How to Plan the Perfect Trip

Friday, October 14, 2016


Going on holiday seems like the easiest thing in the world, but when it actually comes down to the planning it can become quite stressful. I've put together a list of 8 steps to help you plan the perfect, stress free holiday!

1. Select a destination

It might sound simple enough, but deciding where your trip is going to take you is the most important step. It's a lot easier to start planning the logistics and finer details once you have the big picture in place. Now, I'm not saying decide on the exact city or towns you want to go to, but at least have a country (or two) in mind to get you started.

If you really have no idea think of the type of things you want to experience. For example, if you want beaches and relaxing as well as some nightlife you could look at Australia, Thailand or Fiji but if you're after wild treks, on the edge adventure and camping under the stars you'd look more towards Africa, Peru or Nepal.


2. Decide when to visit

Tis the season not to visit some countries so check out what is considered a good and bad time to visit. This can depend on things like school holidays, tropical weather restraints and whether you're looking for something in particular. For example, I've visited Europe in Summer and Winter and it's like visiting a totally different place! If you're after ease of movement stay away from snowy seasons, but remember that the warmer weather is likely to attract more visitors so you'll be contending for space.

Also do your research on the temperature and likely weather, as although you might head to a country with 30 degree (celcious) days constantly it could also be that it usually rains as well (aka. Australia's rainy season!). Check tropical weather for definite as some places have high risks of dangerous weather (like Australia's cyclone season!) so mayyyyybe avoid them.

Needless to say Scotland in the Winter is rather chilly!
It's a bit of a "which came first, the chicken or the egg" situation for step 3. Setting a budget and choosing the length of your trip go hand in hand and you really can't decide on one without considering the other. I personally will choose my trip length before working out a budget and assessing the costs as for me time off work is harder than saving, however if you're on a really strict budget it may be the opposite way around for you.

3. Choose the length of your trip

When deciding on the length of your trip it's a good idea to consider where your destination is in relation to where your travelling from and whether you're likely to return in the future. For me, travelling to Europe is expensive and time consuming in itself (here comes the bordem blues on a 26 hour flight!) so I'd be more likely to stay for a month or so in comparison to a trip to New Zealand (which from Australia only takes about 3 hours). It's also a good idea to consider how much there is to do in the country you've chosen, or why you want to travel there in the first place. If you're after a break from everyday life maybe you don't need as long away as if you were hiking the Inca Trail or heading on safari in Africa.

4. Set a budget and start saving

So now we've got a destination and an estimate of your trip length, so now it's time to work out your budget. This is the time to consider what type of accommodation you want to stay in, if you're planning to splash out on food and shopping or keep it low keep and if you want to participate in lots of activities or would rather just relax and enjoy. You've obviously also got to look at where you are going, as more Western countries are going to be far more expensive than say Asia (in Thailand I could get amazing accommodation for about $19 a day, compared to say $100 a day here in Aus).


Setting a budget can be quite hard without doing a significant amount of research, but a good first stop is a local guidebook (like Lonely Planet) which will give you rough price estimates for different types of accommodation and activities. Once I've worked out roughly how much money I think I'll need for accommodation and daily extras I also add about an extra $500-1000 per week to my budget to allow for incidentals and extra activities / spendings. It's better to over budget and come back with some money than to run out part way through your trip. You know yourself better than anyone and you know your travel style and spending habits, so budget accordingly :)

For tips on how to save up for the trip checkout my top 10 tips for saving to travel.

5. Plan a rough outline of where you want to go

You only need a bare bones plan, but if you want to visit quite a few places it can help to start weeding out those that are less of a necessity if your time or budget are going to start causing problems. I'm currently planning a trip to Japan and am up to this step myself! I've got a rough idea of the cities and locations I would really like to see, and am cutting out a few to save some $$ and to fit in with my annual leave restrictions (blerg). By deciding on the places I'd like to go I've also noticed how far away they are from each other.

