DO NOT leave your planning to chance; you're paying good money and you want control of your itinerary.
DO use the experts who do this all the time, have knowledge of some of the problems and access to better deals. We found Trailfinders were extremely efficient and unerringly patient with our many changes of mind and routes.
DO NOT: try to do too much. It's very tempting to say "We'll never be here again so let's go scuba diving/climb that hill/visit every gallery within 20 miles and let's not forget the bungie jumping". I have to confess we fell into that pit and my partner suffered 2 miserable days in bed, missed the trip to Milford Sound (highlight) and functioned at half power for the next 3 weeks.
DON'T try to work out your flights if it is complex. We had 11 flights in the 6 weeks and initially tried to sort them ourselves; nightmare!!
DO make use of the information widely available on the web; review sites like Trip Advisor are informative although there are doubts about the validity of some reviews. We also used Agoda who offer a loyalty scheme that we signed up for so now we can use our points for another trip. You can find good package deals for holidays at certain companies like Trivago. They are a large worldwide company devoted to finding the best deals. Trivago holidays have been reviewed by countless people online so do a quick search to find out what you think of their service. Other similar holiday comparison sites include Agoda and Hotwire.
DO NOT: pack the kitchen sink. Most countries have shops!!
DO make a list of what's important for you to have in your hand luggage. You must have currency, travel docs and passports. You might include camera, pillow, books or other entertainment. You'll need to remember medication and don't forget the clear, plastic bag for the liquids and distractions for the kids.
In due course, you'll find our itinerary and some background and advice about the places we visited on the right.