There are 30 days until I fly to Thailand, and I’m realizing, I’ve barely planned. By now, I’d normally have my itinerary color coded and broken down into daily activities (with a rough outline of times for each activity). This sounds like a lot, but, it was born out of necessity. The first (and last) time I didn’t plan with close attention to detail, it was a disaster (feel free to read all about it here). Now that I have it down to a science, I’ll share my step by step method.
Choose a destination! If you need some travel inspiration, check this out. Another way I get inspired is by looking at Skyscanner‘s search “everywhere,” feature. You type in the dates you want to travel, and Skyscanner shows you the best deals. Google Flights has something similar. After you put in the dates, you can choose from categories like, “adventure travel,” “Beaches,” or “culture.” You can also search by continent! Google also lets you search on a calendar for which dates are the cheapest. Once the destination is set, I like to use Kayak to cover my bases for prices. And I like the way Kayak gives their advice on whether to buy or wait based on price trends, it’s usually pretty spot on.
It’s always a good time to do a little online searching. There are especially good deals to Europe for the next few months. See a few of my favorites below, and click to get even more dates.
So you might be wondering, “shouldn’t I do some research before I book a flight around the world?” Well, preliminary research is good when you don’t know anything about the destination you’re considering. That way, you know what to expect and can start to get excited about it. But, I wait to do all my heavy research until after I have my flight booked. I have to plan travel around work and school, so, I’m a little restricted with my time. I don’t want to let that get in the way of seeing the places I want to see though. So, I book my ticket based on where I want to go, for the amount of time I have, and figure the rest out from there. A common excuse for not going abroad is not having enough time to justify the price of a ticket. But if you know how to look (like the flights above), it’s just about the same as traveling domestically (i.e., no more excuses). And with proper planning, you can fit most of the big stuff into even the shortest trip! Whatever you miss, just gives you an excuse to go back.
Naturally, I find the best advice from the experts, bloggers! Occasionally, I do a traditional Google search but, I’ve found the best information through Pinterest searches or bloggers I follow. Asking people you know in real life is also invaluable, insider tips make things easier. And since hindsight is 20/20, you can learn from their mistakes, as well as their successes.
I start by accumulating my top things to do and/see and organize them by priority. Google Slides is my favorite way to keep track of the information. You can have a slide for each place or activity and write down all the important information like hours and admission prices. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have to keep googling it a thousand times. It’s also really helpful when you’re traveling with other people and trying to sell them on your plans!
Once all the research is done, the itinerary is a like a puzzle a puzzle to solve. I find it easiest to map out all the sights I want to see. That way you can group things together by proximity, instead of wasting time going back and forth across the city. This is where insider information comes in handy as well. It helps if you have an idea of how long you’ll spend everywhere. I make my itinerary on Google Docs. I know it sounds like I’m a spokesperson for Google (as if they need one), but it’s just so convenient. Not only can you share it with whoever is coming with you, but you can access it from anywhere in the world. For example, when you’re actually on your trip and need to remember what you had scheduled. If you thought I was kidding about my detailed planning here’s some proof, and if you’re as OCD as I am, here’s a good template!
Voila, all you have left to do is pack. If you’re looking for some tips on that, check this out.