Planning a trip and having a good plan will be instrumental in your adventure being successful. First things first – where do you want to go? Pretty simple question right, but not always easy to figure out. Rome, London or Paris? You might want to visit several cities and here is where the research begins.
I really enjoy the research and the challenge so that helps somewhat in narrowing down exactly where to go. If not knowing where to start the following tips and guides will help. Planning and organizing a trip can be overwhelming at times, although there are apps, websites and travel agents who can assist with your booking needs. Some ground work should be laid first in order to build the trip; the following tips are a guide to help do just that and pull together a great travel adventure. Let’s get started.
· Destination: Decide where in this great big world peaks an interest. How long will the adventure last? Say visiting Italy during the month of March is the perfect time for a vacation then it would be a good idea to check the weather during the March time frame to make sure your travel plan is not during the rainy season. It would put a damper on outdoor activities for sure.
· Accommodations: After the destination and month of travel has been chosen it’s time to decide on hotels/hostels/apartment rentals or B and Bs. What would be preferable.. a hotel, 5 star luxury resort, medium budget motel, bed and breakfast, hostel or perhaps a cute little boutique hotel? So many choices I know and here is something else to consider are you traveling with someone who might need assistance such as an elevator or other special needs? Don’t be afraid to call the hotel directly and ask the questions to get all of the info upfront. By doing this it will be of great benefit when making a sound decision if the hotel is a good fit or not. For additional information on this subject I have written an article A Guide To Traveling With Limitations. It will help if traveling with someone who has certain needs or disabilities while helping make their vacation just as enjoyable.
· Transportation: Everyone at some point will need some form of transportation. Rent a car or depend on public transportation? If it’s public transportation it’s a good idea to have the hotel close to a subway or bus route. The less there is to struggle to find transportation the more time there is to explore. Take the time to research what is in the area to check out – for example; while planning a trip to Cambodia I knew I wanted to included a visit to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. I already knew what I wanted to see in the city so I chose my hotel and transportation close to and around the temple area.
· Tours: There are countless tour companies on the internet that can be researched. Viator is a good tour company with a wide variety of tour options to choose from (I receive no compensation for plugging them I just like them). They are not the cheapest but I’ve used them many times without regrets. Some people prefer to wing it which is perfectly fine. It’s a good idea to check out any tour company before committing to the purchase.
· Travel insurance: I can’t say enough about travel insurance. It’s always a good idea to get travel insurance when traveling outside of your home country. Most health insurance companies will not cover a medical situation outside of your country. Also, travel insurance is good because it offers emergency evacuation, travel delays, loss luggage and more. Don’t leave home (out of your country) without it. Remember to print off your policy and have it with you during your travels. My thoughts on travel insurance are “better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it.”
· Currency: I like to have a little foreign currency on me when I arrive to the country I am visiting. Just enough for transportation and food. Money exchanges in airports usually don’t give favorable exchange rates. Check out your local banks to see if they deal in foreign currency – I have used Bank of America for ordering money in the past – it’s convenient and easy to do – order your money at least 10 days before travel. Some travelers prefer to wait until they arrive in the country they are visiting and make a stop at a local ATM or banking facility. This is perfectly fine to do so and what ever works and is the most convenient for traveler is fine. I have a currency converter app on my phone and it helps immensely when traveling. Sometimes when trying to convert the money and checking on the change that gets returned can get confusing. Download an app before you travel taking one less stressful moment out of the day.
· Passport: Make sure your passport is not expiring within 6 months. Many countries will not allow entry if the expiration date is 6 months or less. Also, the country you are planning to visit..do they have a separate visa required for entry? An example would be Cambodia; Cambodia requires an entry visa (separate from a passport). This particular entry visa to Cambodia can be filled out online or purchased at the airport. (It is better to have everything in hand upon arrival. The lines can be long and tedious). Extend your research for the country being visited to see what their entry requirements are. Side note before travel. Check the CDC website when it comes to shots that may be required. Every country is different so please do your homework.
Make copies of your passport and keep a copy with you and it’s a good idea to email a copy to yourself as well. Always go the extra mile when it comes to protecting your valuables.
It’s also good idea to make copies of your flight and hotel itinerary – include hotel name, city and phone number and length of stay. Airline and flight times. Give a copy to a family or friend and keep a copy on yourself. It’s a good idea to have someone back home knowing your whereabouts emergencies can crop up so be prepared.
Great resources to help with planning
Airlines: Skyscanner Kayak Expedia
Hotels: Hotels Booking Trivago
The Man in Seat 61: The Man in Seat 61 This website is crazy loaded with information. Tickets for trains, ferries and rail passes just to name a few. The website maps out where the ticket offices are, choice seats on trains and ferries. There are pictures to guide you with the information that is given. I’m not even touching the iceberg of what is available on this site. Be prepared to stay awhile.
Travel Insurance: Travel Guard Allianz Travel Insurance CSA Travel Insurance
These tips and guides cover a major portion of trip planning. If I haven’t mentioned something you have experienced let me know. I’m always looking for extra tips for better ways of travel. The main thing is preparation and planning the rest will come together smoothly.