Trip planning is the process of organizing all moving elements that contribute to a smooth vacation or adventure travel.
If you are here, at the trip planning stage, it already means that you are inspired to get off the couch. If not… Check out our Travel Inspiration page and look for some insights on how to spark the exploration light in ourselves.
Even though I’ve planned multiple trips already, those standing questions always pop into mind: Where do we start? What is second? How about next? It can be frustrating we know, but we will try to put everything a little more… together.
The way I design or plan my trips is derived from my sports background. I am a professional ballroom dancer and as such setting goals and achieving them is just part of what becomes your everyday life. Keep on reading, and I will reveal my planning process that is strongly connected to sports psychology on success.
Step 1- Where are we going?
Choosing a destination is always the number one step in our trip planning process. Why? Well, have you tried to book airfare to an unknown destination? Or accommodation? That’s what I thought (chuckle).
Usually, we are very good at setting ultimate goals and achieving them is just part of who we are, if the desire is there, of course. So, in my mind, the destination is my end goal. We are far from the idea that it is the best way, it’s the way that makes sense in our minds, it might work for you too.
Destination hunting can be done in two ways. Generally, the “I want to go there” approach is related to financial freedom (you can afford any destination) and/ or ultimate motivation (you don’t have the resources but are dedicated to saving money for this destination).
If you are not either of those, perhaps stick with what we call “Cheap destination research.” A lot of the booking websites offer a research or inspiration tabs where you can search for cheap flights anywhere in the world. Pick one and go there.
Related Planning Resources
However, an end goal- destination only won’t cut it. We need steps to get there or process goals (checkpoints) and parameters for each level.
Step 2- Gone in action. How long?
Oh, so many loud voices in my head when it comes to this step. My bank account and workplace voice say- You can’t do too long. My whole being is craving 10 days of just being away from everything. Finally, you find a solution, and you read a travel guide that says this time is not enough to explore the country. What do we do?
Follow your intuition. But be responsible as well.
We are adults, and it’s getting harder to just leave everything at home, especially if you are not planning to be a full-time traveler.
Take travel guide’s recommendations lightly, remember everyone is an entirely different traveler. Put more emphasis on your budget and responsibilities at homes such as work, bills, care for parents or kids if you are not traveling with them.
A simple example is my last trip to Japan. I could have afforded to take 15 days away from work, but that would have been irresponsible to my bank account health.
So, I took an eight-day trip, and it was terrific, because I was upfront and honest with what I can do, made it work and had a great time.
Step 3- Research/ Book airfare
My dance teacher always used to say “Prepare, so you don’t fail”. And it is so true! My best trips have been the ones I prepared for thoroughly.
Once I have the destination in mind, the quest for finding cheap airfare begins, because nobody wants to overpay for this, right?
There are so many tricks when it comes to hitting the best deals, so we won’t lay them all out in this post, but you can check some of our other resources below.
Related Booking Airfare Resources
Step 4- Plan your exploration
This is my favorite part for sure. Now that the destination of choice is set, we can start exploring its beauties.
My preferred way to find places to visit is a simple search on Pinterest, Instagram, and Google. Visual inspiration has always worked best for me. That’s how we found the Tabacon Hot Springs in Costa Rica. The stunning photo of it was on a travel Instagram account, and the location was pinpointed, so we added it to our itinerary and thoroughly enjoyed it afterwards.
The reason why I put this step early on is that it will give me a general idea of what is there to do.
Very often tours to some of the attractions are required, so knowing the cost of it would help me budget better.
And, last but not least knowing what you want to see, helps with accommodation arrangements. If you are going to move from city to city and stay at different places every night you need to make a detailed itinerary of the best times and routes to your desired destination.
Step 5- Dust off the Piggy bank.
Now you have a general idea about your destination, the length of your travel, your airfare cost and your exploration desires. So what is next?
You don’t really expect that life at home will just stop when you are away, right?
Your rent, your car lease, utilities and more are still going to be due even though you are not home.
The time for careful financial planning has come. This will lead your actions in the following months in a way that will maximize your savings, so you are prepared with some extra cash during your trip.
IF YOU ARE READING THIS, STOP BUYING STARBUCKS!
Those are at least 150 dollars saved in your bank account a month.
It is time to learn how to cook, you will be surprised if you pull up your credit card statement and take note of your eating out spending.
Don’t buy what you don’t need! We know its hard, just try.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article where we will proceed with the next steps in our Trip Planning journey.