With all the excitement of traveling, sometimes we forget to take the time to properly prepare for our excursion. We have put together a few tips to help make your travel adventures go a bit smoother based on what we’ve learned from our own trials and errors. Here are our 10 steps for planning your next trip!
If you’re like us, odds are budgeting is your number 1 priority. We’ve full time jobs and we do our best to manage our money, so when it comes to planning, this is the first thing we discuss. How much do we want to spend? Is this a glamorous trip or do we want to get the most for our money? You know your financial means and the reason you want to travel. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, you just need to do your homework- when’s off season for your desired location? Are you flexible with length of stay? If you’re tight on money, what all can you do at your location for little cost? Pick lodging near a metro/Bus station or maybe a place with free breakfast!
Like planning for wedding, after you’ve established your budget, the second thing you then do is pick a venue- in this case, a destination(s)! What’s your bucket list? We have a pretty lengthy list and essentially we want to go everywhere. With that said, it’s obvious some places are calling your name more than others! Whether it’s 1 city or two countries, your destination will determine how flexible your budget will be (or won’t be!), how long you stay, and basically everything else! Whether your dream destination is pricey Monaco or affordable Thailand, don’t be afraid to dream big and make it happen. If your heart is set on a destination, you will make it work!
Once you have a budget & location, now it’s time to determine how long of a trip you’re looking to take. Is this an extended weekend trip? An international adventure lasting 2 weeks? Whatever the case, pick a reasonable amount of time that will accommodate your tentative itinerary- especially if your travel time is lengthy & filled with layovers.
This may not apply to every trip, but if you’re planning on n stepping out of your country, chances are you might need a passport, a visa or even vaccines. Always check that your passport is at least 6months out from expiring while on your trip. Immigration is no joke and some countries take that very seriously. Lots of countries don’t need visas for short length stays, but always check and don’t assume. Immigration policies change often and you sure don’t want to get to your destination and be sent back home. The Passport Index is a great tool to see if you need a visa, and don’t forget your own country’s Homeland Security website for more information on international travel.
This is by far one of the most exciting stages- booking your trip! We get so excited when we book a flight that we go to dinner to celebrate our upcoming adventure! When it comes to booking flights, we always check Google Flights first. As we live in Dallas, we also have another great tool we use called Cheap DFW– they alert DFW residents of flight specials whether nationally or internationally (They also have a Houston & Austin website). As far as lodging goes, we utilize Booking.Com & Airbnb for our lodging needs and at times we go straight to the source- the Hotel. Every state and country is different, so we like to keep our options open on possibilities. We have found that 2-4 months out has been a great time to book internationally & nationally. Once again, check for your destinations on peak seasons- it will help tremendously on flight prices.
Once you’ve picked your destination, you can begin to look into activities you’d like to do. Most places you go will have both free and costly activities. You should pick and choose what you’d like to do based on budget and timing. We like to plan our trips around what we want to do in our destination and then depending on cost how & long the activity takes, we begin to eliminate activities that won’t fit out travel schedule and budget. Luckily for us we enjoy most outdoor activities, so anytime we’re in a scenic area we like to plan our time around hikes, beach visits and land mark sightings. Don’t over plan though! Sometimes spontaneous activities are the best!
Shopping is important when planning your trip because you want to make sure you’re prepared for the type weather, the country and any activities. For example- If you’re traveling internationally, you might need a power outlet adaptor adaptor OR if you’re going on an adventurous hike, you might need proper hiking gear! Nowadays you can find pretty much everything you’d need on Amazon, so if there is anything you’re missing this will be your best bet at finding most items.
Now that you’re close to leaving for your trip, consider reading up on where you’re going. If you’re not into books, YouTube is a great resource on destination information. Get to know the people, the culture and the geography of your trip- this will prove to be very helpful once you are there. If you are going to Europe, we highly recommend checking out Rick Steves books or his location episodes. He has decades of experience and his book/videos are very insightful!
The best thing you can do is know yourself and know what you’ll be doing. Be honest with where you are physically and if you plan on doing activities that will cause physical exertion, make sure you prepare before hand. Give yourself ample time to prepare so that the week before your trip you aren’t trying to kill yourself in the gym or on the track. This will only lead to you being more exhausted on your trip enjoying it less.
This should be a simple task and if you do it properly, it will be stress free. We recommend you begin packing about a week in advance for your trip. This way you aren’t up to the wee hours of the morning before your trip finishing laundry and scrambling to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything. We also recommend you make a checklist and as you pack begin checking items off the list.