How to plan a trip: Step-by-step guide on travel planning

A vacation is supposed to be all about enjoyment and fun but is it daunting and turning out to be a nightmare for you? And this isn’t because of anything else but the outcome of stress that comes when you think of how to plan a trip? Well, this need not happen to you. Don’t worry and also don’t jump to conclusions yet because you don’t need a trip planner to plan a trip. It is simple, with a little effort and thought you can plan all the trips on your own, yes even the long ones!

There is so much to think about when we are planning a trip. From booking flights and accommodation to applying for a visa, getting travel insurance, figuring out transportation, finding places to eat, and exchanging currencies, the process is extremely stressful. However, this process does not have to be stressful and overwhelming because there are certain ways one can overcome all this stress.

One can totally understand that planning a trip is a task in itself and can get overwhelming, especially if you are doing it for the very first time. However, it isn’t that difficult once you get a clear idea of how to plan a trip. All you’ve got to do here is know where to begin from and to help you with that, I have provided you with a checklist that will ensure that you do not miss anything important during the planning process of your trip.

This guide is established in such a manner that anyone wanting to go for either a shot or a long trip can easily plan according to this. Similarly, if you are looking to visit multiple destinations, this guide will let you do that as well.

Here is my step-by-step guide on how to plan a trip:

Step 1: Figure out what kind of traveler you are

The first and foremost step is to identify what kind of traveler you actually are because a lot of things ride on this. Let me be brutally honest here if not all, majority of the planning of your trip depends on this very step. That is why you must first understand the category you belong to. Are you a backpacker or a luxurious traveler? Well, there is no issue even if you are looking to travel for free but you must make up your mind on how you are going to travel.

Step 2: Figure out your travel budget

Once you figure out the kind of vacation you are looking for, it gets easier for you to budget and plan your trip. Now, the second step is figuring out your budget because before you can begin to plan a trip, you need to take a good look at your finances and how much you are willing to spend on this trip. It is no rocket science that the most crucial part of traveling is understanding your budget. But the main question is how much do you set aside?

Let me give you a clear idea of how much you need to set aside based on the kind of traveler you are. As a backpacker, you can successfully do on as low as $50 a day. This includes lodging, food, outdoor activities, and transportation.

If you are looking for a bit more comfortable trip then, the average that you are looking at is around $120 a day. However, this exclusively applies to Southeast Asia. If you are looking for a comfortable trip in Eastern Europe then you must look at $150 a day and if you are planning to stay in an expensive city like Paris, the average is $200 a day.

In case you do not have enough budget to travel to your desired destination, now is the time to start saving some money.

Step 3: Finalize the length of your trip

While you are budgeting your trip, you must also keep in mind how much time are you going to be away from home. This factor highly influences your budget and vice-versa. Since this factor plays a vital role in how much you need to save for your trip, ask the question to yourself as to how much time you will be spending out. Are you going to be away for a week, month, or a year?

Some travelers like to see a new spot every single day while others like to take it slow as they love witnessing a new place and their culture rather slowly.

Let me give you a quick tip here, plan a longer trip! While a lot of people might not think this due to a lot of misconceptions, a longer trip is practically much cheaper than a quick getaway. You might be wondering how is that even possible. It is indeed possible as by creating a base in a certain location, you won’t have to pay for transportation on daily basis. You can simultaneously get hotels and hostels for a cheaper rate and can likewise work while on the road.

Step 4: Choose your travel destination

With our second step, we have pretty much figured out our destination because our budget decides where we can afford to travel and for how long. Since that part is already dealt with, it is a lot easier to finalize our travel location. Or perhaps, you have decided that way before and that must also be why you are planning this trip in the first place.

For those of you who haven’t yet chosen a location, you must now narrow down your list. You can make your decision based on any factor. It can be based on museums, attractive sites, natural wonders, wildlife, or other adventurous activities. You could either sit down with a map or a globe and literally start circling the countries or cities that you find interesting.

If this does not help and you are still struggling to find a location, find inspiration on social media. Instagram, Pinterest, and travel blogs can help you find attractions that might interest you. At the same time do not limit yourself because you must also consider how you feel and also what you want to do, see, and experience.

Step 5: Decide on the kind of travel you want

One of the biggest decisions you must make before leaving for a trip is to decide on who you are traveling with. This is also a major point to consider before planning your budget because this will have an impact on your finances and activities.

Who are you traveling with? Are you traveling alone? Traveling solo is one of the most amazing experiences as you will have the freedom to go where ever you want at whatever time and do whatever you want to.

Similarly, going out on a romantic getaway with your partner is simultaneously another great idea. Likewise, if you want to go on a vacation with your family, this can be fun and you can choose from so many family destinations around the world.

