It’s an adventure you’ve always dreamed of, but haven’t been able to plan and execute properly. Here are some useful pointers on how to plan a trip that will put an end to the chaos thrown up by rationalizing your vacation to perfect harmony and pure bliss. Holidays often begin as a wonderful idea and end as a nightmare to overcome. Often overlooked, much thought and brainstorming goes into the perfect organization of tour plans. The lack of know-how in travel planning is often reflected in “invisible hurdles” on holiday.
With a little preparation and effort in maintaining a personalized travel planner, travelers can overcome 90% of the difficulties they may have during a trip. Here are some practical travel planning tips that will prepare you for the proverbial rainy day.
Choose your destination
You have to start somewhere. Would you like a cultural trip through Europe or two weeks in Australia? Here it is helpful to have an idea of the timing. Do you only have a few days at the end of a business trip or are you planning a two-week holiday?
Write a sentence or just a few words to focus on the search. If you are making this trip with someone else, you should definitely involve them in this phase. You want to make sure that you are on the same page when planning a holiday. This is the wild, open phase of collecting ideas. There is no thought of cost or distance, just the exhilarating fun of looking at everything that could be. Finding ideas is as easy as losing an hour on the Internet. How you proceed exactly depends on you and depends a little on where you go.
Search for “Top 10 in X” and “Things to do in X” and “one week in X”, where X is your goal.
Search Google Images or Pinterest for your destination. Try to get an idea of what sights you want to see.
Search Viator – We like half-day tours and unusual experiences, so it’s worth seeing what’s out there. For a little inspiration, check out our tour reviews on Travel Made Simple.
Look for catering trips in your destination.
Search for holidays and festivals in your destination and time frame. Also check the weather for the season you will be visiting.
Decide on the duration of your trip.
There is a fine line between boredom and enjoying every moment at a destination. However, no destination has a predefined ideal duration. It often depends on the travel plans and the purpose of the traveller’s visit. Some travelers like to see new cities every day, while others prefer to take it slowly by seeing and enjoying the subtle nuances of the places they visit.
What to consider before deciding on the duration of a trip
An important aspect of a good travel planner is the correct estimation of the number of days needed to visit a destination. A road trip planner would extend the duration of a trip, while a trip planned with airline tickets could be slightly shorter.
Excursions where the destination is within 8 hours can also be made on a weekend if the night time is used for the trip.
A trip with many urban destinations needs more time in sightseeing, and therefore a longer travel time. While a trip to a tropical beach town would not bring much sightseeing, the duration can be shorter.
It is advisable to keep a day off in tour schedules longer than 7 days. This provides a buffer for things like flight/train delays, traffic jams, weather events or a heartbeat to prolong the stay at a particular destination.
Book flights, train or bus tickets and accommodation
Once the idea-forming is complete, booking tickets for your flight, train or bus transfer well in advance is an important step in learning how to plan your journey to perfection. As air and train tickets are subject to availability and prices increase over time, booking the tickets a few months in advance will help you avoid additional costs on your initial budget.
Book your accommodation.
It’s time to go back to that rough route you’ve noted down and fill out some berths. As is the case with virtually everything you book for your trip, the sooner you make appointments, the better, especially during the summer season.
Sure, you can just book a room at the Hilton and you can be done with it. But do a little research and you can discover some funky accommodations that are almost as exciting as the attractions you plan to visit. Keep an eye out for historic castles, small bed and breakfasts, houseboats, eco-friendly hotels or organic farms. Budget travelers take it into account: Holiday homes, host families, farms and home exchange are accommodation options that can be shockingly affordable… or even free.
At this point you should have a loose sketch with a few places that fit in your time. Then do some hotel searches. We love Books, but TripAdvisor is also a great place to search for hotels and read reviews. This step is less about actually booking hotels and reading reviews, and more about getting a general feeling of how expensive a place will be. Do this at each of your bases.
Put this together with your transportation costs and any tour bookings you know you want to do. This will require you to pay a ballpark number of transportation and accommodation fees. Remember that you will have extra costs in your travel budget for food, shopping and activities.
Instead of packing the day before your trip, start thinking about what to bring with you at least a week before your departure. If your destination of choice is suddenly experiencing abnormal weather, you may need that extra time to go shopping for something like a catchy raincoat. Plus, experienced travelers know that the chance of forgetting something essential increases the longer you postpone packing. (It is only a matter of time until a scientific study confirms this.) About a week before departure, check the weather, put together a packing list and check your suitcase to make sure the wheels are working and everything fits.
Result and next steps for planning a trip
So what’s the point of all this?
You need to have a list of places with a number of overnight stays and a list of possible activities in each place. If you have several cities on the itinerary, you should have some notes on how to get from one city to another. You probably also have some notes about the costs for hotels and transportation.
You should also have a good feeling that the itinerary is something you would actually like to do. If you don’t feel overly excited, go back to your original list and see if there is anything that would excite you more and how you can shift the trip to make it your dream vacation.
From here you can go about doing more detailed research for specific hotels, tours and transportation. Once you have done the leg work and examined your itinerary, you can start booking flights, hotels, tours and more. Before you know it, you’re on your way!