When it comes to travels, there are different ways to plan them. There are fans of travelling without the schedule and „we will think what to do later” approach. Certainly, this one may be good, especially when you have limitless time for travelling and you have will to sacrifice comfort for the feeling of freedom. This model is not for me though. Mainly, because I travel a lot. I also do different projects in the same time. In this case, if I would try to travel without any schedule, I would probably end up on seeing nothing or spending my time on thinking „what now” instead of enjoying my time. Call it boredom or limitation, but for me it’s just an effective traveling :)
Before every trip (long or short, close or far) there are steps you need to take. Planning seems to be easy and clear at first, but the deeper you go, the more things you need to organize. It may become time consuming and overwhelming (so many things to plan!). The obvious things are the most important. Let me share with you a few verified tips about effective planning.
- CHOOSE THE DIRECTION
The most important thing. You’re dreaming about a perfect trip. And you have plenty ideas what should it be: Cuba in companion of salsa music, endless white beaches in Thailand or romantic Tuscany. It would be the best to get it all. I have the same. However, let’s focus on a single direction for the time being. First of all, think carefully how much time can you spend for such trip, including time you need to spend to get there (especially, in case of distant destinations). Is it going to be a weekend getaway in Rome or 2 weeks of intense Bali exploration?
- SET UP THE DATE
The date matters! I’m not saying only about the holidays that your boss is giving you. I can imagine that it can be difficult to match your leave with a perfect timing for trip. In this case, you may want to reconsider your destination. First of all, I’m not a fan of going somewhere in high season. You are going for your dream trip so why would you spend this time in the crowd? It’s going to be difficult to find a nice place to sleep because the prices will increase (sometimes even by 70-80%). Why would you overpay for a place that will look the same a month later but will be much cheaper? That’s a simple calculation. Example: August in Italy. It’s a popular month not only among tourists from around the world but also among locals who have their holidays at the same time. In short words: it’s going to be tight and expensive. Think about September instead. Families with kids will be back at school, locals will finish their holidays and Italy will be less crowded :)
- CHECK OUT THE CLIMATE
Weather is another aspect worth considering. As long as you are in Europe, a bad weather means the need for an umbrella or a scarf. Going in wet or dry season to tropics may be really an issue. Always check the average temperature and rainfall of a place you want to visit (e.g. here: https://weather-and-climate.com). I would suggest not going in the middle of wet season, when the intense rain may affect your plans. Plus, the number of mosquitos that spread diseases is increasing. Believe me they are really the last thing you need on your trip!
On the other hand, keep calm. The numbers in the Internet are only the statistics. By choosing dry season instead of a wet season you will just increase your chance of good weather. Yet, it is not 100% guaranteed. For instance, I was in New Zealand in the hottest month and it was only 10C (50F), raining almost every day. Another time, I made a mistake and I believed in opinions about a wet season on Fiji (which was supposed to be awful) and I didn’t go there. It turned out that in that time it was no single raindrop. No risk no fun, they say :)
- PLAN YOUR GOALS
In other words: what would you like to do during your trip? Would you care about intense exploring? Are you a fan of galleries and museum? Would you like to rest and simply do nothing? Maybe a bit of everything? When you figure out your expectations about the trip, it would be far easier to plan the schedule and the budget. For me, leisure is equally important to active time, exploring new culture or trying new things. I always start from my dreamed „must do” list. For example, when I was thinking about South America, I made a list of my dreamy attractions that I want to see, like Iguacu Falls in Argentina. Then, I started to search how to get there, what to see on my way etc. If you suffer from the lack of inspiration, Internet or other blogs are helpful for making plans.
- CHOOSE THE TRANSPORTATION
There are always plenty of options to get somewhere. It may be a bus, train or a car. The last one gives you a lot of mobility and freedom, but you can’t get everywhere by car. I have a solution for that. In case of far destinations, I go there by plane. Once I’m there, I rent a car from a local rental agency or big company like Hertz or Avis. They have offices in most of the developed countries. It’s smart to book a car in advance because you can count on discounts. The best idea is to pick up a car from the airport (the rental shops are always there).
Unfortunately, there is no golden rule for discounts on flights. Surely, the prices in a high season (e.g. summer) will be the highest. It’s the same in case of holiday season (right before and after it) but it is much cheaper during the holiday itself (e.g. New Years Eve). Lately, I checked the flight to Buenos Aires in New Years Eve and the price was almost 40% lower than in other days. You may consider this scenario. New Years Eve in the sky sounds exciting :)
Is it worth buying the flight tickets in advance? I will answer ‘yes’, but only in terms of distant destinations, like flights to another continent. In this case, 2 or 3 months ahead matter. In case of domestic flights and those to another country, but on one continent, I usually buy them week in advance.
I always buy flight tickets online using Skyscanner or local air carrier website.
- BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION
When it comes to accommodation, I always have the golden rule: I book 1 or 2 first nights in advance. The reason is simple. After a long trip, in many cases with transfers, I don’t want to look for a place to sleep, when I’m tired with and carry a heavy luggage. I prefer to have a comfort of hot shower and bed right after I get to the place. Believe me, think about it before and you won’t panic that you have no place to go. It’s neither clever nor thrifty to start looking for a hotel as a first thing after a long journey. Nowadays, booking a room online takes just a few minutes. In case you really want to do it by yourself on site. I would suggest to book at least the first night. Another day when you will be without the luggage (leave it in the hotel!) you can go and have a look around.
I use two tools for accommodation: Booking.com, which is a huge base of hotels (from cheap to expensive) or Airbnb, which lets you book private apartment, room or even house. Booking.com offers you many discounts if you book in advance, while Airbnb has more cozy style.
THE SECOND PART IS COMING SOON! :)
Let me know if my tips were helpful :)