While traveling with someone means that you have people to help you with all the planning and research. Also, you will have someone to have fun with throughout your trip. But, traveling together also means adjustments and compromise at times. It might be in any form, compromise on your food, accommodation, or activities that you want to do. However, if you both are pretty much on the same page then, you are good to go. But you must decide who are you traveling with!

Step 6: Conduct some research on your destination

Once you decide your travel destination you must do some digging before you finalize the trip. Here are certain things to consider before you choose your destination.

How is the climate, temperature, and overall situation of the destination that you are planning to visit? You might want to avoid any unusual activities such as political unrest and riots. Another thing to consider is the temperature and the major role in influencing the temperature is played by the season. Therefore, it would make sense that you avoid the monsoon season if you are looking to go island hopping in Thailand.

What is the peak season and off-season in your destination? Is now the best time to visit your ideal location? But, are you available in that particular time frame? If you are traveling with someone, are they free to join you at that time of the year? With all these points to consider, you need to take the right decision. You must also understand the advantages and disadvantages of visiting your destination in a certain month.

If you are visiting your preferred destination in its peak season you will have access to all the activities and attractions. However, be prepared to get bombarded by the crowd. On the contrary, if you decide on visiting your travel destination in its off-season, you might not have the access to all the activities but, the good thing is you will have fewer tourists and perhaps milder temperatures.

Another thing to consider is will it be difficult for you to get a hotel because it is the peak season? Will the prices hike up? Will the ticket counter lines be ridiculously lengthy? Consider all these points before you make that final decision!

Step 7: Create a travel itinerary

Well, the fun of traveling actually starts once you begin to make a plan and start working on your itinerary. However, you need to make sure that you seek some information on social media. Also, check the reviews of the activities you want to do and the things that you want to see.

While a lot of activities can be done on the spot, majority of planning on what activities to do should be thought before. This will also help in budgeting. To add, most of the time it is better to book such outdoor activities as it will give you a scope for bargaining.

Similarly, while creating an itinerary, you must always have a spare day just in case because what if it rains and you can’t go out to see anything? What if the attraction that you want to see gets closed on a certain day? Also, do not plan all your tours at the very beginning of your trip rather distribute them because you do not want to exhaust your body from the very beginning. Therefore, allow your body to ease off a little bit once you reach your travel destination.

Step 8: Book a flight and accommodation

Now that we have answers to every question, it is the time to book the flights and accomodation. Well, the research is not yet over because you need to know which city to fly to and what airlines to choose.

One of the most essential point to consider is to know where and when to buy your tickets. The earlier you book you flight and accommodation, the cheaper it gets. If you want a much cheaper flight then try breaking your flight with layovers. It will also give you an opportunity to visit another cool city and that too at a cheap price. Another great way to get cheaper flights is signing up for price alerts.

When it comes to booking an accomodation, try planning it as per the length of your trip. If you are going on a short vacation, stay in a hotel or hostels. Also, try booking them earlier because unlike when your traveling long term, you cannot wing it and walk around the city once you arrive at your destination.

Similarly, when you book your accomodation ensure that the location is not that far from the central, a breakfast is included, the place has an air conditioning, and the elevators works absolutely fine.

Step 9: Get your travel insurance

We make a mistake by thinking that traveling is safe and we don’t need extra coverage. But trust me when I say this, we ought to spend those extra dollars to be on the safe side.

I understand that it seems like an added expense but we never know what might happen on our trip. So, have an insurance because you might lose your stuff, break a bone, or even wind up stuck for different reasons.

If something disastrous happens to you, it will cost you thousands of dollars from your pocket. Therefore, get travel insurance to cover all the medical and non-medical emergencies. The travel insurance will cover the emergencies such as cancellation of your trip, an unforeseen unfortunate event at your destination, or even natural calamities. Likewise, it will also cover you in case you lose your luggage, passport, or get sick or injured on your trip.

That is why it is important to protect your investment by getting a travel insurance. At the same time, it is also an investment for a peace of mind.

Step 10: Pack your travel essentials and documents

I openly accept that I used to be a notorious packer. I used to pack the entire wardrobe into my suitcase and have had instances where I had to pay an additional charge at the airport. This made my travel very expensive and that is why I ditched overpacking.

These days, I make sure that I pack all my travel essentials and I am good to go. You should also do the same, just pack your essential items as per your travel destination. This way, you will also steer clear of additional charges at the airport.

Also, do not forget your travel documents. I suggest you make copies of such documents just in case you lose any of it. If you would like to know how I pack my bags like a pro, click here.

It’s a wrap

That is it! You are now a travel planner and can start planning your trip. I hope you can now enjoy your travel planning process and go on a vacation to have the time of your life. How did you like the tips? Also, do let me know in the comments below if you have additional ideas to make a travel planning easier and effective.