DIY Traveling: Planning, Pleasure or Burden?

When I was a kid, my parents kept on telling me that I was laking organizing skills, that I was all over the place and that I will never be a good planner. It looks like time really made a difference and I have changed my habits around. As you probably have guessed for me planning a trip is one of my favorite parts, so how can you go from seeing it as a burden to having fun while organizing your trip? Read along and you shall see!

PinterestFeaturePlans

Find the place that you want to travel to! 

Clearly, the first step would be to know where you want to travel to, and if you don’t know specifics (like I want to go to Greece because I love the food and the sea), at least think of what you would like to get out of it ( see a new place, go to the beach, hike, surf, go with the kids, see a fancy place, hot weather in the winter, ski, etc.).

If you have no idea what so ever, you can also ask this on a group that is dedicated to traveling, people can wight in and give ideas. Since I have plenty of ideas on the subject, I don’t really have a problem with choosing where I wanna go, but I do suggest you create a list of dream destinations, will make your life easier. Mine can be seen here.

Visualize the place!

Let’s say that you have five places that I would really like to visit and you would like to get more information about them, you can create a Pinterest board and you can do your research there. Here I suggest you focus more on the experience that you would have there, rather than just scratching it off your list (For example, I want to go to Bali to see the rice fields and the temples, rather than I want to go to Bali because is cheap and I can take great selfies) .

The board that I am using is this one, Future Plans and I add and remove destinations from it. Before I really start thinking about a trip, I want to know what are the specifics, prices, dress code, religious celebration dates, rainy season, vaccination and so on. I do this even before I look at the budget since I want to know if it’s doable in the upcoming period or maybe I need to postpone it for next time.

Budget!

Yeap, the big and scary one is here and we need to talk about it. If you don’t have a budget great, you can pass to the next point, but most of us do, so plan it wisely. As much as we would like to think we can go anywhere in the world with a small budget, it might not be smart. Personally, I prefer to save some of the trips that I have in mind for later, if I know I wouldn’t have the money to do what I would love to. One example would be the Maldives, yes I can go on a budget and stay on the island, not on the sea bungalows, but that is not what I want, therefore I wait until I will be able to have the kind of experience that I desire. I don’t usually return to the same destinations, so I want to make sure I don’t go home with the regret of not being able to check everything I wanted to do.

Getting back to the budget you need to split the costs between transport, accommodation, food, tickets or trips, impulsive shopping and safety net.  

Transport -> Depending on the location you can choose to go by plane or by car, personally I prefer the plane since it’s a lot faster and I am doing a few too many road trips in the country. Most of the time I use Momondo to search for the best deals, what it does, it compiles a list of all travel companies and you can easily compare prices.

A while back I have written a full post on tips and tricks with how you can find the perfect deals for plane tickets, you can find it here.

Another transport cost that you need to think of in advance, is car rental. If you plan on getting one, do your research from home, there are things that you need to know beforehand, such as if the company accepts debit cards, if its best for you to get a full insurance, the type of car that you should get, the amount of money they will block from your card until you get it back, if they are a serious company. Luckily there are websites that offer you aggregations just as those for the planes, Momondo once again come to the rescue. You can compare prices and companies so that you can make the best purchase.

Accommodation -> Pretty much the same as plane tickets and car rentals, the best way to find what is suited for you is by finding what you need and comparing the prices. Once again you can search using Momondo. There are other aspects you need to take into consideration that you can find in the full post I dedicated to this, link here.

If for the transport and accommodation there will be plenty of options and websites that you can use, for the rest of the topics, it’s best to ask yourself how much should be budgeted. For example, food, if you are the type of person that wants to go safe, then you should think about all-inclusive plans. If you like to experiment then you need to do research on the meal costs and multiply that with the number of meals and number of days.

As an example Prague, we didn’t have the breakfast included so we needed 3 meals, in the morning we wanted a light snack and coffee most of the times to go, so around 10 euros per person, lunch would be the main meal, so we budgeted this to 20 euros including drinks per person, for dinner we went for the street food option 10 euros per person, to this we added around 20 euros per person for sweets, additional coffee or beer. The total was: 60 euros per day per person.

Another expense that can be calculated in advance is related to tickets or day trips. You can easily look it up online and see what are the best prices, most of the time I try to book them in advance so that I don’t get there and find out that they are all sold out. Also, it often happens for the prices to be better and you can skip the line, so make sure you check them up. It can happen for those not to be available online and you need to negotiate the prices at the location, so what I do, is look for blogs that have the prices listed so that I can make an idea about how much those can cost.

The example of the topics above would be Spain and Thailand. In Barcelona the best prices you get online, also you don’t have to sit in line to buy the tickets, this is the case in many European countries. In the opposite direction is Thailand, where you will see some huge prices that you have to negotiate on site.

Impulsive shopping is one of the things that I learned to add to the list. It can take the form of souvenirs, sweets, experiences or maybe something specific to that place, I want to have this included so that I don’t find myself crying for something that I wanted badly and I was unable to get.

The last item that should always be included, is the safety net or money for urgent situations. Although I suggest you have this money regularly, if you are traveling you should know that unexpected situations can happen. The best example I have is when the bus in Dusseldorf had more than 1h delay and we had to take a cab to the airport for 200km that cost us 200 euros. The vacation was intended as a low cost one, yet on the last day, we had to pay the price of our own mistake for not making sure we have multiple options for getting to the airport. Other situations might include injuries or medication, so make sure you always have access to extra money.

Vaccines and mosquito sprays! 

Not needed in all types of vacations, but mandatory in the exotic ones, the vaccines are a topic that many decide to research online, but I beg of you DON’T! Ask a doctor what are the types of risks you are exposing yourself and let the internet alone in this specific case. The fact that many decide to brag that they went on with no vaccine and are still alive is no proof since the confession can not be taken from the dead ones. You want to plan for a risk-free vacation!

If the vaccine can be skipped in many countries, the mosquito spray should always be with you when traveling in warm places ( I doubt you need one in Greenland). Even in countries without the risk of malaria, you still don’t want to get bitten by those little bastards, so make sure you grab one before you leave. Also, there are specific sprays for specific areas, the “regular” one will not work on exotic places for example.

Preparing and packing for the trip!

One of my favorite parts is to prepare and pack for the upcoming trip, I usually make a list with the necessities so I don’t forget anything important at home. Another step that I like to take is to plan every outfit so that I can bring only one carry on luggage with me. A full article on the steps I take and how I have fun while getting ready can be found here.

While this might look like a huge list to go through I learned that in time you can optimize this and enjoy every second of it. Have to say that I look forward to every new year when I get the chance to do the research for the upcoming travel experiences, it takes time, I have to admit, and it can be overwhelming at first, but I promise you that it will become part of the experience.

This is an article for Open World Travelers Ambassador Program @momondo. #owtravelers #admomondo

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