Planning your next adventure?
It can be difficult to know where to begin when planning your dream trip. What’s the first step? The second? The third? Travelling can seem like an overwhelming topic with so much information available and the longer you travel It seems the more you have to think about. I want to try and make planning your couple getaway/family trip/solo travel/gap year/abroad festival simple and stress-free.
So to get you started and to get that perfect trip booked I will use a simple step by step guide on how to make travelling that little bit less overwhelming.
Step 1 – Plan the length of your trip
This may seem like a simple step but knowing the length of your travel is key in understanding what is available for your choice of holiday. As it would be difficult and time-consuming if you were to travel to say Asia from the UK for a three-day trip as you would spend most of your trip travelling and it just wouldn't be very cost-effective. A quick breakdown would be;
1- 4 days – same country/ city break/ short getaway.
5-12 days – beach holiday/ long getaway/multi-city travel/ festival.
12+ - Interrailing/ whole country/ across America/ Southeast Asia/ gap year/ backpacking.
This obviously isn’t gospel, but a rough guide to understanding what is both cost effective and possible with the time available.
Step 2- Decide where to go
Deciding where to go is half the battle and should be researched to know what your goals are and how you can work towards the perfect trip. It’s a lot easier to then plan when you know ‘I am going to new york’ rather than I want to go to America. This will give you drive and will be overall easier to figure out how much you need and what you need to make this dream become reality.
Get some inspiration
Step 3 –Research costs
Once you have your location and you know how long you are travelling the next step is to work out how much you need and figure this out with the style of travelling you want. Is it going to be a hostel trip or a luxury hotel you need to budget for and how much will it cost for food/drink, attractions and transportation.
Step 4 – Save
Once you have a rough guide of what you need for your travel the next step is saving for that goal. Whether it be cutting back on the Starbucks or just putting money away each month this can be very easily achieved once you budget prior to your trip.
Step 5 – Get your passport and book those flights.
Make sure you obviously have a valid passport and put this into the equation of how long this will take as during busy periods passports could take up to 2 months. Or if travelling further afield make sure your passport will be valid for more than 6 months of your trip as countries like America and Asia can be strict with close expiring passports.
Check the passport guidelines
Once your passport is ready its time to book your flights. When getting cheap flights I advise the perfect time to book is 6-8 weeks before you go as this is when airlines normally lower fares based on demand. Although if travelling at peak time I would advice 3 months in advance.
When you know when you want to travel you should use flight comparison sites to have a look at the price on the dates you are going and pick the location based on the flight prices. The three major costs involved in a holiday are flights, accommodation and spending money and the only one then that is slightly hard to self-adjust is flight prices, so I advise if you are trying to get away for cheap, you need to be flexible with both your dates and location.
Favourite sites for finding cheap fares:
- Check the flight companies direct
Remember you can always use reward miles to fly for less, read this blog post.
Step 6 – Book your Accommodation
Once you have a set schedule and you know how long you holiday is going to be the next step is to book your accommodation. Here you have many options whether you want an apartment, hotel, private room, hostel or a couch.
If you are looking at hotels I would advise to first type in your location into Tripadvisor.com narrow the search to your price and look at reviews and work out what the best option for your budget. Once you have a couple of options of hotels, then narrow down by price and location of where you will be travelling from there
Sites I use to book and compare.
-Booking (great for being able to book now pay later so you could book a backup hotel then look for another at a different stage and not pay any fees and cancel)
-Agoda (great for south-east Asia)
-hostelworld (amazing for hostels and cheap accommodation)
-Remember to check the hotel directly to see on their site if the price is cheaper.
-Airbnb.com – for apartments either a private room or entire apartment and is a great way to save money.
Alternatively contact people on hospitality websites like Couchsurfing or be welcome and ask if they would be willing to host you.
Step 7- Plan Activities
Draft up the major activities and attractions you want to enjoy and how much this will cost and add this to your budget. Figure out if you need to make reservations for your chosen activities In advance of your trip.
Step 8- Get cash/card
When travelling you have many options for getting the best rate. If you don’t consider your options and go and get currency over the counter it could be costing you up to £100. For example, if we were to spend 1000 euro.
Speciality credit card repaid in Full- £781
Cash, via UK Cheapest exchange- 798
Cash from the post office – 802
Using a debit card with fees (Halifax) - 829
Change at airport (Heathrow not pre-ordered)- £864
The best option normally is a non-sterling transaction fee credit or debit card meaning that you don’t get charged to use your card abroad for card payment and in some cases ATM’s (see our section on fee-free cards). With these cards, you get to look into the best rates at the time of purchase, which is normally better than the exchange rate at a bureau change.
The next option you have is a prepaid travel card or ordering currency to be delivered online, which can work out cheaper than getting physical currency at the airport or from a high street bank. But be careful to follow our steps here.
Step 9- Pack & Print
Before getting ready to pack work out what you are eligible to bring on the plane considering both weight and baggage if it is hand luggage or checked. Then from there consider how you are going to distribute it into your suitcases or bags. Then make a list trying to be as minimalist as possible. Have a look at our ideal planning lists. Once you have all your items ready its time to pack. I would advise to put all your stuff out on your bed or floor and narrow down are you actually going to use this item, if the reason follows with I might, or what if… it more than likely isn’t a necessity and doesn’t need to waste weight and space. I Would also advise unless you are backpacking or have a lot of free space to not bring toiletries as 90% of the stuff you bring with you could be bought where ever you are going. Especially when only bringing hand luggage toiletries and liquids alike can not only take up a lot of room but can cause a lot of issues when going through security.
Once you backed its ready to print all your necessary documents, I would recommend having a copy of your travel insurance, a copy of your flight tickets, hotel accommodation, any tours booked, a small A4 map if needed and a sheet with contact numbers.
Step 10 – Have fun
Once you’ve done all that all there is now to do is to get on that plane and go have fun and make sure to take lots of pictures.