travel planning · Uncategorized

How to Plan a Trip

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Sometimes when people find out I’m a travel blogger, they get delight in their eyes, smile like they were just given a puppy, and ask, “Do you plan travel for people?!” While I am not a travel agent, I have occasionally helped friends plan their travels. And it can be a lot of fun! It’s something I do for Steve’s and my travels–sometimes planning 6-7 trips at a time! I enjoy it, but planning travel for a living takes an awful lot of time… unless you know a few of my tricks and strategies to make travel planning efficient and easy! Here are the steps I follow so you can, too.

1. Decide Where to Go

I’m surprise how much Steve and I get this question, but it’s a good one! “How do you decide where to go?” The thing about it is, there is no formula. It’s all up to you because it’s all about your own preferences. We go where we want to go–and so can you!

Everyone likes different things. My sweet husband Steve likes cooler destinations. I love the tropics! Some people want to see iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House or the Eiffel Tower. Some people prefer museums. Some people like to look at beautiful scenery. Some people love historic villages while others love modern cities. Some people like to ski or paraglide or do other extreme activities. Go where you want to go. Do what you want to do

If you need some help narrowing it down, here are some ways Steve and I have decided where to go:

  • Let someone else choose. If you want to go just everywhere and you’re having a hard time deciding, let someone else take the lead on that element. I’ve been to Ireland, Cambodia, Waco, the Baltics, Scandinavia, Turkey, Prince Edward Island, and more all because someone else chose them, and I was just up for anything!
  • Make a top 10 list. Steve and I love to travel–it’s no secret. But there are so many places we want to go, we have to narrow it down to where we should go within the next year. So we make a list of the top places we’re interested in, and then we narrow it down to the top 10. And then we put those 10 in order of desire to visit so we can start making plans to cross #1 off the list!
  • Sign up for flight alerts. If you haven’t already, please check out my post all about Flight Finding Tools! You can sign up for alerts on flight finding websites like Hipmunk, Skyscanner, and Hopper, and you will receive an e-mail when flight prices to those destinations you’ve searched for go down! When you see a deal you like, snatch it up–don’t wait!
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I never thought I wanted to go to Turkey, but I’m sure glad my friend Andrea asked me to tag along on her trip!
2. Decide When to Go

Take out your calendar and make your plan! Consult your work calendar, vacation time constraints, and family obligations, and do not get overwhelmed if you’re prone to do so. Your vacation will help you feel less overwhelmed, you just have to get there! Steve and I try to travel around Federal holidays because that’s an easier time for him to get away. Many jobs now offer flex time, so take full advantage of that perk! Everyone’s schedule is different, so find the time that works best.

3. Check out Trip Advisor

Now that you know where you want to go, explore what there is to do there! Check out my post on How to Trip Plan with Trip Advisor for my guide to their trip planning tool–one of the best travel planning tools out there, in my opinion. You’ll just look up your destination, click on “Things to Do,” and start saving the ones that interest you. You will be prompted to save these listings to a “Trip” that you can go to later and rearrange them as you like! Doing this will help you figure out if you really do want to go there, or if maybe it’s not as awesome as you thought it would be. Or maybe you’ll find something interesting there that you didn’t even know about!

4. Check Visa and Vaccination Requirements

Before you book any tickets or accommodation, please check the visa and vaccination requirements for your trip. Some visas are available upon arrival at the airport, but others can take weeks or even months to acquire! Check out my posts on How to Get a Tourist Visa and Travel Immunizations for all the details and resources you’ll need.

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Thailand and Cambodia were incredible, but I needed my vaccinations first, and I knew I’d need a visa to visit Cambodia!
5. Check Airline Tickets and Accommodations

Now that you know where to go and what things to be excited about, start looking at airline tickets and accommodations. This will give you an idea of a reasonable price as well, so you’ll know whether the cost is worth the trip for your specific budgetary requirements. Be sure to check both of these before you book anything! We once wanted to go to Guam and were about to book airfare, but luckily I looked for hotels while Steve was just about to book airfare because there were literally ZERO available accommodations on the island for the dates we planned to go!

Feeling overwhelmed with flight and accommodation options? Check out my post on Flight Finding Tools and Your Ultimate Guide to Accommodations! I have a post all about vacation rentals coming out soon, so subscribe or follow me on Facebook and Instagram so you won’t miss it!

6. Purchase Airline Tickets or Plan Transportation

Now that you know what to expect about prices, you can book airfare or other transportation with confidence! Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or ship, now is the time to book. Refer back to the Flight Finding Tools post if needed!

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Finally made it to Guam when there were accommodations available!
7. Book Accommodations

We always book accommodations after we’ve booked airfare because airline ticket prices often fluctuate, and you could save literally hundreds of dollars by booking just a day or two earlier or later. Accommodation prices, on the other hand, can vary by day of the week, but they are mostly the same whether you book them at 1:00pm on a Tuesday or 7:00pm on a Friday, so in order to have the most flexibility in your travels, book your flights first. The difference in price from flying on a Wednesday to flying on a Thursday can cover the cost of staying one extra day at your accommodation!

8. Start Your Countdown!

I love my Countdown app! Whenever I need a little pick-me-up or need to know how long I have until my next trip, I open it up and get a big smile on my face! For instance, at the time I’m writing this post, I have just 62 days until my trip to Qatar! Stay tuned for posts on travel in the Middle East starting in July!

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Additionally, if you are planning to travel solo, please check out my Solo Travel Page for all my resources–including mishaps, because they happen to us all!

Traveling with a group? Please, please, PLEASE check out my post on How to Plan Travel with a Group! Traveling with friends or family can be the best experience, or it can end with none of you on speaking terms. Don’t let that happen to you!

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