Paris

So, you’ve decided to go on a grand adventure across the pond have you? Now that you’ve decided you want to go somewhere it’s time to start planning how, when, why, and with whom you will be traveling. When you sit down and really plan your trip it can be overwhelming and frightening. Assuming you’ve never been to this destination before, almost everything may be foreign to you.  Instead of backing out, though, break down the trip planning process into manageable chunks.

1. Pick when you want to go on your trip: Selecting a date for your trip is the first step in creating a wanderlust worthy adventure. It is vital that you pencil in your travel dates to your calendar as soon as possible because the further out you decide the cheaper your fares will be. Not only is booking far out from your travel dates cheaper, but it also gives you more options to choose from as far as hotels, tours, and other reservations. Consider the most and least popular days of the week and month to travel when selecting your adventure dates. Anytime near a holiday, long weekend, or spring break may be more difficult and expensive to travel. Leaving and returning on a Tuesday or Wednesday may also save you some money, as most people tend to fly during the weekend. If these days simply don’t work it has been shown that Thursdays and Saturdays may be the next cheapest days to fly.

2. Decide how long you want to stay: While this fits into #1 of selecting when you want to go on your trip, it is important to consider exactly how long you want to stay. There will be significant cost differences, flight availability, and time for activities depending on whether you are staying 5 days or 30 days.

3. Research general costs and plan a budget: Even though you may only have a rough estimate of airfare, tours in the country, travel between cities, and hotels, it is essential to research around how much this trip will cost you and begin planning for it. If you are budget traveling, you may only have to plan for a few hefty costs such as air travel and transportation. If luxury travel is more your speed considering the rating of the hotel you want to stay in, the airline you will fly with, private tours vs. group tours, and other reservations that may require more in depth research for overall costs. Creating an approximation of how much your trip will cost will alleviate some stress from your trip planning. Remember to allot a little extra money in case of emergency or in case you find a souvenir you simply can’t live without!

4. Buy your airplane tickets to and from your destination: Giving the airline your credit card information really sets your trip in stone. You’ve taken the first giant step into making your adventure a reality! Make sure you know exactly where you want to fly into and fly out of if there are different airports or different cities.

5. Research exactly where you want to go in the country: When you started planning this trip you may have only wanted to see one place, but now you realize you want to see 4 other cities along with your arrival city. Knowing exactly what each city has to offer and prioritizing your purpose for the trip is a big step in deciding just how you want to spend your time.

6. Find hotels or guesthouses in each city you plan to visit: After you have your flight booked, you know where you want to visit, and know about how much money you have to spend it is time to decide where you want to lay your head every night. There are a variety of options for places to stay depending on your destination. Perhaps you’d like to stay in the Hyatt in the middle of the city because you have points to use there. Perhaps you would like to use Airbnb and stay in a more traditional home setting in a specific area of the city. Maybe you’re backpacking and a hostel is more your style. Make sure to really think about the type of lodging experience you are looking for before making any reservations, and remember your lodging experience can change in every city if you’d like!

7. Pick out the highlights: Now that you know exactly where you want to go and you know where you’ll be staying, it’s time to fill in your day planner. Some things on your “highlights list” may be more obvious than others. For example, if you’re going to Rome, the Coliseum is probably on your highlights list, but the Appian Way Park probably hasn’t crossed your mind. Evaluate what you want to get out of the trip and focus on seeing things that revolve around that. If you’re there to try all the delicious foods that your destination has to offer, consider all the different cuisines you may find and take a tour of them. If art is your thing, consider hitting all the art museums in a city or taking a walking tour to find street art. Picking out highlights gives you a framework for your itinerary and allows you to fill in the gaps once you’re there.

8. Determine how you want to travel between cities: Boats, planes, trains and cars can all get you where you want to go, but you need to figure out what is right for you. Most countries have a rail or bus system that is significantly cheaper than flying between cities in the country. However, some places you may have to fly to your destination due to remote location or other complications. For instance, in Europe, taking the Eurostar or Eurail is significantly cheaper than flying, however in more remote places like in South America or Africa you may have to take small puddle jumper flights between locations.

9. Organize your travel documents: Making sure your passport is up to date is often something we forget about if we haven’t traveled in a while. Another thing to check is whether or not you’ll need to get a visa for the country you are entering. Creating a folder with all your travel documents such as tickets, flight information, hotel confirmations, visa information, and important contact information may be a good way to keep all your travel documents organized in one place and will be easily carried along with you when you depart.

10. Start packing: All your documents are in order, you have your tickets paid off, and your itinerary is planned, so now all that’s left to do is pack! Make sure you only take essential items and prepare for whatever weather you may encounter in your destination.

Hopefully you have found this guide to trip planning helpful for your next big adventure. The main thing to keep in mind is planning ahead and always being prepared for complications or snags along the way and remaining flexible. Once you have your trip organized you can sit back and enjoy your adventure!