So you’ve decided you’d like to go on a trip: congratulations, this is an exciting time! Here is a step-by-step planning process to follow. If you’re planning this on your own, without a travel agent (a lot easier to do, but this comes at a price), heres what you need to do:
Step 1: Starting somewhere
Before beginning your research, have two things in mind: where you’re going and how long you’re going for.
Research your visa requirements. Find out where the applications are handled, how to apply and most importantly, everything on the checklist of required documents. Set aside about a week to get everything together and book your appointment. Bank statements, personal details, travel and accommodation plans are often required.
Step 2: Budget
Work out exactly how much money you have for your trip beforehand so that you can plan accordingly. Budget can determine the where you go, how long you go for, what you do and eat.. if your dream destination is out of reach right now, save it for later. Asia, Eastern Europe, South America and Africa offer great value for money, while Western Europe, the USA and island destinations will be far more costly.
Once the amount is known, jot down all of the expenses of the trip. These include:
- Visa fees
- Roundtrip airfare
- In-land transportation
- General spending
- Travel Insurance
Step 3: Research to compare
Start of with travel insurance, visa fees and roundtrip airfare as these costs are unavoidable and important. For insurance, google is your friend- ensure it covers the areas needed. If you can book with a credit card, you’ll automatically be covered! Visa fee information will be available in the site. For more on this, click here*. For flights, use Skyscanner or Cheap Flights. These are both great sites that offer comparative listings that can be filleted. Note the price differences on certain days of the month. Roundtrip tickets are generally always cheaper than one-ways!
You can document all of your finances and expenditure in a spreadsheet- I have attached a trip-expenditure form here for you to use. Now that you have the important costs covered, work out how much you have left.
Step 4: Getting local
Plan out your route and research local transportation. The sites should have an option to translate to English. This may be short regional planes, car rentals, busses or trains. Trip Advisor forums are great for choosing the best options. Plot your points, choose your methods of transportation and note the prices. Total this amount and mark it on your spreadsheet.
Step 5: Accommodation
Decided which accommodation you prefer: is it a house, private room, a hostel or local stay? If cost is the determining factor, compare what you can get for your cash. For my trip, I have booked an assortment of each. Websites such as Airbnb, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Hostel World are options.
Tally up your costs and add it to the planner.
Step 6: The last stretch
Work out the cost of food per day in the country. Calculate how much you’ll need and budget accordingly. This isn’t a cost you’d want to skimp on!
Finally, allocate what’s left of your budget to spending. This will include tours/entertainment, shopping and general daily expenses.
Step 7: Revise
Assess whether you have enough money to cover the trip. There may be areas where you are able to cut costs further, or find ways to increase your budget for the trip. Make sure you leave a room for unexpected costs as these will pop up!
Once you’re happy with all of your costs, start booking! Get your bank statement beforehand and then reserve using your details, a deposit or fully booking. Accommodation and transport are costs you’ll likely want to have booked in advance.
Step 8: The real fun begins!
Narrow down your research by creating itineraries (there are several templates online, the best being Visit a City). This part of the process is a lot more fun and less stressful once the bigger costs have been settled.
Happy planning! 🙂