16 Easy Steps For Planning Your Next Vacation
I remember when I started planning my first trip. I had no clue what I was doing.
When I decided to quit my job and travel the world, I went online and did a whole lot of “Google Searching” for trip planning. Back then, there weren’t a lot of good blogs, guides and I felt lost. I just went with the flow and figured it out as I went.
Planning a long trip can be a scary task. Where do you start? What’s the first step? Where will I Stay? Where should I visit? It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning, especially when you haven’t done something like this before.
Now I am an expert at planning my vacations and capturing the best places in such a short time frame. I developed this checklist that ensures you won’t miss anything important.
I’ve created a little step-by-step guide to planning a trip that breaks the process down for you so it won’t be so overwhelming:
Step 1 – Decide Where You Want To Travel
Defining where you actually want to go sets a goal to work towards. Most people just say they want to go anywhere. They never really make a decision and pick a destination that is important to them. So let’s say you decided on “I am going to Italy.” This makes it a whole lot easier to stick to and build a plan around.
Step 2 – Decide the Length of Your Trip
How much will it cost to travel? You can’t possibly know unless figure out how long you will go for and then you can figure out how much exactly you will need to save. After you say “I’m going to Italy,” add “for 10 days.”
Step 3 – Research Your Costs
So you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be there for, but to really nail down the money you will need, your next task is to do a little digging to find the costs in your destination and the type of travel you want. Such as backpacking or luxury hotels? How much will it cost to stay at a hostel, hotel, restaurant, attractions? Knowing this will allow you to get a ballpark for how much you’ll need to bring. Plus look at the currency conversion difference.
If you plan for Italy for 10 days and need $50 a day (not including flight), you know you need $500 for your trip.
Now you have a solid goal to work toward.
Step 4 – Start Saving Money
Time to start saving! Write down all your current expenses so you can determine where you are spending money that can be cut back. People bleed money from small daily purchases like coffee, water bottles, snacks, eating out too much.
For example, if you need $1,800 USD for the trip you’re taking in eight months, that means you only have to save $7.50 per day. Couldn’t you find a way to cut back $7 per day? Heck, that daily latte is more than that! Here are the three easy wins to cutting back:
- Cut the coffee – That daily coffee costs you $150 per month ($5 per coffee). An extra $1,800 per year pays for two months in Southeast Asia! What’s more important to you a Cup of Joe or the experience of a lifetime in another country?
- Learn to cook – I learned to cook when I moved out of my parent’s house. It saved me hundreds of dollars a month and I put the extra savings to a planned trip. I simply started to meal prep and cook chicken, rice, and veggies every day.
- Cut the Cable – In the age of Netflix and free (legal) streaming TV, there’s no reason to spend $50 USD per month on cable television.
You can read this post for more in-depth and creative ways to cut your day-to-day expenses: 12 Ways To Cut Your Costs, Increase Your Cash Flow, And Travel Like a Boss
Step 5 – Get a Travels Rewards Credit Card
While you’re working to save money, get a travel credit card so you can start to accumulate travel points and earn sign-up bonuses to redeem miles for free flights and hotel stays. Most cards have bonuses of up to 100,000 points when you met their minimum spending requirement (often $2,000 within a three-month period). That’s a ton of miles – enough for a free flight to almost anywhere in the world.
I recommend getting one that works for you and looking at the points, fees, and interest associated with each card before making a decision which one is right for you.
Step 6 – Switch to No-Fee ATM Cards
Don’t give banks any of your hard-earned money. Save every dollar by using a no-fee ATM card. I use Charles Schwab, but there are lots of other banks that don’t charge ATM fees.
Step 7 – Stay Focused and Inspired
Keep feeding your desire to travel by following either myself or other bloggers. I also enjoy looking up Google Images of certain destinations just to feel like I am already there.
Step 8 – Book Your Flight
After you’ve used your travel credit card and received your sign-up bonus, use your miles to book your flight. It is harder to use miles these days due to less availability, so make sure you book early.
My favorite sites for finding cheap fares:
- Google Flights
Step 10 – Book Your Accommodation
If you have a set schedule, feel free to book accommodation for the duration of your trip, but if you are going to be traveling long-term, book just the first few days. Once you know the dates you’ll be at your destination, there’s no reason not to find a place to stay.
Step 11 – Plan Your Activities
Check out the major activities you want to enjoy and how much it will cost. Make any last-minute adjustments to your savings so you can accommodate for the trip. This will also help you figure out if you need any reservations for the tours or activities chosen.
Step 12 – Sell Your Stuff
If you are going on a long-term trip (six months or more), sell your stuff in order to earn extra money for your trip. Start doing this about 60 days before you leave. These are my personal favorite sites to use:
If you aren’t going to be gone tht long, skip this step. If you are going away long-term but want to keep your stuff, then move it into a friend’s house or keep it in a garage. A reputable storage company in the US is Public Storage, costs are around $50 per month.
Step 13 – Automate Your Bills
Get rid of your mail and go paperless, set up online bill payment for any recurring bills to ensure you won’t miss any overseas.
Step 14 – Tell Your Card Companies You’re Traveling
No matter how long you’ll be gone, it’s always a good idea to let your credit and debit card companies know you will be overseas; that way any transaction you incur won’t be marked as fraudulent and getting your card blocked. There’s nothing worse than sitting on the phone instead of enjoying your trip.
Step 15 – Pack
Time to pack for your trip! Here’s a suggested packing list.
Step 16 – Enjoy Your Trip
Go on your trip and have a blast! Head to the airport (arrive two hours before the flight), board the plane (remember your passport), and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
By using this post as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip.
Hope this helps you on your journey!