Embarking on your journey overseas is going to be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Starting to plan can seem like a journey for itself – but it doesn’t need to be. Some research suggests that you get more enjoyment out of the planning than the actual holiday. I have put together a brief guide to help you get started to plan the trip that will change your life.
What type of trip are you planning?
What sort of trip do you want to have? Is it a months long backpacking trip around the world? Or a shorter visit for a few weeks? That will have a big bearing on where you want to explore, when time is on your side you can take a little longer in each place, whereas when you are travelling for a shorter period the preference is to fit in as much as quickly – as possible? It also presents a dilemma – to plan or not to plan? You can literally wing it when you are travelling long term, or on open ended tickets, something that is not always as easy on shorter trips.
Where do you want to go?
This is a hard one for a lot of people, and lets be honest there are plenty of amazing places in the world. Everywhere has its advantages, start by picking a part of the world, for example, South East Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australia & New Zealand etc. Everyone has a different desire to go and explore different countries and different parts of the world for different reasons, all of them legit.
Do some research!
Speak to some people, work out and refine where you are going to go – put together a rough itinerary, of where you want to go, for example, if you are going to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are must-visit countries. Europe has so many countries so close it is easy to cover a few different countries in a few weeks trip because it is so easy to get around.
Work out which countries are nearby, for example, if you want to go to France, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy are all very close and all packed with incredible places and things to see!
Start saving and work out a budget!
Travel doesn’t need to be expensive but it helps to know how much you can spend per day, so you don’t go out have a big week and end up eating only free hostel breakfasts for the rest of your trip. As a general rule – $25 per night for accommodation I have found is a great average for my travels across Europe and Asia – some of the stops were A LOT cheaper than that though – there are hostels available for $5 – $10 through Asia and Eastern Europe, but in the more touristic cities you will find many hostels that are considerably more expensive.
Work out what food looks like – do you want to eat out for every meal? Or are you happy to cook at hostels and pack picnics to save a few dollars and pro-long the trip. How often are you going to be drinking? This is a serious question – nothing will help you spend the dollars faster than going out drinking every night (fortunately pre-gaming is a very real solution) but partying or pub crawling every night will need a little more in the bank!
Start booking your trip!
If you have decided that planning the trip is the way you want to go then book your flights, and start looking at your accommodation. I am a big fan of Kiwi.com to research flights, it goes beyond looking at direct flights and looks at a cheaper way to get there with different airlines – if you are adventurous this could help you save big dollars.
In terms of accommodation I absolutely recommend staying in Hostels – most will offer private rooms if you are seeking a little more space but you will have a great opportunity to meet amazing people that you just do not get in hotels. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels and finding the most convenient locations, and advice from other travellers. Trip Advisor is of course the gospel for travel planning, ratings from thousands (maybe millions) of travellers, very convenient. Personally I use Agoda to book my hotels but Airbnb is a great alternative if you are looking for a little respite from the hostel life, or just seeking to travel in a little more style.
Remember though – if you are travelling long term – you don’t need to plan all of your trip at once, book one or two cities and have a rough plan but remember that the unexpected can happen, and when it does – it can be awesome!
Start getting organised
Once you have started booking your trip then it is time to start working out some of the other details – for example – Travel Insurance is a must for any trip, as is a good travel credit card. It is always a good idea to organise some foreign currency. It is also a good time to check that you have all the travel vaccinations that you need as well as any visa’s for any countries you are going to (this one is important – you don’t want to make the same mistake that I did!)
If you are going away for several months you may need to consider what to do about your house, phone bills, direct debits – when you travel you want to ensure that you don’t have to worry about bills as well. Getting your affairs in order is important before you hit the road, it is tedious – but it is important.
Get on the road and start having fun
Travelling the world is amazing – it is an incredible journey of experiences unlike any you will ever have – once you have got a rough plan, and started taking care of some of the details you can enjoy the trip. If you are going for a longer time my final words of advice are not to plan too much – you will meet people on the way who are incredible and whom you will want to change your plans for.
So get started – stop dreaming and start planning, the trip of a lifetime is around the corner!