There’s nothing better than planning a trip but with so many options available now, it can sometimes get a little daunting. However, it is possible to make the whole process simpler. Here’s a list of easy steps to follow when planning your next trip.
Step 1: Decide where you’re going, how long for and when
You probably already have some idea of where you want to go but if you don’t, do some research on places that you would consider going. Having a concrete destination helps to move the rest of your trip forward. If you’re having problems deciding on your destination, try using the ‘Everywhere’ option on sites like Skyscanner or talk to your traveller friends to give you inspiration. Just as important is how long you want to go for and when; this will be important when planning your budget.
Step 2: Plan your itinerary
When you’ve decided where to go, you should plan out an itinerary for your trip. This is especially important if you’re going to visit a few different places in one trip. Decide how many days you’ll spend in each destination, what you want to do while there, any attractions you want to visit, and look up any restaurants and bars that you really want to check out. There’s no need to make a complete itinerary with military precision; the thing about travelling is that things can and do change, you’ll meet people who you may want to spend more time with or you’ll find out about something which you didn’t know about before you left, so you’ll want to make sure you can switch things around easily. But having a skeleton itinerary will make sure that you don’t miss anything you desperately want to do or see.
Step 3: Work out the cost of your trip essentials
Once you’ve sorted your itinerary, you need to start working out how much it is all going to cost. To begin with, look up the price of your transportation. If it’s possible for you to be flexible with your departure date, this could help with bringing down costs. For flights you can use comparison sites like Skyscanner and Kayak. Depending on your destination, it may be worth checking other forms of transportation as they can work out cheaper and/or more convenient. For example, if you are visiting western Europe from the UK, it can be better to use companies like Eurostar or Flixbus. Be sure to also calculate any forms of transport when you are on your trip, including buses and trains between destinations and public transportation in the places you’ll be visiting.
The next thing to price up is your accommodation. Hostels are a great option if you want to meet other travellers on the road and work out cheaper than hotels and AirBnBs. Take a look at sites like Booking.com, Hostelworld and Hostelbookers to find a few you like in your destination, then work out the approximate cost. It’s always a good idea to round up the price in case there are slight price changes.
Another cost to consider is travel insurance. Again, use a price comparison site to see what the best deals are. Remember to add on any activities you plan to do, such as diving or mountain climbing.
Step 4: Research your daily budget
It’s not only transport and accommodation you need to pay for; you’re also going to need spending money when you’re on your trip. As well as food, make notes on what you buy on a day-to-day basis back home, then buy a good guidebook and read plenty of travel blogs to find out the average daily spends in your chosen destination. After that, add on the price of any activities you want to do and museums and attractions you want to visit. Finally, add some extra money onto your budget; usually people tend to go over budget rather than under when travelling, so it’s best to have a little bit more just in case.
Step 5: Get your documentation up-to-date
It might sound obvious but making sure you have all the correct documentation is vital for your trip. Most countries require you to have at least six months validity on your passport when entering and need a certain number of pages for stamps, so double-check when your passport needs renewing. Also check whether you need a visa for your chosen destination; many don’t for UK citizens but regulations can change quite frequently so make sure you have all the latest information.
Step 6: Start saving for your trip
Once you’ve sorted out your budget and got any necessary travel documents, it’s time to think about saving for your trip. It’s easy to save money just by making little changes to your routine and thinking about where you can make sacrifices. If you love shopping, think about whether you really need the items you’re buying as that money could be better served going towards your travel fund; if you really can’t see yourself stopping altogether, consider charity shop and second hand shopping so you’re spending less money. If you eat lunch out every day at work, start preparing your own lunches to take with you; the same goes for your takeaway coffee as well. Saving money doesn’t have to mean you’re denying yourself everything. The trick is to set yourself a weekly budget so you know exactly how much you’re spending and saving. A helpful way to separate your funds is by using a mobile banking app; these generally allow you to put money into saving pots so you can’t use it. Plus you get notifications when you spend money, making it easier to keep track of.
Step 7: Book your trip
When you’ve saved up enough money, it’s time to book your trip. Go through the comparison sites again to make sure you’re getting the best deals you can on your transport and accommodation. Finally, buy your insurance, make sure you have either downloaded or printed off all documentation, and you’re set.
Step 8: Enjoy your trip
Now you’ve got everything booked, the only thing left for you to do is head off and enjoy yourself. Have fun!