20 Oct Trip Planning 101
A lot of people have a problem trying to decide where to travel to. Whether it be a two week vacation, an entire summer, or the start of a round-the-world trip; choosing where to go can feel overwhelming. There’s so much out there to see, and so many options! I hope this article will help calm your nerves! In my own experiences I’ve had an idea of where I want to go. Everywhere. So, going anywhere is considered a win in my book. However, I realize that will not be helpful for most people, so, let’s see what we can do. There are two options in starting your trip planning. You can plan based on your interests, and go where your desire is peaked, or you can plan based on where you are geographically, by what’s close to you. Sometimes the latter option can contain the former, if you’re lucky.
You need a general idea of what you want to do. At the very least, you need to know what scenery you want to be around. If you like art and history, an obvious be to begin might be France. If it’s not so obvious; start googling. Put the time in to find out what places have the most to offer, and look for recommendations from people who have been there. If you are looking to go somewhere close, start looking at the places around you and find out what attractions they have to offer. A great place to do this is TripAdvisor.
One thing to consider is airline deals. You might be able to go far for cheap. You just have to know where to go to find those deals. One great website to check out is AirfareWatchdog. This site is great for setting airfare alerts. You can select flights out of your desired airport, and even select the place you want to go. When a deal is found, BOOM, you get an email!
Once you’ve figured out where it is you wish to go, the next step is to prepare for your trip financially by finding out your budget. In order to get a rough estimate on the cost of your trip there are four main things to consider: attractions, transportation, lodging, and food. Look at what you want to do (island trekking, museum entrance fees, etc) and find out how much it is. Transportation, falls in to this category a little as well: you need to know how much it costs to get there. The best way to find the cheapest mode of transport is to follow the locals. If they all take the subway, or bus, chances are you should too.
Lodging is pretty straight forward. If you’re looking to go cheap, hostels can be a great way to save money. For slightly more you can get private rooms as well. If you’re adventurous, perhaps Couchsurfing will be your thing; after all, it’s free and safe! If those aren’t your bag, there’s the obvious choice, hotels.
Food costs largely depends on your taste. If you have to have your homelands type of food, it’ll cost you more in other countries. If you’re not picky, you’ll save money. Many restaurant lunch menus are the same as their dinner one, only cheaper. The best option is to make your own. Many accommodations have kitchens you can utilize to save money, that way you can splurge on occasion without breaking the bank.
Now that you’ve got your destination and budget, it’s time to plan your route. For me personally, I look at what I want to do in each place, and plot it out on a map (Google Earth) to see if an obvious route emerges. Once I’ve done that I will look at transportation to make sure a means of reaching my points exists. Sometimes you have to do a little bit of backtracking to save money and/or time.
One last thing that would be beneficial is to do a little research on the culture in order to make sure you don’t offend the locals. What’s acceptable in one place may be highly rude in another. Showing a little understanding of the culture will gain you respect in the eyes of the locals. Of course, you could always disregard everything I’ve told you, and just go. Planning every little detail isn’t always the best way to travel. I think that about covers it for those not yet comfortable with that choice. If I left anything out, or you have any questions, please feel free to drop a comment below and let me know.