How To Plan a Trip: A Foolproof Guide to Travel Hassle and Stress Free.
Every trip, every time you need to pack your bag, or go to the airport is a moment in time when one has the opportunity to evaluate ones process and actions for faults or merits when it comes to traveling. We all had those moments when traveling when you get home and tell yourself “I probably should have done that instead of this”or “I cant believe i forgot to pack that”. Traveling can be quite intimidating which is why, if tackled correctly, can be easy and stress free. Here is a guide to follow when planning out a trip.
Where should I go?
Lets start from the begging. Where am I going? The first thing you should do is to formulate a list of places to go. You might know where you want to go and in that case put it on the list, but I suggest thinking of every place you ever wanted to go and place it as well on the list.
It also may be that you do not have a destination in mind, but just the idea of a vacation. This is fine as well. In that case ask yourself these questions.
how far do you want to travel?
whats your budget?
Where did you always want to go?
The destinations these questions might lead to epic locations and fantastic adventures. My suggestion is to write them down, but also consider this: Is there somewhere closer that you have never been to that you might want to go. The closer vacations are the least stressful and the most frugal.
For example, I had never been to Philadelphia and yet a short 2 hour drive I'm in the birthplace of the United States. Here their is a lot of culture and history and yet I don’t need to rent a car or book a flight. If anything goes wrong I can just head back home.
But I have more great options available to me. Another short drive I could be in Washington D.C. or drive the other way and be in another country. I could easily drive to another state from my location. What is unknown to most is the options around you are limitless. Sometimes people don't realize what wonderful places are near them. Research your state or area to see what you may be missing.
Manufactured your list with places you know of and places you discover while researching. Keep this list and build upon it as you discover new places. One day you will get through that entire list.
Pick a place
Now its time to pick a place that will fit your time and budget. Since this is a big decision take your time and double guess yourself. Start picking apart how much it will cost to go to said destination; price of plane tickets, hotels, food, tickets for events, or renting a car. Pick a place and research what activities and locations you can do and see. I usually add a sublist under the destination based on things i have researched that I may want to do. You might need to come back to this step if things don’t plan out and that ok. Once you picked a destination you can more on to the next step.
Do research and create a list of ideas
Next you should do extensive research on the picked destination. Ask what other people had done in said destination and if that activity was worth it. Research online what is the best things to do in location and around the location. Many times there are amazing things to do that are not specifically at the destination but close by. Be thorough on your research.
Besides asking friends and family and searching through google i strongly suggest checking out the free app Google Trips. I have talked about google trips before as I think its one of the best travel apps around. Google Trips can provide a list of things to do based on reviews, tops spots, or by categories such as indoors, outdoors, child friendly, night life, and more all backed by reviews.
Additionally Google Trips has day trips already planned out. This includes a list of monuments or other important places in the destination with a close proximity to each other. Day trips will present each stop in order of how you should see them and tell you have long the day trip will take. Once I pick a place I always use Google Trips to flesh out the list of things to do and use the day trips section as a guide to create my own day trips.
Write a schedule
Once you exhausted with research and have formulated a list of things to do in the destination its time to move on to creating a schedule. Plan your days based on proximity of things to do. Understand how long it will take to walk or get to the next destination through walking, public transport, or by car using google maps. Do not relay on how far it “looks” on the map, but instead get an actual time using apple or google maps. Don’t sour your trip by realizing you have to walk an hour instead of 15 minutes like you thought. This is when you start to understand you cant do everything in one day because of the distances or proximities of monuments.
Remember you will need to take breaks, eat, maybe find parking, or maybe it takes longer get through that museum then you thought. The best advice I can give is to not over plan. Understand that maybe a museum might take half a day or maybe all day depending on how big it is and how much you can stay on your feet in one day. This is when you start to understand you cannot do everything in one day because there art enough hours in the day and because you are not willing to stand for the whole day. Use google trips or other research tools to figure out what will be worth seeing. Better to be relaxed and see the best places instead of being overworked on your vacation.
Look up the times that places open and close. Check to see what days of the year or week the places you want to visit are open. Maybe there is a certain time that is best to visit a place or that location may be exceptionally long or short to get through, so check the website and other peoples comments on google trips. This is important to keep your time tables straight.
Once your dead set on a destination its time to book your hotels, airfare, or car rentals. I usually use trip advisor, google, kayak, or booking to find the best hotels. I usually do not fret on stars or anything. If they have great reviews, a superb rating, are inexpensive, and have wifi then those are my top choices. It is important to see where the location of the hotels are compared to the places you want to go see. Maybe this requires you to adjust your schedule.
Check prices of tickets for the places (monuments, museums, theme parks, etc) you want to see. Sometimes its cheaper to get online. In other cases you may need to book way in advance. In one case I found out the tickets were free on a certain day, but required the tickets to be acquired through the internet before hand.
Write a pack and preparation list
Once you are all set and everything is booked do yourself a favor and do this last thing: Start writing a packing list. Not only will prevent you from forgetting something its so easy to do you can do it right on your phone from the couch. Whenever you remember something write it down. Do not forget that bathing suit, camera, or sunscreen. I have found this tip to be the most used and a favorite among people I have told. This tip tends to stay with them forever.
Lastly make sure you have all the necessary documents. If you are flying abroad then your passport cannot be within 3 months of expiring when you are in your destination. If you need to print out tickets or have confirmation numbers then add it to your packing list. If you need to lock up something or preform a certain task before you leave then add it to the packing list. You will thank me later.