A Beginners Guide To Planning The Almost Perfect Trip
When it comes to planning for ANYTHING I generally go super ham on that. From step 1 to 100 OCD because I just can't bare the thought of something going wrong. I remember last summer I literally spent 1 year planning the biggest trip of my life...I wanted everything to be perfect & I wanted to have as minimal glitches as possible... almost succeeded with the exception of one major glitch...but we're not gonna get into that right now.So if you're plannin gyour first trip, here are a few beginners tips & tricks to planning the perfect "almost" vacation.
FORMALITIES - PAPERS - PAPERS - PAPERS..
Considering that you have already chosen your next lucky vacation spot,and before deciding to purchase your airline ticket find out whether or not you need a Visa (be it in-transit or short stay), for the country you would love to visit. Last year, when I wanted to travel to Paris, I had so much paperwork to do "for a two week stay", from bank statements,travel insurance, to getting a lodging certificate or tenant lease all the way from France, to visa photos, to interviews. it was a lot of red tape. But in the end it was worth it. My advice is that if you are not up for too much red tape, skip any country which would require you any extra steps & paperwork " at least for now". Thank god I don't have to go through this any more thanks to a lifted Schegen visa requirement... One of the best ways to find out if you require a visa is to visit or call your local embassies, or visit their websites for more information. Some countries also require certain vaccinations, so pay attention to the detail.You don't wanna get to new land and have to be sent back.
FIND OUT EVERYTHING!!
FLIGHTS, ACCOMMODATIONS, GETTING AROUND...
Now that you have gotten through the grueling process of some embassy representative making you sweat bullets.. comes the fun part. I imagined that by now you would have saved up enough money required for your trip, as budgeting is super important. "we will elaborate shortly", so you are now ready to make that booking. There are so many options to booking your trip online " Tripadvisor, direct airline site, Expedia et al et al..", but finding the best flight for your money's worth is key. Booking way ahead of your schedule date is a key trick to snagging budget flights, from direct or affiliate sites. It will save you a couple of bucks & you will also have fun picking out your own seats. Booking closer to your travel date can be more expensive as the demand for airline seats gets higher. Shop around, and ensure that the flight times, stops and conditions are ideal for you.. Don't go solely on price. I remember two years ago I booked an early flight with an airline mainly on price guess what, that airline "which is ALWAYS late btw", turned out to be exactlyyyy on time & I had to rush through sleepy, grumpy travellers.. "As if I made them book an early flight too??". Although sometimes, last minute bookings can be a steal....
When it comes to accommodation, the choices are immense as well, remembering that we are focusing on budgeting "as you will be spending majority of your time outdoors". From hostels, to hotels to bed & breakfasts, to self contained apartments & more, choose your domain based on how comfortable you are going to be during your stay. One of my biggest pet peeves is the lack of communication & unclean places. Maybe I take the term OCD to a different level but a kitchen & bathroom space makes it or breaks it for me. Last year, I spent ample time communicating with my apartment booking agent, & the landlady of the apartment I would be staying at. Accommodation can be cheap, but make sure that the price you are willing to pay is worth the space & your comfort. Require some budget spots & fights ... check out HostelWorld & Vamaya & Skyscanner for last minute bookings.
KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS..
Well I spent many a days walking around the streets of Paris via google maps.. not that it would help me remember all the lookalike streets. But for some odd reason, it make it more comfortable. When I found the apartment I was going to stay at, I used to spend my spare time walking up and down the corners via google maps, I familiarised myself with what restaurants, supermarkets, sights etc were nearby. But trust if you plan on visiting a place populated by 2 million persons, you will still need a physical map. Another tip I would advise is pay attention to the street names..& if you're lucky maybe all the buildings will be unique from one another, so observe these as well. If like the french your chosen destination care for conformity, pay attention to the names of the establishments; because God forbid, your phone won't run out of charge after 5 hours of walking, tracing back steps will be less tasking.
ONE MORE THING...
LEARN TO READ A PHYSICAL MAP..
TALK ABOUT BUDGETING
Unless you are Kim Kardashian, or a very well endowed with a trust fund, every penny counts. Let me repeat that..:EVERY PENNY COUNTS". Not that you will be focusing on money only, but you want to be able to keep yourself out of the poor house when in a foreign country. Whether you plan on financing your trip through savings, loan or credit cards pay attention to your spending. One of my tips is to research the average daily budget for the country you want to visit. Chances are someone has published a post on it and if not, research the average cost of meals from local restaurants, attractions, tours etc... After that, compile a spreadsheet with rough calculations per day based on what you want to do, where you would like to eat, etc. This will give you a rough estimation of your daily spendings.
TIPS ON SAVING UP
- Cut out unnecessary miscellaneous spending
- Cook meals at home to save buying out
- Skip the cafes & setting for a period of instant cappuccinos.
- Raise funds... hey anything can work.
- Sell your stuff "Especially the things you don't use"
WHAT TO WEAR
Simply put, research the weather during the time of year you would like to visit. There is nothing fun as 8degree weather in the summer. Trust me I know.. As uncontrollable as the weather is, predictions can be off track. Instead, pack according to the average temperature, but leave room for flexibility. Perfect example, the tropics is marketed as a sunny paradise, but during peak seasons "like now', there can be bouts of unexpected, prolonged periods of heavy rain.. Pack light, but pack smart..
TIPS ON PACKING SMART
- Pack the essential basics that way you can mix and match up
- Go simple (unless you wanna go all out fashion week)
- Pack all liquids in separate ziplock bags to avoid spills
Of course, you can never be too prepared..leave room for flexibility & have some fun with it. Afterall it's a vacation... In as much as you would love to plan a full on itinerary, impromptu gigs are always a super plus... therefore; leave in some blank excel spots.. What are your go to tips to planning a trip? xx Bisous Menellia