I get it. You want to travel, but you don't even know where to start. It's a lot, right? I mean, there are so many places to visit and see. How do you even book your plane ticket? And aren't those things way too expensive? Where should you stay? What will you do once you get arrive? What if you end up in the the sketchy part of town? How will you get around? What if you get lost? How will you even find the time to plan out all of this?
These are all legitimate questions, especially for someone who hasn't done much traveling. It can all seem a bit overwhelming and intimidating. Fortunately, the internet has made trip planning much easier than it used to be. These days, you don't need to pay for a travel agent and you certainly don't need to join a travel club to get away.
For a seasoned traveler, all of this may seem like common sense. Most people aren't seasoned travelers though, which is fine. Most of us do want to take a trip every now & then though, right? I've had people approach me with trip-planning questions that seemed so obvious to me. I had to realize that this is only because I've been doing this for a while now. So, this is for those of you who are looking to learn HOW to plan your next getaway! I'm not pretending to be an expert and I still have more to learn myself, but I believe that the experience I do have in this area can help you get going!
Now, lets get started......
1. Decide What Type Of Trip You Want to Take
First and foremost, what type of trip do you want to go on? This will help you plan out everything else. Is there a place you've always dreamed of going? Do you want to relax or do you want to do a lot of sight-seeing? Do you want to be in cold weather or warm weather? Do you want to layout on the beach or do you want to be up in the mountains?
This step leads directly to step #2!
If anything, use Trip Advisor, Google, Instagram, Virtual tourist, travel blogs and other travel sites for inspiration. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Look at photos, review travel ratings, and see what good things people are saying about certain locations. Some of the travel Instagram accounts that I follow have recently revealed some really cool spots that I'd like to visit in the future.
2. Decide Where You Want To Go - LOCATION
Once you've decided what type of trip you want to take, you can start looking into locations that cater to your needs & wants. Tons of beaches, mountains, and historical sites exist within & beyond the states. You have plenty to choose from. For most of us, our decision will be highly dependent on price, distance, and time. These are all things that should be taken into consideration when deciding where you want to go.
For example, I currently live in Texas and Galveston beach is only a several hours away. Even though it certainly isn't the prettiest beach, it may be the best and closest option in my price range. On the other hand, If I have the time I could road trip to South Padre or even to Gulf Shores, Alabama. If I have the time and money, I may opt for a flight to Miami or even out to the Caribbean. There are a variety of factors that will play into deciding which beach to visit.
Resources: Trip Advisor, Google, Instagram, Friends & family, etc.
3. Decide How You Will Get There - TRANSPORTATION
Is the location close enough for you to drive or will you need to take a flight? Do you simply prefer a road trip? If you only have a limited amount of time in this location, is the cost of flying worth it? Maybe you prefer a cruise. Once again, you will have a variety of options that are dependent upon factors impacting you.
Tip: Use Google.com/flights to search comparable daily fares on all airlines. My current favorite resource!
Once you arrive at your location, will you need a rental car or can you rely solely on public transportation? Its best to do some research on your location to see what transportation is like within the area. Will using a rental car ultimately save you more time and money? Sometimes it will, but you may be able to walk or use the public transportation system if you're in a big city. You can also consider Uber, Lyft, & Taxis.
For example, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we decided to rent a car because it was affordable and it provided us the freedom to explore as we pleased.
Ask or review questions in forums like tripadvisor.com/forum or Virtualtourist.com. You can also simply type into Google - "Do I need a car in ______".
Resources: Google Flights(MY FAVORITE), Expedia, Orbitz, Direct Airline Websites, Direct Rental Car Websites, SkyScanner, etc.
Access sites like Skyscanner, Skiplagged & Airfarewatchdog for flight deals!
4. Decide Where You Will Stay - ACCOMODATION
Now that you've figured out where you will be and how you will be getting there, you need to decide where you will be staying. Once again, you have a lot of options: Resorts, Budget Hotels, Luxury Hotels, Boutique Hotels, Hostels, B&Bs, etc. Ah, so many places! Most importantly, think about the prices and the services that you want. Be sure to look at the location and read reviews. I really do believe this is one of the best ways to not end up disappointed in your stay. If you don't plan to be in your room much, you may be looking for something simple and less expensive. If you do plan to spend a lot of time in your room, comfort and services provided may be of interest to you. Simply think about what aspects of accommodation are important to you.
Resources: Expedia, TripAdvisor, VRBO, Homeaway, Airbnb, Spot, & Google(Hotels/Lodging/Bed & Breakfasts in ______).
Check out my Airbnb Experience here - 20$ off using my link
5. Decide What You Will do - FUN
You've gotten the logistics out of the way, so you can relax and start thinking of all the fun you're going to have. Be sure to do some research before arriving, even if its simply typing 'Things to do in ______" into Google. Everything doesn't have to be planned out to the minute, but you want to make sure you see & do the cool things that your destination city has to offer. If you're a foodie, you'll want to look up the best restaurants in the city. If you're big on water sports, you may want to reserve your rentals online before arriving. If you're into tours you can do a simple google search for tours in the area -Viator.com organizes some great tours. There are some sights that you will fortunately stumble upon and that always feels so good. Although spontaneity is one of the joys of traveling, there are some things that you just don't want to miss out on. Once again, take a look at blogs, forums, and websites like TripAdvisor(things to do) to get an overview of what your location has to offer in regards to fun! Oh & once you arrive, don't be afraid to ask the locals recommendations! After all, they know their city best.
When you've completed the planning, you can sit back and dream of all the fun you're going to have. You may have to take some days or even weeks to map everything out, but it's all worth it when you're at your destination enjoying yourself. Write everything down, make comparisons, and do your research. Once you get the hang of this planning thing, you'll become even better at it. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect. So what are you waiting for? Now that you know how, you can start planning! Whether its near or far, you deserve to go where you want to go and see the places you want to see!
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Tell me in the comments where you will be going for your next trip! If you're a seasoned traveler, share some of your own tips!