Preparing to travel can be overwhelming and stressful. It`s intimidating enough flying to a new country and emerging yourself in a foreign culture. Where should you even begin on how to plan a trip? Following these simple guidelines will help you decide where to go, when to travel, and what to do when you get there!
Step 1: Deciding Which Country to Visit
One of the first steps in learning how to plan a trip is finding out how much time you can take off from work or be away from your family. Timing is key when choosing your destination. This is ideally the first question you should ask yourself before planning your trip.
As you know some countries are considerably cheaper than others. Below is a table of some popular destinations and the average cost of backpacking in that country per day. The budget is an important factor in how to plan a trip that you can afford and enjoy fully. This cost was calculated based on eating at basic restaurants, sleeping in hostels, and using the train or bus as transportation every 4 days.
Distance of Destination
A basic rule of thumb for travelers: the longer it takes to get there, the longer you should spend there. If you spend more time traveling than you do exploring & relaxing, chances are your not going to come home satisfied with your trip.
Weather & Tourist Season
High Season: Good weather, increased amount of tourists, and increased prices. Booking in advance is more important during this season.
Shoulder Season: Weather can vary, less tourists, and lower prices. This can be the most beautiful time of the year to travel because everything is green and luscious after the wet season in warmer climates. In the colder climates during the shoulder season (spring and fall) the flowers are blooming or the leaves are changing color.
Low Season: Unpredictable weather (usually rainy or cold), no tourists, very low prices. Many tourist organizations are closed during the low season so do you research beforehand.
It`s evident that world peace hasn’t happened quite yet but lets keep hoping! In the mean time, you want to keep a look out for countries where you may be putting your safety at risk. The Government of Canada Travel Safety website is very informative about travel risks in each country. With that being said, we recommend looking at your own countries safety rating to keep everything in prospective. Remember that there are places in every city more unsafe than others, and you can`t always judge a whole country based on a small area within it.
It is very important to research visa requirements before booking your trip. Most countries with a large tourism industry offer a free 30 day visa upon entry. In some countries like Vietnam, you may have to apply for a visa a few weeks in advance. Check out this website for the visa requirements of every country: Worldwide Visa’s
Step 2: Pick Your Activities
Now you know where you’re going, so the next step in how to plan a trip is decideing what you want to do. Depending on how much time you have and your budget, your activities can vary greatly. This is the most time consuming and the most exciting part about planning! Research, research, research, followed by more research. The more time you spend digging up the hidden gems of each place, the more enjoyable and unique your trip will be. Here is where you want to explore travel blogs, Instagram posts, Trip Advisor, etc. to find as much information you can. Find everything that interests you and compile a big list of your dream sights and activities.
Once you have these ideas along with a rough idea of how long each activity will take, you can narrow down your list. Cross things off that will take to long, be to far out of the way or aren’t within your budget. What you are left with is a list of your top activities within your budget and time frame. A great way to look at things from here on out is on a map. Either use google maps or download maps.me (a free app that gives you access to customized maps while out of WiFi). Adding all of these places onto the map will allow you quick access to your research while traveling and help in planning your route.
Step 3: Plan A Route
Now that you know where you’re going and what you want to do, its time to plan a route! Determine whether you want to fly in and out of the same city or from different cities. Websites like Skyscanner will compare many airlines and find the lowest price on flights. If you have the time, keep an eye out for a price drop and be ready to book. Keep in mind that flights are usually the cheapest 11 to 12 weeks before departure. You also need to research local transportation options and decide what works best while you are traveling. Options may include buses, private cars, trains, mopeds, or airplanes. When traveling a substantial distance to your next city, it is often worth the extra money on a flight instead of hours on a bus or train.
Make sure you plan for extra down time after long travel days or excursions. One option to give yourself flexibility is to know your route but only book accommodation a few days in advance. This way if you want to take a detour or stay longer in one place, your not shifting all of your upcoming bookings. If you find that stressful or are visiting in high season, you can give yourself `flex days` instead. For example; book two nights in one city, skip one night and then book two nights in the next city. This way you have the option to stay an extra day or move on early if you`re ready. Another option is to book the first half before going and the last half once you get there. Remember to take your time during this step; like any project the last 10% is 90% of the project.
Step 4: Enjoy Your Trip
So now you have learned how to plan a trip customized to you. Make sure to look into any necessary immunizations or specific items to bring for the area. Pack your bags, grab your passport and enjoy!