Planning a trip is usually where the fun starts!
However, it can also be a quite exhausting and daunting task. How do I make sure I don’t miss anything? How do I budget my travel expenses? How do I cram my entire life into a carry-on suitcase?
I’ve been planning trips even before I started blogging about it. I can safely say, it is one of my favorite things to do in life. But even for me, it can be quite overwhelming sometimes. How do I make sure I think of everything?
First of all, you can’t!
And maybe you shouldn’t want to. Travel takes you to unknown places and hopefully off the beaten track. If you knew exactly what is about to happen, would you still go?
The key is to plan your trip thoroughly and leave enough space for spontaneous events at the same time.
In general, there are a few things you should know to plan your trip:
- Where are you going?
- How long will you be gone?
- What will your travel itinerary look like? (Here’s where you leave room for adventure!)
- Do you need a visa?
- What will it cost?
- What should you pack?
- Do you need insurance? (The answer is generally yes!)
- Will you need vaccinations?
Ready to plan your trip?
1.Where am I going?
Do you have a bucket list? If the answer is yes, it’s quite simple to plan your trip around one of your travel goals.
You can also plan your trip around an event, like New Year’s Eve in a specific place. Or you travel by season. There are many ways to fulfil your travel needs!
There are a few things I do when I decide where to go next:
- Check the old bucket list.
- Look for countries or destinations within the season I’m traveling in.
- Ask my travel partner where he wants to go.
- Check Skyscanner for the cheapest flights.
Deciding where to go is probably not the hardest part of planning your trip. Maybe cutting destinations from your wish list is more difficult. That’s what it’s like for me at least.
Bucket list travel
- 25 incredible places to visit in Romania
- 27 European destinations for teachers
- How to road trip Transylvania
- 22 things to do in Berlin that should be on your bucket list
- Why you should visit Romania in the fall
- 7 places to visit in Europe in February
- Why you should visit the Ring of Kerry in winter
- European places to visit in November
2.How long will I be gone?
Usually you’ll have an idea of the duration of your trip, simply because that’s the time you have off from work. When you decide to travel for a longer period of time, things tend to get a little vague.
A good thing to do is to look at other people’s itineraries or to read travel posts about your destination.
How much time do you need to see your bucket list destinations? What will be costs be?
You can’t plan a trip when you don’t know how much time you have to travel. When you found a destination, make sure you add time to it.
For example: I want to go to Berlin… For 5 days.
3.What will my travel itinerary look like?
Decided how long your trip will be? Great! This takes you to the question: how much of what I want to see can I squeeze into a reasonable travel itinerary?
An intricate trip, say a road trip or gap year, will take much more effort to plan than a simple city trip. Here’s what you should think about:
- Do I need to travel from place to place?
- How big is the distance between the destinations?
- What will my mode of transportation be?
- What are the highlights I can’t miss?
- Are there existing itineraries that fit my travel needs?
Your travel itinerary can be as detailed as you are comfortable with. Because of the limited travel time I have, I tend to plan a lot in advance. In the end, it is entirely up to be if I want to stick to those plans or not. Even a vague idea of what to see is fine when you’re more flexible.
When you decide to plan everything beforehand, make sure you leave room for hiccups like delays. The art of travel is also to let of things you don’t have control over.
To plan your trip, here are some itineraries you might find interesting:
- 1- day travel itinerary for The Hague
- Poland itinerary: Explore West & Central Poland in 2 -3 weeks
- 8-day itinerary for Bulgaria
- Discover Croatia in 7 days
4.Do I need a visa?
Depending on where you’re from, you might need the right documents to enter the country you’re traveling to. Some countries let you buy a visa upon arrival, but the majority asks you to take of that before your trip.
This is an issue you don’t want to come up during your trip. Always check visa requirements (and the costs) beforehand!
5.What will my trip cost?
Accommodation, tours, flights and other transportation can make a big dent in your travel budget. How much are you willing to spend on your trip? Are there ways to cut down on travel costs?
It’s very easy to fall down the rabbit whole of travel planning. Making a travel budget is notorious for making you doubt your trip and maybe even yourself.
Don’t research every single thing you want to do on your trip. Stick to the most important costs:
- Transportation (Stick to the costs of your flight and large overland journeys, NOT taking the metro in every city you visit)
- Tours (if you happen to want to take one.)
- Travel documents and vaccinations
As soon as you have an idea of what you’re going to spend, make a daily budget. This doesn’t include one-time expenses, like your flight.
When you really want to feel like you’re in total control (you’re not), make a budget for accidents, souvenirs and impromptu decisions. It doesn’t have to be huge, just the amount you are comfortable with.
Although it’s hard to say what your travel budget will be, there are some resources to consider reading. Even when you don’t travel to the destinations below, it might be interesting to get some inspiration:
- 5 weekend trips under €250
- How to find the cheapest flights
- What it costs to travel Georgia
- Tips for an unforgettable HelpX experience
- Free things to do in the Netherlands
- How to travel The Netherlands on a budget
6.What should I pack?
Not too much, is my advice. It’s easier to travel light and buy stuff on the road than to carry your entire life in a bulky suitcase.
A lot of travelers use carry-on suitcases or backpacks nowadays, even on long-term trips. What you should pack depends on your trip’s details. Here’s what you should ask yourself:
- What’s the climate of my destination?
- What do I need for the activities I’m doing?
- Do I need medication?
- Are there specific things to consider for my destinations, like world plugs?
- How much do I have to be on the road?
- Shoes to take on a city trip
- What to pack for traveling carry-on only
- How to pack liquids for carry-on luggage
- Travel essentials to take on your next trip
7.Do I need travel insurance?
The short answer is yes.
There are so many reasons for purchasing travel insurance that it makes the mind boggle. I won’t go into detail of all that can go wrong. Just trust me when I say good travel insurance takes the burden off your shoulders in case anything happens.
Most long-term travelers have the World Nomads Travel Insurance. It’s by far the best travel insurance out there. Even when you take a short trip, it can be of great value. Check out their policies and prices here.
8.Will I need vaccinations?
While traveling in Europe doesn’t require vaccinations, visiting other parts of the world will. Did you know you have to get them way in advance? Make sure you get an appointment with your local travel clinic at least 2-3 months before departure.
Ready to plan your trip? Let me know where you’re heading next!