Let’s face it some of us are planners and some are not. Myself, I love to plan and when it comes to travelling overseas I don’t want to miss a thing, I make every effort to find out some of the amazing things that await me in my chosen destination. On the flip side I really enjoy spontaneous travel experiences so there is plenty of flexibility in my itineraries for those to happen. Researching and planning for me is part of the whole trip and builds the excitement and anticipation for the incredible adventure ahead.
Assuming you have the basics under control i.e. you have a passport and time off work, then these tips will help you plan for your trip:
1.Destination – the basics
Get to know the general lay of the land – check out a map and get a feel for where the main cities and landmarks are. Understand the season that your will be traveling in and check the average temperature, trust me this will help in the packing stage (more on this later). Get to know the currency, exchange rate, time zone, language – really all the basics that you NEED to know.
2. Be like a bower bird and gather your resources
Depending on the type of trip you are planning will depend on the amount of information you may need. A week in a beach resort may be a bit less information onerous than backpacking through Eastern Europe. Start by building your library – download any relevant travel guide books, I personally like Lonely Planet as you can review the content and purchase the individual chapters that relate to your destination. The chapters are low cost and can be stored on your digital device to access while travelling. Bookmark key web sites and follow relevant social media accounts to give you current destination information. One thing I have done for my pending trip to Japan is to create a Pinterest board. It keeps everything in the one place and I can share information here with my travel buddy. There are plenty of other places to get information, including apps and podcasts from tourism organisations and most importantly word of mouth from other travellers.
3. Create your plan of attack
Many of us are not blessed with unlimited leave from work (or bottomless bank accounts) so there is a limit to the time we can spend in the destination. This is where a rough plan can help ensure you maximise your time and don’t miss your must sees. There is nothing worse than having a bucket list item that you miss out on as isn’t available while you are visiting due to seasonality or some other reason. Consider the location of your accommodation – it’s great to save some cash and stay out of town but if you are going to spend half the trip travelling in and out each day then effectively you haven’t really saved money and certainly not time!
4. Be Prepared
Sort out the important stuff – TRAVEL INSURANCE! If you can’t afford travel insurance then in my opinion you can’t afford to travel. It is something that is non-negotiable for me. Travel Insurance has become much more affordable in recent times and you can tailor the policy to your needs and itinerary. I use 1Cover Travel Insurance which can be purchased online and specifically suited to your destination and budget. Check out the Travel Doctor which has a handy travel health planner tool to advise what if any vaccinations are required. Some of these are optional but be aware there are some that are compulsory. I weigh up if I would prefer to suffer the small cost and short term pain of the vaccination or have my trip ruined due to sickness. The vaccination usually wins! Always have a really simple little first aid kit – band aids, antiseptic cream, Panadol, aloe vera gel and insect repellent I promise it will definitely come in handy.
5. Step outside your comfort zone
When you start to learn about the destination it is inevitable you will stumble across some left of centre experiences – don’t rule them out, some of these types of experiences may become your most treasured travel memories. I always try to plan at least one challenge that I wouldn’t normally consider – certainly something to look forward to (or fear) and makes for a good story to bring home.
These tips are just a simple outline of what works for me when planning my trips and it is second nature to me after travelling for many years. Hopefully there are some useful ideas that can enhance your next trip.
Share some of your travel planning tips in the comments below.
Please note: none of the links included in this post are sponsored and all opinions are my own.