Have a planning party
If there was ever an excuse for a party, a holiday is it, and there can be something quite ceremonial about plotting your annual escape from the drudgery of everyday life. So make an occasion of your holiday planning. Take care over it. Set some time aside, throw some snacks in the oven, round up your family, other half, group of friends, or pour yourself a glass of something fancy if you’re travelling solo, and actively brainstorm holiday activity ideas. If one of you fancies horse riding at sunset on a footprint-free beach – whack it on the list. Heard of a must-visit farm-to-table restaurant in that tiny French village you’re heading to? Get in touch with them; see if you can make a reservation. You don’t have to plan everything to a tee (unless you’re a laminated itinerary kind of traveller, and that’s fine too), but making an occasion of plotting, and getting excited about your upcoming trip will make you value it (and the people you’re sharing it with) even more.
Book through one provider
It can be tempting to take a scattergun approach to booking your holiday; a train trip here, a hotel there. But booking through one provider not only makes the process less stressful and more streamlined, it also means that if you come up against any niggles along the way (such as last-minute cancellations or unforeseen delays), they are easily ironed out because one company is overseeing everything. With Brittany Ferries Holidays you can book it all – from ferry journeys to quaint rental gites – in one go, with sailings from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth to multiple ports on the picturesque west coast of Europe. It’s Abta-protected and offers everything from motorcycle tours and family camping holidays to disability-friendly trips and golfing breaks. So whether you’re off to Aquitaine or País Vasco, keep it together, your stress levels will thank you.
We’re talking slow travel here: trains, two feet and ferries. The slow travel movement is gaining (snail-paced) momentum right now, with many tour operators, travel experts and trend forecasters citing it as one of the biggest developments for 2020. And it’s not just better for the environment to sidestep carbon-heavy air travel and opt for a slow, satisfying glug of a journey instead. Not only do you gain a new appreciation for a landscape by walking or driving, but sailing to your destination by ferry means you can load up your car with all your essentials, instead of attempting to squeeze everything you need into a woefully tiny carry-on bag. So there’s far less packing-induced stress, and far more space for novelty pool inflatables. Win, win.
Make a destination-based reading list
The buildup to a holiday can be almost as exciting as the holiday itself; the so-close-you-can-almost-touch-it anticipation of shortbread-coloured beaches, peacock blue seas and the gentle flutter of the warm breeze on your skin. Get yourself firmly in the mood by reading books based on or set in your chosen destination. Heading to Spain? Try the off-kilter Hot Milk by Deborah Levy or Chris Stewart’s Driving Over Lemons. Pick up Circe by Madeline Miller if you’re planning a trip to Greece, or dip back into Louis de Bernières’ fantastically evocative Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to be transported straight to sun-scorched Kefalonia. And if a ferry trip to France is in the offing, ramp up the excitement by rereading Joanne Harris’ fantastically cosy Chocolat, or the wonderfully complex All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Get the right insurance
It may not sound glamorous, but ensuring you’re covered against anything that might befall you on your holiday (and in the preceding days and weeks) will give you the peace of mind to really relax and enjoy the buildup. A European health insurance card doesn’t cover your belongings, travel delays or cancellations, so it’s crucial to sort insurance before you travel. While you’re sorting that out, don’t forget to organise your European vehicle breakdown cover at the same time too. So whether you need emergency medical assistance after an accident, or simply don’t fancy being stranded on the side of the road in a remote rural French village with nothing but chattering birds and the slow drone of bumblebees for company, then do your future holidaying self a favour; sort your insurance before you go.
With Brittany Ferries holidays, you can book all your travel and accommodation in one go, making your holiday planning quick, easy and stress free. What’s more, book now and save up to 20%. Find out more at brittanyferries.com/guardian