Whether you’re planning a roadtrip across the country or a flight across the world, you’ll want to have a budget and a plan. Internationally recognized travel writer, Rick Steves says “it's essential to plan and travel with the most up-to-date information. Study before you go.”
First, you’ll need to decide where you’re going, and you’ll probably need a passport. I like to come up with a rough budget before I start booking. Note what the time of year is and take into account the average weather. If you want sunny skies, you might not want to book a trip to Brazil during the rainy season.
Figure out how long you’re going to go. Calculate an approximate timeline to see everything you want. Encourage all of your travel mates to write down any must-sees so nothing is missed. Remember, if you’re flying across the world, you’ll need to account for time zones, dates and even delayed flights. I should know--I was once trapped in an airport in Melbourne, Australia for an entire day because of a delayed flight and missed connection. Because of this, I would also suggest purchasing travel insurance and checking your medical shots are up-to-date.
If you’re going on a road trip, you’ll want to use your GPS to map a rough route. This will also give you an idea of where you’ll want to book accommodations. It is always wise to give space in your itinerary for mistakes, delays or accidents on the road. Rick suggests you “make reservations well in advance, especially during peak season, for accommodations, popular restaurants, major sights, and local guides”. You don’t want to show up to the Louvre and find out you have to wait six hours in line to get a ticket.
If you can, shop around for money-saving options like cheaper flight deals, discounts on car rentals, and so on. Once your tickets are booked, you’ll need to think about transportation. Something like car or RV rentals can take some time, so you’ll want to plan those out early. And remember, you might have to learn to drive on the other side of the road!
Next is your accommodations. If you are taking a trailer or tent, book your campsites ahead of time. Air BnB’s are a great option for larger groups or families who don’t want to eat out for every meal or want cheaper rooms. Plus, they get you into the local neighbourhood, and often your hosts have a lot of great local tips. Rick says “I'm a big fan of local websites and blogs loaded with insider tips. Not only do they fill you in on the latest happenings and hot spots, but they help you feel like a native in no time.”
Finally, I would suggest leaving a good amount of lean time in your schedule. Allow for a few beach days, or days where you can wander the town. A good trip has a healthy balance. If you’re travelling with a larger group, leave opportunities for divergence, especially with longer trips. It’s okay to spend a few days exploring things on your own. Pack lightly and for weather and activities you’re expecting--rain coats, dress clothes, hiking boots, whatever! If your travel experience is anything like mine, bring cough syrup for the trip home, and ear plugs to block out the friends that snore.
Take a lot of pictures, but don’t forget to look up from that screen once-in-a-while to take in the adventure with your own eyes!