Who doesn’t love planning for a trip? I’m always surprised by the number of people who severely detest this part of the travel experience, as though it’s some sort of necessary evil that they would be rid of if they only had the means (see: money) or know how. I simply cannot share in this sentiment – planning is one of my favourite parts of travel!
While it’s true that some parts of the process are just that – a process – others are downright fun and help get me all pumped up for the incredibly fabulous time I’m going to have:) From making lists of things I want to see, to talking to others who have done something similar to planning out what to bring… it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!!!
That being said – if you have no idea where to start or have planned for a trip before and feel like you need some suggestions on how to turn it from an arduous task to the magical experience that it is, you’ve come to the right place! Check out my step by step guide to planning for your perfect trip:)
1. Decide Where to Go, How Long and Set a Rough Budget
You probably have an idea of where you want to go, but maybe you want to squeeze in a few other things along the way? Decide what is feasible based on your budget and time frame – some things are better saved until a later date while others may just work out! The budget you set is only a guideline at this stage and pretty much no matter what you THINK you’re going to spend… you’re going to go over. Accept this and move on:)
2. Research the Destination
This is probably my favourite part of the whole thing because it lets me really go in depth, giving me a REAL idea of what things are going to cost and what kinds of things there are to do. Sometimes the thing I am basing my trip around changes because I find something even better! A great resource I use every time, even if I don’t end up booking with them, is Flight Centre and this is because I can ball park flights to pretty much any destination there is with the major airlines. Their website is also helpful because I can figure out about what time my flight will get in (some destinations seem to leave around the same time, have different connections, etc) so I can figure out all the other ‘things’ that come up!
3. Get Advice from Others
I hit up every resource I can find from guidebooks, to Wikipedia to travel blogs and friends and family. Everyone has a different take on what they like and advice to give and while I may have different tastes than they do, it never hurts to ask around!
4. Book Stuff in Order of Importance
A lot of people make the mistake of booking things as they come up without any real order and let me tell you from experience – HUGE mistake. You want to book your flights first, because if you can’t get to the destination for some reason, it isn’t going to matter if you have a sweet deal on travel passes for two specific days or a hostel in the heart of the city. Yes, you might be tempted to wait until there is a last minute deal, but that deal may never come and you might end up actually spending more! Unless of course, you like taking risks… then go ahead;)
5. Figure out What to Bring
I like to pack light but I’m guilty of bringing a few ridiculous things just because it makes me happy – like impractical shoes for a nice night out and some candy… but that’s just me! Make a list of what you absolutely need, like travel documents, suitable clothing and things to do during down time. Don’t worry about bringing a ton of clothes as you can always find laundry facilities somewhere, or if it’s a short trip, just be gross for a while! Nothing is more annoying than carting around a huge bag because you brought too much, especially when the airline charges you an arm and a leg!
Also, be sure to research the destination in which you’re heading as health concerns are fairly pertinent. Be sure to get a check up and/or any vaccinations that you may need to be updated on. The recent changes in health care including the Obamacare tax breaks included in the affordable care act (ACA) have made a lot of beneficial advancements towards a universal healthcare system. So depending on your health insurance plan, the checkup and vaccinations may be covered.
6. Revise, Revisit and Review
Never be afraid to make changes at every point of the process – even while on vacation! Things come up, problems happen and new opportunities present themselves – a great vacation isn’t set in stone but is rather a rough outline to explore as things may come.
7. Get Excited!
Okay I lied – this is the most important step. Don’t get so bogged down in details that you can’t enjoy yourself and you lost sight of the whole reason you’re going away in the first place. The world is yours to discover and if you keep a sense of wonderment about you, there’s no reason why every trip can’t be the best one ever:)