How to Plan The Perfect Trip / Practical Must-Do Steps When Planning Your Trip
One of the main reasons why travel is a very stressful adventure for some and a very pleasurable experience for others lies in the moments before the trip even begins. It’s all about how well in advance you prepare for your trip and handle the travel planning part. That process will depend on many things like if you’re traveling alone or not and the way you like to travel “all-inclusive” or “book as you go” way. That’s why I created this travel planner to help you out.
Let’s dive into the process of how to plan the perfect trip with all the must-do steps which will guarantee you the perfect travel adventure.
This process of travel planning takes me several days. Don’t try to do all the steps in one day!
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1. Get inspired
Even before you start planning your trip, it’s important to get inspired. My main sources of inspiration are Pinterest and Instagram. You can simply put the name of the destination that you would like to visit in Pinterest search and be prepared to spend hours on it. You can endlessly scroll through its feed. Just don’t forget to save anything that you liked on your own board!
Another platform where you can find a lot of inspiration is Instagram. Use either different hashtags of the country/city you’re visiting, or simply research using the location tab itself. Again you can create a separate board in your “save” tab to not forget any cool places. I go through Pinterest or Instagram using the hashtags of the place where I want to go and I read a lot of blog posts about it. That way I get more inspired about the country that I’m visiting and find some new ideas. Another good website is wikitravel.org.
2. Look for attractions to visit
The next step when planning your perfect trip is to gather even more specific information online about the place you’re visiting.
You can research topics like “Top places to visit in …”, “Things to Do in…” on Google or Pinterest. You can even go further and search more specifically, depending on the style of your trip. Examples: “Things to do on a budget in…”, “luxury activities in…”, “things to do as a couple in…”, I hope you get the idea.
You can either make a list on your phone of all the places or the one that I prefer even more is to pin them straight on to my Google maps. That way, you will be able to see all of the places marked with a flag on your map and it will be easier to plan your adventures further.
This is how my map looks like after all of the research.
3. Search for different activities or tours
Always check the fun activities to do in the place, where you’re traveling to.
For example, walking or bike tours, cooking classes, outdoor adventures, or food tours. I usually make a list on my phone in advance with the prices. That way, I can sort through them later and choose which ones I like the most.
Let’s be honest, you can’t do every single activity during your trip, so just go through the list and choose the ones you can skip and the ones you would definitely like to do.
You can either read different blogs and forums like Trip Advisor or use platforms like Get your Guide, Klook, or Viator. Another amazing way to find unique experiences, that not a lot of people know about is using Airbnb. The website offers not only the most amazing accommodations but also a huge list of unique activities offered by locals. It’s a great way to find more people to connect with and get a more authentic experience.
4. Find the best flight
The next important step is to find your flight ticket. The most popular websites to use are Skyscanner, Google Flights, Kayak, Momondo, and Expedia.
If you’re flexible with your dates and destination, you can also use Scott’s cheap flights. It will send you notifications about the best deals on airfares. Again, it all comes down to how extensive your research is. Don’t get discouraged if all of the prices that you see are very high in the beginning.
You can subscribe to websites like “The Flight Deal” or use Facebook groups like “Secret Deal” which will tell you when there is a great deal on certain routes.
Another platform that I love is Hopper. It will not only show you if the price is good for booking or not but will also send you an email when the prices drop and are good to book.
There are also platforms like Airtreks and ITA Matrix if you would like to go even more in-depth looking for the tickets.
Also, consider booking your flight directly from the airline’s website. Most of the time, it’s a cheaper and better option in case your flight gets delayed or canceled.
5. Choose the location of your accommodation
That’s the time when your Google map pinning will come in handy.
Now that you can easily see all of the places and attractions that you would like to visit on your map, you can better decide in which area to stay at. Finding the best area for your needs will help you a lot during your travels. It can save you money on transportation because you won’t have to rely on public transport or taxis all the time. The location determines how convenient the exploring will be.
This is how my map looks like after all of the research.
6. Choose your accommodation
The next step is to decide which accommodation to stay in. It will depend on your budget and personal preferences. Whether you are traveling alone or in a group.
I always go with the cheapest option, since I never spend a lot of time at the hotel either way. There are definitely some advantages and disadvantages to every choice.
