After traveling extensively for couple of years, let me tell you that planning a trip is not an easy task. Before any trip, we spend majority of the time in front of computers comparing flight prices, trying to find scenic accommodation that is pocket-friendly and figuring out where to go and where NOT to go! And believe us, we have reached this stage after making lot of mistakes and learnings.
If you are new to traveling as a whole and want to make the most of your vacations, then many of you would like to know the tips on “How to Plan” a perfect vacation, so we thought it is better to pen it all down, step by step – and we hope it’ll help you in planning your next trip better 🙂
Step 1: Choose your destination
Where do you want to go?
Your first step in how to start planning a trip is to choose a travel destination that meets your interests and travel budget. Are you planning overseas travel or a domestic trip at home? Either way, the whole idea of taking a trip is to have a memorable time, to have fun and relax, and to not spend your whole vacation time worrying about money. It is always good to plan you vacation in advance based on few important parameters mentioned below:
- How much time do you have?
- Who are you traveling with?
What kind of experiences do you like?
When should you go? (season & climate)
Once you have figured your dream vacation destination, you are pretty much sorted and there is lot of information in the internet to help you further!!
Some suggestions based on our experience: 10 of our favourite travel experiences which need to FEATURE in your bucket list
Step 2: Booking the best (and cheapest!) flights
Once you know where you’re going, the first and most obvious thing to do is to book a flight. Of course, most of us research a bit before booking a flight and so do we! Here are couple of tips to choose the flight that is best for you!
- Start searching as early as possible: We would recommend you to steer clear of using individual airline websites and using a price comparison engine to check the best deals that are available across the internet. We love Skyscanner and Priceline.com and have been using it for years but there are plenty of similar websites and apps too. After you have used any flight search engines and found your best flight, before booking go to the airline’s own website and see if you are getting it for cheaper. Many airlines have lower fares only available on their own site.
- Look out for those “Best Days” to fly: If you’re flexible about dates, try using the ‘whole month’ feature available on most price comparison websites and see if flying out on a Monday instead of a Saturday will reduce your cost significantly. The consensus is that it’s best to FLY OUT on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. It has also been suggested to try the following combinations:
- Domestic: depart Saturday, return on a Monday.
- International: depart Tuesday, return on a Wednesday.
- Consider a longer layover: If you don’t mind a 20 hour stopover at an obscure airport, book the cheapest available option.
- Delete your cookies/history when searching for flights: Some websites store your search data and will increase the price of the flights if they know the specific flights you are looking for. So when you come back for the second time you are pinged as being more ready to buy and so are likely to be offered higher prices than you originally saw. Also don’t forget to clear your cookies or load each site in a new incognito browser window!
- Refrain from booking a non-refundable flight: If the cost difference isn’t too much, try refraining from booking a non-refundable flight. Non-refundable flights can be enticing but you never know what might come up at the last minute – illness, unavoidable guests, work etc – and you end up wasting a bunch of money!
Keeping all these things in mind, decide on the ideal flight based on your priorities.
Step 3: Researching and drafting your itinerary
Most people book their flights and hotels and then they begin to flesh out an itinerary. Never do that! You might have to skip seeing the most scenic part of the destination because it’s far away from your hotel.
As you all know, we love roadtrips, so we usually start by checking if we can rent a car in the country/city we are visiting. In our initial days of travel, we were so naive and we ended up renting car in every city we went! It worked out for our few initial trips/towns but it was a big mistake when we rented a car in Rome! Rome is such place where you all see the best of it only by foot. Also, Italians are famous for their rough driving and we bet you will surely have a tough time driving and finding parking anywhere around! So we would recommend to research a lot by reading reputable websites and blogs and find out accurate information about the destination before you decide on these key things.
We usually rent our car through Skyscanner and get the best deal which saves us a significant amount of money. We also use apps such as Travelibro and TripAdvisor to browse through other travellers’ journeys and suggestions. We try to look for some of the best scenic spots, little villages, crumbling ruins, hidden cafés etc – things we drool upon on most of our trips. Having rough idea of the route you will be taking will always help you in planning your trip better.
Step 4: Booking accommodation that suits your tastes and budget
If we are planning a trip that’s longer than a weekend getaway we prefer to stay in apartments. They offer several benefits:
- Separate bedrooms from the living room
- You have your own laundry.
- You can book a 3 or 4-bed apartment and split the costs with another family or friends.
These extra facilities on a long stay can make your trip so much more enjoyable. But if it’s a short city stay, or we’re just traveling as a couple, we’re happy to stay in a hotel.
