Planning your own overseas trip can seem like an overwhelming process, however, I find it to be fun and rewarding. Many people may opt to get help from a travel agent, but I like researching hotels, travel options and sightseeing tours by myself. I find it creates more excitement, and the feeling when you pull everything off is incredible. Obviously it’s not for everyone, but if it sounds like your cup of tea, the next few blog posts will be focused entirely on my tips for planning different aspects of your very own overseas trip. I will cover areas such as budgeting, travel options, travel sims, travel insurance, tours and sightseeing, hotels and accommodation, spending money and what to pack for your trip.
This following step by step guide will tell you the order in which I plan my trips. This is just the way I find easiest, however, you may wish to change the order or add or omit steps. These steps include a quick run down of what I do, more detailed information for some steps will be in future posts.
- Decide where you want to go (e.g. Europe) and how long you would like to go for.
- Look in to specific areas (decide on the particular countries you are going to. If you are only visiting one country, then look at which states or cities you would most like to visit).
- Write a list and write an estimate of how many days you would like to stay in certain places (some websites offer details on how many days you should spend in certain citites for e.g. Reid’s guides lists length of stay for European cities http://www.reidsguides.com/t_pt/t_pt_time_to_budget.html).
- Add up the days. If they don’t match up with your preferred amount of days, either shorten your trip to some destinations, take some destinations off or lengthen days or add destinations. When I worked out my plans, I had wanted to go to another country, however, that took me to 6 weeks in length and would have added considerable amounts of money to the total of my trip, so I decided to remove one country.
- Create a table in a word document or program you feel comfortable using (I always use word for this). I use the following headings: I also colour code each country so I am able to see clearly when I move from one country to another.
- Enter in the countries you would like to visit and allow one row per day you wish to spend there. When I know my travel dates I enter these as well, as well as the day which I write above the date:
This comes in handy when planning, as certain tourist spots are closed on particular days.
- Start looking in to what you want to do in each country/city. Put these in to the activity section and work out estimated times. Make sure you don’t over plan, you need to allow yourself plenty of time. Some tours will last all day and will be the only thing you can do that day. Others may run for a few hours or half a day, allowing you some extra exploration time. Don’t forget to consider travel time from one place to another. If you find you have too many activities and places you want to visit, you may either want to stay an extra day, or decide which one is least important to you and remove it from the list.
- Next, start to look in to sightseeing tours for your selected sites. A quick google search is a good way to start, but I love using websites like ‘Expedia’ that sort through everything for you. https://www.expedia.com.au/ I will cover more information on finding the right tour for you in a future post.
- In the address section, add the addresses for meeting points for tours or the addresses to sightseeing locations. This helps when planning travel times from your hotel to sites.
- Record the start times. This is particularly handy for day tours as they don’t all start at the same time and it can become confusing if you haven’t written it down in an easy to find location. This saves you having to look through all of your print outs of tickets etc. For days I am exploring alone, I usually just record all day. For hop on, hop off tours, I record the time the first bus departs.
- Record the end times. Again, very helpful for days tours so you can work out what time you will be returning back to the city centre or to your hotel. For days I am exploring alone, I usually just record all day. For hop on, hop off tours, I record the time the last bus runs until.
- Start looking in to hotels. Again, I like to use websites like Expedia (above) or booking.com as these sort though everything for you and show you the best deals available. I will cover more extensive information on finding suitable hotels in a future post. Record hotel names in the description section, and record hotel addresses in the address section.
- Look in to travel options; train, bus, plane, walking. If you are travelling to multiple countries, work out how you will get from one country to another first, then work out how to get to your hotels, and finally work out how you will get to and from tour meet up points and intended sites. This is probably one of the trickiest and most time consuming parts of planning your own trip. There are many times you will have to travel from one place to another and it is important to remember all of the times you will need to get from A to B. I will post a thorough step by step travel planning guide in the future.
For now, I hope this helps you get started with your travel planning! Check back for more detailed explanations of various steps.