Not all those who wander are lost. Or so the quote goes. For most of us, travel is an eye-opening experience. It can take us to new heights, allow us to experience new things, give us ideas and inspiration and help us meet new people.
The most important thing about traveling is that it can push us out of our comfort zones and give us new perspectives. Everyone wants to travel, to see new things and go to new places. We always feel like there’ll be more time to travel. We always put off seeing the world until we’re ‘older’, ‘richer’, ‘have more time’, but actually the best time to travel is right now. You just need to know how to plan the best trip of your life and make it actually happen. And, by the way, you don’t have to fly half-way across the world to enjoy traveling, you can go somewhere close by. Plan a road trip, see your ancestral home, think outside the box a little and go and experience the world.
To plan your perfect trip all you’re going to need is a pen and a planner. The time is now.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
Choose your destination, but be smart about it. Is there somewhere that piques your interest? Is it within your budget? Is it safe? The best trips often involve hardly any money at all, remember that when you try to book the most premium accommodation you can.
Think about the limitations
If you can only take a certain time off work, you shouldn’t be spending half of it traveling, so if you can stay close – you should. Think about who you’re considering going with, too. You can bring your besties, but if they’re not fans of camping and you are, there might be a bit of friction there. Think about it seriously, is there somewhere you want to go and someone you’d love to go with?
If you can’t come up with a good idea, or would rather travel alone, consider an EF trip. You get pooled in with a group of other similar aged travelers and can plan your perfect trip with the experiences you want. We wrote about this last year and It’s stuck with me as one of the perfect ways to safely see the world.
Plan your experiences
Push yourself out of your comfort zone while you’re traveling. It’s important. But it’s also important to do lots of what you like. If you love to relax and chill, plan to do more of that, if you love adventure – find a place that allows you to explore and do new things. And I’d say, even if you are more one than the other, plan to put a little bit of both in. Do you prefer cities or the countryside? Is there a chance to explore both? Do you like summer trips or winter breaks?
Keep an open mind and do book some things that you might not have considered before, Airbnb has a ton of cool experiences you can book in for hardly any money. I’m planning a mammoth Scotland road trip and honeymoon two years ahead of time and can’t tell you how important it is to grab all the information on experiences you possibly can. Snorkeling in a loch? While I’d usually say no, I’m going to put us down for this one. Absolutely.
HOW ARE YOU GETTING THERE?
If you need to book a flight, start with Skyscanner. It’ll search for all the flights you need and doesn’t add fees. To save money you could consider a stopover (and make that part of your trip) or you could fork out a little bit more for a premium seat. If you want to make it the trip of your dreams, I’d recommend traveling in comfort. You don’t want to arrive cranky. There’s also Kayak, Google Flights, and Momondo.
Don’t forget that a lot of airlines have flights available for cheap directly through them. You can also shop around at a Travel Agent because they can sometimes have deals and partnerships with certain airlines that you’d miss otherwise. Search before you choose the first flight you see!
Also important to mention, you can fly half-way across the world for super cheap at the right time, if you have the luxury of booking a last minute(ish) flight, book a couple of weeks beforehand and you could be on a flight for £200 that cost everyone else almost £1000.
You need to consider which car you’ll be taking if you’re planning a road trip. Are you hiring a car? Taking your own? And also, think about the petrol or diesel. It’s such a little niggly detail but you’ll need to be able to refuel often. If you’re out in the sticks, how are you going to do it? Think, too, about the supplies you might need and the cost of getting your car serviced to make sure everything is hunky dory before you start driving across the country. Also, as I’m planning my very own road trip I’m realizing, annoying as it is because you just want to cover ground, you also want to make sure you have as many stops as possible on your travels.
FOUND THE PERFECT PLACE TO LAY YOUR HEAD?
The place you rest your head is one of the most important parts of a trip of a lifetime. Make a list of all the non-negotiables you’ll need. Do you need a kitchen? Will you require more than one bedroom? Could you stay in a hotel or do you prefer a villa? Or maybe you want to stay in an Airbnb? Would you like to live with a local for a bit (for the full experience) or do you want complete privacy? Are you an all-inclusive or half-board kind of girl?
All of these things really do matter and help you to narrow down your list. It’s so overwhelming when you first start listing beautiful places you want to stay, you might not even realize that they’re not suitable for you until you try to book.
You don’t always have to use sites like Booking.com or SecretEscapes.com to get a good deal, Airbnb has some pretty damn good places. Even out in the sticks there are Airbnb options, cottages, entire houses, apartments, flats, there are so many options from lovely hosts. For our Scotland road trip (not to bang on about that old gem) we’ll be staying in Airbnb’s up and down the highlands, from cottages to cozy little rooms in a leaky bed and breakfast with the locals. Try to look for a variety of experiences, the more you throw yourself into something the more memories you have.
ARE YOU WASTING YOUR TIME?
Even if you’re planning a trip full of rest and relaxation, there’s only so much laying around by the pool you can do. So it’s a good idea to make a list of all the most popular attractions, spots that most tourists don’t know about, and tourist traps that you should book well in advance. Organize the things you want to do by theme, for example, attractions, experiences, historical places, museums, team activities. Chances are you won’t get to go to all of them (if you do you’re lucky!), but having them on your list of things to do can be so helpful – and make you aware of any booking fees or waiting lists.
Use the Airbnb experiences as a starting point, is there something you want to try? Whiskey tasting? Jewelry making? A Jack The Ripper walking tour? Nothing’s off limits, and everything is amazing! It costs hardly anything and will give you so many memories.
I’d recommend making two lists, free things and things you need to pay for. This will help you when you come to budgeting your travel, too. Use Instagram hashtags, Pinterest, Trip Advisor, and travel blogs to find the best things to do, and don’t forget to ask for recommendations once you’re actually there!
HOW’S YOUR MONEY LOOKING?
We all want ease and convenience when traveling, especially when it comes to accessing our money. We also want to reduce our bank and transaction 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.
Considering there are people reading this from many different countries and traveling to different destinations, it is impossible for us to recommend THE BEST cards or ways for everyone to access their money. If this is your first overseas trip and you don’t know how to carry your money, one of our best travel tips is to have more than one option!
Before you depart, be sure to contact your bank and credit card companies to inform them that you will be traveling, where to and when. This is to stop them from putting a freeze on your card if they see unusual transactions from overseas.
ARE ALL YOUR DOCUMENTS READY?
If you are planning an overseas trip and don’t have a passport yet, give 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 six months beyond your date of stay and it has enough empty pages for stamps/visas. Also, do you know the visa entry requirements for your destination? Do you even need a specific visa and how do you get it?
Remember: 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, 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.
ARE YOU GOING TO BE CONNECTED?
These days almost everyone travels with at least a smartphone, plus other gadgets that require connection to the internet and a data plan. As travel bloggers, we know more than most the frustration at not being able to be connected on the road. But you might just like to update your Facebook account or send emails, so family and friends can follow your travels.
If you’re going further afield you might want to carry an unlocked phone with you so you can use local SIM cards or look for WiFi hotspots. You can also get an international plug that works in most countries and changes with the push of a button, which will save you buying a new adapter every time you travel. You also might want to look at WiFi adapters and your data plan before you go.
SHOP TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS
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