Best Trip Planning : Step by Step guide for your next holiday
Updated 21 Feb, 2020
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Planning for a trip is a very tiring, yet one of the most exciting thing in my opinion.
I do a very extensive planning, and at times I plan an itinerary even when I don't have any upcoming travel plans. I also enjoy taking inspiration fro other people itinerary.
Although, I feel that there is too much information out there. Lot of effort goes into figuring out, what information is to be used and what is to be ignored.
Step by Step guide on how to plan your next trip - deciding destinations, booking flight and stay, preparing for trip and having fun while traveling.
1. Shortlisting BROAD region or country to visit
Deciding the region to travel to depends on below two factors, in the order decided by personal situation and priority (a must-try experience or activity Versus save some money)
Interest or Flavour of the trip and Dates
- Activities: Mountains / Beach / Museums/ History / Road trip/ Culture (Adventure/ Relaxing/ Romantic / Family)
- Dates of Travel: broad idea of month of travel or holiday season
Number of travellers is a factor. I travel economy and I stay in affordable hotels.
- Flight/ Train prices: broad range around $100 / $500 / $1000 two-way ( nearby / little far / very far)
- Stay prices: broad range around $30 / $100 / $200 per night ($100 in Bali gets a private villa with pool VS a dingy room in Paris, but assuming a viable stay experience, some places won't offer anything decent for less than $200/300)
- Intercity/ Intracity commute: affordable public transport VS semi-affordable car rental (toll/ one way/ two way) VS depends-on-location Taxi services VS expensive private drops (island destinations)
Output: Broad region or country which can be visited (i.e. Europe/ SEA / LatAm/ Asia / Oceania / NorAm or slightly more specific Maldives/ Mauritius / French Polynesia / Caribbean)
2. Narrow down on Country to visit -
Decide on the primary/ landing country
Flight search for deals around travel dates
Seasonality: not extreme temperature, not too hot (I prefer shoulder seasons)
Crowd: not very crowded, but also not deserted ( else, lot of attractions and restaurants are closed down)
Remove countries which have any safety concerns around travel dates
For tie-breaker between 2 destinations
Language comfort and friendly locals
What wife says!
Output: Landing country for the trip is finalised
3. Book the onward/return Flight or Train tickets
- Two-way flight: if budget is a constraint + good return flight deal is available + not going to far away destinations on trip
- One-way flight: if return destination could be different then just book onward flight
With good research, (one-way to A + A to B + one-way from B) is cheaper than (two-way from A)
Output: Flight tickets booked
4. Finalise Itinerary - Cities and number of days
- Interests of yours and co-travellers
- Commute time and convenience
- Return city is same or different (circular trip or linear trip)
I try to stay a minimum of 3 days in a city, so that the only things I remember isn't airport, transit, and hotel check-ins.
Output: A day-wise and city-wise itinerary planned out in a shareable Google sheet, Excel or tool
5. Book Internal commute
Commute can broadly be
- Public transport: I prefer Trains/Buses in Europe, Flights in Asia/SEA
- Car Rental: Freedom to explore at will. Two-way rental only makes sense. Toll fee, Parking to be taken into account.
- Private Transport: Island destinations where the resorts arrange your commute
(An overnight commute, will save you from booking a stay in the hotel for that night)
Output: Internal Commute booked and and added to itinerary tool
6. Book Stay or Hotels
This is the impossible trinity of stay. Normally, you get only 2 out of the 3 among ( Good Location, Good Amenities, Good Price)
Location or area of city to stay in
*City - Centre (nearby attractions, happening, expensive) VS Outskirts ( faraway attractions, quiet, affordable)
- Prefer day-trips VS spending time in the city (parking is a concern)
- Safety of area and connectivity
Amenities or comfort of Stay
- Hotel VS Hostel VS Airbnb ( meet fellow travellers, party, stay with locals, keep to yourself)
- Amenities: Kitchen, Pool, Gym, Pet-Friendly
Budget or Price per might
I research on hotel booking website and read detailed reviews.
Output: Stay Booked and added to itinerary tool
7. To-Do list and shared folder -
Create and execute To-Do List
- Visa, Travel Insurance, Health care
- Packing list: based on season, activity planned
- Shopping list: based on season, activity planned
Shared Folder: Add all flight and hotel bookings and important docs to this and share with co-travellers
Output: All basic and mandatory things planned for the trip
8. Plan activities for the trip
I keep this part of the trip slightly flexible. While, I have 4-5 top things to do( per city ) figured out before the start of trip, for other things, I explore things on the go.
- Research things to do: read about activities and food you want to try on blogs, google, tripadvisor, lonelyplanet, youtube etc.
- Bookmark activities: bookmark or notes tool, Google maps, Tripadvisor, Trip Planing tool
- Book activities: some popular activities, events tickets or a restaurant you want to visit, have to be booked in advance
Output: You are 90% ready for the trip
9. Get ready for the trip
- Pack your things - necessary travel documents (passport, visa)
- Online check-in of flights
- Download offline Google maps
- Sort out payment (Currency, Forex cards etc.)
- Google translate or popular phrases
- Important and emergency contacts noted down
- Inform your family about your plan in case of emergency
- Sort out your airport/station to hotel commute
- Inform hotels about any additional requirements
- Research any safety and local tips
Output: Start your trip
10. Enjoy your trip
- Keep flexible schedule
- Meet local people and fellow travellers
- Eat local cuisine
- Don't waste time sleeping in the room
- Respect the local customs and culture
- Travel responsibly
- Do some shopping and bring back gifts for friends and family
Output: Have a fun trip
11. Go back to Step 1. Start planning for your next trip
While I come back with great memories and share my travel stories. I start planning for my next trip, having no idea of when to go or where to go.