The famous novelist Edward Streeter once said, “Travel is ninety percent anticipation and ten percent recollection”. It’s a fantastic quote and really applicable to me because I really enjoy planning any kind of trip.
For example, we’re going away tomorrow with friends – nothing fancy, just hanging out together in a forest for a weekend. But I have been making lists for months. Shopping lists, planning lists, schedules, you name it, I’ve made it. The sheer act of making a list makes me anticipate and visualise whatever trip it is I’m going on.
D on the other hand is not a planner. That showed a little in him being responsible for planning our trip to Machu Picchu. I reminded him that Inca Trail tickets would sell out months in advance, and he waited until we were actually in Cusco before he made any enquiries. In the end, we had a lovely day out, but the Inca Trail is still on our bucket list.
I like to plan trips in my bullet journal. This year, it’s in this really cute notebook someone gifted to us at our leaving party last year. The thing I like most about having a bullet journal, is that all my ideas, calendars and plans are in one book. However, your plans don’t need to be all colorful and neat. I have done this on paper, on the computer or even the back of old receipts. To help give what I’ve written a more practical example, I planned a trip to Iceland – under each heading just look for the italics writing.
1.) Decide where you want to go, when and roughly how long for
We want to go to Iceland in the summer (so I don’t get frostbite) and for probably around 10 days.
Talk to friends about recommendations or spend hours on instagram looking at gorgeous destinations. However you want to decide on a destination is up to you.
You might have a fixed time that you need to go, for example when you and your travelling mate managed to get time off together. If you’re not constrained as to when you should go, you can decide by thinking about climate and peak seasons.
Do you want to go for a weekend? 10 days? Or a month? You can make a rough guess depending on how much leave you have and how long you think your budget will last you.
2.) Set your budget
I like to work off a rough £100 per day budget for Europe, but I know Iceland is more expensive than that, so I’ll say £150. £150 x 10 = £1500.
Speaking of budget – now is the time to be thinking about it, not when the credit card bill comes in 2 weeks after your trip. How much do you have available to spend? Is it realistic, and does it make sense? There’s no point spending two thirds of your budget getting somewhere if you’ll only be able to afford one night in a hostel and a sandwich before you run out of money.
3.) Research your destination
I know I want to go to Reykjavik, but mostly because it’s fun to say. D is desperate to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon and see some awesome waterfalls. The list I make from Pinterest is super long, so you don’t want me to recreate it here.
The first place I check when I’m researching a destination in Pinterest. I usually look at 5 or 6 pins that other bloggers have compiled about where to go and what to see. Write down ALL of the activites (or hotels, or restaurants – whatever) that appeal. At this stage, don’t worry about the price or the difficulty to get to – we’ll get to that later.
At this point I always draw a map or save the places on googlemaps. It helps so much to see where things are and to group different activities by location.
4.) Create a Draft Schedule
I fit in some places to go on a road trip in a circle coming out from Reykjavik, which includes a few waterfalls. Then I schedule the dive that would be super cool to do so that we have a quiet day before and at least 24 hours before our flight. Afterwards, I slot in all the smaller activities around Reykjavik. I realise that we don’t need to be away for 10 days, and that 7 days will be enough.
Make a schedule for each day you plan to be away. Each day should have an AM box and a PM box. Start assigning groups of activities to slots. The first ones should be those you absolutely HAVE to do, then put in the ones that are closest/cheapest, and keep going until you run out of days/activities.
5.) Check flight and hotel prices
On skyscanner, I check the prices of the flights for the whole of the month of June to find the flights that work best for us. I look on Hotels.com for a nice, central hotel in Reykjavik and for hotels on our road trip route.
If the only hotels you can find are £250 a night, you might want to think about shortening your trip, which will affect what activities you can do. The other thing that might affect how long you’re away is the crazy amount that flight prices change by day.
6.) Solidify your plans
Go back to your draft schedule and check that the dates and hotels work with your plan. Make sure you have roughly costed out each activity.
7.) Decide if that fits in with your budget
Seeing as the plan is now to go for 7 days, my budget is now £1050. If you look closely at the photo in four, you’ll see that what I actually planned to do will be in the region of £2500 – more than double. If we go in the colder, off season we could save £300. Deciding against the very expensive dive would take it down another £600. Staying in hostels instead of hotels might save us another £200, and deciding on free activities instead of paid ones could bring that down another £200. Then that’s £1200, which is much closer to my original budget.
Does this fit your budget? If not, you’ll need to make some adjustments. Think about what is more important to you. For example, do you want to sacrifice having a private room, so you can afford to eat out every night? This is a very personal thing. It’s up to you to decide whether what you are planning to do is worth the money you will be paying for it.
8.) Book it!
That’s it! You’ve planned a trip. I hope you enjoy it.
What are your tips for planning trips? Do you love planning, or hate it? Let us know in the comments below!
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