Do you want to travel in the future, but don’t know where to start? Our guide – How to plan a trip is just what you need.
It’s time to get excited about travel again! Just because we are limited at the moment, doesn’t mean we can’t start making plans for where we want to go when this is all over!
I’m sure like us, many of you are chomping at the bit to get back out there and see the world. Be that a short beach break or an adventure to the other side of the world. Wherever you want to go, making a plan will make sure that you get the most out of your trip.
Get clued up
Before you go anywhere, it’s good to get a base knowledge of where it is you are going. Even if you only have a country in mind, research is key to find out the best places to be in the country of your choice.
We use a variety of sources to do this, including other travel blogs, google searches, and even word of mouth (it never does harm to ask for advice).
We also use social sources such as Pinterest. On this platform, there is an abundance of useful information and links to websites and travel blogs that are great for tips on the best things to see and do, where to stay and even places to go for food.
Instagram has also become a very useful source for us. Following other travel bloggers and searching hashtags or locations can allow you to discover many more places that you may miss following conventional guides. The ‘save’ feature is also a fantastic tool to collect and organise posts that may be of interest to you in the future.
When conducting your research, make some notes – write down anything that jumps out at you as a “must-see”.
Create a map
One of the most useful tips we can give you is to utilise My.Maps on Google. Once you have done your first stage of research, getting everything down on a map helps to put a place into perspective and gives you a visual representation of where you are going.
Take the list of places you wish to see and pin them onto the map. We tend to use a colour coding system so we can see what is where at a glance. For example, “things to do” might be green, “places to eat” may be red, and so on.
Google Maps might also show places that may be of interest that you have missed, so be sure to have a look.
Once you have completed your map you can save it to your Google account and access it at any time. Perfect to reference when you are out and about in your travel destination.
Once you have everything down in one place visually, you can see which areas will be best to look for accommodation.
You can begin looking for a place to stay within walking distance to most of your points of interest. However, depending on which part of the world you are looking, options tend to be more expensive the closer they are to the main attractions. If this is the case, it is sometimes best to again refer to your map and find a hotel or hostel close to a metro line or bus route.
It’s good to check multiple sites before booking your accommodation. We tend to use, Booking.com, Agoda and Hostelworld mostly. On these sites, you can read the reviews of previous guests, and hopefully avoid any nasty surprises when you arrive. Booking sites also allow you to shop around and compare prices before making your final decision. However, sometimes contacting the hotel directly can again save you a few pounds so it’s always good to check before you book through an agent.
Planning your days
This stage is really down to you as an individual. Or, more often than not, down to time restrictions. When we are limited for time, we want to make sure that we are seeing and doing everything that we want to do during the time that we have in a place.
To make sure of this we will often make loose day by day plans based on the locations of our POI’s (points of interest). For example, on day one, we may try and get round everything we want to see in the west side of a city. The next day, we will cover the east. This is the best way we have found to make sure that we do not miss out on anything. Making a rough route using the map will allow you to save time looking for transport and also making decisions on the spot. Also fitting in decent looking restaurants to your route can save time scrolling through Trip Advisor on an empty stomach!
This way might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Planning everything down to a T is something we only tend to do if we are on a weekend break for example and don’t have a much time to get around a lot!
Of course plans can always change when you get somewhere, be that down to weather or perhaps meeting someone on your travels, but it’s good to have an idea of where you want to go and when.
And just turning up to a destination can be a fun way to travel too. Having to rely on talking to new people to find out places to go can be fun. But we would recommend a combination of both. Make plans, but don’t get too up tight about them and you won’t go far wrong.
The long and short of it
Regardless of whether you are planning a long term trip or short, any aspects of this planning method can be used and adapted to suit yourself and your intentions.
We have used the maps for both large and small scale planning. Creating condensed city maps, as well as planning out routes and where we wish to stop on a larger scale. For example, planning our route through Southeast Asia.
Whatever you do, just make sure you have fun with it! Planning might sound like a boring task, but it doesn’t have to be. Get excited, discover new things and prepare yourself for a whole lot of fun.