How To Plan a Trip

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Before leaving, learn how to plan a trip. That way, you don’t forget anything you’ll regret later.

Let’s say you want to plan the best trip and you don’t know how to prepare yourself.

You’re freaking out, right?

Keep calm and read these tips, guide. We’ll explore the this trip planning guide with some additional tips on how to prepare for your vacation.

1. Figure Out Your Budget

One of the first and most important parts of planning an amazing trip leads to your budget. Figure out how much you can put aside for various expenses; food, transportation, airplane tickets, accommodation. This alone will truly make or break your experience.

When you have a general idea of how much you can spend, it’ll give you a better idea of what sort of accomodation you can afford, what meals you can eat, and how much play money you have to have fun.

2. Will You Go Alone?

If you have a choice in the matter, decide whether you want to go with a travel buddy, or alone. This is surprisingly another huge decision. If you travel alone, you have to look out for yourself. You don’t have any backup. Everything falls on you, so you can’t blame your buddy for anything. However, you don’t have anyone holding you back, and it presents the perfect opportunity to learn about yourself.

On the other hand, if you bring a friend, you can tag-team the journey. Split costs, always have someone to talk to, and you’ll always have someone watching your back—as long as they’re a good friend (or partner). This could lead to drama if anything goes wrong, so as always, make a pros and cons list when deciding whether you want to travel alone or with a partner.

3. Choose a Place to Visit

Where do you want to visit? Somewhere new? A familiar place? Or do you want to leave the countryside and visit the city for a week?

Unless this journey is a spur-of-the-moment decision, you likely know where you’re going.

If this is spontaneous, consider reading our country-specific travel guides to learn more about other countries, what you need, and places to explore.

Otherwise, when choosing a place to visit, know what you want first:

  • Are you an avid hiker? Search for a place with plenty of hiking trails that lead to breathtaking views.
  • If you love drinking, either go anywhere in the world or find a place with cheap beer.
  • If you’re a historical nut, search for locations rich in history
  • Foodies should search for areas known for representing the food of a country or region’s culture.

Furthermore, knowing where to go will give you a better idea of how much things will cost. With that knowledge, adjust your budget, figure out what you want to divide your funds, and strategize accordingly to plan the best trip imaginable. Once you have a location in mind, find a way to contact locals to get an idea of prices to avoid scams.

How Long Do You Want To Leave For?

You know where you want to go and how much that you’re willing to spend.

Now.

How long do you want to leave? There are several questions that you should ask yourself before committing to your trip. First, how many vacation days do you have? Oh, you quit your job so you can adventure? How long can you support yourself without work? At least make sure that you can support yourself for at least 6 months. Or, if you already have an alternate form of income already set up, go as long as you can.

Also, be sure to have an emergency fund set aside, you never know what could happen.

4. Sign Up for a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Consider this option if you already have a good credit score or have a few months to build upon your existing (or non-existent) score before you purchase your tickets and accommodation. We recommend this because a lot of travel cards will require a credit score of at least 690. It’s possible to pull this off with something lower, but why not build your credit score? It’s good for more than just getting loans.

You can even start off with building your credit by taking a small loan, or getting a credit card, and only use it to pay off monthly expenses.

Anyway, travel credit cards come with a myriad of benefits such as:

  • Free hotel rooms and room upgrades
  • Insurance for baggage, in case you lose it
  • Canceled flight reimbursement
  • Access to premium airport lounges to relax in style before your flight
  • Discounted or free checked baggage

5. Book Flights

If you’re flying, this is a must. Since you assembled a budget, it’s time to put it to use. Once more, ask yourself some questions before you start your search. Do you want to fly First Class or Economy? Do you have air mileage or travel reward credits you can redeem?

Afterward, research. Be sure to keep factors in mind such as layover time, what airports you’ll transfer in, what type of plane you’ll fly in, and the price.

While a lower price is tempting, be sure to research the airlines’ safety rating offering the ticket. If they have a poor safety record, steer clear.

On top of that, once you find tickets, make sure that the site your on is legit and not a scam. There are plenty of fake travel agencies out there.

Some of the above tips are also useful if you’re searching for bus or train tickets.

6. Book Accommodation

You have a million (not really) options to go with. However, it all comes down to two factors: your budget and desired safety. What we mean by the second option is that some options are safer than others. This means that if you’d prefer to spend more to stay safer, opting for a hotel over a hostel would be the best route to go.

If neither of those are what you want to go for, or if you want to experiment, consider these alternative accomodation options:

  • Homestays
  • Airbnb
  • Couchsurfing
  • Volunteering in exchange for free accommodation
  • Vacation rentals
  • House sitting
  • Staying with friends
  • Camping or glamping

If you’re on a road trip, simply sleep in your car—tinted windows make this better. However, be sure to research local laws and protect yourself from thieves.

The best and safest way to sleep in your car is to find the parking lot of a store that operates 24/7, park yourself in front of cameras, and fall asleep. If you can strategically park at multiple stores that aren’t too far from each other, aim for an hour and a half power naps to keep you going to reduce the likelihood of encountering security.

