How to start planning a trip

How to start planning a trip

You want to go on a trip, but where do you to start? There is so much to think about when you are going traveling and sometimes it’s hard to make that first step in the planning process. So, in this post I want to talk about how to get started with planning your trip. I think the three main questions you should ask yourself is: ‘Where do I want to go?’, ‘How much money do I want to spend?’ and ‘How long do I want to travel for?’. Of course, all of these things are interdependent and each of them will function as a great starting point of your planning process.

Location
I think the location is honestly the most import thing to consider when you go traveling, as it will greatly determine the type of trip it will be. Are you looking to explore cities, enjoy a beach life, immerse yourself in culture or do some adventures mountain activities? Or maybe even all the above. When you start travel planning you might already have a dream location in mind. For me it usually just starts with a vague idea about the area I want to go to, for example, Southeast Asia, Australia or Southern Europe, and the type of activities I want to to do, for example learn how to surf. I always think it’s a great starting point form where you can start researching in more detail. Besides your budget and length of travel, it is good to consider how much you want to move around, as this will determine the size of the geographical area you’re going to explore. Another thing to consider is the ease of travel at the possible locations. If you are a first time backpacker you might want to go to a country that is more common for backpackers, such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia. Just because it’ll be easier to find information about these places online and you’ll find more services geared towards backpackers, which will make finding accommodation and transport so much more easy. Additionally, it is very important to look at safety. Of course, you always need to check the travel advice given out by the government, but also see if you can find some experiences of travelers like you. For example, if you are a female solo traveler, look up if there are specific places in your preferred area that might not be smart for you to travel too. Of course, this is always a judgment call and will be very personal. Lastly, don’t forget to research the climate and possible rain seasons, because it would suck if you set your mind upon a really cool destination to later realize you won’t be able to do any of your dream activities because of the weather. So if you don’t have a set dream location in mind yet, just start with an idea for an area and type of activities you want to do, from where you can start researching more in depth.

Budget
I think for many people the budget will be the starting point for their travel planning, as most will at least have some maximum amount of money they would like to spend in mind. There are a few main things that will determine the price tag connected to your trip. I think the most important thing is how expensive your location is. You might find really cheap flights, but if food, accommodation and local transport is really expansive it will still not be a cheap trip. While, if you pay a little more for your flight, but your living expenses are really low once you get there, it might overall cost you less in the end. Especially if you go for a longer period of time you’ll see that the prices of your main flights will not be the thing you spend most money on. Of course, you also need to consider how luxurious you want your trip to be. Are you planning to stay in high-end hotels or cheap hostels? You can easily go on booking.com or hostelworld to check out the prices of different types of accommodation. Keep in mind that if you’re traveling with someone else it’s sometime cheaper to book a private room in a cheap hotel than book 2 beds in a hostel dorm room. Another thing that really determines how much money you’ll spend is the amount of organized activities you want to do. Things such as balloon or helicopter flights, zip lining, jungle treks, boat tours, off-roading and surfing classes are often pretty pricy and will therefor drive up your budget. Lastly, don’t forget to budget for local transportation, you’ll need to get around using public transport or taxis or by hiring a (motor)bike or car. I often think about transportation costs for the longer journeys, but sometimes forget about budget to just get around town.

Duration
How long you want to, or can, travel for is a very important factor in the beginning stages of planning your trip. It will determine how many places you can visit and often also how far away you’ll go. It’s also very closely linked to your budget, because the longer you go the more money it will cost you, but also the relatively cheaper it will be to fly far away. It is important to consider what kind of trip you want. If you want a more relaxed trip, than you’ll probably stay in one place for a longer amount of time and therefore need a longer period to see all the places you want to see. However, also realize that if you are trying to see as much as you possible can you might not be able to keep going for months in a row.

Once you have a broad idea of what your location, budget and duration of travel is going to be you can start planning your trip in more detail. However, I’ll safe that for another post to discuss. I hope that this will help any first time or veteran traveler to start planning a new trip. I’ve started different planning process with each of these three factors. For example, my Australia trip was bound by time, for my Southeast Asia trip the location was the starting point and planning my upcoming trip to Portugal started with a maximum amount of money I wanted to spend. I would love to hear which of these three factors you would start your planning process with!

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