The planning of a trip is an essential part of the trip itself.
When I start to plan one, I know already it is going to cause me sleepless nights and terrible headaches.
In the meantime, I also feel excited, thrilled and I can’t wait to start doing it.
In fact, I well know that, in the end, the satisfaction of having planned it all by myself, in the way I like, will be priceless.
This process might seem easy but it’s not, especially if you are on a budget (maybe a tight one).
For me, it’s essential to get the most out of my trip, to do all the things I have planned with no regrets.
Since I travel with my husband, I also desire to make him happy too 😉
Because of all these reasons, I always follow the same pattern when I do the planning.
STUDY, MAKE RESEARCH: It doesn’t matter the destination, whether it’s popular or completely unknown. I feel I need to know as much as possible about it. Even if I may have a general idea of places I want to visit, I desire to find out what is really worth the visit or not, according to my preferences. It’s a horrible feeling when you come home and someone asks you “Great you went there! So did you visit this or that?” and you blush in shame and disbelief since you didn’t. Not nice…at all. To avoid that, I buy travel guides, I search on the Internet, I read other traveller reviews and this, often, until exhaustion. This process is demanding but I like it. I feel it’s my responsibility to know the place I am going to visit. I feel I need to be well prepared, not wasting time and money.
MAKE A LIST: After the research process is finished, I have an idea of the places that (to me) are worth the visit. For sure, the choice of what to see is, obviously, personal. Together with Fabio, we sit down and we write all our ideas, preferences, desires and expectations about the trip. We try to merge everything in order to feel both satisfied with it. This process is essential, above all, when you don’t travel alone.
WRITE A DAILY TRAVEL PLAN: First of all, I organize and book the accommodation (I prefer hostels and apartments to rent). After that, I check on the map all the distances and according to them, I decide (on a daily basis) when and how to do the visits. Then, I book also the excursions, through local agencies. It’s like writing a journal: day 1 “I will go there, I will do this, I will sleep there” and so on. I write also what kind of transportation we will use (and, for example, the bus stops, the train stops we might look for). Of course, the travel plan has to be flexible. It doesn’t have to be a gruelling march. We need also time to get lost and wander the streets.
CALCULATE THE APPROXIMATE COSTS: It’s impossible to know exactly how much we are going to spend. But writing down all the costs the I know for sure, gives me a general idea of the total cost of the trip. I include the price of the accommodation, the entrance fees, the local guides, the transportation. On the Internet, it’s not difficult to find all these information. When I know, more or less, how much we will spend, I set aside a sum of money we will be willing to spend on unplanned activities. As for time, it’s important to be flexible with money too. If you can’t afford to spend some extra money (just in case), you will not enjoy your trip. You will feel nervous all the time.
CONSIDER WHETHER TO CHANGE CURRENCY: I decide if to get the local currency before arriving. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it is better to get the local currency once in the country. It depends on the destination and on how much cash we use. Usually, to withdraw cash with the credit card is quite expensive. When possible, we try to avoid it as much as possible. If we need the local currency, we contact our bank well in advance to get it.
CONFIRM THE RESERVED SERVICES: A couple of weeks before leaving, I contact the agencies through which I have booked services or excursions to confirm them. It’s not compulsory but it makes me feel better to know everything is fine. After all, since I have booked them months in advance, I want to make sure that no information got lost. Agencies and hostels appreciate this attitude because they like reliable people. Working as a travel agent in the past, taught me to do things this way.
Finally, I know there is always room for improvement but, honestly, I am quite satisfied with the pattern I follow.
What do you do when you plan your trips?