Often times I’m asked how I go about the planning of my travels. Well, the answer is quite honestly different for every trip. Sometimes the planning needs to be intricate and full of all of the details, but more often than not, the best trips end up being the ones you’re most nervous for; the ones that aren’t planned out down to the minute. Below, I’ve provided a guide to how to plan a trip.
The journeys that scare the hell out of you and make you feel as if you’re taking a giant leap into the unknown are often the ones you remember the most vividly. Why? Because it’s exhilarating to figure it out as you go.
Plans are going to change. It happens to me every time. I could have a plan to see Venice after Malta but fall in puppy love with someone while in Malta who invites me to travel to their home city of Budapest with them. Am I going to turn down an opportunity like that? It is highly unlikely.
However, if I’m so drowned in my exhausted research and schedules, I’m not going to allow myself to accept an experience like that. That’s just the sad truth. Sometimes the best plan is no plan (or very little, anyway.)
So here’s my “How to Plan a Trip”:
1. Packing List
This is a must. And this one will become easier as you become a more experienced traveler. Eventually, you will get to a point that your perpetual list is written inside your brain and it becomes second nature when packing your bags. There are so many different “Packing List Must’s” blogs out there. I would spend most of your initial research looking at different blogs (not just this one) to find a combination of each list that suits your needs.
Remember: Although it seems like you may need an extra pair of shoes, the hassle of dragging them around for your whole trip severely outweighs the benefits of having them for the occasional evening out on the town.
2. Trip Length
This one depends on the type of schedule you’re on. My favorite trips are always the ones in which I don’t have the thought of the set return date constantly eating away at me. However, I realize (because I’ve been in the situation many times as well) that an open-ended return isn’t always possible.
Whether it is financial reasons (usually purchasing a round-trip ticket is less expensive than two one-way tickets) or obligations with everyday life, for most people, time becomes an issue. If ever you get the opportunity to travel without a time restraint, I highly suggest you take advantage of it. It allows for so much more mind-freedom and is certainly less stressful.
Remember!! Travel and vacation are not the same things. Traveling can be whatever you make it out to be, there is not a single definition as it differs for everyone. Which means there are different ways of ‘how to plan a trip’.
This is the hardest one not to plan. If you are like me, the internet becomes a dangerous thing during pre-trip planning. Who can plan a trip without mapping out different routes combinations of routes on Google Maps? Certainly not me.
This becomes problematic when I start to extend my list of target destinations. So what’s my suggestion? Make a list of target destinations. Just once. Make it very broad (generally, I just make a list of destinations I can see in my head without the help of a map). Then keep it. Carry it around on your journey. Memorize it. I don’t care what you do with it, but just don’t get too attached to it.
It’s good that you become educated about what destinations are in the general direction of your route, but just don’t write your target destinations in permanent marker. Like I wrote earlier in the article, plans will change; you’ll meet new friends, mother nature will not cooperate with you, you’ll run into transportation problems- whatever it is, be prepared to make the best with wherever your trip takes you. That’s the only advice I have for that, and I believe it is the best and simplest advice to give.
This is the last but most important tip I have to give to you when planning a trip. And of course, it is a budget, it is different for everyone. My biggest advice for you here is to be honest with yourself and what you can afford. Just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean it is not ENOUGH money to travel.
In today’s world, it is easier than ever to find ways to travel inexpensively. You must be frugal, you must do a lot of research, and most importantly, you must stay COMMITTED to this type of travel.
Not everyone will be able to afford the hotel in the middle of downtown Chicago, and quite frankly, you might be better off not being able to. You will find out what you prefer to spend your budget on.
You will end up learning a lot about yourself and will sacrifice along the way for the things that are important to you. For example, maybe you can afford to eat at the highest-rated local restaurants in each new city that you visit, but maybe you’ll find out you’d rather use that money to take an excursion to the village 90 miles outside of the city, rich in local culture that you can’t find in the city.
There’s obviously endless research you COULD do prior to leaving on your big trip, but it is up to you to determine when enough is enough. Maybe you’ll find out that you would like a little more structure on your next trip.
Or maybe you’ll be like me and decide that all you need to research prior to your next trip is your budget. Planning will always vary from person to person, you just need to find the methods that fit your fancy.