Love traveling but are also really bad at planning trips? Same.
If you’re like me you love the get-up-and-go thrill of packing your gear, waking up in a new space and adventuring…unfortunately unless you’ve been there before there is some pre-travel planning that you have to get past before you get to the fun part. Here’s my trip planning guide for those who (like me) are the WORST at planning.
Decide what you want to see
Where are you going? The world is literally an open land to explore. One of my biggest dilemmas, in particular when I’ve booked a flight with little knowledge of a country, is deciding which city or cities to stay in and where to go. Prioritization is key. What do you want to see? In general I personally love seeing waterfalls, visiting cathedrals, experiencing local culture and scuba diving (when applicable). I plan my trips around seeing the things that interest me. Once you know where you are going you can…
Map out your travel
A quick online search for a map of the area will help you find out what cities are nearest to what you want to see. Check out the distances from the airport to the city or cities that you will stay in and to the sites that you want to visit.
Map you trip so you can begin to figure out your best method of travel; whether that be by car, taxi, bus or plane. Many countries have small, independent airlines that you can book domestic flights through, that are great for hopping city to city. These flights are usually pretty inexpensive depending on the country, and are a great way to travel quickly from site to site. The one downside is that they often have very specific and limited flight availabilities so the trick is aligning your flights so that you don’t miss a flight or have to wait.
Knowing where you’re going and how you’ll get there is a huge relief. Take a break and drink some wine, you’ve earned it!
Book your hotel
Once you know where you’re going you need to find your lodging. There is supreme security in knowing where your temporary home base will be through the course of your travels. Some things to keep in consideration…
Proximity to airports and planned activities. Traveling to and from your hotel is a careful consideration to make. Consider how long will it take you to get to and from where you want to go, in particular if you are only in a place for a certain amount of time and need to maximize the time that you have to see the things that you want. Having a hotel that is in a convenient location can make a huge difference in how your trip runs.
Accommodations are important. Safety is always a BIG deal for me since I travel alone or with another girl typically. Find out what your hotel offers. Does it have a pool, bar, on-site restaurant, amenities, tour planning, 24-hour front desk, etc? Decide what is important to you when choosing a hotel. For me I love a great shower, because at the end of a long day I want a chance to unwind and get clean. If I’m traveling alone I like a 24-hour front desk that I can check in and out with.
Hotel tips if you’re on a budget: Consider if a hotel offers certain amenities that can help you cut back on miscellaneous costs, even if your cost per night may be a little bit higher you may end up saving on the longer term. Things like hotel shuttles, complimentary breakfast, proximity to the center or town or to a beach, concierge service, and other offerings can make your trip smoother and leave you with a little more spending cash.
Organize your trip details
Organization is key to making sure you bring everything that you need. Remember the little details that can make or break your trip. What will you need to make each of your adventures possible. I like to start laying things out several nights before I leave. I lay out everything from the clothes I’ll wear to the littlest details like the snacks I’ll take on the plane and what will pack into my cosmetics bag. Making a list helps too, that way you are sure to not forget things form home and you can buy things that you’ll need ahead of time. Also, while you can stop to buy things you forget if you’re in a pinch, you can save yourself time and hassle if you anticipate most of what you’ll need before you leave.
This isn’t everything you’ll need to pack but here are a few little suggestions to not forget!
Hiking trips: Extra socks, deep woods bug spray, first aid kit, knife, mobile phone charger
Beach trip: Plenty of sun screen, a cheap pair of glasses to wear in the ocean, hat, wine tool, dive log, aloevera
Overseas: Bath and hair products, headphones, converter for electronics, walking shoes, appropriate outer wear for hot/cold adventures, condensed first aid kit