Plan for a few holiday surprises
Last year, a friend of mine headed off to New Zealand for a month-long holiday. When I met her shortly before her departure, I asked if she had any plans for the trip ahead.
Gleefully, she pulled out a set of spreadsheets, neatly organised into a folder, which laid out each day of the next month.
In each column, she had allocated activities and sights to be seen, alongside a map.
Not long afterwards, I was in Florida for a wedding. As part of the trip, a few friends headed down to Key West for a couple of days.
When I met them, I learnt that when they had pulled into their first destination, my friend James put down his magazine and asked: "Where are we again?"
Which gives you two ends of the spectrum when it comes to holiday planning.
I fall somewhere in the middle, but I do believe that planning a trip is almost as exciting as heading off into the horizon.
There are a few things I always do before a holiday. I find my hotel on Google maps, and check out the local area. If it looks particularly complicated, I will print this off to help me get my bearings on the first day.
I'll also check out some online reviews and recent articles to see what's new in town.
That said, there is nothing like wandering the streets of a new city with no idea where you're heading.
Chancing upon hidden galleries, tiny restaurants and markets that are for the locals alone is part of the thrill of visiting a new place.
Too much forward planning can put pressure on a schedule, and leave no time for spontaneity and discovery.
So how do you find this balance?
Some things should never be ignored before heading to the airport. First, know where you're going and how to get there. Research can save you from being left out of pocket by sneaky taxi driver.
Second, make a list of the things you don't want to miss, and take the time to research these a little. That museum you're dying to visit may be closed on Mondays, or it might be too late in the season for a boat tour you heard about.
Finally, have a look at the weather forecast. You might think that sunshine is guaranteed on a beach holiday, but if your trip falls during the rainy season, a third swimsuit might be unnecessary.
Once you've looked after these matters, step away from the computer screen and wait to see what surprises your holiday has in store.