Tips for planning a trip to anywhere

Veselin Peev - 08/01/2020

We know that travel planning can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially for overseas travel, and especially if you are traveling with kids.

So if you don't have a travel plan or know how to plan a trip, this guide is for you!

Step 1 - Choose your destination

Where do you want to go?

Your first step in how to plan a vacation is to choose a travel destination that meets your interest and travel budget.
Are you planning overseas travel or a domestic trip at home? Either way, the whole idea of taking a trip is to have a memorable time, to have fun and relax, and not to spend your whole vacation time worrying about money.

How much time do you have?

If you only have 1-2 weeks of vacation time per year, don't waste too much of that time traveling to and from your destination. Plan your trip accordingly.
But if you have 2-4 weeks or over a month you can look at taking an overseas trip or traveling further away within your home country.

Who are you traveling with?

When you plan your trip, your destination choices can be affected by your traveling companions.
Will you be traveling solo, as a couple, or taking family vacations?
Sit down with other members of your traveling group and discuss your ideas and interests.
Memorable trips are those where each member gets to experience something they love.
Don't leave it to one person to make all the decisions. Or, maybe you could take turns in choosing a destination each year!

What kind of experiences do you like?

To have memorable trip, choose a destination that allows you to have experiences you enjoy.
Do you like:
- Relaxation or adventure
- Beaches or mountains
-Summer or winter
-Cities or countryside
-Resorts or road trips
-Festivals and culture
Shopping or food experience
-Luxury, mid-range, or budget

Are you the type of person who likes to sit by the pool all day with a book? Or would this bore you to death?

By answering these types of questions you can narrow down your list of where you want to go for your dream trip!

When to travel?

Weather and crowds play an important role when you plan your trip. For your chosen destination, do you know when the high season and low season is?

If you are fortunate enough to be flexible in when you can take vacation time, good for you! Avoiding peak travel periods is one of our best travel tips for how to plan a vacation. 

Step 2 - Book flights for your trip

Once you have chosen your destination, step two in planning a trip is to book your flights. And learning how to find cheap flights will help you to reduce one of your biggest travel expenses. 

As a traveling family, if it's an overseas trip and a long haul flight I like to plan my trip so we get to our destination as quickly as possible, with the most amount of comfort and facilities our budget allows!

Step 3 - Get travel insurance

Once you have booked your flights, it's important to protect your investment by getting travel insurance?
Why? Well if you have to cancel your trip for some unknown reason, you can recoup the cost of your flights with insurance.

When you are planning a trip, don't shrug off this step. It's one of the most important vacation planning tips!
What happens if:
- You need to cancel your trip unexpectedly
- A hurricane damages your destination
- There is a terrorist event
- You get sick or injured on your trip
- Your luggage is lost or stolen
- You lose your passport

Travel insurance is designed to cover unexpected medical emergencies and events such as trip cancellation, your personal effects, lost, stolen or damaged luggage by an airline, and other related losses incurred while traveling.

Which travel insurance is best for you? There are different levels of coverage depending on:
- The plan
- The insurance company you purchase with
- The size of your deductible (excess)

Step 4 - Book Accommodation

Where you sleep is your other major fixed travel expense, so choosing the best accomodation for your needs at the best price will free up more money for activities.

Search accommodation deals

We recommend booking months in advance to get the best deals if possible.

Step 5 - How will you get around?

Another thing to consider when planning a trip is to find out the transportation options in your chosen destination.

Will you need to book a rental car or pre-purchase any transportation passes online? Is there a train or bus service? Are there taxis or Uber? Can you simply walk to most places?
During you travel planning research the transport options for your destination. This will save you time and stress once there.

Rental Cars

If you need a rental car, booking online in advance will almost always get you a better deal than if you just show up at the counter. And it's easier and quicker. 
The last thing you want to do after a long flight is deal with rental car companies as the airport and negotiate a deal.

The quickest way to compare rental companies is to use an aggregator site that searches all the major car brands at once and checks which supplier offers the best prices for your chosen dates and location.

Step 6 - Things to see & do

When you plan a trip you'll want to know what are the must-visit tourist attractions and the best free things to do in your chosen destination.
As much as we like to just show up, some trip planning is a good idea especially if you are visiting a popular destination in the peak travel season.
The popular attractions are booked out well in advance, so don't just show up on the day expecting to get in.
Research and organize your tickets to any theme parks, zoos, and concerts etc. And many cities also have City Passes that can save you money on attractions. Research those in your travel planning!

Plan ahead and book any necessary experiences you would like to have.

Make a list of:
- Free things to do 
- Parks and playgrounds
- Best walks 
- City tours 
- Day trips

For ideas on things to do in your destination, use these resources:
- Travel Blogs
- Pinterest (create a board for your destination)
- Tourism board websites
- Ask family & friends who have been there
- Facebook (put out an update asking for tips)
- Twitter (hashtags)
- Guide books
- Instagram (hashtags)

Step 7 - Places to eat & drink

You can learn a lot about a destination through its food  and drink, and you can even plan a trip by eating your way through a destination. For some people that is their favorite thing about travel. Is that you?

