- Choose a destination
- Location research
- Plan an itinerary
- Plan your arrival
- Organize paperwork
1. Plan a trip budget
The very first thing you have to do to plan a trip, and the most important, is deciding how much money you want to spend on your next adventure. Your travel budget will have a big impact on how you plan your trip, like where you can travel to and for how long.
On a small budget, visit countries that are cheap to travel in, like Laos or Thailand. Shorten your holiday to be able to visit more expensive countries like Portugal or Italy. Alternatively, spend less on flights and travel by car or train by having a holiday close to home.
2. Choose a destination
Now you’ve set your budget, the next thing to decide is to which awesome country you will be traveling. Make that decision by answering these quick questions:
What kind of trip do you like to plan?
It’s a good idea to think about your favorite things to do or the best travels you’ve had in the past. Do you enjoy adventure or relaxation? City or countryside? Or maybe you want to try something completely new? Some countries might be able to offer more than one type of trip, but it’s good to plan a trip according to these categories. For example:
Adventure– looking for action and heart-pumping experiences? Choose countries that have plenty of outdoor sports and thrilling landscapes. Anywhere in Asia is an excellent option for activities like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, jungle trekking, surfing, or diving.
Relaxation– picturing yourself lying on the beautiful soft white sand, swinging in a hammock, whilst sipping on coconuts under the breezy palm trees? If so, then choose countries that are famous for their heavenly beaches or islands. Such as the Maldives, Thailand, or Greece.
Culture- if you love to learn while on your travels, plan a trip to a country with an interesting history or well-preserved traditions. For example, Cambodia, Oman, or Peru. Understanding a country’s culture and meeting the local people is one of the best parts of traveling!
Food– think choosing a destination based on food is silly? Think again! Trying local foods is one of the most delicious and enjoyable parts of traveling. Plan a trip based on your foodie favorites. For example, India, Italy, or Indonesia. Yum!
Transport– many countries are famous specifically for beautiful journeys. For example, the well-renowned train journey from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka, the legendary motorbike loops in Vietnam, or the mesmerizing silk road in Uzbekistan.
What time of year are you traveling?
Chances are you have probably booked a specific time off work. Therefore, to plan a trip, you’ll need to think about seasons and which country is best to visit at that particular time of year. For example:
- Research high season and low season to find out when a country will be expensive or cheap.
- Research weather patterns. For instance, the Philippines has a typhoon season and two different high seasons per region.
- Think about why you are visiting that country. If you’re visiting Vietnam for the green rice paddies, go when they will be at their most lush.
- Consider festivals and public holidays. You may want to visit a country for a particular festival, however, sometimes public holidays can cause disruption.
What are the Visa requirements?
Before planning to visit another country, it’s important to check the visa requirements for your nationality. In some cases, a travel document is required to enter the country of destination.
3. Location research
Research is key when planning a trip, especially when you are plan to travel around a country. Use the following resources to do your research:
Plan a trip using Pinterest and Instagram
Pinterest and Instagram are an excellent way of finding blogs and photo inspiration for destinations. Search for your destination using the hashtags or the search bar. This is a great way to find hidden gems that you otherwise might not find out about.
Use travel blogs and guides to plan a trip
Read, read, read! Using travel blogs and travel guides on the internet is a great way to develop ideas of what you want to see in a certain country.
- TripAdvisor is a great way to find recommendations for what to do and see. As well as where you want to stay or places you want to eat.
- Google Maps, similar to TripAdvisor, offers great recommendations for food and things to do.
- Do you know someone who has visited your destination? Ask what they did while they were there or what route they took and consider when trip planning.
- When you arrive at your destination, ask locals for tips on what to see.
4. Plan a Trip Itinerary
Now you’ve completed your research it’s time to put the pieces together and create a day-to-day travel itinerary. Pin the locations from your research on Google Maps so you have a clear overview of the locations and distances between them.
When putting your trip together, keep an eye on the following things:
- Distance– Use Google Maps to work out the distance between sights. This helps you decide how many tourist attractions you can see in one day.
- Flexibility– A trip will never go as planned; therefore, it’s best not to plan your trip too tight and factor in unforeseen events. You might decide you love a place and want to stay longer than expected or you might miss your bus.
- Relaxation– Traveling continuously is tiring, so it’s recommended to add some relaxation days into your trip plan. After all, it is your holiday!
- Transport– Where possible it’s helpful to book transport in advance. Book online to avoid missing out once you’re there. We book our transport online here.
It’s also a good idea to use forums like Tripadvisor’s to see the cost of transport when you’re there. For example, how much a taxi might cost from the city center to one of the sights outside the city.
- Opening times– Check the opening times of sights, so you don’t miss out.
5. Booking your trip
It’s that exciting time; you are ready to book the trip you have been planning!
Booking flights or trains
Book flights using search engines like Skyscanner or Kiwi to find the cheapest options or flights with the least amount of layovers. It’s also a good idea to compare the price directly from the airline. Sometimes the airline might have a promotion, so the price could be considerably cheaper.
Additionally, stopovers are a good way to make your flight cheaper, while also getting to add an additional location to your trip plan! Kiwi allows you to add in stopovers to see if that increases or decreases your price.
Use your itinerary to decide where you need accommodation and research where the best area is to stay. For example, is it best to be in the center of town close to the tourist sights, or near the beach for relaxation? Use sights like Booking.com and Airbnb to find excellent deals and safe reviews.
6. Plan Out Your Arrival
Arriving at your destination after a long train ride or flight can be stressful when you’re not sure where you’re going. When planning a trip make sure to:
- Buy yourself a local sim card at the airport so you can use apps like Google Maps, taxi services like Uber, a translation app or simply to inform your hotel.
- Pre-plan how you will get to your accommodation and make sure you have contact details in case you get lost. For example, research how much a taxi will be from the airport and where to find one. Or work out which underground line you will need to get to your destination.
- Download a map of your first destination in your Google Maps. The offline map also holds the pins you’ve set back in chapter 4. This way you won’t necessarily need connectivity.
- Exchange money to be sure you always have some cash available.
- Learn some basic phrases in the local language. If you’re visiting a country that doesn’t speak your native language, it’s good to learn some basic phrases in case you need to ask a question. Questions like ‘how much does that cost?’ or basic words like ‘please and thank you’. Babbel is a great app to learn a language!
7. Organize Important Paperwork
Organizing important paperwork is an essential part of planning a trip. Don’t forget to:
- Apply for a visa, online or at your local embassy, depending on whether you need one or not. Some countries require you to apply for a visa on arrival, which means you may need to carry a passport photo with you. Additionally, you might have to pay a fee, so make sure to have the correct amount in the right currency.
Find out which type of visa is suitable for your trip
- Book travel insurance. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! Here’s a list of the best travel insurances.
- Get vaccinations you may need if you’re visiting a high-risk country for certain diseases. Not fun but it’s necessary!
- Buy medication that you may need for the length of the trip. For example, if you’re going to some parts of Africa you may need malaria tablets. This is important to think about when you plan a trip.
- Order a travel card. For instance, a Wise travel card (formerly Transferwise) won’t charge you any fees to withdraw money abroad. Your money is also safer this way because if your card gets stolen the thief won’t be able to access your main bank account.
- Copy and print your important documents and keep them safely in your hand luggage so you have access to a copy at all times. For long-term travelers: Take extra passport photos!