Are you about to plan a trip? This can seem like a challenging and overwhelming task.
Maybe you don’t know where to start, or maybe you wonder how proper travel planning can make the most of your trip.
Whatever the case may be, planning a trip doesn’t have to be difficult at all!
Traveling has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. From short weekend getaways to trips to remote destinations that lasted many months.
I love travel planning and the anticipation of going somewhere new.
In this article I want to help you with your travel planning. No matter where you are going, who with, or for how long, this guide will share the tips I use when I plan a trip.
Logically, this is the first part of travel planning. It all starts here.
If you haven’t decided on the exact destination(s) of your next trip, let’s plan this out first.
Ask yourself: what kind of trip do I want to go on? Do I want to go to a sunny destination? Discover new cultures? Backpack? Stay in luxury hotels? Travel on a budget? Learn a new skill? How long do I want to travel?
Take a look at your finances and decide how much money you want to spend on this trip. Once you know your budget and how many days you have, research the average cost per day in your favorite destinations.
When you’ve got all of that clear, it will be a lot easier to choose your destination.
When we’re planning a trip, we want to find the best deals, right?
You’ve probably heard hundreds of different tips and tricks, but the ones that really work are: traveling off-season, being flexible with your dates, and doing a lot of research.
I’ve found the best and cheapest flights on Skyscanner.com. You can search for multiple destinations at the same time or set your destination to everywhere (this might come in handy if you haven’t made up your mind yet), you’ll then get an overview of all the cheap flights around the world.
If you do know your destination but your dates are flexible, select “whole month” and then “cheapest month” to check the best time to travel.
Of course most of the time when you plan a trip you both know your destination and your exact dates. Then as well Skyscanner is my go-to website because it compares prices for almost all airlines anywhere in the world.
I go into much more detail about finding flights in this article: How to Find the Cheapest and Best Flights.
If you’re going on a road trip with your own car, please check your car before leaving. The last thing you want is to end up with car trouble during your trip!
And if you decide to plan a trip by train or bus, make sure you book your tickets early. Depending on where you are going, I’ve seen train and bus tickets for longer distances book out weeks or even months in advance.
It might also be worth signing up for the newsletter of the train or bus company you plan to use, as they will often email special discounts.
So you’ve chosen your destination and you’ve found a good flight or other modes of transport. What’s next? Booking a place to stay.
Whether you’re planning to go on a short or a long trip, you’ll need to choose suitable accommodation, at least for the first few nights.
A few questions to ask yourself here:
Once you know what type of accommodation you’d like to book it’s time to search the web again.
These are my go-to websites whenever I’m looking for accommodation:
Some airports offer great public transport, others do not.
And even if they do, public transport might not take you anywhere close to the place you are staying.
After a flight, while lugging around your bag or suitcase, the last thing you want is having to figure out how to get to your destination.
So, don’t forget to make this part of your travel planning!
Find out how exactly you will get to your accommodation.
Check Google Maps first. In most places Google Maps will show you the different ways you can travel from the airport.
Second, ask your hotel/hostel/Airbnb what modes of transport they recommend and if they perhaps offer any transportation themselves.
It’s a small thing, but knowing how to get to your accommodation will make the start of your trip a lot more stress-free.
Tip: if you plan to rent a car, book it online long before you arrive. Prices often go up close to the travel date and if you wait too long there might not be any cars available anymore.
How will you get around during your trip?
It’s nice to know what your options are before you arrive.
You could research the following things:
Google Maps is a good tool to figure out what’s available at your chosen destination. And a simple Google search for ‘how to get around in [your destination]’ will also generally answer all your questions.
If you’re traveling in Asia, 12go.asia is the best website to find out how to get around and book bus, train, and ferry tickets, plus some flights.
Also Read: Tips for Driving Abroad for the First Time
Now that you’ve planned the logistics of your trip, it’s time for some fun!
But where do you start? What are the best things to do?
If you want to plan and book tours and activities, I’d recommend you to use the following websites, they’re all really useful:
Unless you’ve booked an all-inclusive stay you’ll have to find places to eat.
And if you’re anything like me, trying local food, local restaurants and popular cafés is one of the things that makes traveling great.
To find out about local favorites I love asking my Airbnb host or the hotel staff for their tips.
But reviews on Google Maps are also very helpful. And before I travel I often read other blogs about the best places to eat, hidden gems, and, a personal favorite when I travel to cities, nice rooftop bars with views of the city.
This is definitely one of the least fun aspects of travel planning, but please don’t skip it.
Of course we’re gonna assume nothing will go wrong, but it does happen. I’ve lost my luggage, had my laptop stolen and even ended up in an Indonesian hospital with dengue fever.
Believe me, when anything like that happens you’ll be happy you have travel insurance!
I’ve written a separate article about what to look for in travel insurance, because it depends on how you travel, where you are going to and even where you are coming from.
Do you need a visa to travel to your destination?
Depending on your passport, there are many countries that will allow you to visit without a visa. But, not all.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you need a visa, check it directly with the embassy in your home country. And do so long before you travel, because if you do need to apply for a visa it might take time.
An embarrassing personal story about that: a few weeks ago I traveled to Canada. I don’t know why, but I just assumed I could fly there on a European passport without a visa. It wasn’t until I was checking in for my flight online, 24 hours before the flight, that I found out I did need a visa! Thankfully Canada’s visa process is very quick, but that was stressful!
Apart from checking if you need a visa, I’d also recommend you visit your government’s website for more information about the country you are visiting. This would be information on security, local laws, natural disasters, mandatory and recommended vaccinations, and how to find help once you’re abroad.
Keep in mind that if your government gives out negative travel advice, your travel insurance might not cover you.
Sometimes we’ve been so busy planning our trip and focusing on other things, that we totally forget to check our passports. If you’re traveling abroad, do double-check if your passport is still valid!
And, more annoyingly, some countries want your passport to be valid for at least another six months. If your passport isn’t then make sure this won’t cause issues when entering the country you are visiting.
If you need a new passport you can quickly and easily create a passport photo online.
This can be a challenge in itself, don’t we all know it?
Luckily, there are lots of useful packing lists for different destinations online. Although I hardly ever stick to everything these packing lists suggest, they are a great help. Simply Googling ”what to pack for [your destination or type of trip]” should give you plenty of good results.
Tip: whether you travel with a suitcase or a backpack, use travel cubes! I’ve only recently started using them and they’ve made it SO MUCH easier to organize things and to keep them organized during the trip.
And remember: don’t pack too much! You always need less than you think.
Also Read: Essential Things to Pack for a Trip to Europe
As much as I believe planning a trip is important, a big part of the fun is leaving some room to get lost.
If you plan every minute of your trip you risk trying to fit in too much and will end up stressed and annoyed when things don’t go according to plan.
Relax, take in your surroundings, enjoy spontaneous encounters, and dive into the unknown!
Travel planning doesn’t have to be difficult, boring, or challenging – in fact, it’s all about the joy of anticipation.
I hope this guide helped you find ease in planning your perfect trip. And wherever your next trip is taking you, have a great time!
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