I am a planner. Some aspects of my life might be a little bit untidy (I am not a neat freak, and I wish I was) but I am fairly good at planning big international trips. Say, a 19 day excursion to Asia. Or a 2 week trip to Belgium, Amsterdam, and Paris. Or a 16 day journey to Spain. Or a holiday in Greece, Prague, and a music festival.
I might be revealing how OCD I am about planning, but nonetheless, it works. Here's my typical planning phase for my trips abroad. I broke this down by month then day, a little check list for you to plan your next trip abroad.
6 Months in Advance
Figure out your destination. We like to travel somewhere different every year. So we throw out possible ideas and when is the best season to go for that country or city. We do an overview of the pros and cons of each.
– We'll discuss what out budget is. We typically take one big trip a year, so we are ready to spend a few thousand dollars. Travel is important to us, so we're willing to pay. Even still, we do it on the cheap!
– We'll look at typical flight prices for different cities.
– Try to map out a general route of different cities we'll be visiting.
– Research weather and the best time to go.
– Decide on a place to visit.
– Decide on the length of the trip.
– Make a folder in your email for your trip details (huge timesaver!)
– Start saving money.
5 months in Advance
Now that you've had a month to think about the above it's time for the big purchase: buying your flight. First, you'll need to decide the number of days your going and the time your want to spend in each. That way you can decide if you're flying out of one destination and returning home on another.
– Figure out general plan of number days for each location.
– Price out flights. You can look at Google Flights (very useful guide), we used Momondo to book our flight to Asia, which was SUPER cheap! I also like SkyScanner.
– Make sure you have items you need for where you're going (ex, I needed a Visa to travel to Vietnam.)
– Now it's time to buy your flight! This is generally your biggest expense. I always use an airline that gives me flight points (or a credit card for that matter).
Find out How to Travel Cheap
4 Months in Advance
Flight is booked! It's time to do some research. Start looking into the customs and culture of the place you're going. Think about what's important for you to see and do while you're there.
– Make a list of your “must sees”.
– Establish your route from one city to the next (if you're going to multiple cities).
– Look for online deals in the area you're staying.
– Research places to eat, fun things to see, and do.
3 Months in Advance
You're getting closer, time to book the details.
– Book your transportation to and from each city: get your train passes, flights, boat tickets. Buying local flights or other transportation in advance will give you peace of mind, trust me.
– Find out which hostels and hotels you'd like to stay in and book these. My favorite resource for hostels is HostelWorld.com (and no, they aren't scary.) Other option: Airbnb.
– Get vaccinations if you need to. (Example, Asia, I needed typhoid pills).
2 Months in Advance
It's almost time for your trip, start thinking about how you can maximize your time there.
– Buy ahead! I can't stress how important this is. Look online to see if you can pre-purchase things like museum tickets or passes. For example, we bought advance tickets to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and skipped a 2 hour line. For real.
– If you have time, start researching the country you're staying.
– Read a fiction book about the location.
1 Month in Advance
You're just a month away!! Time to get serious.
– Read a book about the specific locations you're going.
– Make sure you have someone picking up your mail.
– Make sure you have someone taking care of your pets or plants.
– Buy things like adapters you'll need to charge electronic devices.
1 week before
– Let your credit card companies know you're traveling so they don't flag them as fraudulent.
– Make sure you've taken care of any and all bills you need to pay.
– Print out travel deals.
– Make copies of important stuff like: emergency contacts, credit cards, passport, flight information. Put this all in a plastic folder so it doesn't get ruined it something gets wet.
– Make yourself an itinerary of where you're going and what you're doing. Give it to your emergency contact so they know.
– Do some research on what you should wear, weather conditions, make a list of everything you're planning on bringing.
Check out: My Top 10 Must Haves For Traveling Abroad
2 days before
It's time to pack!
– Lay out your backpack or bag.
– To save space put socks inside shoes, roll up clothes.
– If you're carrying on (highly recommended) get a ziplock bag to put liquids under 3 ounces.
– Remember to be low maintenance, you're traveling after all, do you really need 7 pairs of shoes?
– Don't forget things like: rain jacket or sunscreen depending on your weather.
– Bring any necessary medication.
Find out How to Fit Everything in Your Carry On
Let the countdown begin!
– Set an out of office if you need to.
– Check in for your flight.
– Check to make sure your bag is secure.
– Make sure you have all your travel documents.
– Confirm your transportation to the airport.
– Call your Mom.
– Throw out the milk.
Find out Why I Always Carry On.
It's go time!
– Make sure you've turned everything off.
– Re check flight information.
– Take your transportation to the airport (in my case, an uber).
– Chill out, you got everything covered.
– Get on the plane!
You may like The Plane Ride Playlist.
During your trip
Have fun, you deserve it.
So there you have it! As you can see, I get pretty detailed but it helps me stay sane. What are your tips for planning for a trip abroad or a lengthy vacation?