Planning a Big Trip Properly

My friends and even people I barely know always ask me to help them plan their trip or give them advice, etc. I am always happy to do it because I love helping people out and I love talking travel. I happen to know a lot off the top of my head and what I don’t know makes me curious to find out the answer. Also, other people’s trips give me ideas for my future trips. Planning a trip seems to most to be a daunting task. I think it’s fun. However, it certainly does take a lot of time to plan properly and do all of your research.

The first step is to narrow the planet down to the place or region that you want to visit. Once you have determined that you can move onto determining your path of travel throughout the region or whether you just want to stay in one or two places. For me, I cannot just sit in one place for a long period of time. Even at a fancy resort or something like that, after a few days I get ancy and need to explore something else.

Planning your route of travel can be the hardest and the most fun part. This is because it really causes you to do research and learn about what you are going to visit and to see. For instance, I am planning a big summer trip and need to determine where to fly into and where to fly out of and how to get from one place to another. You have to take into account border crossings or those crossings that are closed for political reasons, etc. I also have to budget the proper amount of time to do each destination justice so I am not just going just to go, but that I am doing whatever there is to do there.

Then I have to figure out whether I am using miles or buying round trip or buying individual segments. This a pain to do but can save you a lot of money. Check all sources. Call travel agents, use all internet resources and most importantly check airline websites for foreign airlines because they tend to be the cheapest because there is no service charge and they can have specials that expedia type sites don’t have.

Once you have all of the skeleton logistics set up, you can figure out your mode of travel between places. For me, the most important issue is time. You have to determine whether you would like to use the train or bus which will be more time than just flying. You need to determine your own time value of money (sorry for the finance term) and whether it may be worth it for you to bite the bullet and pay more to fly. I usually do a combination of things. For instance, flying is usually my favorite option to save time but sometimes there are areas where you may want to consider taking the train because of the scenic countryside or whatever even if it’s longer. This type of thing depends on each person and their budget and amount of time traveling as well.

Finally, once you have factored all these aspects together you can figure out exactly what you want to see in each place. I always-always know what I definitely want to see. Use all resources, Lonely Planet, Lets Go, Internet, Blogs, etc. The best part is when you get to a place and you find great stuff that you didn’t know about which is why I try to be flexible with anywhere I go. If you have too strict a schedule, it’s tough to adjust things so you can spend more time in a place you didn’t expect to like so much.

I am going through this process with my trip this summer to the Eastern Balkans and the Caucusus, so it is vivid in my mind but the most important thing is to recognize that this complicated process is for the best of your trip. You want to be a bit anal in your planning because when you arrive, you want to be confident in what you are doing and where you are going, especially in areas where English isn’t spoken.

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  1. Great planning summary, I wish I could hit the lottery and do that too

  2. can you help me plan my nascar tour of middle america? the only have done so far is start stocking up on the coors light, but the more i stock the faster it disappears!

  3. You basically had a mullet when I met you

  4. …and still got a mullet now!

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