Though at times it’s a great experience to just go, without any plans, it can just as easily bite you in the behind. Being stuck in a foreign country for days with no money isn’t fun. Neither is discovering the hotel you’ve booked and paid for is four hours away from the attraction you came to see. Spontaneity can be amazing, until that part of being unprepared kicks in.
This list may seem like common sense, but I beg to differ. I’ve been traveling for years but never really understood the true value of proper planning to make sure I avoid travel issues until recently. Through a ton of trial and error situations, here are some of the things I learned.
Do Your Research
Start with a bit of research. Or a lot. How often have you gone to a place only to discover it’s closed on the one day you decide to visit? Doing the research ensures that your travel plans will work out without unnecessary or avoidable snags. Research includes discovering opening and closing hours (or entire seasons), costs, location and vicinity, and of course reviews from other travelers. While you’re at it, you should also check out customs, practices and common etiquette, maybe even learn a few phrases on the way.
Map It Out
Decide what the focal point of your trip will be. If it’s surfing, then you’d want to be situated as close to the beach as possible, and not book a hotel that would take you an hour just to surf. I highly recommend booking accommodations that would be the nearest to the attractions you plan to enjoy. This not only saves you travel time but also makes it convenient. This is especially so if you don’t have a car. The ability to walk to most, if not all, of the sights, will not only save you time but also a lot of taxi or Uber ride costs.
Set A Budget, and Then An Itinerary
Knowing how much money you can spend will make it so much easier to decide what attractions you’d like to see, activities you’d like to do when to do it and for how long. It may seem a tad bit obsessive compulsive, but if you estimate a duration for each activity, with actual times indicated for arrival and departure from a venue, you’d most likely be able to stick to your itinerary and see all the sights you had in mind while keeping in line with your budget.
Pro tip: be nice to yourself and leave room for a bit of spontaneity, just in case you miss a train, or need to buy something, or just want a bit more time to wander about.
Check the Weather and Pack Clothes You Can Mix and Match
Although some may pack more clothes than others, we all know the feeling of having brought way too much to only use half of the items we actually brought along. Imagine how much lighter your luggage will be, and how much more room you’ll have extra for souvenirs. A technique I use, which may be useful to you as well, if you are like me who is a visual person; is to list them down according to the day you intend to wear them. If you’re bringing jeans, you can probably wear it two or three times during the trip, and now you’ll just need three shirts to complete a three-day vacation.
In addition, if you plan to go shopping for clothes while on vacation, you may want to leave some room in your luggage for the new items you will be bringing back home.
Print Tickets, Itinerary & Maps
Most just keep their tickets on their phone, but if your phone dies, then you’d realize the benefit of having back up on paper. Print your tickets and your hotel booking confirmation. Doing so gives you an easy reference to check into just in case you couldn’t charge up your phone. Same goes for Google Maps, which is very useful if you’re online, that is.
Got more tips? Post them in the comments!