A lot of people feel intimidated when they have to plan a trip, because it is a very complex task. It requires an imagination, a lot of researching, planning, and budgeting. That is why, planning a trip, long or short, can easily become a stressful task.
But planning a trip should make you feel excited and positive. Yet sometimes you can easily feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities and options.
Where do I begin? What should I do first? Is there an easy step-by-step guide that I could follow to plan a trip?
YES, there is.
So take a map and let´s get started.
How do most people plan a trip?
Most people start to plan a trip based on a pre-selected destination. They choose a destination, look for flights, and twist everything else around it.
But without previous thorough research, planning a trip that way can cause some unexpected problems. What if you book an amazing flight deal to a destination, just to realize later that you do not have enough time to explore all the places? That you chose the wrong season for visiting? That activities you would like to experience are way above your budget?
You will probably get frustrated and that is not something that should happen while planning your time off. It also adds a lot of stress to you, if you realize that you need to save $2 000 for your trip in a month while earning just $1 500.
So let´s try a different approach to make sure, that you plan a trip in just a few minutes without any stress.
Se here is our reverse strategy for planning a trip.
A step-by-step guide how to plan a trip:
You need to answer those basic questions in this particular order:
1) How much time do you have?
2) When can you take your holidays?
3) Who are you traveling with?
4) What type of holidays are you planning to do?
5) What is your budget?
6) Where do you want to go?
How much time do you have?
Time determines every aspect of your travel itinerary. How much time do you have? For how long do you want to travel? Are you planning to do just a short weekend getaway or do you plan a trip for a few months? How much time can you feasibly take off work?
Time pretty much determines how much money you will need, how far you can travel and what activities you can do. You can’t figure out how much you need to save if you haven’t decided on how long you’ll be at your destination.
Some people get too excited about holidays and overestimated the time they have. Too much excitement gives you a headache. If you plan too much for yourself, you will end up too tired.
If you only have one or two weeks, you don’t want to waste too much of that time traveling around all the time. Therefore plan a trip accordingly so you do not get too tired, stressed or bored. If you have four or more weeks, you can plan more ambitious itineraries. You can maybe travel overseas or further within your home country.
Remember that longer you travel the less you usually spend on average per day. Short trips are generally more expensive.
Step 1: Look on a map and based on a time you have, try to exclude parts of the world that are unreachable.
When can you take your holidays?
When you know how much time you have, you need to answer a question: When can you actually take your holidays? If you are like the majority of people, you are allowed to take a time off from work at the particular time of a year and for a limited time only.
It is nice that you saved enough money to go to Maldives, but if you chose the wrong season, you might end up sitting in an overwater bungalow waiting for the rain to stop.
Do you know when the high season and low season is in any part of the world? You do not want to visit Asia in the middle of monsoon season, as well as visit some places in the middle of peak season. Weather is especially important in countries with very specific rainy and dry seasons. There is nothing worse than planning great holidays in Asia, only to realize that you will arrive in the middle of a rainy season when all the roads are flooded and impassable.
Step 2: Before you go any further, do your research about weather forecast or weather season for that specific time of the year. That way, you will easily exclude a few parts of the world, that does not suit into your time plan.
Would you like to know immediately what is the best time to visit your dream destination?
Download our interactive overview of all states in the world with their weather seasons. Find out in a few seconds what is the best time to travel to your dream destination.
To access it CLICK HERE!
Who are you traveling with?
When you plan a trip, your destination choices, as well as time, can be affected by your traveling companions. Are you planning to travel solo, as a couple, or with a group of friends? Will you be the only one who plans a trip? Who will be doing all the decisions?
It is always wise to sit down with your travel companions and discuss all the ideas and interests. You do not want to plan the whole trip, spend weeks making itineraries, just to find out that your travel companions have different opinions.
The best trips are those where each member of the group has a chance to do what they love. Therefore, don’t leave it to one person to make all the decisions. You do not want to be stuck on your holidays with people that feel uncomfortable and complain all the time.
Step 3: Exclude countries or regions that your friends do not want to travel into.
What type of holidays are you planning to do?
Do you want to backpack or would you rather spend your vacation in a luxury hotel? Do you want to do something adventures? Or just lie down on a beach and relax?
Your travel style determines where you can go with your budget and time. Do you want to travel on a shoestring budget or do you want to treat yourself and enjoy a little bit of luxury?
What kind of experiences do you like?
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 trip.
Step 4: Now you can exclude few more places based on your preferences. Are you going to travel on a budget? You can exclude all the 5* expensive destinations. Would you like to go skiing? Cross out all the beach destinations and so on.
What is your budget?
So, now you narrowed down the time of the year you want to travel. By now, you probably exclude certain areas of the world based on a weather season. You discussed the travel ideas with your travel companions. And you exclude few more countries based on your travel style. Great. What now?
Now it is time to set up your budget. You should have a clear idea how much money you have already saved and how much money you are still able to save.
First, you excluded certain parts of the world because of its weather. Now it is time to exclude more parts of the world based on your budget and experience.
Do not underestimate the importance of a budget. Be constantly worried about money will spoil your mood.
So, look on a map to see, where you can travel. Do you have one week vacation and would you like to enjoy the sun and lie down on a beach? Great. That means you should find a close destination with ocean and nice pleasant temperatures. Easy right?
Now I assumed that you have already excluded a lot of places on a map. What countries have left? Are there any particular that caught up your eyes?
It is time for a research.
What are the prices for air tickets and accommodations in those areas? Can you afford it with your budget? Just be realistic. Do not lie to yourself.
Sometimes people buy air tickets spontaneously. And after purchasing it, they realize that they book it in the middle of peak season and therefore prices for accommodation are astronomical.
So do your due diligence and check what prices for accommodation, flights, and activities you can expect.
Our tip: Do not completely trust travel blogs and friends when they say it´s cheap or expensive. That information can be very misleading. Price perception depends on the person and it is very subjective. For Europeans, South East Asia is very cheap, for Norwegian Italy is cheap, but for Italians, Norway is super expensive. Both are Europeans and still have a different feeling when it comes to expenses.
Have you ever tried a website Expatistan? Expatistan is a free database of prices around the world. You can compare your city and a city you are going to travel into and Expatistan tells you how much more expensive or cheaper it is. Another great website is Price of travel.
Set your budget properly, and you’ll avoid any disappointment that could come from destroying an amazing itinerary. Like two weeks in Bora Bora during a peak season, and then discovering you can’t afford it.
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.
Step 5: Divide the amount of money you prepared for your holidays by a number of your travel days. Now you know your daily budget. Even without knowing anything about the final destination you probably can feel, that $30 a day will not make a justice for the Bahamas. But it might be a good budget for a backpacking trip in Southeast Asia. So according to your budget exclude places that are way above your budget.
Where are you going?
Congratulations. Based on your budget, time and preferences you should now have a clear idea where you can go.
Step 6: You probably have a few countries on your list. So, next what you should do, is to do a little bit of research and find the destination you want to go in.
Next time when you plan your holidays or you have no clear idea where you would like to go, try reverse planning. You will be surprised how many amazing countries you will discover. Maybe those, you have never even thought about them before.