tokyo_lhoggBy: Mike Argyle

Planning an overseas vacation is a great way to alleviate some of the frustration associated with not travelling, especially if you have no choice but to play the waiting game. Some people may not have the discipline or staying power to wait it out for when it’s right and as a result, they may prematurely vacation and it may suffer as a result. Or maybe they’re the lucky jerks that get away with acting impulsively and never suffer the consequences. Speaking as someone who is not the latter, planning is my saviour in more ways than one – it ensures I know what is going on and flickers at the end of my tunnel.

With this in mind, it does not matter how much you plan because something always comes up. Sometimes you have to go during peak times – there is no way around it. The free-spirits out there will disagree with this, saying ‘oh you have to live life and not be slaves to your work’ or some other hippy rhetoric that lets me know they’ve probably never held a real job. Most people only get a few weeks vacation time a year and they cannot take it whenever mother earth calls out to them.

beach_venezuelaWhich brings us to peak times. There are certain times of the year you should never travel if you want to be relatively free of crowds and not get gouged in terms of prices. It goes without saying that summer and public holidays are busy, but particularly for the latter, you may not know when a holiday is in a foreign country unless you research it. For example, wouldn’t it be beautiful to travel to Japan to see the cherry blossoms? Yes, it is and it is for millions of other people too.

But what if it can’t be avoided? What if the only time you can get away is during the hell-death of peak season and all you get are those really unhelpful ‘You’re going then? Eee… well good luck with that’ looks from hippy douches who don’t understand your awareness of this conundrum? Well I offer you the following advice:

1. Plan Ahead – If you know you’re going during one of the peak periods book your stuff early before essentials get scarce, risky or outrageous. It’s tempting to wait for a ‘deal’ but there isn’t always going to be one and it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

2. Do the Opposite – Everyone might be there to do X, so do Y? Chances are the lines will not be as long and you might get a deal. For example, renting a campervan in the summer in New Zealand is over double what it is in the winter – everyone is skiing in the winter, so why not plan your road trip in the winter when nobody is on the roads?

3. Manage Your Time – Some places would get a look if you had the time, but if you don’t, spend your time on those you really want to see. Do you want to spend six hours in line to see a painting that isn’t what you thought, or would you rather take a stroll and sample some of the local colour?

4. Be an Early Bird – People love to sleep in on vacation so be one of those who gets up at 6am, has done their wandering and is now the front of the line for something at 8am that others won’t arrive to until long after you’ve already left. Despite our diurnal nature, most would rather stay up late – fight this urge if you want to maximize your time.

5. Embrace It – You are going when everyone else is going. So what? Have some patience and soak up the experience of being a tourist. The locals only hate you because they wish they were doing the same.

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