… This is a Guest Post by Doug Cunnington …
Planning a trip overseas can seem like a daunting task. It can be hard to figure out where to even start so we’ve broken down the process into seven simple steps to make the process less intimidating.
1. Choose your destination
This may seem straight-forward, but make sure you know where you want to travel. Do you feel like hanging out in the tropics, or do you want to ski in Switzerland? There is a huge number of resources online (like Adventures All Around’s Destinations Page) and in your local bookshop and library to help you decide. I prefer Lonely Planet guides and they have a variety of guides for almost every nation in the world with recommendations for accommodations and sightseeing. Don’t forget to have your passport ready and get your visas before the trip!
2. Research costs
Once you know where you are going to travel, you need to make an itinerary. This is a way for you to figure out where you want to travel, and how long you want to be in a country. Write down what city you are planning on being in for each day during your vacation. When you book your hotel and your flights later, you can fill in the rest of this itinerary, but for now, you just want to budget how much it’s going to cost you. I use an online resource like Budget Your Trip. Always remember to budget more than you think you’ll need, just to plan for any unexpected costs.
3. Start saving money
Like most people I spend more than I should on small daily expenses. It isn’t much, or so it seems, but it adds up over time. Changing your bad spending habits doesn’t have to be intimidating. I cut the daily coffee shop stop, I start eating at home, and I make sure whatever spending I have to do is done through a travel rewards card. Many of these cards offer you mileage points that can help you save big when it comes time to book your flight or accommodation. Some even give you one free flight just for signing up!
Looking at your current budget can help you identify what costs you can cut to start saving. Do you really need cable when you have a streaming online TV subscription? Probably not. Take that money and put it in your savings for the trip. And don’t forget, sometimes it helps to have a physical chart or reminder somewhere so you can manage your savings and actually see the rewards of your saving.
4. Book your flight
You will want to book your flight around three weeks ahead of your trip to get the best deal. Any closer and your risk having to modify your plans around when flights are available, and typically these flights cost more before and after the three week mark. Price shop and make sure you’re getting the best deal possible using a variety of flight booking websites. My go to site is Kayak (I once got a flight from Atlanta to Honolulu for only $550 using Kayak. I still can’t believe that!)
5. Book your accommodation
Booking your accommodations beforehand will save you some headache once you land. Call or book your hotel online in advance if possible and have the hotel’s information written in your itinerary with phone numbers and addresses. Many countries have limited cellphone and internet access, so always carry a physical copy of this information.
6. Plan your tours and activities
You’ve chosen a super epic place to visit. You’ve figured out about how much it’s going to cost. Now’s the time to go through and decide what you want to do. Some activities require tour guides (like biking tours, temple tours, and the like) and many have entrance fees. Make sure you can do everything you’d like to by doing a little research before you go, and book tours in advance when possible. Make sure to add any fees into your budget.
7. Enjoy your adventure abroad!
Traveling abroad is always exciting. Know that your itinerary is flexible, and don’t stress too much about sticking to the schedule, it’s just a guideline. Be present where you are, enjoy the sights and sounds and smells around you, and remember that you worked hard to get here!
This has been a guest post by Doug Cunnington who writes about Travel, Budgeting, Homebrewing, DIY projects, and Food. You can follow Doug on Twitter @diydoug.