1. Time and budget
Your time and budget set the limits for your travel plans. Knowing how long for and when you can travel define the time frame. That frame shows how far you can go and what places could be the best choices. Then, your budget defines how much you can spend, which serves as a restriction and an alarm when you figure out the details of your travel plan.
2. Where do you want to go?
After thinking about time and budget, now you have to pick your destination(s). You could start with a list of the places you want to go to and see whether your time frame overlaps with the best time to visit any of them. If you have several choices, pondering the following questions may help.
Where do you want to go to the most but you can’t wait for another opportunity? Where fits best into you time frame and budget? Are there any special events in any of the places on your list that you may not be able to experience again if you miss this opportunity?
If there is still more than one option left, try throwing a dice! Since the options remaining weigh the same to you, just see where fortune leads you.
3. Gather information
If your destination is somewhere you have never been to, gathering information about it is a must. You can start with the local official travel website, which will list the must-go-and-see places and special events and activities. Then, you can go deeper by looking at the travel blogs. Some bloggers are professional travellers who share their experience covering all the aspects of travel. You can definitely learn a lot from them. Beside doing your own searching, do not forget your friends. Their first-hand experience could be a great reference for you.
4. Draw up a list of places and activities and fit them into an itinerary
Once you have enough information from the previous step, you can draw up a list of places and activities you are interested in. You may find it helpful to note your priorities as well as the best times to do things (like when places are open). This will help you to narrow things down and indicated the best way to manage your time. Now, it should be just a piece of cake to work out an itinerary.
5. Do your “math” and make your choice
Things may get a little tricky if you’ve filled up your itinerary but some things have been left out. You may want to double-check your priorities to see whether you’ve picked the best places and activities.
However, you may still struggle even if the priorities look good. Like, if you have 10 items with the highest priorities but your time allows you to fit 8 in at most. Be ruthless, because often it is impossible and unrealistic to experience everything on the same trip. Make your choice and stick to it.
6. Sort out the basics
With a sound itinerary at hand, your next step is to confirm transportation and accommodation. Of course, you know how to book travel tickets and hotels, but please always bear a couple of things in mind.
First, safety is everything. Find an online local safety map and do some research before deciding where to stay. Accommodation can be pricey, but you don’t want to sacrifice your safety just to go somewhere cheap. Second, keep an eye on time. If you fly to your destination, when will you land? How long will it take you to get from your hotel or Airbnb to where you want to visit? Do any of your reservations have a specific check-in time or require an early arrival?
7. Prepare thoroughly
Start preparing about one or two weeks in advance. Sort out all your tickets and vouchers for redemption. Carefully read the instructions so that you don’t miss anything important, like restrictions. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast, since that affects what to wear, where you can go and what you can do. Some activities rely heavily on the weather, so you may want to consider alternatives if the forecast looks really bad. By the way, pay attention to cancellation fees and policies for your tickets and vouchers in case you need to make any last-minute changes. Also think about what clothes, medicines, and cash to take and any tools you need, like a camera, chargers, etc. Good preparation can make your travel go like clockwork.
8. Do not forget the local culture
“Culture” sounds like a big macroscopic topic. However, culture can really be a challenge for travelers. If you go to another country without knowing the basics of its culture, you may be surprised and embarrassed when you find that an unconscious gesture offends the local people. Even if you are traveling within your own country, you may still experience some cultural differences. Therefore, no matter where you are going, always do some homework on the culture thing.
9. Relax and have fun
Congratulations! You have done a great job and your travel plan is pretty solid. There is no need to review it back and forth or worry about any unexpected surprises. Travel is a great way to reward yourself for your hard work and to create wonderful memories with your friends or family. Your next and final step is to relax and have fun. Safe travels!
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By Elisi Studio