Written by: João Santos
Start by brainstorming. Do you want a cultural journey through Europe or live the American dream and watch the NFL Superbowl favorites live in the USA? Or do you prefer something more tropical: a safari in Africa or maybe experience the cuisine of South America and Asia?
Have an idea of the timing: how many days do you plan on staying, the weather, political or economic situation, etc. If you are taking this trip with someone else, get them involved from this stage onwards. You want to make sure you’re on the same page when planning a vacation. Check some of these detailed tips and more here:
1 – Where, When and How Much
Most talk vaguely about travelling. You need to set where you intend to visit so you can work towards a main objective, giving you a definite goal. Your trip will become more concrete and easier to commit to. Check out some online guides, video reviews and friends’ feedback from some of your options and start eliminating some. The place you choose must be paralleled with our 2nd tip.
The duration is as important as the place and will be proportional to the cost. Plan you trip in advance but set a truly viable length scenario, meaning those days will be from now on reserved.
The final first step on preparing a trip is cost estimation. Backpack vs luxury hotels, hostels vs hotels, restaurants and attractions, it will all depend on the last established steps and can be researched online or on guidebooks.
2 – Start Saving
Write down all your current expenses so you can determine where you are spending money and how you can cut back. All the daily unnecessary items add up and should be able to avoid it by focusing your expenses on the planned trip.
If you’re going to need 50€ per day for 10 days, try to save 5€ per day now and in around 3 months period from today you will have the money needed for your trip. Do not plan unrealistic scenarios if you can not realistically pay for the project in a viable time period. You would only get demoralized by the amount of money you would need to save every day. If you’re a student, probably go for a backpacking and hostel approach.
3 – Buy it, book it and plan your activities
Check for deals you might have missed before booking any planned flight, hotel or activity. You may have planned a trip to New York but if a great opportunity to visit Paris is on the table, you might have to reconsider and redo some planning. Be flexible, look for money-saving deals and keep checking Skyscanner, Momondo and Kiwi for example. Those websites will ultimately find your best flights on a given destination for the lowest amount possible. Statistically, it has been proven that it is best to buy a flight 2 to 3 months before for the best deals.
If you have a set a very defined schedule, feel free to book accommodation for the duration of your trip. However, if you are going to be traveling long-term, book just the first few days. Once you know the dates you’ll be in your destination, there is no real reason not to find a place to stay.
Finally, plan your activities. Outline the major activities you want to enjoy and how much they cost. Make any last-minute adjustments to your savings so you can ensure you have enough money. This will also help you figure out if you need any reservations for your chosen tours or activities.
4 – Final Thoughts
Less is more while packing. Remember you’ll have to travel around with your suitcase or backpack some of the time.
Think about travel insurance, passport and other personal important details. You never know what might happen, and most health plans won’t cover you overseas. Travel insurance is only a few bucks a day and could save you a fortune if something unfortunate happens.
Go on your trip and have fun! Trust your planning, follow your instincts, and you’ll have the journey you always dreamed of!