The Ultimate Guide To Planning Your Trip
It’s that time of the year again. Traveling is one of the most popular New Year resolutions and I get asked by several people how I plan trips to different places.
It can seem overwhelming but doesn’t have to be. With the right travel resources, planning and patience, it is definitely attainable. So I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to make it a little easier for you to plan your trip.
Where (and When) Do You Want To Go
Start by asking yourself these questions.
Do you already have a destination in mind?
If you plan to visit Peru, you might probably want to go sometime between May and September because that’s the time with an abundance of sunshine. Conversely, if you can travel only at the end of the year, it’s best to skip Peru since the wet season typically starts in December.
If you’re flexible with your travel dates, it’s probably the best to go during the shoulder season! Basically, it is the period between the high and low seasons of a destination. It is the best of both worlds – the tourist crowd isn’t that bad (flight and accommodation are relatively affordable) and the weather is still warm enough to explore as much of the country as possible.
Are You On A Budget
If saving money while traveling is important to you, flexibility is key to planning your trip.
Being open to traveling to any destination or on any given date could help you get started on or extend your trip without breaking the bank. This is where using the resources will come in handy.
The same rule applies for finding affordable accommodation.
What Do You Want To Experience The Most
Where (and when) you should travel depends a lot on what you hope to gain out of your trip as well.
If seeing the aurora is at the top of your to-do list, some of the best places to visit are Iceland, Norway and the Northwestern part of Canada just to name a few.
But if you’re looking to go to somewhere warm (with great weather) at the end of the year, places like Australia and New Zealand are where you would want to be.
Do Research On Your Trip Planning
Start looking into flights to your intended destination at least 3 months in advance. But it’s not necessary to book your flight right away. This is just to give yourself a better idea of how airfares are like so that you can track the prices for the next few weeks.
I also can’t stress enough the importance of checking the weather forecast. You wouldn’t want to arrive only to realize that it will rain throughout your stay. To be on the safe side, track the weather closer to the intended travel dates so that you can decide whether to change plans later on.
Sign up for flight deal alerts
Many airfare booking sites notify their subscribers about the best airfares available for destinations around the world.
I know, nobody likes receiving emails that they probably won’t keep track of all the time. Neither do I.
But, if you have an upcoming trip and looking to save some money on your flight, this is a great option. Just look out for emails relevant to your intended destination and unsubscribe once you have booked your flight.
Book your flight at just the right time
From experience, booking flights around six weeks before your trip would just be right.
I experimented with finding the best airfares from as early as six months to just three weeks before my intended travel dates for various cities in Europe, Asia and North America. It turns out that airfares tend to be expensive if you book either too early or too late.
Use The Right Travel Resources
Skyscanner is one of the best airfare search engine sites I have used because of the flexibility it provides in terms of destinations and flight dates. This is perfect especially for those traveling on a budget.
If you’re flexible with where to go, just click on the To box and select the Can’t decide where option.
Next, you can choose which date to depart and arrive.
On either the Depart, Return or both sections, select Whole Month. It gives you the option of choosing the cheapest month or the cheapest date in the month that you want to fly.
You’ll see a list of destinations pop up in order of price if you choose the Cheapest Month to fly.
Momondo is another great platform to start with if you’re unsure of where to go. It also provides flexibility in the list of destinations to choose from.
The only catch is that you need to have specific dates for your trip.
One of my go-to sites for intercity bus trip bookings is Rome2Rio. No matter which region you’re in, it is an excellent platform for finding a variety of transportation options (especially buses).
Once you’ve selected your point of origin and destination, a list of transportation options (by mode of travel, company, price range and duration) would pop up. It just makes it easier for you see everything at once.
European intercity coach companies such as Eurolines and Flixbus have by far the widest route coverage across the continent. Alternatively, check out GoEuro, the best bus search engine site I’ve used for booking bus trips across Europe.
12GO.Asia is perfect for those traveling across Southeast Asia. You can find information on and book not only bus but also ferry, flight and train tickets.
With the emergence of sharing economy reservation sites such as AirBnB, forking out more money on hotels and apartments are a thing of the past.
One of my favourite things about booking a room on AirBnB is the ease of finding accommodation that suits your needs the best. There’s the option of filtering accommodation based on the type of property, neighbourhood, prices, amenities, facilities and house rules.
Not to mention the promotional offer you may get for staying for a longer time. For example, some hosts might offer discounts on stays that last for at least a week or a month. If you’re traveling long term, this would be perfect!
I also highly recommend Booking.com as another platform for booking accommodation. In fact, I always start with this as they offer some of the best prices for lodging and the option of making a reservation first without a credit card.
Many listings do offer free cancellation of your booking (by a given date) if you change your mind later on. Also, you would be able to use the search filter feature to find the ideal accommodation of your choice.
If you’re traveling to Asia, check out Agoda. From time to time, they offer better prices for the same accommodation than many of its competitors (Booking.com included).
While researching on and planning your trip in advance is highly recommended, don’t over-do it. Remember that you’re on vacation, to relax and be stress-free!
Leave some room for spontaneous activities because your plans might change anytime, anywhere. You might meet new friends during your trip, and decide to change things up a little bit.