Research ideas for:
- Coffee shops
- Cafes
- Restaurants
- Street food
- Bars
- Pubs
- Picnic spots (supermarkets for supplies)
- Famous local dishes

-Travel blogs/ Google ( use different search terms)
- Pinterest (create a board for your destination)
- Ask family & friends who have been there
- Facebook (put out an update asking for tips)
- Twitter (hashtags)
- Instagram (hashtags)

Step 8 - Check your passport

If you are planning an overseas trip and don't have a passport yet, get yourself enough time to apply - at least 6 weeks before departure and preferably as soon as you have booked your flights and accommodation.
And if you already have a passport, what is the expiration date? Most countries require that your passport is valid for 6 months beyond your date of stay and it has enough empty pages for stamps/visas.

Step 9 - Know the Visa Requirements

Do you know the visa entry requirements for your destination? Do you even need a specific visa and how do you get it?
Each country and nationality will be different, and again, don't leave this till the last minute as it could take significant time to organize.
If you are worried about how to plan an overseas trip because of visas, you can learn more about tourist visas for all countries and passport holders at Project Visa-then double check with each relevant embassy's website!

Step 10 - Get Immunizations

Are you planning for overseas travel to a high-risk destination in regards to health?

Depending on where you plan your trip in a particular country, it's important to get the righ advice for any necessary vaccinations before you travel.

Your safety and health are essential, and in some instances, you can't travel unless you have proof of having been vaccinated.

Talk to your doctor or health care professional knowledgeable about travel vaccines. Visit them at least 2 months before departure as some vaccinations need to be started six to eight weeks before departure and require more than one shot spread out over time.

And take any records you have of previous shots.

Step 11 - Make copies of Important documents

When you are planning a trip sometimes your important documents get misplaced. Companies can lose your booking reservation or there is a communication breakdown between the price you paid and the expected service.

For peace of mind, make copies of important documents such as:
- Passports
- Visas
- Flight tickets
- Itineraries
- Hotel reservations
- Rental car reservations
- Tour bookings
- Drivers licence
- Credit cards
- and anything else you booked for your trip

Print out hard copies and save your confirmation emails into a "folder" in your web-based email account. Consider leaving copies at home with a trusted person, and if traveling with a partner each carry copies.

Hard copies of certain documents are important as you won't always have access to the internet to search email.

Step 12 - Phone & Internet access

These days almost everyone travels with at least a smartphone, plus other gadgets that require connection to the internet and a data plan

You might just like to update your Facebook account or send emails so family and friends can follow your travels.
This is what to do when you travel abroad:
- Have an unlocked phone so you can use local SIM cards
- Or, You can use your phone only when you have access to free wifi

Research the data plans ad SIM card situation for your destination.

Step 13 - Accessing your money

We all want ease and convenience when traveling, especially when it comes to accessing our money. We also want to reduce our bank and transactions fees. The more money we keep in our own pockets, the more we have to spend on travel. 

International transaction fees can be hefty when using the WRONG credit cards and checking account cards.

How to transfer your money overseas with the best exchange rate

When you transfer money overseas using the banks they take a 4-7% margin and add fees on top.

Checking or Savings Account

How to carry your money?

If this is your first overseas trip and you don't know how to carry money, one of our best travel tips is to have more than one option! When you travel you can use a combination of:

- Debit cards
- Credit cards
- Travel money cards
- Cash

Debit/Checking account cards

Debit cards are good alternative to credit cards for when you plan your trip overseas. Not everyone has a credit card, but most have a debit card.

Credit cards

You'll almost certainly need a credit card when traveling in order to book flights, rental cars, hotels etc online.
Providers require this for the security deposit, plus paying with a credit card provides some insurance and security for you.
If you have a problem with a hotel room or a tour, you can dispute the payment with Visa/MasterCard. If you pay cash, it's gone.
Make sure when you plan your trip overseas your card is linked to either the PLUS, Cirrus or Maestro networks. This enables you to access cash anywhere worldwide.

Step 14 - Pack smart 

Thinking about packing can be stressful when you are planning your trip, but the best thing to do is pack the bare minimum because you can always buy it there!
Select versatile, comfortable and loose fitting clothes and neutral colors that can be worn in multiple combinations so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit.

Top 5 travel packing list tips:

1. Know the weather of the destination you are visiting, which helps reduce over-packing.
2. When flying take a change of clothes in your carry-on just in case your checked-in luggage doesn't arrive with you.
3. Know the activities you will be doing so you can pack appropriately.
4. Know the types of accommodation you will be staying at. If you are staying in hotels you won't need to take things like  towels, hair dryers or linen.
5. Charge your electronics and load up all your tablets and portable devices with things to read, play, watch.

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