Nothing can be more exciting than going on a trip. Whether you’re travelling across the ocean, to a different hemisphere or just a few kilometres away, being somewhere else, visiting different countries and cities, is a fantastic experience. However, in order to have a successful trip, planning is essential. Travel planning is time consuming and it can be a daunting task, but it can also be fun and rewarding if it is done right.
If you had a bad travel experience in the past and you suppose it is due to not planning the trip correctly or as thoroughly as you should have, the following paragraphs will show you how to do it right!
Choose Your Destination
Perhaps it’s somewhere you’ve been dreaming to go for ages, it’s the best place to relax or it is the best destination for an adventurous or romantic vacation. Whichever the reason, knowing where you’re going makes it easier to plan your itinerary.
Unless you’re travelling alone, you may also need to consider the wishes and interests of your travel mates. These considerations may shape your choice of destination or may lead you to make some compromises; sit down together and discuss what you all want from the trip and what you’ll like to do so that everybody enjoys it. It may seem overwhelming at the beginning but we’re sure you’ll find plenty of expectations in common.
The length and date of your trip is another factor you should consider when choosing your destination. You may be restricted by school holidays, the annual leave or you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy a totally flexible schedule.
Don’t forget to consider your style of travel and your interests. Nature lovers will definitely be more comfortable surrounded by stunning landscapes while culture buffs are more likely to enjoy urban destinations known for their rich past and great monuments.
Last but not least, mind your budget for traveling. Nothing can be more disheartening than starting the trip planning process only to realize then that you can’t afford it. To avoid this, ask yourself how much money the whole trip costs more or less, how much money you’ve got in your savings account and how much money you can save (be realistic!)
Once you have a couple of potential destinations in mind it’s time to narrow down your destination choices based on your budget, your interests, the time you have and your travel mates. Check average prices for accommodation and food and look into a flight search engine to find out about flight costs. As you review all the information, you’ll be in a good position to decide where you’ll be travelling.
As you start saving for your trip create a bucket list or folder where you’ll keep and take notes of all the things you want to do and places you want to see at your destination. It will spark your interest and keep you motivated as you are planning your trip.
Invest in a good physical map to plot your journey. Study it and circle the places you want to go. Believe it or not, sometimes distances between point A and point B are larger than expected and trying to visit them together or within the same trip can be impractical. It is advisable that you research as well the best time of the year to visit a certain destination; you may miss an important festival or celebration or arrive during the rainy season, what can ruin a trip of a lifetime!
Guidebooks, blogs, documentaries and books are great sources of information! You can rely on them to work on the logistics, get a general overview of your destination and find even more inspiration! Go online and read as many travel blogs as you can, look for the tourist board and read their information!
Take your time to research about accommodation, sightseeing flights if any and moving around. Think carefully of your plans in the area and how you’ll get around. Bear in mind that your goal is to optimize your resources. There’s no point in choosing a cheaper accommodation if it is miles out of town and you’ll be paying extra in transportation to experience the local area!
If renting a car becomes a sound alternative, it’s a great idea to start looking into the best car rental damage insurance policy. There are many options available in the market and making a rush decision is never a good idea, especially as it can have quite an important weigh on your budget. Read the small letter and do your research; whether you’re an American travelling domestically or going abroad, you can find affordable and thorough coverage in this page.
Check your passport expiry date and get ready to apply for one if it is not valid, it doesn’t have sufficient pages for visa and entry/exit stamps or if it is not in good condition. Allow enough time for application, especially if you’re travelling during the high season. Don’t forget to research visa and vaccination requirements! Check thoroughly and allow plenty of time to sort things out.
If you’re an organization freak, you can open a spreadsheet or a board in Trello to keep track of the travel planning process and keep all your findings and to-dos in a single place.
Central Planning Stage
It’s time to book your flight. Plane tickets are probably the priciest expense in your budget so being able to find affordable flights will help you keep the balance. If you’re lucky to have a flexible vacational period, you’ve got greater chances to find even more attractive and competitive rates.
Now, focus on the sights and attractions you want to see and the activities you want to do. Grab your map again and mark with different colors the museums, monuments, historic buildings and parks you want to explore and the activities you want to do: a free walking tour, a night cruise, bungee jumping, rock climbing, trekking… you mention. If there are any costs involved, add them. This is the time to look into any guidebook or tourism board site have at hand and check that you’re not missing any must-see!
Do your research and check as well if any of the attractions you listed needs to be booked in advance. Theater plays, concerts and some museum exhibitions usually require booking ahead.
Look at your map, the places you’ve highlighted and spot the most efficient way to move around. Public transport is usually the best way to do so, especially if you’re travelling to any major European, American or Asian city. If your travel plans include two or more cities or you’ll be exploring areas off the beaten path or those that are not fully covered by public transport, renting a car is a great idea!
Now that your itinerary is clearer and more detailed, it’s time to create a second draft of your travel plan. And it’s also time to book a hotel. Once you find one in your budget, make sure that it is close to many of the attractions you want to enjoy. As we mentioned before, there’s no point in saving money in a hotel if you’ll be spending it anyway moving miles from the suburbs to downtown or from a more aloof to a more central area. Once you spot a hotel or two that may do the trick, make sure you book a room in it for the most competitive rate. There are many hotel search engines that make it easy to check the different rates offered for a same room.
Always invest in a serious travel insurance policy. Accidents can and do happen and you need to ensure that you are adequately covered in these eventualities. Seriously, if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford travelling either.
Prepare hard copies of all documentation with you in case you can’t find Internet access. Amongst the things you should get ready are:
- Passport, boarding pass and visas
- Drivers license, travel insurance, car rental and train reservations
- Credit cards
- Complete itinerary
- Accommodation, restaurant and tour reservations
- Vaccination and medication records