I love travel (just in case any of you hadn’t noticed) and one of my favourite parts of any trip is the planning process. It’s the bit where you get to sit down and dream up your next adventure, get excited, do some planning (which again, we all know I love) and start the ball rolling. But it can also be pretty overwhelming and there are so many decisions to be made.
Right now, my friends and I are looking into a trip to Iceland next year. We haven’t booked anything for the moment (the world’s looking a little too wobbly for that) but we’ve still had a lot of fun planning it and fingers crossed we’ll be able to book it soon. Going through the process and planning what is going to be a bit of a complex trip, I remembered quite how many moving parts some travel plans can have! So, I’ve put together a quick checklist to help you plan your next trip in as little steps as possible, whilst still getting everything done!
“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again – to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” – Pico Iyer
1. Find your destination(s)
Expose yourself to travel inspiration! Read books, magazines, follow Instagram accounts, have Pinterest boards, watch documentaries, read blogs (*cough* check out my travel section *cough*)! When you’re loaded with inspiration, you’ll probably have a long travel bucket list. From there, see what would provide you with the type of holiday you’re looking for right now. Do you want to relax? Want some adventure? Island hopping? Road trip? Volunteering? Try a specific activity or see a particular event?
If you’re really stuck, take a couple of ideas and run them through the next few steps, hopefully, one will capture your interest!
2. Find what you want to do
Once you have a vague idea where you want to go, you can start making a list of things you’ll want to do whilst you’re there. As soon as you find something that piques your interest, add it to the list! Pinterest is a great source of ideas, blogs, and checklists for many destinations. Knowing what you want to do will advise the next few decisions.
Make sure to research the culture, local cuisines and traditional things to try, as well as places to visit!
3. How long for?
Once you have some ideas, you’ll have an idea of how long your trip would need to be. I recommend coming up with multiple ideas – eg. what you could do in a long weekend, what you could do in a week, two weeks, etc. This way, when you come to looking at prices you have options for every budget.
Unless you’re the type that likes to, don’t plan out every detail and minute! Remember to leave yourself some breathing room and some time to be spontaneous and just wander. Oh, and don’t forget about travel times either!
4. When do you want to go?
Some destinations are okay to visit all year round, but others are really reliant on the seasons ~ monsoon won’t show you the best of India. Some of the activities on your list my only be open at certain times of year and some will just be improved in the right weather conditions. Sure, you can explore Pompeii in December, but you’ll probably enjoy it more in the spring. Iceland, for example, can provide two very different experiences from winter to summer as the conditions change so drastically.
Also remember to take school, public and bank holidays into account – these are the times when the prices are usually highest!
5. Decide where to stay
For our Iceland trip, we decided to print out a map of the island and mark each of our places of interest. We noticed that there were three distinct patches of the island we wanted to visit, so we decided to do a few days in each area and then started hunting for accommodation.
Good accomodation can really make a trip. Sure, it doesn’t need to be the Ritz, but making sure you’re somewhere you’re comfortable and everything you want to do is accessible will help make your trip a lot smoother and a lot more enjoyable.
6. Plan your transport
Once you know where you’re going and vaguely when, start taking a look at transport. I really like using SkyScanner for flights and I love that it shows you the price range over a month, so if you’re not limited to certain dates, you can find the cheapest options!
But remember that there’s more than just flying! Trains and road tripping, maybe even a little bit of boating are brilliant options, depending on where you’re heading, especially if you’re staying in multiple places.
7. Plan your first steps
I always make sure I know exactly how to get from the airport to my accommodation. Getting off a plane feeling tired and groggy, and then not knowing where you’re going is the worst. You’ll want to have done a little research before so you know what you’re doing and don’t end up getting scammed.
Things to research before you arrive to a destination:
- Are airport taxis reasonable? (Look up prices in advance!)
- Can you walk a little down the road for cheaper fares?
- Is public transport an option?
- Can you use Uber?
- Will you need to hire a car?
- Could you walk?
My top tips here would be to have an offline map and a clearly written, easily accessible note of your hotel address in case of a language barrier.
I always like to know how much a trip is going to cost in advance to make sure I can budget and save accordingly. Total your travel, accommodation, visas, vaccines, etc. and then add estimated costs for daily food expenses, activities, and any clothes or items you’ll need to buy before you go. Of course, this total will never be exact, but doing your research gives you a good idea and gives your better knowledge of how much you should be paying when you’re there!
9. The nitty-gritty
These are the not so fun details, but that doesn’t make them unimportant ~ travel isn’t all glamour! Make sure you’ve researched and ticked off all of the below in advance of your trip.
- Travel insurance
- Vaccines and medication
- Passport renewals
- Must-have items (think sun cream, mosquito nets and repellent, camping/hiking gear, safety wear, whatever you need for your trip in particular)
- Safety info ~ is theft/pickpocketing common? Are there certain places to avoid?
- Phone plans ~ does your phone plan cover this area? How much does phone usage cost? If you’re going for a long time, consider getting a sim card whilst you’re there.
Ticked them all off? Then I wish you a happy trip! Of course, every trip is different, but this guide follows the basics of how to plan a trip and can be adjusted for your holiday plans. Travel and exploration, to me, is one of the greatest parts of life, I’d hate to think the planning would hold anyone back from discovering the world!
Let me know where you’re next heading or where your dream destination is in the comments!
Explore to your heart’s content. Love, Ella-Rose xx
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