In the past few years, I’ve been travelling quite a lot and I’ve always booked my trips on my own (well, with the help of my friends coming with me).
It’s not always easy to plan the perfect journey or chose the best hotel, but I’ve learned that even this is part of the adventure.
So, if you wanna know what I do to plan my trips, here’s a five-step guide that I put together and I hope it might help you too.
Buy a Guidebook.
I know we’re living in the Internet era, where you chose where to go according to what’s more Instagrammable at the moment, but I LOVE going to a bookshop, getting my paper guidebook and read it sometimes even before booking my flight.
It helps me getting to know the country I intend to visit, its culture, the historical background and some useful informations, such as Visas required or Passport validity (nobody wants to be stuck at the airport instead of leaving, right?)
I like the Lonely Planet guides and I started to sorta collecting them; once I decide where to go next, I buy my guide, I underline the places I wanna include in my trip and the curious facts that get my attention.
Then, I start writing down an itinerary and pin the pages of my guide so that I can re-read them once I’m there.
Of course, I browse the web to get some information (I’m an addict of reviews on booking.com and Airbnb) but I also leave some things to the “unexpected”, for example, I like to get recommendations on where to eat or the less known places to see from the locals who live in the places I visit.
Plan the Itinerary.
Once I’ve decided what my next destination will be, I start putting down on paper my itinerary.
When I was younger I wanted to see everything all at once, but I actually ended up spending my holidays running from one place to another without resting and without enjoying the moments.
That’s why in the past few years I decided to plan my trips according to how many days I could spend and on visiting only what really interests me.
It’s very important to balance the “cultural” part with the “chilling” one; you can walk thousands of miles for days, sleeping in hostels or cheap apartments, but it’s oh-so-wonderful to enjoy a full day of luxury at least once or twice during your holiday!
Whether you chose the sea or the mountains, continental cities or far away destinations, try to plan the perfect mix of adventure and relax.
This also includes spending time with the locals, slowing down your schedule, learning about their lifestyle and you’ll be surprised how much this will add to your trip. (I’ve been invited to pre-wedding dancing parties, bonfire night outs and Buddhist ceremonies and these are the things that I’ll always remember).
Another thing I do is booking my hotels/apartments in advance because as I said earlier I like to know where I’m going, how safe the neighbourhood is or just be sure there’ll be no bugs in my bed. Besides, it’s always good to let people at home know where you’re staying, you know, especially if you’re a solo traveller.
Bank & Insurance.
Travelling is exciting and fun, but no matter where you’re going you’ll need money. So, do not forget to check your balance, your credit card limits and alert your bank that you’re going abroad – especially if you’re leaving your continent.
I do not travel carrying a lot of money with me, as I don’t think it’s very safe, but always remember to know in advance if you can pay your hotel by card, otherwise be sure to have that amount of cash with you, avoiding endless searches of ATMs in the middle of nowhere.
Another important thing not to forget is to always get a health and travel
Make a list & Pack smart.
About one week before leaving I always make a list of the things I should bring with me, because I know I’d otherwise forget something.
I count the days I’m staying away, the places I’m visiting and sorta plan my outfits. Always pack light but if in doubt, put an extra pair of underwear, a toothbrush and a sweatshirt in your carry on bag, so you’ll have your “survival kit” if anything happens to your hold luggage.
And if you’re travelling with friends, share the lists and split the things you can use in common, like hair dryer or camera chargers.
I’ll tell you more about packing smart in my next post, telling you what I usually bring along with me.
Learn the Basics.
If you’re travelling to a foreign country it’s always nice to learn some basic phrases in the local language, such as “please”, “thank you” or “hello”.
This will surely help you if in need and it’s a good way to start bonding with the locals.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Write them here in the comments 😉