I have traveled a lot in the past years but I still catch myself reading articles about “how to plan your trip” until now.
And this is exactly why I am writing this post. To help people plan their next trip without undergoing a lot of stress. When I started planning my first trip alone to Finland, I didn’t know what I was doing except for the main requirement that I had to get a Schengen Visa in Norway which I got (woohoo!). After I picked up my passport with visa, I didn’t know what to do next. That was in 2014.
Luckily, now that it’s 2017, there are so many materials online to help you plan your trip. But because of these overloaded information too that it makes it harder to plan because there’s so many people talking about it! But planning a trip, especially overseas can be a daunting task. It can get overwhelming especially if it’s your first time.
If you like checklists, good for you! You can create a travel checklist so you will never forget anything. There’s nothing worse than traveling to another country only to find out you forgot to bring your camera!
Step 1 – List all the countries you want to go
Picking a destination is one of the most important aspects in planning your trip. I know it’s fun to be spontaneous but it is helpful to pick a country before your start planning. This will help you move forward. Under these countries, make sure to write the cities or towns you want to visit. You will have a more concrete plan if you make your destination really specific. Instead of planning for a Europe trip, break it down to France-Belgium-Sweden-Poland-Germany trip and write specific locations of places you want to go.
Step 2 – Research the best months to go
The best time to visit a place depends on what season you want to explore it. Is it winter? Or you want to go when it’s sunny? I find it frustrating when I plan a trip to the beach and ended up staying inside my room because it’s raining hard outside. This has happened so many times I can barely count. While the weather is unpredictable, there are helpful sites and apps that can help you plan the best time to visit a place.
Step 3 – Decide how long you want to travel
Knowing the length of your trip will hep you calculate your costs. Again, spontaneity is good, I know because I have rebooked my ticket a couple of times when I just can’t get myself to leave a country that I haven’t yet explored much (as long as I still have a valid visa!). After you’ve decided your travel destination, add “for 14 days” and you’re set!
Step 4 – Calculate your expenses
Your expenses will be determined by the style of travel you choose and the length of your trip. I have read somewhere that you cannot be both a luxury traveler and backpacker. While I may not be the most luxurious traveler (yet?!) or the most experienced backpacker, I have traveled in different styles. When I travel alone, I prefer to splurge in good food than an expensive bed. Write down all your expenses: hotels, hostels, dorm rooms, restaurants, local food places, attractions, tours, entrance fees, transportation, etc.. Let’s say the average daily cost of living in Malaysia is RM100, if you’re planning to stay for 10 days, you already know you’ll need to save RM1,000 and add all the other expenses plus a little extra. It’s better to be at the airport going home with more more money than barely having any.
So create your itinerary and add the cost of each then you will have everything covered for your entire trip.
Step 5 – Save money for your trip
Now that you know where you’re going and how much you need to make it happen, it’s time to save some travel money! If you don’t have a financial plan yet, it’s high time that you do! That way you will be able to determine how much you can cut back to save it for your travel. A lot of people don’t know they spend a lot of money through small purchases. When it all adds up, it can be a hefty amount of money. You won’t only be able to save money but be mindful of your saving too.
Step 6 – Stay inspired and focus on your goal
When you’ve been waiting for so long or doing something for a long time, chances are, you’ll get bored. If you planned your trip eight months ahead of time, if you let your mind wander and lose focus, you won’t reach your travel goals. There are so many things I do to keep me inspired and maybe these will inspire you too:
Read a travel blog, magazine or book, research more about your travel destination, look at travel photos, listen to podcasts, follow travel influencers in social media and interact with them, subscribe to a travel blog’s newsletter and do things that inspires you, whatever that is.
Step 7 – Book your flight
Now that you’re prepared and inspired, it’s time to book that ticket! It is good to book a few months ahead of time because flight fares aren’t that expensive. If you want to save money on your next trip, signup for miles rewards. You will be able to redeem free flights and other perks which is really awesome! I usually use Skyscanner to find flights but I also like to book in the airline’s website as well.
Step 8 – Book your accommodation
You’re one step closer to your flight with an exact date and you can now book your accommodation. I usually compare the prices in Agoda, Booking.com, HostelWorld and the hotel’s/hostel’s website. I have booked in Agoda, Booking.com and from the hotel’s/hostel’s website and the price varies so it’s best to do your research first. When I went to Phuket, Hubb hostel gives discount to their returning customers so I saved some money in my accommodation when I returned from Phi Phi Islands.
Step 9 – Automate your bills or pay ahead of time
If you’re planning to travel longer, automate your bills or pay them ahead of time. I did the latter. I paid my social security, health insurance and other bills at least 3 months ahead of time before I left in January to do a 4-month long trip. This way you don’t have to worry about any bills!
Step 10 – Get ready for your travel
Congratulations! It’s time to fly! This is where you start packing your bags and head off to the airport! Before I leave, I always check if I have everything I need in my hand carry bag. Passports, IDs, Visas, if any and other essentials.
I hope you enjoyed reading my post and bon voyage on your next trip! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheTravelBoss!