Travel planning seems like an easy job, but the truth is that planning in general is not easy at all. For some people packing is a short horror story because it is too hard and too complicated, as they say. There is so many details you need to pay attention to, and only when you take this organizational task on yourself, then you will realize how much time it takes for every single detail to be planned out, as well as what needs to be done in short amount of time, and on the other hand what do you need to keep on track of for at least a couple of months, or worse, a year, so in all that madness it happens that you forget something and hope it is not crucial. If you want to plan a vacation like a pro, you need to answer these questions which are actually less than 10 steps to your dream come true trip, a perfect holiday. Pay attention to the little details and try to remember as much as possible. Ready? We are taking off!
Firstly, where do you wish to travel? Which continent for starters. If you are looking to visit several countries, bear in mind you will need nerves of steel and a little more time for research and analyzing prices, as well as the quality of transport and accommodation. On the other hand you can just look into several countries and research all at once in case you want to seal the deal for the best price. Then you can narrow the choice down even more. What do you want to do? Walk around the city, swim in a lake, tan on a beach, climb the top of a mountain or is it all of that? This can also depend on the weather and the season of the destination you are visiting. If you are going in a group take into consideration renting a house for you all, because buying big pays out. That is if you have the right kind of people for that. Think about it.
2. With who?
Are you traveling alone, in pair or in a group? If you travel alone, it is good because you can see and do whatever you want, but everything is better when you have company. If you are going in a group, you need to pay attention when you are choosing companions for the road. In my opinion best trips are with people who either have similar goals and wishes to yours or they know you best. People who think alike and just the right amount of tolerance are enough for any trip to be perfect. Sometimes even just a good agreement can make a trip easy like Sunday morning. Some people like to sleep until noon, others want to be the whole day on a beach, then you have the ones who walk all day long through the city, but if everyone can hold to their end of the deal and respect each others wishes, your trip will be a blast!
3. How long?
When is the arrival? When is the return? Or should I say how many days will you stay? Are you going to take a vacation first, then check what dates can match or vice versa? My advice is to always look for them at the same time – when, where and with what, because accommodation and transport are cheaper in some seasons, so depending on the price and the availability of the accommodation you can search for a mean of transport, and of course the other way around if you want. But it would be best that you look into all that together and for starters it is best that you do a small research on dates, accommodation and transport. Always check what the market is offering and then decide.
What will be your mean of transport? Airplane, boat, bus, car, train, motorcycle? Check the packages and the deals online, and choose what is most suitable for everyone depending on the price, quality of the service, location and the number of the people who are traveling. Again, if you are traveling in a group do not forget about an option to rent a mini van only for you where the driver will follow your lead, your wishes and you can make a stop anywhere you like. Personally I believe this is the best way for you to travel throughout the countries while everyone is relaxed, rested and having fun. However, check also the regional low-cost flights if you want to visit several destinations because sometimes tickets can be almost at the same price as a bus. For example, when I went to Spain I’ve traveled like this from one city to another, and the price was maybe a couple of euros more than the bus, while on the other side when I traveled to Milan my flight price was so cheap that I didn’t want my train to Lugano to be the same price or more expensive. Not to mention it is a lot faster than anything else and if you organize yourself a bit earlier, a month or two, or even earlier, it should be cheaper for not only regional flights, but international as well. To sum up – when you decide where are you traveling start a small research on prices, sales, and packages that agencies are offering. The more information you know the better you will spend the money.
Apartment, hotel or motel? Depends on what suits you the most, what you like best, availability for the dates you want, and whether the price is within budget, and then you will book it. As I have said before, it is best that you look for transport and accommodation at the same time, but of course if the plan is different, for example if you are going to travel by car then you will be checking for dates when accommodation is best and cheapest for the dates you chose. While you are checking on the location always pay attention to the distance from the beach, the city, or whatever else you would like to visit. Also as a must, ask around whether the neighborhood is safe, how is it connected with the other parts of the city, how is the transport, but it would be ideal to book accommodation that is really close to everything you wish to visit. For example in 80% of the cities I have been everything interesting to see is mostly in the city center and at night you should not go to the main rail station, especially if someone else also gave the same advice. So I do not search for accommodation anywhere where I was told it may be dangerous and I am always looking to stay somewhere near city center if my budget is allowing that, so everyday I save transport money for something else and I avoid accommodations around the rail station. And this is a bingo for people who love to walk.
Do you have the right bags, backpacks, suitcases for the trip? Do you have all the necessary clothes? What are you going to pack into, how many things and how packed, in what order? Do you have all necessary medicines? What do you need to buy? Make a plan like this one you are reading now only shorter and more precise of course, do not bring more stuff then you need, find out what you can bring into the plane, what are the procedures for bringing pets, food and drinks. If you are changing several flights, pack a few things and toiletries that can get you through a first few days in case your luggage gets lost. Ask about rules for weight of the suitcase and the hand bag, as well as in which way do some things need to be packed. Example: tweezers, scissors and similar sharp things are not allowed to be packed into the hand luggage, and neither are liquids over 1 l or liquids packed in bottles over 100 ml. Batteries need to be fully charged on all devices in case someone on the airport ask you to turn it on. There are many of these rules, and they differ from one company to another, such as size and weight of the bag. Check do you even have such bags in the house, that fit into the rule of the company you are flying with. If you are not traveling by plane, packing stress is almost zero, you just need to know many food and drinks you can bring over border, so make sure to know everything about it.
Check how much money can you bring and decide what will it be spent on. Are you going shopping? Are you going to eat in the restaurants or in your accommodation? Are you going to go on excursions, sightseeing, visit galleries, museums? You need to think about all this formerly written. If you are going to go shopping on the destination do you have enough space in the suitcase or are you going to bring additional bag? Furthermore, if you are going to visit a lot of things around the city ask about ticket prices. Some cities have a card with discounts, and if you are going in a group make sure to ask for a group or family discount. Do not miss this opportunity, do not be afraid to ask, because if you do not ask, you will gain nothing.
Is it optional to pay for any meal during the day in your accommodation? Is there a kitchen in the place where you are staying? Is there a possibility to pay for a breakfast, half board, full board, all-inclusive? My advice is to check all this while searching for an accommodation. Make the choice in accordance to a style of vacation, accommodation,budget. If there is nowhere good to eat nearby the place you are staying then sign in for meals in the place you are staying, and if they get to be bad then ask around for food deals in places nearby. If none of this suits you then I suggest you chose a place with a kitchen and cook for yourself. If you are going to a place full of choices, look for all options and compare the prices with the quality, and by the way read a few comments from the people who have already been there, especially if the posted some pictures of the place,the food the services, etc. Also make sure to look for all-you-can-eat places which can have lots of good food for a very fair price.
This is actually one of the most important things, because of course, without valid documents you cannot travel anywhere. What is the expiration date of your passport? Do you need visa? If you booked the trip over the travel agency they will explain or ask for any necessary papers, but when you are planning it on your own you will need to dig a little deeper for information, but be sure that you find the most valid one, same works for papers and travel documents. If children or pets are going with, you are responsible to have all necessary documents for them as well. If you are bringing a laptop with you, you may be asked to show documents at the airport for that also, cause of security and safety reasons. Moreover, I strongly advise to pay the travel insurance, every time. This way a couple of euros will save you from a bigger disaster. Find out all that you need to have or do, and play by the rules.