An opportunity to go on a trip is always a blessing – but sometimes, planning for it might seem the opposite! Natural-born planners might bask in the opportunity to be in charge of every detail of a trip, but many people still find it an overwhelmingly challenging task. If you belong to the latter, relax. This guide on how to plan for a trip will be a big help in making such a task less of a burden.

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How to plan a trip

The Right Approach

The best approach on how to plan for a trip is to think of it as step by step process. It is important to have a planning process that you can refer to so you plan your trip without missing out on any detail. Here’s a simple planning guide that you can consult. Keep in mind that each trip or travel destination will be different, so the steps outlined here may be adjusted to fit your particulars!

1. Do your research. When you plan for a trip, you want to read up and know everything about the countries or destination you plan to explore so you have an idea of the things you need to prepare for. Consulting reputable sites on Google will help. Information on airfare, accommodation, and list of places to visit will be your starting point.

2. Draft a rough budget. From your research, start computing how much you might need to spend for travel, lodging, food, transportation, shopping and sightseeing. Then, compare the total with how much you’ve set aside for this trip. If your budget comes up short, figure out ways to save money or spend more time setting aside funds for it. You can start saving early for tickets so you can meet your expense total.

3. Check your calendar. When you’ve more or less hit your budget requirements so you can fully enjoy your trip, it’s time to come up with tentative dates! Check everyone’s schedule to know which dates to block off. From here, you can also check the weather so you know what to expect and what your packing must-haves will be.

Read more: Air Travel Tips for Seniors

4. Book your tickets and accommodations. Now you can start booking! Purchase plane tickets and reserve your accommodations online. Study the routes and figure out which one will be best for your party in terms of time and costs. Be sure to consider special requests and needs of your travelling party (i.e. bassinet request for a baby for the plane, no-smoking hotel wings for an asthmatic spouse) when you start your bookings.

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5. Regroup to create an itinerary. Itinerary planning is easier when everyone in your traveling group is involved in it. Sit down with the other adults and children to discuss what sightseeing activities you all want to visit, which restaurants and/or local cuisine to try out, and other elements that will comprise your entire vacation.

Then, divide all of these activities across the number of days you will be on vacation. You now have a rough idea about what each day will be like, and will thus be able to do further planning better.

6. Book or reserve activity tickets. While you can very well line up at a theme park to buy tickets, doing everything online will is one of the ways to save time when you’re already there.

7. Study how you will get around. Identify which bus or train routes and transfers are needed to get to the different areas included in your itinerary. While rental cars are nice, many travelers often commute to save on costs and experience the city the way locals do. When you know how you are getting from point A to point B, you can finetune your daily schedule as you’re now able to account for travel time.

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8. Create packing lists for everyone. If you’re not going to pack everyone’s luggage by yourself, give each person a list of must-brings. You can just check if everything on the list made it to the suitcase once they’re all done. Don’t forget to bring items such as medicines and other particulars that each family member will need for the duration of your trip!

9. Attend to paperwork. Gather your essential travel papers and identification cards. Scan them and send them to yourself in an email. This is a safety precaution in case you have the bad luck of losing some or all of them. Each family member should have a backup portfolio of their IDs, passports, and other important travel documents that they can readily pull up in case of emergencies.

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10. See to the money details. Prior to leaving for your trip, you might want to go to the bank and sort out travel credit and currencies. Look for the lowest exchange rate and buy the currency you need beforehand. This will come in handy when you arrive at your destination airport and will need cash for taxis. Also, keep in mind that some banks have steep ATM fees – so having enough cash plus a couple of credit cards will serve you well.

11. Make arrangements for your home. Part of good travel planning is leaving your home knowing that it is in safe hands. Figure out who can check on it and mind your pets and plants if you have them. If you will be away for a longer time, you might want to pause some services you subscribe to (paper route, weekly gardening, etc.).

12. Prepare your emergency call list. Mark or put a start on the following contact numbers on your phone, or input them if you don’t have it yet: your bank manager, contact persons for accommodations and tours, doctors, and any other individuals whom you might suddenly need to reach out to while you’re away.

13. Take note of the prices of the goods you want to buy – and where to buy them. There are many forums or sites that disclose what a good price is for popular souvenirs, food, and special items that your destination is known for. Being aware of this will guide you as you buy or go shopping without succumbing to bloated prices that many tourists are tricked into paying for.

14. Do some last-minute shopping. For sure, there will be some items that you need to buy for your trip. This can be toiletries, weather-appropriate articles of clothing, and the like. You will know what you are lacking once you are finished packing, so round up everyone’s lists and make a final shopping trip for items that you will need. Some travelers find that packing light is easy to achieve when they shop for toiletries at their destination, but keep in mind that this can also eat up your travel budget.

Read more: Best Places to Visit in Europe when you are on a Budget

And there you have it – a no-nonsense guide that’s flexible enough for practically any trip. These simple steps will do a lot to make trip planning easier. Following it will help you decide on the details of your trip faster and save on the cost of travelling. The key is to do everything way ahead of time so you are not rushing things the closer you get to your departure date. In addition, early planning will often translate into cheaper airfare, better seats, and great discounts when booking hotels. If this sounds appealing, you can start planning for your trip pronto!