Platforms that I use all the time to book the best accommodation:
Hostelworld – the only platform that I use to book a hostel
Airbnb – my favorite platform overall. The list is endless. You can find cheap options and get a private room or find the most luxurious villas for $5.000 a night.
7. Finding the best restaurants and places to eat at
You also need to research the best places to eat and which foods you should try.
You don’t want to be eating the same things that you can find in your home country and miss out on some of the most delicious local meals. So, it’s important to find at least 2-5 places to eat at and be prepared in advance.
If you want to find the best options, it’s better to look through the lists of places which other people recommend. Honestly, I don’t like using Trip Advisor because the lists can be easily manipulated there. Usually, I go through different blog posts or watch some YouTube videos on the best places to eat at. Simply put: “Where to eat in…”, “best restaurants/cafes in…” in Google search. People will take the time to write a dedicated blog post about a place only if they truly enjoyed it. After that I again pin all the places that I want to eat at in Google Maps, simply using a different color. I use Starred places or Favorite tags, so they look different from the attractions that I’d like to visit from point 2.
8. Transportation and how to get around the city
For that, I just do a quick Google research on public transportation in the city that I’m going to. I check which way is the most convenient one, between taxis, using online apps, public buses, and the metro. You also have to check whether renting a car will be a better option for you.
For example, using 12go.asia and Grab app when traveling around South East Asia is a must! 12go.asia is a website that will show you all the most convenient ways to get from city to city using busses, trains, or ferries. The Grab app is like Uber but for Southeast Asia.
So, research online for the best way to get around your destination.
Another thing that you should not forget to check in advance is how to get from the airport to the city center. That way you won’t be confused when you land and you will avoid paying for overpriced taxis.
9. For more extended travel adventures
If you’re going somewhere for a longer period of time, there is another thing that you should do which will be very beneficial.
My advice for you is to join one or two Facebook groups for the place that you’re visiting. Examples of groups like that are: “I love Bali”, “Bali Life”, “Thailand Backpacker Group”. That way you can find more great places to visit, ask any questions that you might have, and learn more helpful tips in general.
10. Make an itinerary
You shouldn’t plan everything hour by hour, but there will be places that you’ll want to visit more than others. That’s why, it’s a good idea to check their schedule, closing days, and write down their opening hours. That way you won’t be disappointed if the place that you wanted to visit the most, is closed.
I just create a new note on my phone and write down any closure times and dates of the particular places.
To make it easier for you, I created a beautiful PDF file that you can download for FREE by subscribing to my newsletter down below. It includes the list of all the points above. It will be more convenient to use, so you don’t forget any steps when planning your travel adventure.
11. Research, research, research
We live in an era where we have all the information that we need at our fingertips. Google will be your best friend while travel planning. Research topics like: “scams in…”, “best things to do in…”, “free things to do in…”, “things to know before traveling to…” and anything else that you would like to know. There are so many resources out there written by people who have been there before you. Simply use it to your advantage.
12. List of things that you need to buy before your trip
Another thing that I like to do before going on a trip is creating even more lists on my phone.
I write down everything that pops up in my head before I start packing. That way, I don’t forget what I need the most at the last moment. Also, I make a list of things that I have to buy before my trip. So you don’t end up running around confused, wondering what to pack.
If you’re not tired of doing all the research you can Google things like “what to pack for…”. Believe me, all that Google research will help and pay off at the end.
14. Get a travel insurance
I never travel without travel insurance and you shouldn’t either. It’s the thing that can save your trip and all the headaches that might happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick or healthy. Bad things happen when you travel and there is no way that you can predict everything in advance.
I also didn’t know that during my solo backpacking trip around South East Asia, I would get the deadly dengue fever and will be admitted to the hospital. But it saved me $2,000 at the end!
So, get yourself travel insurance as it’s the only thing that you will be happy at the end of your trip that you brought but didn’t use.
15. Do not over plan
I consider everything that I mentioned above very important but don’t forget that traveling is about exploring new places and growing. Do not plan every single minute of your trip and just leave some space to breathe and get lost in the beautiful streets of a place where you haven’t been before. Emerge yourself in a new culture and most importantly enjoy every second of it. Remember, things can go wrong when you travel. That’s the beauty of it, be grateful and keep calm.