My best friend is planning a trip to Miami. It will be her first trip outside of Europe, so I told her I would write this step-by-step travel planning guide for her and YOU, on how to plan the perfect trip!
Trip planning can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially for travels outside your continent, and if you don’t know how to plan your trip efficiently, this guide is for you!
I’m going to share with you the best travel websites for booking accommodations, flights, tours and rentals. All the tips and tricks on how to plan your dream trip are listed below. Whether you travel alone or with family, you deserve to go away and make priceless memories that will last a lifetime.
You could call it your vacation checklist, with all the steps needed for planning a trip of a lifetime.
Don’t know what to start with when planning a trip? Well, I’m sure that this guide will save you some money, time and your nerves! One of my top travel guides is about the Kourtaliotiko Gorge in Crete, Greece, so check it out – The Beautiful Kourtaliotiko Gorge – and how to get there fast!
Table of Contents
Step 1 – Choose your destination
Where do you want to go?
Of course, the first step is deciding where to go. The destination needs to meet your interests and budget.
The whole point of vacation time is to relax, have fun, and gather great memories, and not to worry about money the entire time. It’s your call if it’s going to be a trip to your home country or abroad.
How long would you like it to be?
The above is a critical question because you don’t want to waste your 1-2 week vacation on travelling to and from, which will leave you with only three days to relax and explore, and quite frankly, that’s not enough! Plan your trip wisely!
If you have more time to spend, you can plan a trip to a land far, far away.
Do you have a travel buddy?
When you are planning a trip, you need to consider everyone who might be travelling with you. If you’re travelling solo– that’s great! I personally enjoy exploring the world alone and making new friends on the way.
Anyway, if you are with a group or just another person, you should sit down and make all the decisions together. Don’t let just one person make all the decisions. Memorable vacations are those where everyone gets to experience something they love!
What kind of person are you?
Do you like to relax more, or are you the adventurous type? Are you more of a beach person, or do you like the mountain breeze?
These questions will come in handy when planning a trip! I’ll help you with some more:
Summer or winter? Cities or countryside?
Shopping or food experience?
Step 2 – Passport & Visa requirements
Check if your passport is expiring soon, if it needs renewing, or if you even need it. Give yourself enough time to apply- at least six weeks before departure.
It’s also essential to check any visa requirements for your country when you decide where to go. A visa to Australia could take a month and a half to process; a date for an interview for an American visa could open in a month, and still not guaranteed you’ll get it. I once got denied entry to Dubai due to negligence by a tourist agent, so check your visa requirements.
You can check through Project Visa, but make sure you double-check with the embassy’s website.
Step 3 – Book Accommodation for your trip
Where to stay is another significant step in planning a trip: the better price you find, the more money you spend on activities.
Of course, you don’t always want to stay in the cheapest place as they get tacky or the location is not good.
You should try to find the best VALUE for your money. More central apartments or hotels would be more expensive, but you would save a lot on transportation if you plan to stay in a city.
Take into consideration what activities you want to do. Are you planning to enjoy the local nightlife? Because if you live far from the bars and clubs, a cab ride at night in most countries is costly.
Sometimes, I like to backpack, and although it’s scary sometimes, it introduced me to so many great people and stories in hostels around the world as you have to share a bunk bed with strangers. Most of the hostels offer complimentary breakfast, and prices range from $5 to $20 a night. Check Hostelworld if you want to experience something like that or are on a strict budget.
Step 4 – Transportation
If your hotel or apartment is in a central location, you would most likely be able to walk everywhere, but plan ahead how to get from the airport to your accommodation.
Can you get an Uber or a taxi, and how much would it cost? Is the subway or a train with a stop near the place? What time are you arriving? Is your hotel offering an airport pick-up?
When planning a trip, make sure you research the transport options for your destinations. This will save you stress and time once you arrive.
In Hong Kong, you can get an Octopus card; in Sydney, there is an Opal card; and in London, you can get an Oyster card, although now it’s the same price if you just tap your contactless card. Check if there is an equivalent in the place you’re visiting!
It’s always better to book online before you go, and it should be done quite early when planning a trip so they have a car ready for you and avoid hassles when you arrive. It’s easier and quicker!
Step 5 – Things to Do & See
You would want to make the most of your trip and plan to see all the must-visit tourist attractions of your destination.
Most popular attractions are booked months in advance, so as soon as you decide where to go, you should book your tickets and your days planned in advance. As much as we would like just to show up, popular destinations have millions of people visiting each season, so a bit of planning the trip’s activities wouldn’t hurt.
