We all know, or at least have heard, that you need to plan your trip. No matter how much we sometimes want spontaneity, it will usually hit the wallet and take away the opportunity to better prepare for the rest. So you need to plan as early as possible. However, how to do it? How to plan an independent trip? Where to start so as not to overpay for tickets and visit at least a few cities? Let’s take a step-by-step look at the important points of travel planning:
1. Selection of air tickets
It is this item that should go first on your list and significantly precede the application for leave by exact numbers.
Choose tickets in advance, track discounts, view flight options from neighboring countries. Sometimes it is twice as cheap to fly from Poland, which is easily accessible by bus. At the same time, it is desirable that you have several travel destinations on your list for consideration. This will help to choose an interesting, but the most profitable option for recreation.
And as soon as you buy flight tickets, you can immediately write about vacation, adjust plans, etc. If you do the opposite, you risk significantly overpaying due to the fact that these numbers turned out to be unsuccessful and the ticket prices are much higher. For example: the same tickets in the same direction for the first and fourth dates may differ in price by two or three times. Pay attention to flights on weekdays – Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. At the same time, avoid flights on weekends – they usually cost more.
2. Planning travel around the country
Here you already know which country you will go to and even have specific dates. If you have enough time to travel, don’t stay in one city! So, you need to plan your travel between cities.
To begin, choose the cities in the country you would like to visit, look at the duration of the journey: you may be able to choose a ticket for a night flight. This will help save time on the road and money for renting an apartment for that night.
Choose a mode of transport. Such search engines as GoEuro will help you with this. Check the prices for trains, buses, high-speed trains, car rental – if you have such an opportunity. This will help to choose the cheapest and fastest option of movement.
Next, we buy tickets. Their prices can also be tracked in various search services. For example, you chose buses as the mode of transport, because their fares are the cheapest in this country. Next, you should look at ticket prices for different days of the week and at different times: in the morning, at night, in the middle of the day. And based on this information, choose the most profitable tickets.
3. Choice of housing in selected cities
At this stage, you know how many days and nights you will spend in each city. So you can start booking accommodation. The sooner you start doing it, the greater the choice of cheap and quality housing will be before you.
You should choose based on how many travelers are in your company and what your budget is. If it allows you to rent a hotel in each city and you like this option, then all that remains is to choose accommodation closer to the center.
But if you want to choose the most profitable option. It is necessary to take into account several factors:
a) You are traveling alone. In this case, try looking for a host on the Couchsurfing website. A lone traveler has the greatest chance of finding free accommodation for the night, and in addition, new interesting acquaintances and stories about the city. If it was not possible to find a host, then the most profitable options will be a place in a hostel or renting a room through the Airbnb service. Particular attention should be paid to the second option, with a room. A separate bedroom in an apartment is still more comfortable than the one you share with 6-10 other people, and in some places it can cost the same as a bed in a hostel. The option with a bed should still be chosen if you have not found rooms in the city center and do not want to live on the outskirts.
b) There are two or three travelers. Here, all options will be profitable: beds in a hostel, an inexpensive three-bed hotel, on the Airbnb service you can choose both a room and a separate apartment – it will cost no more than three places in a hostel or a room in a hotel. However, the chances of finding a host and spending the night for free are much smaller.
c) There are more than three travelers. In this case, the option with a separate apartment will be the most profitable and comfortable option. You will be able to live in the usual conditions, use a normal kitchen and your own bathroom, wash your things, etc. And renting an apartment can be even cheaper than a bed in a hostel for 4-5 people.
4. We are looking for interesting places in the city
Now all household issues with housing and transport have been resolved, which means it’s time for the most interesting! What places are people usually interested in when they travel? Museums, galleries, cathedrals, sights — all this can be found in guidebooks, in hundreds of materials on the Internet. But how to find places that are not in the guidebooks?
These include: the best traditional cuisine establishments, interesting bars where locals hang out, quality coffee shops, modern art exhibitions, murals, beautiful parks, etc.
They can be searched by several methods:
a) You can choose establishments through the TripAdvisor service. View reviews, prices, menu.
b) Through Google maps. Find a coffee shop near your home, plan a route, read reviews. See the sights in the center, the presence of city markets with products, flea markets and other atmospheric locations.
c) Through social networks. Instagram is the best for this, where you can search in several ways: look for bloggers who write about travel; search for city photographers and bloggers who write about the city you want; use hashtags to find the places you want. That is, if you are looking for a good coffee shop in Berlin, you will find dozens of cool options under the hashtag #berlincoffee – by the same principle, it is quite possible to find most of the places you want.
5. We are looking for interesting places near the city
If you have enough time for one city, you should think about going beyond it. After all, you can also find interesting places on the outskirts: large parks, lakes, castles or other ancient buildings. You can search for them according to the same principle as for a location in the city: view online maps, bloggers’ entries or use hashtags.
6. We look at the weather forecast
You should always check the weather forecast shortly before your trip. This will help to understand not only what things to take, but also what type of vacation to plan – will it be cold to walk at night, what shoes should be chosen, etc. You should not think about the fact that you will be “carried away” and there will be no rain, it is better to prepare for the worst forecasts so that the trip is comfortable.
7. We select a wardrobe
This issue should be approached not only by those who want to look stylish, but also by those who value their comfort and have a limited amount of space in their backpack. Several factors should be taken into account when choosing things:
a) Weather forecast, which we wrote about above.
b) Type of rest. Active tourism, long walks, city breaks, plans to visit the theater or other events that require a certain style of clothing.
c) All things must be well combined with each other and with the selected shoes, so that there is no problem when, due to one damaged or lost item, you cannot wear everything that was chosen for it.
8. We plan the budget
It will be different for each person, but it is still worth calculating the necessary minimum to avoid inconvenience and have an idea of future expenses.
In order to make the budget correctly, you need to review the prices for public transport in the selected cities. Entrance fees to museums, exhibitions, botanical gardens, etc. Plan how much money you plan to spend on food, coffee, and other travel-related items. And of course, make sure you have more than what you budgeted for during your trip to cover unexpected expenses should you need them.
9. We make an approximate leisure plan
Few people follow this point, but it is quite useful, because it helps to calculate the time. You will know how many places you can visit in a day, what time you need to wake up and when to return to your room. This will also help to avoid situations when you planned to visit several interesting places in different parts of the city at once, and as a result, spent the whole day on one museum, a walk in the center and dinner, and then were disappointed that the plan could not be fulfilled. Plan your day by calculating time to each location, travel time, and more. This will help make your expectations close to reality and make more time thanks to clear planning.
10. We make a list of necessary things
In addition to clothes, you need to have a lot of small things when traveling: hygiene products, a towel, a raincoat, chargers for electronic devices, a first-aid kit, etc. You don’t have something from this list yet, and something you keep forgetting to put during the assembly. Make a detailed list in advance for several reasons: you will have time to buy the necessary things, you will not forget anything during the assembly, and the list can be used many times in future trips.
It can seem like there are so many steps involved in planning a trip that it’s easy to get lost. But in fact, by planning one or two trips in advance, you will take these points as a habit and will be able to travel comfortably without any extra effort.