Hate planning? Let me plan your trip for you!
Let me start off by saying I'm an absolute nerd when it comes to planning my travels. I'm one of those kinds of people that even has a google sheet or an excel file with everything listed down and colour coordinated. Don't get me wrong, I know how to just relax, and be spontaneous, but whenever I find a place I really want to go to, I tend to get a little carried away with my research. I love discovering new countries, and immersing myself in different cultures. Planning is just one of the ways I make sure I achieve this when I go on my trips.
So for the friends and family members that have asked me before how I plan my travels, here’s a little guide to how I do it. Hopefully this will help, otherwise feel free to shoot me a message! Maybe I can plan your trip for you!
1. Finalise where you want to go and how long you’re going for
Well obviously you need to know where you’re going and how long you have, so you can figure out how to get there and what to do there. The number of places I go to usually depends on how long I have available. For example, I went on a mini Euro trip back in August 2018, and had about 23 days off at the time. I ended up going to five different places. Figure out if you’re the type that likes to just see the sights and then leave, or if you’re the type to likes to stay and slow things down when in a country. If you're a little bit of both, you can do what I usually do where I'll leave a day or two free just in case I learn of cool things to do from the locals.
2. Check if you can afford to go there - is the transportation and accommodation prices within your budget
Once I know where I want to go, and for how long, the next thing I usually do is research flights, trains, and/or bus fares. Obviously by this step you can already figure out whether you have the budget to fly somewhere, or whether a bus ride out of town is more reasonable. Once you've figured out the transportation, the next thing I research is the accommodation. I don't look for any particular place just yet, but I like to get a feel on what the price range might be for my whole stay there. This, plus the amount for the transportation going there, is what essentially dictates my final decision on whether I will push through with a trip. You can always budget for activities and food later on, but I feel like the bare minimums should always be the flights, train, bus rides, and the accommodation.
3. Book, book, book!
If I know I can afford to get, and stay in a place, my next step would be to book my flights. I always book the flights first mainly because in my head, once I book a flight, there's no going back. I'll do what I need to to figure the rest out, but the flight ensures my trip will push through. Usually by this stage I've already done some initial research on the kinds of activities I want to do there - I mean this is why i want to go to whatever country in the first place - I try and book an accommodation that is relatively close to or centralised to where these activities are. I like finding places that are close to a main road as well just so I know for sure there will be a cafe or restaurant near by in case I get hungry one night and just want a quick walk down the block.
4. Finalise your itinerary
This is more of an optional step. I like to book a few tours during my trip for the different activities or places I know I 100% want to go to. These are usually things I might have on my bucket list, or things I have researched on that I think would be amazing to do. You can, of course, always book your tours when you get there. I've done this on some of my past trips, and the advantage with this is it gives you the chance to ask for recommendations from the locals or any other travelers you might meet along the way. I am a firm believer that the locals always know the best places to go to, and sometimes there are hidden gems that haven't been discovered by the outside world yet. Once I know everything I want to do, and I have everything set, I like to put it all on a google sheet and share it to my sister just so I have someone else that knows where and what i might be doing - this is more of a safety precaution.
5. Time to pack
So you've booked all your flights, train, and bus rides, all your accommodations, and whatever tours you want to go on, the last thing left to do is pack! Make sure you look up what the weather will be like so you know what kind of things you need to pack. Oh! And one important thing to remember: do not over pack. If you're like me, you're most likely going to end up buying things there anyways, and you'll be left with a bunch of unused clothes taking up valuable suitcase space. Rule of thumb, if in doubt, toss it back in your closet, you'll live without it.
6. Get your ass to the airport/train/bus station!
Set your alarms! Double check your boarding time! DO NOT BE LATE! Don't forget to take the usual precautions when traveling. Keep your belongings safe and all that, but don't worry too much! The thought of being in a new country might be scary for some, but enjoy it as much as you can!
So there it is. Just a quick summary of the process I go through when I'm planning my trips. Like I said, if you hate planning, shoot me a message, I love to plan! Maybe I can do it for you. I hope you have a great trip, wherever you're going. Also, please do let me know if you have any tips or suggestions with how you plan, I'm always up for learning new tricks on how to make my planning process smarter and more efficient. Have a great time!