If you've got NO idea where you want to go, time to start looking! I would recommend jumping on to the Lonely Planet website as a first step and doing a general Google search to check out the country's tourism website. Both of these will highlight the key places to visit so you can start researching and delving into it further.


6. Start getting into the nitty gritty details

Personally, this is my favourite part! The actual in depth research stage! I love planning trips, getting excited about what I will potentially be doing, seeing and where I will be going :) I can't give you a website that is going to do it all for you, but what I can suggest is just Googling away and reading as much as you can on your destination.

Ok, so some people may disagree. I have a lot of travel buddies who prefer to just book return flights and play it by ear when they arrive. I can honestly say that I've never had the best holidays doing this, particularly when I'm on a tight time frame. I love to do this myself when I have the time (like Thailand earlier this year) but particularly for newbie travellers I don't recommend it. You don't need to set yourself a day-to-day itinerary, well unless you want to, but you should at least read up on what to do, where to stay and local hints and tips.

When it comes to accommodation, my favourite website is by far Trip Advisor. I know sometimes people have a bad experience and rant on about it, but if you skim through the bulk of the reviews and they all have 4-5 starts, you can be fairly confident it's going to be decent. I've been saved many a time from staying in places after Trip Advisor reviews, and in the instances I've ignored the warnings I paid the price... #bedbugs. Other bloggers and people like myself will often post reviews of places we've stayed because I always want to let others know if a place is totally worth it or one to avoid at all costs.


7. Booking!

By now you should have a fairly good idea of where you're going and when, so it's time to book flights and get the ball rolling. I have written a pretty comprehensive guide on how to score the best deals on travel, so take a look before you get too trigger happy with the credit card. Once you've got some flights booked there and back, check out any internal transportation needs you might have. I.e. if you're roadtripping book a car or if you know you need to fly around (like in the States) book your internal flights so the expensive part is out of the way. This is up to you, but I do suggest booking flexi style fares and transport in case you decide to leave early or stay longer. You don't want to be hindered on holiday knowing you can't stay because you're flight leaves tomorrow even though you've found paradise.

Once flights and transport is done I personally recommend at least booking your accommodation for a few nights in each place you intend to visit. This way you know you have a bed for a night or two, and can either move on early if you're not happy or stay longer if you love it. In my how to score the best deals on travel guide I also explain how to get great savings on accommodation if you're planning on staying for a few days as a lot of places will do stay 4 nights pay for 3 type deals. Be sure to keep an eye out for any seasonal savings as well.

Now you have flights, transport and accommodation sorted, it's up to you if you want to book a few activities to get you started. I generally will do this on things that book up fast or require deposits etc. In Thailand I booked a day caring for Elephants months in advance and was told at the park they were booked well into the future. If there's something you really want to do, don't wait and risk missing out!

8. Other things to consider

Lastly, these are a few things you might want to consider before, during and after your holiday planning so your trip is smooth sailing:

  • Check whether you need any travel vaccinations in the country you intend to visit and research up on whether the cost is worth the risk (i.e. rabies if you're planning on playing with monkeys in Vietnam).
  • Get a quote on travel insurance and make sure you're covered in case of an emergency - medical bills are not fun...
  • Register your travel plans with your home country's foreign affairs travel bureau (if they have one) - in Australia we have Smart Traveller where you can register you movements and contacts so that they can assist you and ensure your safety in an emergency (i.e. terror attack or natural disaster). This can also provide peace of mind for your loved ones.
  • Set up roaming on your phone, if you plan on taking it, or enquire about overseas calling cards or an international sim. As much as I think a holiday should be a break I don't think you should isolate yourself completely.
  • Draw out the foreign currency you plan on taking, set up an international credit card or purchase a travel debit card so that money is not a worry!
Hopefully these simple tips help make you holiday planning that little bit easier and you're next adventure one to remember!

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1 comments

  1. Its very interesting idea, I do the same thing when I first travelling to Asia. And its very true, Before we steps into other country we need to do a research about the country first. Keep making very interesting travel blog post.

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