1. What are you interested in seeing and doing? Do you want to relax on a beach; learn the history; experience local delicacies; practice a language; have an adventure ? Ask yourself this first, then move on to step two.
2. Now that you narrowed it down on what type of trip you want, where do you want to go? Whether it is a two-week vacation or a few months, you need to pick a starting destination. Best place to get ideas? Travel blogs. Read up on first hand experiences and see what appeals to you. Some of my favourite bloggers are:
3. Check the weather. If you are looking for a beautiful beach to soak up the sun in July, stay north of the equator and the Tropic of Cancer. Plenty of countries will have their green (rainy) season during the summer. Prices may be cheaper, but you won’t be catching a lot of rays.
4. Once you narrowed down your destination, do a quick look to see if a tourist visa is required. Lucky for us Canadians, we can get into a lot of countries without a visa. Try landing in Brazil without one though and you won’t be enjoying any fiestas anytime soon.
5. Look for flights. Airlines tend to drop their prices mid-week. If you can fly out on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you’ll be saving a few bucks. Or if you don’t mind visiting a country in off-season, this is where you can get great deals. Check out Air Transat , in late autumn and early winter; they will have amazing seat sales. I was able to snag a direct flight from Vancouver to Scotland for $500.00 in October and I booked it 10 days before leaving. It was a bit rainy, but I wasn’t there to enjoy the sun. The best booking window is two months prior to your trip. Thats not to say there aren’t some good last-minute deals though. (Scotland!)
6. Get travel insurance! I can’t stress this enough. It might not happen this trip, or your next 5 trips, but at some point in your travels you will need it. I have used travel insurance twice. Once when I broke my arm and had to cancel a trip and second when I got stuck in a snowstorm in London. Insurance came in handy both times. I had flights, hotels, meals, and even cell phone bills reimbursed. It’s not that much and it will save you so much more in the long run.
7. Where to stay? I tend to stay in hostels. For the most part, I am not in my room very much. It is just a place to lay my head at night. Put in some ear plugs and perhaps wear an eye mask. Pay $20 a night compared to $120 and you can extend your trip! Plus, you get to meet some pretty fun travellers, like these cool cats shown below! If hostels aren’t your thing, check out Hotwire or Airbnb for some cheap sleeps. If it is a short trip, I pre-book my rooms. If I am gone for months, I book the first few nights then figure it out from there.
Now that you got the main steps down, the real fun can begin. Check back next week for Trip Planning Part Two!