Both my wife and I get 24 vacation days every year. It’s mandatory to use minimum 12 days out of those 24. If you don’t do that, good folks in Human Resources question employee’s manager about associate not taking time off.
As a result, we try to have 2 trips every year, one in summer and one in last week of December. We also have a Diwali vacation where family has a get together at home town. Apart from these, there are odd short trips on long weekends.
As we’re based out of Hyderabad, our trips over last few years have been to different Southern states. So, we’ve been to every south Indian state now. Last summer we visited Munnar and covered part of Kerala. In same trip we went to Madurai, Kanyakumari and Kodaikanal and covered part of Tamil Nadu.
In December 2017, we visited Union Territory of Pondicherry. We also visited Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Udipi and Coorg and covered most of Karnataka.
Visit to Tirupati / Tirumala and Vizag have taken us to Andhra Pradesh. These are above and beyond trip to Konkan (our favourite holiday destination).
These trips need some planning especially as we’ve a kid. In this part, I am going to cover madness that goes in planning.
1. Following is our travel log for last 5 odd years –
a. December 2012 – Konkan
b. Summer 2013 – Coorg
c. December 2013 – Konkan
d. Summer 2014 – Mysore
e. Summer 2015 – Goa
f. Summer 2017 – Munnar, Kodaikanal, Kanyakumari
g. December 2017 – Pondicherry
h. Summer 2018 – Vizag
There are few gaps in our trips. They are due to wedding in family, wife’s job change and birth of our child.
2. Vacation planning involves multiple things. Most important is time off from work. We typically have our draft vacation schedule for the year ready as early as January. Dates are blocked in the tool. Once this is confirmed, next phase is to determine budget and destination.
3. My wife is very good planner. She determines budget for each trip. Her trick is very simple. She has setup a different bank account to park travel budget. Every month, some money is transferred to this account. This is not touched for any day to day expenses!
4. Then based on the budget and time available, destination and mode of transport is finalized. Budget usually applies to big ticket stuff like Hotel and Ticket booking. Local sightseeing, food and other expenses are extra (but there are a budgeted as well).
5. Primary criteria for finalizing destination is to visit new place. This rule usually has exception when it comes to Konkan. Off course, within Konkan belt you have multiple destinations that can be visited.
6. While planning trips, we do research about destination. This includes online feedback from Travel Portals, friends, family members and colleagues. This helps to identify destination and setup context on what all to cover. This research is extremely important if trips are planned on own and doesn’t include tour package from operators!
7. Over last couple of years, as we became 3, our trips have focused on South India. One of the main reasons behind this is Idli and Curd Rice is easily available. So that takes care of kiddo’s food!
8. We plan trips around weekends. This helps with scheduling. Typical travel pattern is to travel by train or flight. We avoid to drive for couple of reason. Primary reason is, it saves time. With overnight train, you reach destination in morning. Driving overnight (especially in India) has it’s own set of challenges. Second factor is driving for long periods with a hyperactive infant is not easy.
9. Train travel means you need to plan things in advance to ensure ticket availability. Advance planning to an extent applies to Air Travel as it helps you good deal on flight tickets.
10. Trip with train travel usually begin on Friday evening / night. Ones with flight travel begin on Saturday morning. There is no fixed rule about this. This is driven by ticket availability and cost (flight ticket cost varies depending upon day of week).
After all the planning, we eagerly wait for the trip to begin!