Planning Your Trip
One of the many roles I have had in my lifetime of working in the travel industry, is that of helping people to plan, arrange & book their round the world itineraries.
The world is huge and there is so much to see and so much to do amongst the 190+ countries, the thought of planning a multi-stop, round the world trip before you go can be quite daunting for some.
The planning you do for your trip is dependent on many things and the obvious ones to start with are . . .
- Where do you want to go?
- How long have you got?
- What do you want to see & do when you are there?
- Who is going?
- What is your budget?
How Long & When Do You Want To Go?
This is perhaps the most important consideration because it affects all other aspects of your trip. Have you got 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years? This affects the types of flight tickets you can buy as some may have duration restrictions. It also affects what you can do on your trip, as an example you may end up at your destination to only realize it is a public holiday and most of the places are shut down. Or that 4 days might be cutting it fine if you are planning to drive from Marbella to Moscow!
Don’t forget that your hometown is the only place where the seasons change . . . it kinda happens all over the world as well!
So think about where you are going . . . use guides for general advice but also think about the climate. Do you do well in heat? Egypt in July might not be great if you like it cool. Sunbathing in Greece won’t be as in November (and most of the bars will be shut!).
It isn’t just the weather that is affected by season, there are tourist seasons too. They affect pricing of just about everything as well as availability. You will get cheaper travel & accommodation but then not all attractions may be open.
Where Do You Want To Go?
Be realistic! If you only have 2 weeks, then don’t plan to visit 16 countries all over the world and expect to see everything there.
Look at a world map and draw an imaginary line from your starting off point to every country (city) on your route, right up until you get back home. Try to head in the same direction, unless you have to catch a connecting flight, as it just wastes precious traveling time and the extra mileage of your route may impact on your ticket – we’ll cover flight tickets in our next article!
If it is your first time making a trip like this, then you should consider a route that is mildly challenging, but at the same time does go easy on you.
Things to consider are:-
- Language – do you know a little of the local language? Maybe you remember a few phrases from school? Or do you fancy learning before you go? . . . Knowing a few key words & phrases really enhances your trip, allows you to interact with locals, shows greater respect and you are guaranteed to get more from your trip if you do.
- Friends & Family – do you have any 3rd cousins or extended family anywhere? It is always nice to catch up with family and even a free nights sleep can’t hurt! Or maybe you could arrange to meet up with friends when on your trip – always a good excuse and worth considering!
- Wanderlust – don’t be afraid to follow your dreams and go somewhere you have always wanted to go. Doesn’t matter if it is in the biggest tourist trap with everyone else, or if its somewhere off the beaten track that’s so original, your friends wouldn’t go. It’s your vacation, your money and your memories after all.
What Do You Want To See & Do?
So you know the time of year when you are going, where you are going and how long you have when you get there. Now you can think about what to do when you are there.
Do you have time to hike to Angkor Wat to see the sunrise? Is a 5 day trek to Machu Picchu just too much?
Some attractions are seasonal, be it for the tourists, climate orientated for example and it’d be a shame to miss out on the one thing you wanted to really see. Also, using Machu Picchu as an example – there are limits on the number of travelers at any one time so you MUST pre-book in advance!
A good tip on planning is to follow the 1 a week rule which is only planning to do something major once a week, so you can enjoy and experience your destination, without rushing around. You have greater flexibility and time to try new, unexpected things. Like a secret secluded beach someone may have told you about or small museum out of the way.
What Is Your Budget
No matter the size of your budget, you’ll never be able to do everything you would like to. The temptation to save money by planning in advance is a fair point to consider, but if you have too rigid a trip, then you take out the fun of traveling. You’ll miss out on so many spontaneous opportunities too!
A good idea is to set some ground rules in terms of spending that you can follow.
- Negotiate on everything – if you are staying 8 nights in a hostel, ask for a price for 4 nights and then ask for a discount if you stay longer - your intended 8 nights in total!
- Avoid the middleman – don’t book tours at the hostel desk or kiosk in the street if you can go direct to the supplier. Even if you are on your own, ask around your hostel and see if you can get enough people together for a group discount.
- Follow the 1 in a week rule – if you book 7 major trips or activities in 7 days, then your month’s budget will be gone in a heartbeat!
- Plan on Eating In – lots of hostels have kitchens, so nip to the local market (a fun & FREE half day trip) and try to rustle up a local dish!
- Consider working abroad – by taking a working holiday visa with you, it frees up your reliance on saving before your trip and also enables you to get some good experience for your CV/resume.
Written by Oliver, the founder of I Wish GapYear.com.
I’ve been interested in travel all my life and have been lucky to travel from a young age. It’s no surprise that travel is the industry I went into and the only one I have ever known!
I Wish GapYear.com is focused on the “Gap Year Industry”. To me it’s not just backpacking and traveling – even though that might be a gap year in your life. It’s about doing something worthwhile. It’s about volunteering to help others, working abroad to boost your CV/Resume or learning a new skill, qualification or trade.
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