Travelling for Beginners

Hi everyone! Since i’ve been back from my holiday, many of you have been sending me emails asking me questions about my travels i.e. hotels, visas, airlines and so on. Seeing that many of you asked the same questions, I figured it would be pretty useful to address it all in a blog post rather than reply to you individually (I promise I read each and every single one of your emails). 🙂


First things first, if you still haven’t heard, I’m giving away an Urban Decay Naked 3 Eyeshadow Palette on my blog, see details by clicking here. 🙂


If you’re planning your first holiday overseas, I really hope that you find this post helpful because everything on here is knowledge that I’ve gained over the years of my travels. I started travelling at a young age because my parents are immigrants in South Africa, so naturally we have a lot of family overseas. Of course it’s not until recent years that I started to travel to places that I truly wanted to go instead of the family visits. Since I’m old enough to travel on my own, this comes with planning and paying for my own holidays (booooo). When it comes to holidays, I prefer minimal surprises (unless good surprises) so I always do a lot of research beforehand, here’s a simple step-by-step guide of how I plan and execute my holidays:

1. Manage your finances…

Many of us travel on a budget, whether you stick to it is another story but the first thing I ask myself is, “how much am I willing to spend on this holiday?”. I promise that once you have carved out your budget for your trip, everything else will flow naturally because your budget will dictate your holiday destination (assuming you’re not sure where you want to go yet), your hotels, your flight and your entertainment while you’re on holiday. You’ll have to set a total budget of your whole holiday, then you’ll need to break it down between flights, hotels, transport, food, shopping and entertainment. Don’t worry, it’s just a rough estimate for now because things will change when you start doing your research.

2. Where to go… 

I’m sure there are many of you out there who are like me in that I don’t know where yet but I just want to travel and be on holiday. One of the deciding factors of my decision on where to go is where I went last, did I go to the East or the West? Was it an island or a city type of holiday? Was it winter or summer on my last holiday? This is just to give me an idea on where I should go next, preferably the opposite of my previous holiday. Obviously you can’t be asking yourself those questions if you’re planning your first holiday, so then you’ll have to ask yourself whether you want to relax or explore, and also what activities will make you the happiest.


3. Visas…

Once you’ve settled on a destination, it’s always good to find out what the visa requirements are with the passport that you hold. I’m just going to assume that you have a passport but if you don’t you can apply for one from your nearest home affairs and it’s usually pretty quick, takes about 3 weeks. I recommend going on the website of the relevant country, read up on your visa requirements if you need to apply for a visa beforehand or just an arrival visa when you land. For example, both the UK and the USA require you to apply for a visa before you fly if you hold a South African passport. Places like Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines just requires an arrival visa when you land. Some visas that you apply beforehand will require you to have confirmed your flights and hotels but some recommend that you don’t book your flights or hotels yet until your visa has been approved.

LoveMaryLu Flight Essentials

4. Flights…

Although there are many good deals that the travel agents may be offering, I always recommend doing your own research first. Once you have decided on a destination, you need to get on Google and make sure you find out all the airlines that fly to your destination, some may have layovers and some may be direct. I’ve often found that the direct flights are always a little more pricey compared to ones with layover, of course it’s better to fly direct because some layovers are so long and horrendous, plus it cuts your holiday shorter just by a little bit when every second counts!

South African Airways fly to many destinations worldwide directly but SAA isn’t always the cheapest or more comfortable choice. Singapore Airlines is one of my favourites, it flies directly to Singapore which convenient for trips to Asia and the Pacific, plus Singapore is such a great city to stop over if you want to stay for a day or two. Emirates always have great specials and discounts for their flights so make sure you watch out for those, the only thing about flying with Emirates is that you have to stop-over at Dubai, unless Dubai is one of your destinations, the stop-over can be quite long and tedious. After you’ve checked the prices of your flights, you can either call a travel agent to see if they offer a better price or just book them online. Last thing, join the loyalty programme of the airline that you fly, most airlines are members of a club so you can accumulate points even if you fly with another airline but in the same club.



4. Hotels…

I am super picky about the hotels I stay at because even though I’m not OCD, I’m petrified of dirty beds and bathrooms. I believe that all good hotels use white sheets and bedding so you can actually see how clean they are (what do they have to hide?!). I always choose my hotels very carefully when it comes to my holidays because convenience is very important for me, I always make sure I stay at a convenient location close to all transport and shopping. Of course hotels aren’t the only accommodation you can find, I also recommend going on Airbnb to take a look for cheaper options. Before we decide to stay somewhere, we always do some research to find out where the financial district is of the city because then you’ll have an idea where all the great hotels are. I recommend going on a few websites before booking your hotel, definitely compare the prices between the hotel’s website and others such as and Expedia.


5. Entertainment…

Besides from actually going on holiday, my favourite part up until then is the actual research. I like to know a place relatively well before I go, I like to know my way around (roughly), what activities there are and what restaurants the masses recommend. This is when Tripadvisor comes in pretty handy, there you’ll find reviews of cities, suburbs, restaurants, recreational activities, hotels and everything in between. Try starting your research by typing in Google search, “top 10 things to do in…” and trust me there are tons to be found!

I really hope this post was informative! Good luck with the planning!

With love…xxx


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One Comment

  1. I just went through the process of applying for a visa – I had to give bank statements, a letter of employment, flight itinerary, hotel reservation and proof of travel insurance. I won’t ever under estimate that process again, still waiting for the visa (and my passport) so people need to do this application well ahead of time. Love the post, I am going on my first overseas trip in under 2 weeks

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