Travel planning is a time consuming process. Despite technology improvements, it can be stressful to figure everything out on your own for yourself. There is a lot to think about. The amount of information available to us on the web each day sometimes makes overwhelmed and conflicted. It is easy to lose your focus from time to time. How to get over this? I developed a checklist to make this process easier. I collected a few easy steps with main questions that I use to stay focused. Help to get through anxiety. At the same time you can figure out what you really want and need. It gives you a deeper understanding of your travel style and a chance to not just follow the tourist paths.
Step 1: Choosing*
Where to go? Destination. Domestic or International? Country | region | city | town | village ?
Answer the following questions to narrow your list down and to clear confusion:
Travel safety | warnings?
What do you need to enter into the country? ID | Passport? Any Visa requirements depending on your nationality? Needed in advance | on arrival? Type? Vaccine(s)?
Why do you want to travel? Purpose? What are your expectations? Preferences?
Who do you travel with? Solo | Couple | Family | Friends?
How much time do you have? When? Short- or long term?
What is your budget?
Step 2: Researching*
to be well-informed. Seek the truth, collecting ideas for must-to-do’s. Recognize tourist traps, close out time wasters.
Get known the main character of the country | region | city. Be focused: What makes it unique? Why is it interesting for me? Which one touches me more? Figure it out and save it for later. Why? Because you don’t need to visit every monument from someone’s list, visit only what impresses you. That is what you really need. Don’t waste your and other’s time queuing somewhere what has not a significant impact on you. Don’t misread me, of course you need to try new things, to step out of your comfort zone, but you will feel how to choose.
Destination specialized sites; official country | region | city webpages.
Blog(s) from like-minded people:
- Local bloggers from the country | region | city
I like to visit places like a local. I’m really interested how they live. I want to feel it and live it at least until I’m there and what I like or helps me improve, I keep it and take it with me.
- Expats living in the country | region | city
- Nomad / Traveller blog who visited the country | region | city | monument | recently
I live an international lifestyle, sometimes as a nomad sometimes as an expat. So personally I like to read people’s stories who are living the life in same way, but besides of that I also find it an easy and fast way to get useful information. Actually, you could organize a whole trip properly just from reading these kind of blogs.
Travel related sites from | about your destination
Traveler reviews, ratings.
Tripadvisor. Honestly, I am not a big fun, but despite this I’ve found a lot of useful information there about popular attractions and tours. Also be aware, reading reviews is kinda dangerous. We are not the same. Sometimes it can take way too much time to get what you really need, but in other times you can save a lot. Again, it depends what you really need.
Believe me, they are very useful, especially if you’re short in time.
Every guidebook has a character, it’s good to find which one is close to yours. Lonely Planet is kinda bible, but the style is maybe not yours. Rough Guide has nice informative books, they helped me a lot in different locations. Wallpaper City Guides have given me good tips about art, design spots. When I have enough time, these 3 are definitely on my check list, but I admire more publishers too and I search for new inspirations constantly.
Local writers’ novels, poetry and photo books can also give you new insights.
I like to watch movies, documentaries about the country where I’m going. It gives a chance to learn or at least get a taste of the culture, local vibration. They help to get in mood.
Experiences of people you know.
Step 3: Itinerary*
plan for spontaneity, but keep must-do items in mind.
Every day I make a concerted effort to step outside my comfort zone. To do something new, something exciting. Say yes to pretty much any new experience that scares. Considering this, make a bucket list about places and things what you definitely don’t want to miss. Keep these key informations organized, we always make an online and offline map about them.
Making an own one is a good way to get an idea which direction you want to go. Just in case not to under- or overestimate your limits of your schedule and get bored or tired. A loose itinerary with the main pillars prevent being lost when you arrive. Even if you prefer spontaneity, but still have goals, keep your schedule in mind, it will give you more time to enjoy.
Step 4: Booking*
the following in advance, especially if you get some special offers or found great bargains:
Booking: has hotels and apartments worldwide, most of them with free cancellation. Really good last minutes offers.
Airbnb: is a great way to live like a local in a house or apartment. Keep in mind, booking can take time, but it can worth it for some unique opportunities.
Be aware! Nowadays there are a lot of people on the road. In some cases, booking a compromise-free accommodation can be more challenging than finding transportation.
First of all, just make it clear: what is the best way to get from A to B? Rome2Rio is a great website to check flights, buses, trains or taxis estimated costs and timings.
Flight: My main search engine sources are Google Flight, Skyscanner and Expedia. I always check multiple airports and dates in the neighborhood too. During this process I’m always aware of out- and inbound airlines. This gives me the option to have a look at the prices directly on the airlines’ websites. Why to do that? In many cases they have best price guarantee with quicker booking process.
Shuffle: from the airport to the city center. It can be time and money saver. If you have time, collect information about providers. Compare their offer with
Public transport prices, deals.
Car rental: check this first, it compares all the major brands’ offers.
lead you to adventures that would be difficult or impossible to get to on your own. Just let them do all the work and show you the hidden parts.
Book online to skip the lines.
World Nomads is a really trusted one, can be bought online from anywhere, anytime in the world and covers over 150 countries. If you purchase a policy, don’t forget to choose a specific community project and add your little donation. Just to make a difference…
Step 5: Documents in order*
ID | Passport | Passport photos | Visa(s) | Vaccination(s) certificate | Travel insurance
Don’t forget to get and to scan them. Email a copy of all documents to yourself just in case of theft. Print out only the really necessary ones and when you don’t need them anymore, recycle. Many cases it can be a life saver not to have all info on your phone or laptop, especially from these most forgotten ones:
Accommodation(s) | Ticket(s) reservations and contact information
Step 6: Packing*
Documents | Money | Bags | Clothes | Shoes | Accessories | Toiletries | Healthcare | Electronics & Gadgets | Others (Locks, Pens,…)
Check, Check, Check, … you have everything with you.
So leave and…
Step 7: Be there*
Be in the present. Be open-minded. Plans change all the time, no need to panic. Everything works out usually, so don’t be so preoccupied with your to-do list. Spontaneity gets a very important role now. Don’t let fear hold you back. Follow your curiosity. Explore what feels more right in the moment. Get lost. Observe, but don’t make comparisons. Everything around you is a learning opportunity. Find a connection with the place and people. Be patient. Don’t judge, be open. Fall in love. Have fun.
*Don’t forget, this is only a guideline, stay tuned for more in-depth information ;-)