The year is progressing quite fast! By show of hands how many have locked down their family vacation and have their vacation plan mapped out? One …two… let’s appreciate those two….
This would be the opening line for my speech eloquently delivered at a Smart Travel Talk. Yes – we do need to talk about travel and how to be smart about it.
When someone said Kenyans have peculiar habits they were dead on point. We do not plan our holidays. We love to screech to the surprise. Easter is on Friday! May( Labour)/Madaraka/ Heroes day is a long weekend! Schools have closed for a million weeks!!
All these events holiday are in your calendar. Whether it is the Jazz festival, swimming weekend, motor cross, rhino charge, a drive to the country side, visit to the prolific South coast – We just DO NOT plan! I’ve concluded that it is indeed a ‘Kenyan thing’
Lack of planning translates to expensive fares and hotel rates, rushed unclear decisions and time wastage. Do not get me started on what this does to your health….
Do yourself and your family a favour and get your documents updated and where need be visas obtained. Start the process early and get help. (there are travel experts who provide these services).
The typical scenario that plays itself over and over is as follows – It is last minute! You’re clinging onto the frantic hope to get something going a few days before action date. There’s information from all sources about great deals online and so you opt to go online and book a family holiday. After all – how difficult can this be?
Destination Disney world – 3 children (cousins) twin infants and 3 adults. (Of course the Nanny must come!)You buy your tickets – woohooo you do a happy dance- ‘I am my own expert!’ you assert. Life is great you start to dream about how you can even start doing this for your WhatsApp group members!
Planning is really essential for successful travel. Start with the major hurdle – how to get there. Once that’s done, focus on what to do when you are there and how to keep busy.
- Zanzibar- book your flights first then book the spice tour.
- India- book your flights first to the correct city then book your Taj Mahal tour
- Amsterdam – guys do not sneak in a quick visit to the Red light district before you know how long your transit time is.
So now it is time to book the flights 3 children (cousins) twin infants and 3 adults. (Remember Nanny is coming too?) -Passports check… Visas check… Health Certificates check…
You get online. You want to book Emirates flights because of their awesome adverts and the on board facilities described. Then you scuttle that thought and feel duty bound towards patriotism to support your national carrier. Decisions, decisions! You are scheduled to depart Thursday evening and it is Monday night! Settling on flight for this ‘dream trip’ is becoming a project! You jump onto the Turkish Airlines website as you heard about cheaper fares. You also decide to book the hotel in concert as you recall the adverts in the magazine that you’d seen – dynamic, beautiful and vibrant with serene and soulful, family-oriented and comfortable scenes.
Time is actually ticking by and you really have not done much for this holiday except for the Disneyland tickets.
Timing is Truly everything.
It’s Tuesday and you have to nail down this holiday. Back to the flight booking engine. You punch in the dates and boom…….. SOLD OUT flashes across your screen. Sweat… churning stomach… nausea… The earlier you book your flights the better. Take advantage of the early bird fares….various airlines have promotional fares that are sold way in advance.
If you plan to travel in August during the high season – when businesses are thriving, prices are high and weather conditions are good – promotional fares for this period come with the condition that bookings and purchase tickets must be made between January 15th and February 15th. Take it from me, if you need to book a long haul flight, these early bird fares will definitely have you catch the worm.
It is 1400hrs Tuesday afternoon and the plan is to leave on Thursday night – 3 children (cousins) twin infants and 3 adults. (Remember Nanny dearest in this equation?).
At this point you decide you need help. You walk to the travel agency at the mall and state the need for your troop of eight. They request passport copies and you only have yours. The sweat, churning stomach and nausea decide to become resident….
Get organised by using technology. It will have you manage your time better. It’s advisable to store copies of all your family documents online (iCloud/Google Drive/Dropbox etc) to have them accessible anytime, anywhere. It works! The travel agent or airline reservation agent in this era of terrorism is required to have your passport or a copy whilst booking to allow express accuracy on your name.
You are now back home and as fate would have it – there’s a black out…
Wednesday you are determined to make this happen. You go back to the travel agent fully loaded with documents. Bookings are made on the only available airline with multiple connections before getting to Disneyland Orlando Florida for – 3 children (cousins) twin infants and 3 adults. (Nanny is squarely in the mix of things!) Can she arrange Hotel bookings close to Disneyland – sufficient rooms to house your troop of 8? The travel agent is now sweating it out to assist you at this very last minute.
As I imagine this ordeal- It’s important to point out that for half the cost, there are lots of holiday destinations locally that would make your family very happy.
I will be bold enough to suggest that you put a down payment for the Christmas break or the next summer break right now to allow for early planning…I am desperate for you too.
3 children (cousins) twin infants and 3 adults. (Nanny – the most important person on board)
Tickets – NAIROBI-AMSTERDAM-NEWYORK-ORLANDO-CHICAGO- LONDON-NAIROBI– it requires no expert to tell you that this translates to fares from hell.
Hotel – Hilton down town Orlando (Far from Disney world) convenience out the door!
Holiday – Turns out the seasonal theme park tickets you bought online were for Disney Land or Euro Disney in – wait for it – PARIS FRANCE!!
Spare yourself the trauma! Please……..
- Get your calendar out at the beginning of every year and outline the breaks and plan for the holidays. Get in touch your travel agent and share your diary.
- Discuss with all parties concerned and agree on what you want to do when and where. Planning gets is 70% of the work for the year done.
- Agree on your budget. With sufficient time, comparison of deals can be done and solutions worked around your needs. Anything is possible.
- Take time to understand document policies before you put down your money as a commitment.
- Get travel Insurance for the whole trip especially where children are involve. Get at a cover for Cancellations, Injury, Medical bills, loss and theft, at the very least.
- Request for Confirmations of all bookings
- Travelling with kids means entertain will be required. Consider portable games or colouring books to occupy them. Age appropriate movies and music too will help.
- Ensure Comfortable clothing, for the whole family.
Travel Smart! – Get a professional travel agent that you trust and 99.9% of the ‘work’ will be done in liaison with you. As a team – the proverbial headless chicken will not be running around in your space ever!
Christeen Karimi is the Chief of Customer Service at at Saffara Ltd ˗ a travel concierge that makes customers dreams come true by handling travel and holiday logistics. When not at Saffara, Christeen is a passionate chef who enjoys cooking and sharing information about health. Christeen@saffara.com Tel: 0780345006