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10 Easy Steps to Plan an Epic Trip

10 Easy Steps to Plan an Epic Trip

July 01, 2020

Some people love travel planning, while some people hate it!

When it comes to travel some planning is essential.

In this post, you will learn how to plan your next trip from scratch in 10 easy steps.

1. Decide on Your Destination

The first thing you need to do is decide on where you want to go. Depending on the length of your trip you could choose one town, a country or a whole continent!

If you don’t already have a bucket list destination you’re dying to tick off, get some inspiration. Browse through blogs on Pinterest, follow travellers on Instagram and watch travel vloggers on Youtube.

Here are some inspiring travel content recommendations:

Travel Blogs

YouTubers

Instagrammers

There is so much incredible travel content out there showcasing the most amazing places in the world. Whether the destination is as mainstream as Paris or more off the beaten path like Iran, you will find no shortage of travel inspiration online.

Here are some other factors you can use to make a final decision:

  • Desired experience: Do you want to explore a big city, hike in mountains or lie on a beach?
  • Time of year: What time of year do you want to travel? You can narrow down countries depending on the best time of year to visit them.
  • The weather: If you hate the cold don’t go to Europe in Winter and avoid Jaisalmer in summer if you can’t stand the heat. Decide what kind of weather you really love and go from there.
  • Your budget: Developed Countries like Western Europe, the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand will be much more expensive than less developed countries in Asia, Africa and Central and South America. Take your budget and the length of your trip into account when deciding where to go.

2. Map Out Your Destination

Once you have decided on where you want to get a map of the area on google maps and get your bearings.

Have a look at the major cities, airports and popular destinations and attractions you want to see. Start saving places on Google Maps so they appear as stars on your devices.

Saving places will help you remember places you have heard of or want to go. You can continue saving places as your trip gets closer.

It’s really helpful to have a geographical understanding of where you're going and how far away places are from one another. This will go a really long way in helping you plan your dates and booking accommodation and transportation.

Plus it's so exciting seeing your destination mapped out! 

3. Decide on Dates and Make a Budget 

Before you make a budget, decide on the dates you want to travel. It doesn’t have to be specific. Decide which month you want to leave and how many weeks or months you want to go for.

Next have a think about the type of traveller you are or want to be. This will help you come up with a realistic budget for your trip. 

Are you a backpacker who wants to travel on a shoestring? Or do you want to stay in luxury 5-star hotels and fly business class? Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What kind of accommodation do you like? Hotels, apartments, hostels?
  • What kind of travel do you like? Relaxation, adventure, city-hopping?
  • What do you want to learn about? History, nature, architecture?

Once this is all set you can make a budget. Come up with a daily budget based on flights, accommodation, food, transportation, activities, shopping, visa fees, insurance and miscellaneous costs. Calculate an overall budget by multiplying the daily budget by the number of days you want to travel.

Once you have a budget you will know whether you can save enough money to turn this travel plan into a reality.

During your trip, you can use an app to track your expenses. This helps you to stick to your budget.

4. Book Your Flights 

This is the exciting part! 

Booking your flights is the first step that will really set your travel plans in motion.

Get your visa sorted first!

Before you go ahead and book your flights, research the visa requirements for the countries you want to visit. Check what the process is to obtain a visa, how long your visa will last, whether you can get an extension and what the extension process is.

Wikipedia always has up to date detailed information on visa requirements for different countries which you can use as a starting point. A simple google search will give you loads of blogs and information about visas for every country.

Get your visa organised before you book any flights, especially if they are non-refundable. The last thing you want is to be denied entry onto the plane when you check-in!

Get a flight that works for you

Depending on your travel style and your budget, get a flight that works for you. If you are travelling on a budget, book non-refundable flights with a budget carrier, travel with carry-on only and opt for long layovers.

Are you are willing to pay more for comfort and convenience? Then you will have many more options when it comes to flying.

However, all want to grab a good deal when it comes to flying. Book your flights a few months in advance to secure a good deal. Turn on price alerts on Skyscanner which will alert you to a rise or drop in flights on a certain route.

Skyscanner is a great platform to search for different flight options and get a good idea of dates and costs.

Use a VPN or Incognito mode in Google Chrome when searching and booking for flights so that cookies can’t track your location or search history. Flight booking platforms are very clever and will use Cookies to make extra income off you.

5. Do Your Research

Now your flights are booked it is time has no come to do some more detailed research for your trip.

Just don’t do too much!

While researching where you want to go to some degree is essential, don’t over research. You want to leave some room for the unexpected and to be spontaneous. If you do a lot of research you are more likely to be disappointed by your destination. 

This is because you will form an expectation which probably won’t be met. You want to be prepared but you also want to be surprised. So do your due diligence but don’t overdo it!

Here are some things you should look into before your trip

  • Must-see attractions and activities: You don’t want to miss out on key activities and attractions. Research what the top things are to do, decide which ones are worth it for you.
  • Look up epic nature spots: A lot of the most beautiful places are a secret. It is worth doing relatively extensive research on epic spots in nature if you are willing to put in the effort to reach them! Find secret beaches, sunset spots, hidden waterfalls and the best mountain viewpoints. Blogs are the best place to find these kinds of tips. 
  • Where to stay: It’s worth doing some research on the best area to stay in, especially if you are going to a city. Look into the types of accommodation available and find areas that are convenient for sightseeing and have the vibe you are after. Research whether you need to book in advance. It’s good to have some expectations when it comes to accommodation! 
  • How to get around: Make sure you have an idea of how to get from a to b where you are travelling. You might find that the country has no train network but epic buses. Or you may find that the only option for getting around is a taxi. Perhaps domestic flights are actually the best way to go.
  • Set some cultural expectations: Find out the cultural differences & norms, the language spoken, food standard, queueing and personal space etiquette, how people dress and greeting styles.