To a lot of people accommodation is just a place to sleep on holiday. We feel differently. We truly believe choosing the right kind of accommodation can really amplify the experience you have on your holiday. So we suggest you to take your own sweet time to book the right accommodation that suits your taste.
Here are some tips for choosing the right accommodation, whatever your budget maybe:
Tip for selecting Hotels: When you’re choosing hotels, make sure you check out price comparison websites. Sometimes there are crazy deals to be found on the best of hotels. There are plenty of price comparison websites out there but we love Booking.com. We like it because it collates deals from a variety of websites such as expedia.com, hotels.com etc and throws up the cheapest rates available online. Also, besides listing all the major hotel brands, you can find a variety of low-cost independently owned hotels that can be difficult to find elsewhere.
- Book now, pay later at check in
- Free cancellation on most rooms
- 24/7 customer service
- Best price guarantee
Also, sometimes we use Hotels.com for booking hotels. Why? Well, they have a good range with quality hotels and good offers. But also for their customer service and reward program.
For every 10th night, you get one for free, which is very nice when you travel often.
Tip for selecting rental Apartments: For rental apartments, Airbnb is our favorite website. We’ve rented on Airbnb a lot of times in the past and had some amazing experiences, especially in countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Hallstatt. We’ve found some really scenic and affordable cottages and villas in the European countryside and also nice and cozy apartments in busy cities. If you do book on Airbnb you can use this link to get a decent discount off your first booking 🙂
Step 5: Research Things-To-Do and book day trips/Tours
Now that the flights and hotels are out of the way, it’s time for the fun to begin. Start planning the finer details of your itinerary. Read more about the destination and book some day trips that do justice to the natural beauty or culture of the destination. When you plan a trip you would want to know what are the must-visit tourist attractions and the best free things to do in your chosen destination.
Research and organize your tickets to any cultural attraction before hand especially if you are visiting a popular destination in the peak travel season. Also, many cities have City Passes that can save you a lot of money on attractions. Our favorite website to book day trips and excursion is: Viator!
Your trip will be more fun and personalized of you try to add some offbeat experiences like small group day tours such as bespoke Lisbon and Sintra in a convertible VW Beetle Cabriolet, A Hot Air Balloon Ride in Goa, Dog Sledding in the Arctics or A scenic Fjords tour in Norway!
When we plan our trips we love to discover new cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs when we travel. We like to try the local cuisines and the local craft beers.
If you’re fond of fine dining, then research about the restaurants you might want to visit and book a table for yourself. A lot of Michelin Star eateries in cities such as Paris and Budapest accept reservations months in advance, so this is the time to get that out of your checklist as well.
Step 6: What goes into your suitcase – PACK SMART
Thinking about packing can be stressful when you are planning your trip, but the best thing to do is pack the bare minimum because you can always buy it there! Try to read up about the destination you’re visiting and make a list of any special things that you might need to carry – eg: thermals or woollen socks for visiting the Arctic Circle or hiking boots for Iceland. Select versatile, comfortable and loose fitting clothes and neutral colors that can be worn in multiple combinations. For us, packing cells are a lifesaver. In each packing cell, we roll up each item and arrange clothes based on type and season.
If you’re packing for a short trip check out this article which gives you simple tips and tricks on How to pack Everything into a Carry-On!
Step 7: Enjoy your holiday and document the journey
That’s it. Now that you are a pro trip planner! It’s time to go away and have the time of your life! Just on a short note – Don’t try to do too many things in a short holiday, instead take all the time you need to let the romance/beauty of the place sink in. And sometimes it is okay to skip a few things from your itinerary and just go with the flow and rhythm of the place in order to enjoy it fully! Such journeys have its own charm and this will make your journey even more memorable!
Also, nothing is more fun than documenting your holiday so that you can look back at it fondly. And we do this in a number of different ways and encourage you to do the same. We upload photos on social media (Instagram and Facebook). In addition to this, recently we started uploading our adventures in real time on Travelibro and we are loving it. It is an easy way to chronicle your trips in real time and look for inspirations on the go. We love uploading our journeys and day-to-day itineraries with loads of tips, videos, and photos on our profile. We hope it’ll help all the fellow travellers out there. If you sign up on Travelibro, do come and follow us, we will be happy to see your journeys and experiences! 🙂
So thats it, follow these 7 simple-magical steps and we bet you will have the best time with a complete value for money you spent! Happy Traveling! 🙂
If you have any doubts or need help with any booking information do leave your questions/comments in the comments section and will try to help you and share our insights at the earliest 🙂