The ultimate guide to plan a perfect trip in 10 steps.

by Ale Werner
Drinking Bintang on the beach - Travel guide to gili air

I want to travel, but … Where do I go? In general, just one idea is enough to start thinking about traveling, but if you have not done it before, planning a trip can be a bit confusing. Here we give you 10 steps to bake a trip; Things you should know and do before traveling and why you should decide in this order.

We put examples with different countries just to imply the importance of each step, the guide is not limited to those countries but it is for any travel planning.

1. Decide the main destination

The first thing you should know when planning a trip is where you want to go. Part thinking about what you want to do, that will limit your alternatives to only some places. For example: “I want to swim in paradisiacal sea waters”, here you discard Europe and many other countries. “I want to know Italy” is also valid. “I want to surf”, then go to a map of surf waves and find a destination where you can do it in different places that are not very far, like Indonesia.

Once the destination is ready, you will have a very advanced step in the task of how to plan a trip.

2. Choose the best date to travel and decide the number of days the trip will last.

Here you must take into account three factors and combine them:

  • The weather on the destination: Of course it is very important. Find out what time is best to travel to the destination you want based on season, rain, humidity, cold, snow or other climatic factors.
  • Your budget: Why is it a factor to choose the date? Well, as a rule, prices go up when is high season in the destinations. If you travel to Europe in the spring, accommodation and flights between countries will be much more expensive than in winter. You must make a trade-off between the weather and your budget because you can not have the best of both worlds.
  • Your availability: Perhaps for your work or your children’s school you only have certain months that you can travel, which will affect the destination you choose as well. If you have only January available, then going to Europe would be a cold and freezing experience. If it’s what you’re looking for great, but if not better go somewhere in the southern hemisphere.
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3. Make a list of the places you want to know and the days necessary to know them. Take into account transportation time.

Once you have defined the date and the days you will be traveling, start planning your itinerary. You may use a week to be only at one destination in the Caribbean, or in two weeks you may want to visit 4 cities in Europe.

We do not judge at all the travelers who want to know a lot in a short time, but it is important to count in this itinerary the times of transfer and check in and check out of the accommodations.

Maybe the train between Paris and London it only lasts 2:30 hours, but keep in mind that you have to check out your hotel, get to the station at least 1 hour in advance, make the trip, get off the train, find transportation to your new hotel and check-in. Travel time will not be 2:30 hours, it will end up being at least 6 hours of lost time.

Grab a piece of paper and make a sketch of what you want to do with the following topics:

  • City 1: Days needed to travel
  • Transportation city 1 to city 2: Full time of expected transfer
  • City 2: Days needed to travel
  • Transportation city 2 to city 3: Full time of expected transfer
  • And so on…
Tram stop - Amsterdam - The Netherlands
We waited more than 1 hour for the tram to pass and take us to the airport… only because bad planning.

How do I plan it?

For planning a trip, you can use Google Maps, and always add a couple of extra hours on each transportation in case there are unfound/events and/or issues of checking in and out of hotels. Seeing the points on a map will also help you understand which one is closest to another, and therefore what is the logic you should follow on your trip. Example:

  • You want to travel to London, Paris, and Rome.
  • The logical thing is to get to London, then visit Paris and finally Rome, because of the geographic location of the cities. (You can also do Rome, Paris, and finally London …)

The festivals

Finally, find out the dates of festivals and festivities that may occur on your destinations. This is super important… you don’t want to miss the free concerts in the Eiffel Tower for the national day of France, or yes? Or Chinese New Year, Thai New Year, Oktoberfest in Germany, as well as many other festivities and activities that may occur while you are visiting a certain country. Planning a perfect trip involves more than just deciding the destination and the date.

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The full moon party in Koh Phanghan , Thailand, happen only one night per month.

4. Decide how many days may be needed in each place.

Once you know the days you need to travel through each of the cities, decide how many days you really want to spend there. Maybe you want to go to Rome just to see the Coliseum and the Vatican, in which case with 2 full days you will be perfect. But if you also want to see the squares, walk the streets, make purchases, visit a museum, etc. you would need much more than that!

The desired travel rhythm will influence a lot this part of planning a dream trip. There are people who love to travel slowly, stay several days at each destination and even get to have a favorite coffee for breakfast in the mornings. Others only like to know the main places in each city and don’t care about experience the culture of the city. It does not matter what type of traveler you are, planning will always be of help to make the most of your vacation.

5. Find out the requirements to enter your destinations

Once you have the list of specific cities and countries that you want to know, find out what are the necessary requirements to enter that country. It is important to know also how much time you can legally stay in them to plan a trip, especially for long ones.

The visa requirements depend on the negotiations between your country and the one you visit, so you should look well for the requirements of your nationality.

If you need to obtain a visa for a destination before the trip, do it in advance. There are embassies that take up to 90 days to grant them.

If you do not need a visa, there may be other entry requirements. For example, to travel to the United States if you are Chilean, you need to fill out the ESTA form, if you travel to Europe there are a number of requirements such as having a ticket for leaving the Schengen Area, medical insurance and others.

Aplicar a una visa

6. Buy your flight and other transports

Once you have all the above (itinerary, dates, visas, etc.) ultra hyper-defined, its time to purchase the ticket. Do not do it before, because if you want to go to China you have to obtain a visa in the embassy that may take more time than you have before your departure date, and you may have to change the trip planning after the tickets have already been paid. Also do not do it before defining the itinerary, because you may see that it was better for you to arrive in Madrid than in London because of your itinerary (for example).

Also, check if there are other transports that you also have to book in advance. Like other internal flights, train tickets, Eurail if you go to Europe, etc.

consejos para viajar en avión

7. Book your accommodations

It may be a requirement to enter your destination to have accommodation already booked. Also, having a place to arrive at least the first night is always a relief. In general, trips are tiring, and when you arrive you will want to sleep or start to tourist immediately… so knowing where to go after leaving the airport is amazing. When planning a trip you should keep this in mind.

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Also, the earlier you make reservations you can get better prices in most places. In a year of travel, we never found a place that would charge us less for appearing at the front door with no reservation.

If you are going on an adventure trip and you are not interested in making reservations, then do it at least for the first night. You will thank us later …

Check the applications for booking accommodations in the world that you should review and have here.

8. Find out the must-see places of each city

This will also help you to have a mental structure of what you want to see and prioritize, which will make it much easier to plan your dream trip. Reading blogs and other people’s guides helps a lot, especially because they show you the destinations from a realistic perspective. Try to avoid platforms like tripadvisor, which are not good for the best thing to see or do. Also, do not see only professional photos of places in google. Search beyond those lenses that take photos at 6 am, edit colors and even places, skies, mountains, etc.

Also, you can buy tickets in advance for the more popular places… that way you will avoid long waiting lines and take the maximum advantage of your time. Here we explain you more about the advantages of booking tickets in advance.

9. Make a list of the things you need to take with you

Finally, make a list of what you need to take with you on the trip and buy in advance what you do not have. I do not speak only about clothes, but also about credit cards, traveler’s checks, special clothes for certain climates, change of your currency to dollars or another currency, etc.

It is also important to find out what dangerous diseases exist where you are going. For example, mosquitoes, about whom we have made a special post telling you about diseases and how to avoid them.

maletas en aeropuerto
Many bags for a family of 6 adults and 1 child.

10. Now relax and wait for your trip!

Once you have everything ready, relax and just wait for the precious departure date. Enjoy!

And if you travel as a couple, do not forget to read our tips for traveling as a couple and survive in the attempt.

Banul Beach
Just chilling out in the sea.

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