scenario, to change your travel plans.
Don’t forget relaxation time
Multi-destination trips can actually be quite exhausting. Whilst exploring far away lands is exciting, by the end of few whirlwind weeks you’re probably going to be quite tired. Make sure you allocate a few days at the end of your break for winding down and relaxation.
After New Zealand, we spent 5 nights in Bali where we chilled by the pool and still explored, but at a much slower pace! At the end of the Californian road trip we spent a few days at the Loews Coronado Bay resort in San Diego where we lounged, swam, ate and read our books!
The key is balance!