PREPARE TO EXPLORE
Choose your own adventure travel blog
It takes a lot to plan a great trip. You have to invest time, energy and effort into finding restaurants, attractions, activities and more. It’s a process I love as much as actually traveling.
Much to my surprise, I’ve found that a lot of people don’t like planning their trips. They don’t know where to start, or what resources to use or how to do it. So, I’ve decided to share my proven, successful step-by-step process for planning a perfect vacation.
Choose a location
There’s a number of things to consider when choosing a vacation location. The first is deciding what kind of vacation do you want -- relaxing, activity-packed or mixed.
Then you want to consider is when you want to go -- peak season, shoulder season or off season. If at this point you find a couple locations, look to see how safe it is in those locations. Finally, once you’ve narrowed everything down, you have to consider costs. Chose a location that best meets you parameters AND fits into your budget.
Booking the big three
Once I settle on a trip destination I quickly move to book the big three -- flights, hotel/AirBnB and rental car. I book all three within an hour or so.
For flights, I want the cheapest flight with the fewest number of layovers. If you can afford luxury, splurge for a bigger seat with more leg room. I prefer airlines where I can reserve a specific seat.
For hotels and AirBnBs, find ones that have all the features you want -- like a private parking space and wifi. When traveling with my wife, I always book us our own house. When traveling alone, I book a private room to cut down on costs.
For rental cars, choose a car that has unlimited mileage and good insurance options (if traveling outside of USA). I like smaller cars with great gas mileage since I plan on driving a lot.
Once you’ve booked the big three, it’s easy street.
The best two best resources there are for planning a trip is Pinterest and Google Maps.
I use Pinterest (Yes! Men have Pinterest boards too!) to look up fun activities to do in the city I’m traveling too. It’s a great resource for finding unique museums, galleries, tours, restaurants, neighborhoods and much more. Pin a bunch of things and then head over to Google Maps.
On Google Maps you can “Save” locations like stores and markets and restaurants. Save all of the locations onto a map that you can use during your trip.
This is what I spend most of my time on. I spend full days looking for things to do on vacation, trying to discover a little nugget here and there.
Expert tip: Save the map offline and download it so that you can navigate your vacation spot without having to use WiFi.
Planning day trips
I like to organize all my days into mini trips. I use my Google Map (with all my saved places on it) to see what places I saved that are located in the same area. That way, you’re not crisscrossing the city/country to explore. Instead, you explore one area/neighborhood one day and a different area/neighborhood the next.
The best part about planning full day trips is that it makes you agile. Rains on your beach day? No problem, go do you museum day trip.This sort of planning worked well on my last trip to Iceland, when rain and snow forced us to explore the southern coast as opposed to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Planning for the unexpected
It is critical that you always plan for the unexpected. Make sure you have something to do if the weather turns or you start running out of money. Everything will not go according to plan. Make sure you can adapt by doing the planning beforehand.
This also goes for emergencies. Make sure you have the phone number and address for the nearest embassy, bring copies of important documents, let people back home know what you’re doing each day.
Find reading materials
I also recommend reading about the place you’re traveling. That could be a list of interesting facts on Buzzfeed or a 400 page book about the location. Having some knowledge of the city’s history will serve you well during your vacation. Plus, it’s always cool to be able to throw out a factoid about a sculpture or historic building you happen upon.
Expert tip: Don’t feel like reading? Watch a couple travel documentaries on Netflix.
How do you plan trips? Give suggestions below in the comment section.
Hey! I'm Christian.