Blog posts from Pinterest searches, Youtube vlogs and travel Facebook groups are all amazing places to research your destination. There are thousands of Facebook group specifically set up for travellers in particular destinations. This is the best place to ask specific questions. You will also find better blogs by using Pinterest to find them instead of Google.

Don’t forget to ask your friends, family and wider network for their tips and recommendations. They will be able to give you first-hand advice for free. They have your best interest at heart so you know it will be honest.

6. Devise an Itinerary

Now that you know a bit more about where you are going, you can create a rough itinerary for your trip.

Draw or make a calendar on your computer for the months that you are going. Mark the days that you will be flying in and out and any other travel days. This will give you a good idea of the number of full days you have in each place that you are visiting.

Mark in the calendar must-see places and must-do activities. This will give you a really good idea of how much time you really have, what you can fit in and how much room you have for flexibility.

Always leave room in your itinerary for the unexpected! The worst thing you can do is clutter your itinerary with too many activities, that you may not even have the time to do. 

You will constantly feel stressed and will get a serious case of FOMO if it doesn’t all go according to plan (which is inevitable by the way!).

7. Make Essential Bookings

This is when your trip will really start to come to life and feel real!

Based on your research and what you have devised in your itinerary, you can start making bookings for accommodation, transport and activities that are essential.

Accommodation

Always have your first night of accommodation booked at the very least for your trip. Everything else can be booked as you go. This is super easy these days with booking apps like Airbnb, Booking.com and Hostelworld.

You should also book in advance for places that are expensive or if it is high-season like Santorini in July. This way you will secure a better rate and find a better place to stay.

For other places, it can be better to book the bulk of your accommodation once you are there. For example in Rishikesh, India, there are a lot of nice guesthouses that are very economical but you won’t even find them online. You just wander around and ask people once you get there!

You should know whether you should book in advance or not based on the research you did in step 5.

Transport

If you know you need to get a flight to reach a new destination get that locked in. It will give you something to work around for your trip.

In some places, like in India and for the Eurorail, you will need to book trains in advance as they get very full long far in advance. It is usually cheaper to book these trains in advance as well.

With buses, it is much more likely that you can book a seat once you are already there. 

Be careful about booking trains and buses online in advance. You may be getting ripped off by a middleman agency without even realising. Do your research and find out how much things should cost before you book online.

Tours & Activities

Again some tours and activities will need to be booked in advance if they are really popular like Sail Croatia.

If you aren’t sure, ask in Facebook Groups and forums whether you need to book a tour or activity in advance so real people can give you advice. Tour companies will always prefer you book in advance online as they can get away with charging more as you won't really understand the costs or competition yet.

Quite often tours and activities are cheaper if you book on the day when you arrive. You will have bargaining power as the operators will be trying to fill seats and you will be able to get prices from competitors.

A great example of this is a day sailing trip to Kleftiko Caves on Milos Island in Greece. You simply go to every sailing tour shop on the waterfront and find the place willing to give you the best deal!

If you are going somewhere in high season, it may be safer to book in advance if it is a must-do activity.

8. Iron Out the Final Details

Now comes the tedious part of ironing out the final details of your trip.

It is important not to skip this step as you don’t want to get caught out. Plus these steps will save you money (and maybe your life!).

Here is a list of a few things to sort out before you go:

  • Travel Insurance: Buying travel insurance sucks but it’s a good idea to have it. You don’t want to end up in a hospital with hideous injuries from a bike accident in Indonesia and the doctors refuse to treat you because you don't have insurance. Travel insurance could be a lifesaver if you get into medical trouble. World Nomads is a great option for travellers, especially long term travellers. 
  • Getting a Local SIM Card: It’s always a great idea to look into getting a local SIM card. It will be so much cheaper than paying roaming rates for data and minutes from your home country. Some countries have requirements for obtaining a local SIM so research into your options so you arrive prepared. You may even be able to pick one up straight away as soon as you land!
  • Money: Look into the currency and its value. Research whether you will need to pay for everything in cash or whether it is more common to pay by card. Look into how easy it is to withdraw cash from ATMs in the locations you are going to. With this information decide whether to exchange cash at home before you leave or if you’re better off withdrawing from ATMs. Also, look into getting a prepaid travel card to save you a ton on exchange and ATM fees. Revolut and Transferwise are both excellent travel card options. 
  • Risks you should know about: Research into food and water safety, what kind of crime is present and whether there are any dangerous animals or insects you will need to watch out for. This will help you pack certain items and help you feel prepared and safe. 

9. Pack Appropriately

When the time comes for you to pack, make a list of items you need. Buy the things you don’t have and tick the list off as you actually start packing.

Before you even begin, decide on what kind of bag you need to take according to the length of your trip and your style of travel. Do you need a big backpack or a small carry-on suitcase?

Next, consider what the weather will be like as well as the cultural norms for dressing.

Never forget to leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs and clothing you will buy on the way.

Also, don’t stress too much about packing every single thing you are going to need. You will be able to buy almost anything essential when you arrive.

Check out this blog post for more tips on how to pack like a pro!

10. Get Yourself to the Airport Early!

The time has finally come when you are ready to head to the airport for your first flight! 

The last thing you need is to miss your flight. 

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport early so you can relax and say your goodbyes.

There you have 10 easy steps to plan your next trip from idea right to the airport!

Following these steps will help you have a well thought out, incredible trip with plenty of room for the unexpected.

Happy trails!



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