5 STEPS TO PLAN YOUR TRIP
Updated: 6 days ago
Rule number one: after you packed, check again, you can probably leave 40% of the stuff.
#STEP N1: WHERE AND WHEN
Cold or heat?
Close or far?
First of all: make up your mind!
When choosing your destination always consider the time of the year, and remember that not everywhere is cold in winter or sunny and dry in summer. Take in consideration rainy/ monsoon season, and keep in mind that some countries also have hurricane season or very high humidity in summer.
This said, doesn't necessarily mean you should exclusively travel during the dry season, it might be obvious but worth saying that it will probably be the most expensive time of the year!
Travelling towards the end of the of the rainy season or the beginning of the dry one (and vice versa), has always been for me the best option! This will give you warm weather and low prices (the only risk is that you might get one day or two of rain- but it's generally a quick one and won't change the weather much).
#STEP N2: ENTRY REQUIREMENTS/ TRAVEL INSURANCE
Despite where you are traveling to/from, always check what documents you need to enter the country.
Do you need a visa? Can you request it online or does it have to be in person? How long will it take for the request to be processed?
Do you need a 6 months validity on your passport?
Do you need to complete a travel form?
Do you need to download an app on your phone (more common since covid)? Don't forget that some countries might still apply covid restrictions.
The most trusted and updated saurce of information is always the governement website.
Travel insurance: I am the one who always took the risk and thought I'd be fine..and I must say, I have always been! But since I worked in a country with a private health care system, and seen the amount of money people on their holiday had to pay to go to the hospital...I have changed my mind and strongly advice you to buy one! Honestly you can be as careful and healthy as you think, but kidney stones can find you anywhere (and no way you can manage that on your own); also lost baggages and stolen phones, really don't depend from you.
There are an infinite kind you can apply to, covering different things in order to adjust to your needs.
World nomads is a bit pricey, but the most complete that I know and with excellent reviews: https://www.worldnomads.com/uk/travel-insurance .
Alpha Insurance is a great cheaper option, also offering yearly choice and covering multiple trips https://www.alphatravelinsurance.co.uk/ (I paid £64 for the yearly worldwide protection).
Another great one and between the two is Ergo Insurance, https://quote.ergotravelinsurance.co.uk/.
#STEP N3: WHERE AND HOW TO BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS
Travel agencies do all the work for you, maybe sparing you a headache, but they also take a lot of the money that you could be spending on the next flight, some nice dinners or super cool activities!
Skyscanner is the most known website for checking flights and comparing all the airlines available.
If you are flexible with your time, or haven't booked your annual leave from work yet, instead of selecting a specific date, choose the monthly alternative and you will be able to see when will it be the cheapest/average/ most expensive time to fly.
Once you chose your flight, you will be provided with different links: one will take you straight to the airline website, and the rest will be third parties usually offering cheaper choices. I recommend to always purchase through the main airline, as they will be able to assist you if anything goes wrong; on the contrary you'll have nobody to make accountable for if the flight was bought through another online agency.
Booking a return ticket is always cheaper, but only works if you are going to and coming back from the same city (sometimes is worth to check how far is going to be if you moved somewhere else, but you'd consider to return from the same airport of arrival).
Google flights, Kayak and Expedia are some alternatives to Skyscanner.
#STEP N4: PLAN YOUR ITINERARY
Read as many blogs as you can, get to know more the place you're going to, learn from other people experiences. Learn what is so special about your destination, what you shouldn't miss, what interesting activities you could do, where and what to eat etc.; then choose what is the right fit for you and make adjustments to create your perfect plan.
For personal experience, I advice you to always check the festivities and public holidays of the country you are visiting, it will prevent you to get stuck somewhere or having to change your plans last minute.
If you are going for at least 10 days I suggest to visit more than a city/area, but also be aware that is often not possible to see and do everything, you'll be a lot happier to skip one or two places but actually live more the ones you'll stop in.
I might be old style but I love books, and I always buy the lonely planet guide before traveling anywhere. However there's also a great website that you can consult to check literally anything you might need to know: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/.
#STEP N5: BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION (OR DON'T)
This depends on how much adventurous you are, how long you are staying, and what you are looking for.
If you are staying for a short period of time, I advice you to book your accommodation in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises. However if you are going for a long trip, then you can book the initial ones and then go with the flow, make your plan on the way, learning from the people you meet and changing your mind based on the feeling that a place gives you (what's great for someone, might not be so cool for you). You'll never finish to discover.
Are you a hotel or hostel person? I personally think it depends from where you are going to; some places must be lived with an hostel experience, but sometimes is good to treat yourself to a nice private hotel room (specially when you are going to a country where you get a 4 or 5 stars stay for a crazy low price!).
https://www.booking.com/ is great and it helps to find both options; if you create an account you will also earn discounts the more you book through the website.
https://www.hostelworld.com/ staying in hostel it's a perfect way to meet new people and mingle. If you need more privacy, but like the friendly atmosphere of the hostels, check the ones that offer private rooms!
https://www.airbnb.com/ can be cheaper, but not always. Definitely a good choice if you are a group of people.
https://www.couchsurfing.com/, staying with locals for free (make sure you check their reviews first).
Some countries might have typical accommodations, therefore specific website you should check for better alternatives (like Casas particulares in Cuba, Riad in Morocco, etc.)!
Travel is an investment in yourself, be inspired by new landscapes, be pervaded by a new taste, learn to respect different cultures, and contribute to create a better world.