Trip planning can be a daunting task. Where do you begin? What’s step one? What’s step two?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when you haven’t done something like this before.
In a continuing effort to help you get out the door and into the world, here is a step-by-step guide on how to plan a trip. It works for any kind of trip and no matter how long you’re going for! Just follow this checklist and you’ll be off in no time!
How to Plan Your Next trip??
Step 1: Decide Where You Want To Go
Defining where you want to go sets a goal to work toward. A lot of people talk vaguely about travel. They never say where they are going, just that they are going. Picking a destination is immensely important, as it gives you a definite goal. It’s a lot easier to mentally get behind “I am going to Paris” than “I’m going to Europe” or “I’m going somewhere.” Not only will your trip become more concrete for you and easier to commit to, but it will make planning easier as well…because you know what to work towards.
Step 2: Decide the Length of Your Trip
How much does it cost to travel? I have no idea without knowing for how long you’re going away. You can’t figure out how much you need to save if you haven’t decided on how long you’ll be in your destination. After you say “I’m going to Paris,” add “for 10 days.”
Now, you have a concrete plan to work from. “I am going to Paris for 10 days” is a trip that you can plan for.
Step 3: Research Your Costs
So you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be there, but to really nail down how much money you need, your next task is to research the costs in your destination at the style of travel you want. Do you want to backpack, or would you rather stay in luxury hotels? How much are hostels, hotels, restaurants, and attractions? Knowing will allow you to estimate how much money you’ll need for your trip.
Step 4: Start Saving Money
Write down all your current expenses so you can determine where you are spending money and how you can cut back. People bleed a lot of money every day through small purchases: that bottle of water, the dollar for that snack, that extra coffee. All of that adds up and creating this breakdown can let you know where you need to cut and save.
For example, if you need $2,000 USD for the trip you’re taking in eight months, that means you only have to save $8.33 per day. Couldn’t you find a way to save $8 per day? Heck, your daily coffee is most of that!
Step 5: Get a Travels Rewards Credit Card
While you’re working to save money, get a travel credit card so you can earn sign-up bonuses to redeem miles and points for free flights and hotel stays. Most cards have bonuses of up to 50,000 points when you meet their minimum spending requirement (often $1,000 within a three-month period). That’s enough miles for a free flight almost anywhere in the world!
If you want a free flight, use the cards that help with that. If you want free hotel rooms, get a hotel card. You don’t need to sign up for very many cards; pick one or two and focus on those. Do this the moment you decide you want to travel. Don’t wait — waiting equals lost miles, which means less free travel.
Step 6: Switch to No-Fee ATM Cards
Don’t give banks any of your hard-earned money. Save every extra dollar you can by using a no-fee ATM card. I use Charles Schwab, but there are lots of other banks (don’t forget to check your local banks) that don’t charge ATM fees. Additionally, you can join a bank in the Global ATM Alliance.
Step 7: Stay Focused and Inspired
Keep feeding your desire to travel. Travel planning can be daunting and a lot of work and, if your friends and family aren’t that enthusiastic about it, it can be a little depressing because the support you’re looking for isn’t there. Luckily, there are tons of ways to stay focused and keep your spirits lifted thanks to the amazing community we have on this website.
Step 8: Check for Last-Minute Deals
Okay, you’re inspired, prepared, and on your way to saving money for your trip. But before you go buy that flight or book that hotel, check for deals you might have missed. You may dream of Paris but maybe there are great deals to Berlin right now. Maybe you can get a seven-day cruise for 70% off, a package deal to Hawaii for the price of your flight to Paris, or 50% off sailing trips around Greece.
Step 9:Book Your Flight
After you’ve used your travel credit card and received your sign-up bonus, use your miles to book your flight. It is harder to use miles these days due to less availability, so make sure to book early to ensure you get your desired flight.
Step 10: Book Your Accommodation
If you have a set schedule, feel free to book accommodation for the duration of your trip, but if you are going to be traveling long-term, book just the first few days. Once you know the dates you’ll be in your destination, there is no real reason not to find a place to stay. My view is that waiting will just lead to you losing your top picks.
Love hotels? They won’t save you money, but you can sign up for some hotel credit cards and get free rooms, too. Marriott has a great rewards card whose sign-up bonus is equal to one week’s free stay. Starwood’s AMEX card is wonderful too, but the spending threshold in order to get the points bonus is higher.
The following booking sites offer the best rates for accommodation:
- Hostelworld – Hostelworld has the largest selection of hostels and is my go-to site for finding affordable hostels online.
- Agoda – Agoda has the best results if you’re heading to Asia and the widest selection of properties in the region.
- Booking.com – Booking.com is the best overall platform for finding budget hotels and guesthouses. They have the biggest inventory and best deals.