Many cities have City Passes that can save you money on bundle deals. Research those and start planning a trip!
Food and drinks
Always check for your destination’s local cuisine highlights. Try some delicacies, famous drinks, fruits, local craft beer and wine.
Some places like Australia, Italy, and Greece have fantastic coffee, so look out for the local coffee shops, microbreweries, or so-called 3rd-wave coffee shops that offer single-origin coffee.
What is the reason to go?
Please make a list of all the free things you can do, city tours and day trips, that you like and then narrow it down by deciding with your group or reading the positive and negative reviews.
Check different resources like:
- Ask friends or family that have been there
- Trip Advisor
- Twitter and Instagram with hashtags
- Pinterest and create a board
- Once you’re there, check with your host or receptionist
Search for tours
Of course, as I mentioned in other posts, Viator is my favourite booking site when planning a trip! It has a wide range of tours, day trips, excursions, attractions and activities. They have fantastic customer service, and I always have had a phenomenal experience with them.
Step 6 – Booking a Flight when Planning a Trip
Now that you have decided where to go, it’s time for step two, which is booking your flights to your dream location!
I always suggest paying that dollar more and choosing a premium airline that will take you directly to your destination with less hassle, especially if you are travelling with kids.
I know that a budget flight sounds much better for solo travellers, and it’s the better option. However, if your vacation is not long enough, you’ll lose much of that relaxation time on transit flights.
Searching for flights
What sites are the best?
Well, I’ll suggest trying a few different ones to ensure you get the best price. Expedia, Skyscanner, Momondo, Edreams are some excellent sites to start with, but of course, don’t forget WizzAir and RyanAir if you’re travelling within Europe. The last two are direct airline websites, but you can only search directly through their websites or apps with those budget lines.
Lastly, before buying the tickets, don’t forget to check on the airline’s website. Sometimes, you can get it even cheaper there.
Step 7 – Travel Insurance and Vaccines
Always be safe, and don’t forget this step of planning a trip! Anything can, will, and sometimes goes wrong. If it does, you must be ready because you can be up for a lot of money and inconvenience if you’re uninsured.
What will happen if:
- You need to cancel your trip unexpectedly
- A hurricane, typhoon, earthquake, tornado or other natural disaster damages your destination
- You get sick or injured
- Your things get lost or stolen
- You lose your passport
Travel insurance can cover all unexpected medical emergencies and events like the above while travelling.
Best travel insurance
I would say to go with SafetyWing. Flexible and simple to use, it covers residents of up to 150 countries. The best part is you can buy your travel insurance while you’re already travelling.
When travelling to high-risk destinations, vaccines are a must. Check with your doctor when and what immunization to do. Some must be started six to eight weeks before departure and require more than one shot. Always take any records of previous vaccine shots with you and bring the vaccine proof with you on your trip.
Step 8 – Accessing your money, internet and phone
When planning a trip, you should consider your phone signal, too. Many phone carriers offer good roaming packages with lots of MB and free minutes to use in the country you’re visiting and to call home. Check with your carrier if they offer a plan and see if it works for you.
Another option is to buy a new sim. Most countries offer tourist SIM, which gives you a lot of LTE data and free calls and lasts up to a month. Please make sure you research it before you go, as many airports have a desk where you can buy them.
Now, the best way to access your money is to activate online banking by simply going to your bank. This way, you can monitor your cash, and in case your cards are stolen, you can quickly cancel them through your app.
Step 9 – Make Copies of Important Documents When Planning a Trip
Always make copies of all your documents, such as:
- Flight tickets
- Tour vouchers
- Rental cars reservations
- Driver licenses
- Credit and debit cards
If anything gets damaged, stolen or lost, you will have a copy for peace of mind.
Print out hard copies and keep a confirmation email in a specific trip folder in your email account.
Step 10 – Pack Smart
Packing can be stressful when planning a trip, but the best is always to pack the bare minimum as you can always buy everything you need there.
Always choose comfortable, versatile clothing in neutral colours that can be worn in different combinations to avoid needing a whole outfit change if anything gets dirty.
Top 5 Travel Packing Tips:
- Check the weather forecast to avoid over-packing
- Always put a change of clothes and all documents in your carry-on if your checked-in luggage doesn’t arrive with you.
- Pack according to the activities you’re going to be doing.
- Charge all the electronics for the trip, and always have your charger in your carry-on.
- Make a packing list and always use it to avoid forgetting important things.
Enjoy your trip!
You are a finished trip planner now! So start planning and traveling the world, the same as I do!
If you want me to add anything, if you have questions, or if you liked my post, please leave a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe!