My grandmother loved to explore. Her favorite places was probably London but she seemed to enjoy most any place. I have incredible memories of the two of us setting off on a road trip to Williamsburg, Virginia when I was an adolescent and it remains one of my favorite travel experiences. Granny’s mantra was, ‘You always take a trip 3 times. Once in the planning, then in the trip itself, and finally through the memories (photographic or otherwise). In honor of my intrepid grandmother, this post focuses on travel planning.
When it comes to travel planning, everyone goes about it differently. Some just buy a ticket and set off without any other preparation. Some research, plan, research some more and then nail down every detail from the hotels, to the restaurants, to the scheduled breaks between museum visits. The great thing is there is no wrong way to plan!
I fall somewhere near get-a-ticket-and-go but I do like to do some pre-trip planning and here are my top 8 things to consider when you are planning.
- Decide when you want to travel. There are many who advise deciding on the destination first, but for me deciding when to travel is more important. This allows me to figure out timing of the entire trip, weather of possible destinations, clothes packing lists, and any local holidays that may impact in-country movement.
- Decide where to go. I always have a list of 5 or 6 destinations going, so once I know how much time I have, I can decide where I want to go.
- Get your plane ticket. Airfare can be the most costly part of a trip, so this is something you may want to move to first place in the list, depending on your circumstances. If you keep a ‘travel when ready’ fund going, this is where you tap it. I always feel better once I have my ticket because then I can determine how much more I want to spend on the rest of the trip.
- Plan your travel budget. Decide how much you can spend on accommodations, activities, food, etc. My style of planning is to make sure I have a place to stay the night of arrival and the night before departure. Everything else is decided during the trip (unless reservations are involved like the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb). Despite this fluid style, I make a budget of how much I can spend on the trip as a whole and then, determine which things I can do based on how things shake out.
- Get a destination guide (I love Moon guides) or fire up your apps! Not only is it informative to learn about your destination(s), it is fun and helps keep you focused on saving for the trip, even when it is still months away. Learn about local culture, events that occur during your dates, and get the perspective of someone who has gone before you.
- Prepare the home stuff. Things like:
- Notifying your credit card company that you will be out of town/country.
- Writing instructions for the person/people who will take of your house/cat/plants.
- Legal paperwork to ensure everything is squared away in the event of an emergency. It’s not fun to discuss but it does give you peace of mind when it’s done. Pour some wine and just do it.
- Pack your bags. Now that you are closer to your departure, it’s time to start packing. If you’ve been to my blog before you know I am packing minimalist so I won’t bore you with that tutorial, but if you have specific questions on what you should take, please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to help.
- Get to the airport early and have a great time!
As with anything your list may be different, but hopefully this list will get you started down the road of planning your next great adventure!!