I know how intimidating and overwhelming it can be when you’re planning a big trip or travel adventure. You want to travel, but aren’t sure exactly how you should do it or where you should go. Or maybe there are just too many options, and you’ve heard so much conflicting advice from different people. Well in this post, I hope to give you a few tips and things to think about that should set you in the right direction.
Where & Why
Firstly, where? This might seem obvious, but where do you want to travel to, and what are you hoping to achieve from your trip? If you know exactly where you want to go already and you’re confident in your decision then great, you’re all set. However for most people, they may have a rough idea, but aren’t entirely sure they’ve picked the right places.
I think it’s important to start thinking about the why you wanted to travel in the first place. For example, do you want to relax, party, and live the island life in the sunshine? Or maybe you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, experience strange cultures and see new things? Or perhaps it’s just for the open road, to feel that sense of freedom in just going where life takes you?
These are just a few examples, but there are lots and lots of different reasons people travel in the first place. Really thinking about the ‘why’ you’re travelling, will give you a great start in finding which places offer the kind of experience you’re looking for. After you’ve thought about why, do a bit of research and check out other people’s experiences and recommendations. The results of doing a bit of digging into other possibilities, may open lots of options you didn’t expect. There are so many great resources out there and the world is now such an accessible place that you may discover new ideas and realise where you thought you wanted to go, isn’t actually going to make for the best experience.
How you want to travel is going to have a big influence on your trip, and there are a lot of aspects to it that are worth having a think about. Do you want to travel solo, with friends, or with a tour company like Contiki (who I’ve written about here)? Do you want to plan what you’re doing and pay up front, or do you just want to book a flight and wing it? What kind of style do you want to travel in, hostels, AirBnB, Hotels, Camper Van, Camping, Homestays, Couchsurfing? Do you want rural or city experiences? Do you want to see highlights or really get under the skin of a country? How much do you want to spend and on what? I could go on…
As you can see, there are so many different ways and conflicting advice out there on how is best to travel but at the end of the day there isn’t a best way. It all comes down to you the individual, and your personal preference. My advice would be, if you’re new at travelling and aren’t sure, then try different things during your trip, and don’t be afraid of going out of your comfort zone occasionally. In my experience until you’re actually out there doing it, or until you try new and different things, you’ll never really know what you do and don’t like.
Unfortunately this is the major barrier for most people when they travel, how can you afford it all? I could write a whole post on the subject and I’m sure I will, but for now if you’re planning a trip I’ll assume you have a rough idea of what money you have or will have when the time comes. Now unfortunately for most of us, a lack of money will mean making adjustments to where we thought we could travel and how.
The main reason for this will be flights. You want to try and make a route that makes your flying as efficient as possible. A good thing to do is plot your travel destinations on a map and decide a rough route you could take. Then you’ll be able to look up online possible flight routes, flight costs and see any changes you might need to make. You’ll soon see a) how much you can afford, and b) if you can actually go the route you think you can. Although there are lots of flight routes out there, you’d be surprised how many aren’t direct from places you may want to visit.
On a positive note though, this can actually present opportunities. For example, I stopped off in Hawaii and Japan on my way from Canada to South East Asia. This was because the flights weren’t actually more expensive doing it this way, and most would be stopping/passing through these places anyway. I hadn’t planned either of these in where I initially thought I wanted to go, but they sounded interesting and as a result these stops actually ended up being some of the most memorable of my trip.
If you’re still not sure on which countries to visit, you’ll want to think about how expensive it will be in country also. For example South East Asia is well known for being very cheap for westerners, whereas Scandinavia or Iceland are very expensive. So do a quick google search to see the cost of living in the countries you want to visit, and you should start to form a rough route of where it’s realistic to go within your budget and means.
Money will influence and should influence the style in which you travel. Travelling with tour companies means that although you get a lot for your money, it’s often more expensive than if you stay in hostels, organise your own transport and cook for yourself. So weigh up the options and decide what works best for you.
Hopefully I’ve given some food for thought when you’re starting to think about planning a big trip. Obviously I don’t go into detail on funding or booking the trip itself, but the first step should definitely be doing some real thinking on:
– Where & why you want to travel in the first place
– How you want to travel,
– What will be within your means.
After that you’ll have a much better idea of how your trip is going to shape up. If you know of anything that was useful for you in planning where to go on a big travel trip, I’d love to hear it.