Planning a trip for travelers is either the most fun part or the part they dread the most. For me personally, I love being fully involved in the planning part, doing researching, spending hours looking online for new and interesting information. Sometimes I’ll get lost reading travel blogs, get inspired and add DIY projects on my “to do” list that I will mostly like never get around to doing, or have a competition with my inner self to find the best deal online.
Want to know how I plan? Let me teach you the method to my madness and I really think is the best way to travel planning:
Dream about your Destination:
Think about a destination that has always been on your bucket list and imagen all the cool things you can do in the said destination. Isn’t it amazing? Already have a place picked out? Great, Now it’s time to get to work.
Budgets are great for lots of reason, I don’t need to tell you that. However, when it comes to travel planning, focusing on a budget is the best way to bring your vacation to reality and prevent frustrations or regrets in the future.
We all need to be real about how much we can spend on the said trip. As “functional responsible” adults we “should” all have an understanding about our personal accounts, spending habits, and what we have saved away. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about how to manage your money because that’s boring and not the point of this post. But I will say to dream big all you want, but keep your feet on the ground. Anything is possible, you just have to stay focus and be honest about what you’re capable of. If you’re traveling with a group, have the conversation on what everyone’s budget looks like so you ‘re not stuck in that awkward moment when Sandy wants to spend 100 bucks on a boat ride and you were planning on walking.
So what’s the best way to budget?
- Review all expenses: Start searching online and see what the normal prices are the expenses that you need with no discounts, no deals, and no freebies. I’m talking Hotels, Transportation, daily food, party cash, souvenirs, etc. I like to make an Excel Spreadsheet and start listing Activity with its cost, time, and a short description of what’s included. I also make sure to add a “wiggle room” expense because you never know what can happen when traveling or if have a last minute splurge.
- Ask yourself: Can you afford it? Do you have enough saved up? How much time do you have? Answer these questions honestly and you’ll have a better idea of how soon you can make your event a reality.
Do Your Research:
The Internet is filled with great information but it’s hard to verify its authenticity. I don’t want to go into the different types of sites that are out there but I will say is that you need to be careful what you read and use your own criteria to choose to believe or not. If you do choose to believe it,
Now that you know what your budget looks like it’s time to look for those deals. I find that when you budget things without discounts, you’re playing mind games with yourself so when it comes times to book and you’re under budget, its 10 times more satisfying. With that extra cash you already budgeted for, you can lower your total budget of the trip or just put it in your wiggle room expense and decide if you want to spend it or not.
Look on different days for the same item. Sometimes you’ll find it cheaper and sometimes you won’t. When you’re on the second or third day with the same price, especially when it’s within your budget. Just book it; it’s most likely the price won’t go any lower. Just check the cancellation policies in the case you find a better deal down the road.
Lots of sites say that Tuesday or Wednesday is the best days to buy or book things. In my experience, I feel that it’s 85% true. The other 15% is just pure luck. I’ve been able to find great deals on a Friday night or Saturday morning.
The time of year also depends on how good of a deal you’re going to find. You’re more likely to find a better deal during the low season than the high season. Summer (anywhere in the world) is always going to be price than winter seasons.
Book and Reserve:
This is the moment you have been planning for; you did your research, you budget accordingly, and now it’s the time to book and reserve your flights, hotels, and tours. If you’re planning with friends or family I find that giving 3 options is ideal. Let the group discuss and then move forward. If you give more options, people can become overwhelmed. If you don’t give enough options, people will think you didn’t work hard enough to find them the best deal.
Remember to be Flexible
Don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done. You’re on vacation, visiting a new place, things might go wrong. And that’s perfectly ok.
Let me give you an example: This past August 2016, I planned a trip to Europe with 6 friends to visit 10 cities from 5 countries in 20-something days. I got my information from the Internet and from friends who had already been to the places we were planning on visiting.
I found a bunch of “What to See in ____ in Just 3 days” “48 Hours in ___” and I filled in the blanks with the cities I was going to. Based on that information and feedback from my group, we created flexible itineraries for each city. After the trip was done, we were able to do everything on our pre-made itineraries from 6 cities. I bet you’re asking what happened to the 4 cities that we didn’t follow the itineraries? Well, a couple of things happened:
- Some train tickets went completely out of our budget so we were forced to change
- People got sick or were completely exhausted to continue or keep up.
- We partied too hard the night before so our mornings were spent sleeping
- The place wasn’t what we read online, which leads to meeting locales that suggested we try places we didn’t even think of.
And our trip was absolutely AMAZING. We were prepared yet flexible enough to change things up if something didn’t work out. This example doesn’t work just for your vacation planning, but this is great advice for any type of planning. It sounds simple, because it is, and it does works.
Sounds like a lot of work?
It can be overwhelming, I know. Even I get flustered sometimes with so much information. Just walk away, distract yourself with something else, and come back at another time. It’s most likely that the deal will be there in a couple of hours or the next week. Don’t fall into the pressure.
This system works for me and I’ve found that it’s the best way to stick to your budget and find those great deals. Take a look at my Pinterest boards. Get into your Snuggie, grab a glass of wine, and get inspired.
If you don’t like doing this kind of research or you seem like you don’t know where to start, that’s totally fine. That’s why travel agencies, Groupon Getaways, and people like me that exist in the world. Networking is what I do best and research is my specialty. If you need help, lets chat.
Remember when you give good, you get good.