The worst-case scenario here would be that security approaches your vehicle, taps on your window, and tells you to leave. In this case, don’t make any sudden movements, and don’t act tough with the guard. Just apologize and drive away. While this is sketchy, it’s better than a crazy person trying to break your windows.

As for the other mentioned options, do your research and keep your wits about you to avoid falling victim to any scams or kidnappings.

7. Deal With Your Banks

First off, you should check if your bank reimburses for ATM fees, if they don’t, and if you still need a second bank account, better late than never. Open a brokerage account with Charles Schwab, and afterward open a checking account—this is based on their requirements.

Once you receive your card in the mail, go to your account on their website and set your card on travel mode. Furthermore, make sure to connect your existing bank account with your new one, that way if you need to transfer money, it’ll be a lot easier.

You don’t have to go with Charles Schwab—it’s just an example—but it’s highly recommended. We also think that it would be best to always have a second bank account. Not just for traveling, but when you’re at home, too. This protects you in case you lose access to one of your accounts or want to use the perks of another institution.

Speaking of setting up a travel notification, set one up with your bank and credit cards. You don’t want them restricting your access when you need it most. If your banks only allow you to set a travel notification for a shorter time than you need, set a reminder on your calendar to renew it.

In addition to travel notifications, don’t forget to add 2FA to all your accounts if you can. One of the best ways to save money is to protect yourself from losing it.

8. Travel Insurance

Earlier we mentioned that travel rewards programs can cover missing luggage. What if you aren’t eligible for travel rewards and want to protect your precious possessions? There’s a way: travel insurance.

Travel insurance can provide protection from situations or expenses such as:

  • Legal expenses
  • Flight cancellations
  • Stolen luggage or personal belongings
  • Medical situations and expenses
  • Vehicle rentals

Keep in mind that what’s covered differs between insurance providers. Some cover more, others less.

Whether you’re a nomad, soon-to-be expat, or venturing overseas for a week, it’s highly recommended to invest in travel insurance from a trustworthy company to protect yourself and your goods.

9. Automate Your Bills

If you opted for travel insurance or have other bills that you don’t want to deal with when you’re abroad, use this tip to plan the best trip. Automate the process, save the trees, and relax. Ensure that you have enough money to pay your bills, though. It’s not relaxing when someone says your payment’s late.

10. Minimize Your Risks When Traveling

Combine all the tips in this guide with small investments to protect yourself and your family or friends from potentially life-threatening situations that could happen while abroad. For example, invest in a money belt to reduce the likelihood of a thief pick-pocketing your money.

Or, invest in a small first aid kit to prevent you or loved ones from bleeding out if you’re injured during a hike.

Dig through forums related to the place you’re traveling to, pick locals’ brains for tips, understand the laws, and learn about the local culture. If possible, and if you’re in another country, learn basic phrases in their language in case you run into a situation where you need help.

11. Pack Your Bags

No matter how you look at this list, you’ll need to pack. Whether you pack your house or go with the one-bag route.

When packing your luggage and carry-on, ensure that you follow TSA guidelines and don’t pack anything you shouldn’t.

Otherwise, you won’t have a good time trying to pass the airport’s TSA screening areas.

Furthermore, only pack what you need. Use minimalism to your advantage and only take either what sparks joy or items you can use. Most of the time, your destination will have what you need. However, make sure to check forums beforehand to stay on the safe side.

If you want to know the best way to pack your bags and to avoid awkward situations with the TSA, consider exploring the following post: The Ultimate Packing List With Everything You’ll Need for Your Journey.

12. Prepare your home and/or animal friends

You’re almost toward the end of planning the best trip.

It isn’t essential to follow these tips; however, they’re nice for potentially deterring criminals, mold, or your animal friends from destroying your home while you’re away.

No matter how long you’re gone, use the following tips to prepare your home for travel:

  • Suppose you have a smart home system (or any light timer) set your lights on a schedule to create an illusion that you’re home. If possible, randomize the times your lights turn on so a thief can’t easily guess that you have timers running.
  • If you have a smart dehumidifier, do the same—set a schedule. Since you can’t leave your windows open to air out your home, it leaves your belongings at risk of falling victim to mildew and mold.
  • Unplug everything that isn’t on a timer to reduce the risks of fires and slay those energy vampires.
  • If you have an animal companion that you can’t take on your trip, leave them with a babysitter. Or, have someone come to your place daily to top off their food. If you opt for the second option, you could also have them check on your plants and mail.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable having your family or buddies check your mail, use a mail forwarding service.
  • Check your food to see if anything is close to expiring. You don’t want to come home and open your fridge to a rancid scent.
  • After you sort through your food, take all your trash out. Once again, you don’t want to come home to lingering pungent smells lingering when you could be relaxing.
  • Dust, wipe your shelves, vacuum, and clean your home. It’s one of those time investments that you won’t regret once you get home.

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