Continuing from our previous post Trip Planning- Where to Start Part 1, where we reviewed the initial steps we take to ensure a smooth trip planning.
Our last 2 steps from the article one were “plan your adventures” and “dust off the piggy bank.” Now that you have a more complete idea of what your trip will be about, the type of experiences or activities you are going to do, and after considering your budget or making a savings plan, its time to put those things all together.
Our next step will take a look at itinerary planning and documents needed.
Step 6- Itinerary and Documents
Thousands of years ago the world was all open to everyone. There were no countries, and almost everyone was a nomad. Nobody needed documents to enter Asia or Europe. The inhabitants of the current days United States didn’t need a visa to hunt or live on the territory.
Unfortunately, these days the world doesn’t look the same, and we need to be careful about the documents required to visit a particular country.
However, it takes almost no time to do so (with the speed of the internet), and it is silly not to do it. Get yourself familiar with the countries rules about entering and whether you are exempt from acquiring a visa.
For example, when entering Mexico, US citizens and permanent residents are exempt from obtaining a visa, but the case might not be the same with a Serbian citizen.
With the documents, I would like to mention credit cards as well. As this is becoming the most common method of payment, we need to pay particular attention to keeping them safe and fully functional in foreign countries.
Some credit cards are not designed to be used internationally and might charge an extra fee if used abroad. Other credit cards can be used everywhere with no foreign fees, however, make sure you notify your banks of your travel plans so they can protect your money against fraud.
This has been extremely easy recently, you can do it from your app on your phone or simply by calling your bank.
Related Planning Resources
And the last portion of this step will be planning your itinerary. A lot of my friends think I’m crazy after seeing my itinerary for the next destination. I call it adventurism.
I love to pack my days and see as much as I can from my destination, I don’t know if I will ever go back, right? Below, I’m posting the itinerary for one of the days I spent in Iceland last year, I hope you get an idea about itinerary planning.
Day 5 (3/18)
8:30-9 Drive to Secret Lagoon Hvammsvegur, 845 Flúðir, Iceland Drive
09:30-11-Drive Strokkur Geiser (1h drive)
Take Pictures @ Strokkur Geiser
11-11:30 Drive to Gulfoss
Explore and take pictures at Gulfoss
11:30-12:30 Visit Almannagja, Iceland (about 1h drive )
12:30 Arrive at Silfra
1pm-4pm Silfra Snorkeling
Öxarárfoss 10min from Silfra
Enjoy and take pictures
8-10 Drive to lodging at Borgarness
I find that this prepares me well to deal with any challenges I might face along the way and makes for a very stress-free journey.
Step 7- Means of transportation
Now that the documents are taken care of, its time to take care of the transportation. I was debating whether we should put that step earlier and honestly it might be right, for budgeting and itinerary purposes.
So what are your transportation options? It solely depends on the country. All of the northern Europe countries are really well accessible by a car like Iceland and Norway, Sweden. Some locations like the Gili Islands, for example, can be reached only by air and sea.
Some countries have excellent public transportation so you won’t need to worry about renting a car. Similarly, if you are doing a city exploration, you might want to look into biking as an option.
Step 8- Accommodation
This is a big one. Planning one of the most sacred parts of the day. Your accommodation will depend a lot on your travel plan and logistically on your itinerary.
It is easy if you are visiting one city and just stay in the same place but requires a little more precision and thorough planning if you move around a lot. For example, I just planned my Costa Rica adventure, and we will have 8 different accommodations for a 10-day trip.
Depending on what type of traveler you are or where you are traveling the cost for accommodation can vary significantly from a 15 dollar camp spot to a 1000 dollar hotel room.
Related Planning Resources
Whatever you choose to book- hotel, campsite, a hostel, an Airbnb home or just sleep in your car, make sure you are comfortable with it, and it suits your budget and personality.
You will not believe how beautiful it is to sleep in your car looking at millions of stars in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes 5-star hotel is not the best experience.
Step 9- Insurance or Not?
Another big topic. I don’t always get travel insurance, but often times I do. For traveling locally within the US, I generally don’t get travel insurance, because I trust the airline I’m flying with (Alaska) and rarely had troubles with luggage or trip cancellation and so on. Also, my Amex insures the luggage, so I don’t need it separately.
The picture is a little different when I travel internationally and especially if I’m making a more adventurous trip like a scuba dive vacation. I always have my DAN insurance with me and occasionally additional a insurance from World Nomads, they are the best in business, and it is a great experience dealing with them.
I hate to give this as an example, but it really shows how good travel insurance is. My friend broke her wrist after slipping on an ice patch during a hike to a waterfall in Iceland. She was taken care of at an Icelandic emergency and then had a very successful operation in Japan. Her wrist is now fully recovered and 100% back to full functionality, and she didn’t need to pay a dime.
It is just a peace of mind, and it’s not as expensive as people generally think.
Step 10- Gear Check/ pack
Solely depending on your itinerary, you need to create a checklist of all the gear you will or might need for your trip.
Planning a scuba dive trip, for example, you want to make sure all your dive gear is ready, cleaned and serviced before your trip approaches.
If you are doing a city exploration tour, I would suggest making sure you have comfortable shoes for walking long distances, few extra phone battery packs, sunglasses, sunscreen an offline map, you never know when you will lose service.
Think about food and drinks. A funny story from a recent mountain biking trip- my friend Stefan didn’t bring any food for a 26-mile mountain biking trip, so we had to share all my food but still managed to get home safe. Imagine we had no food, we would have been in trouble.
All you have left now is to pack everything together. Make sure you don’t bring anything in your cabin luggage that is not allowed if you are traveling by plane.
Step 11- Enjoy Your trip
Now that you have put your organization skills to the test and you are at the final step, reflect on why did you start all this, you might feel tired from working to make this trip happen or from planning, but envision the beautiful sights you are about to see in just a short time.
Prepare not to fail, and your trip will be fantastic. Happy traveling guys!