9 Tips for Travel Planning
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Travel planning can be fun so we've listed our tips for planning your next getaway that should allow you to travel hassle free.
1. Find Your Happy Place
Its good to have a space which inspires you when you are planning your next trip. This will allow you to plan distraction free. You can decorate the area with mementos of previous trips to encourage you to start planning.
2. Decide Who Takes The Lead
There are definitely two types of people when it comes to planning a trip. One enjoys planning the trip as much as the actual travelling, and the other is quite happy just to wing it or go with the flow. If more than one person in the travelling group wants to be the planner then things can get pretty interesting. It's best to decide who is going to undertake the bulk of the travel planning. Others can be involved by taking on things like organising currency, or airport parking or a range of other important tasks.
3. Decide on a Destination Early
Deciding on a destination can be impacted by many factors including your budget, how much time you have, and what kind of experiences you want. You’ll want to narrow it down or you will never make a decision. Decide on a destination as soon as you can so you can spend quality time planning the trip. Things to consider might include:
Do you want somewhere that’s hot or cold?
Do you want an English speaking country?
How far/long are you willing to fly?
What is your budget?
4. Don't Stress the Research.....but pay attention to details.
Despite the often overwhelming plethora of information available online, there is still real value in hard copy travel guides. They are written by unbiased and professional travel writers and seeing them sitting on the coffee table in the lead up to the trip adds to the anticipation. They’re also a great way to pass time on the flight if you don’t have access to Wi-Fi.
If you're a fan of the Lonely Planet series, these can be bought on Ebay for around 30% less than in a retail store. Click and Collect works well if you want to save on postage as it incurs no deliver fees.
I read the travel guides from front to back highlighting things of interest, and after many lessons learnt, now pay special attention to the opening hours and days of operation of places we plan to visit. A planned visit to the Palace of Versailles didn’t happen because I’d planned it for the last day of our stay in Paris, a Tuesday, and the only day of the week that the palace is closed. Hubby has never let me forget this and now constantly asks me “are you sure it’s open that day" any time I mention somewhere new.
5. Use a Travel Calendar
It's a good idea to use a travel calendar (I'll post a link to a template soon) and schedule activities for each day of your trip. This is purely to ensure that you don’t forget something that you really want to do and doesn't have to be followed to the letter. Weather can play a large part in changes to the schedule, as well as finding more exciting things to do and see once you reach a destination. But it never hurts to have a rough idea of what you want to do in advance.
Tip: There may be activities or tours which recommend making bookings in advance. If there’s something that you have your heart set on, or is on your bucket list, don’t leave it to chance, definitely make a booking. On our recent trip to Spain, we really wanted to do the Caminito Del Rey Kings Way Walk from Malaga (BTW best tour ever!!) which required a minimum of 3 people to operate. We bit the bullet and booked and paid for 3 people and when the tour ended with 8 people on the day, were lucky enough to get a refund for the third person we’d paid for.
It's also a good idea to send a copy of your calendar/schedule to a relative who is not travelling with you, so that they have an idea of where you are in case of an emergency.
6. Tell Your Bank
This may sound strange, but it’s wise to let your bank know you are heading away. We’ve had the rather inconvenient experience of having a credit card blocked because the bank saw overseas transactions and presumed that our card had been stolen or skimmed. A phone call to the bank cleared this up, but it provided a pretty embarrassing hotel check out experience.
Most banks now have an online function allowing you to register your travel dates and the countries that you are visiting. If you’re not adept in online banking, you can always go into your branch and get them to do this for you. You only need to do this once for each credit card which you plan to take overseas with you.
7. Book Airport Parking
It's a really good idea to book airport parking. There's nothing worse than the stress and ensuing arguments if you’re stuck trying to find a car park at the airport.
We also highly recommend Valet Parking if your local airport offers it. It’s a simple service that allows you to drop your vehicle off in a designated area of the airport car park, hand the keys to an attendant, and go straight into the terminal. It’s usually only slightly more expensive than regular parking, and if you sign up for airport newsletters, you’ll find that they regularly send out offers for discounted parking. Just note that valet parking may not be undercover. Your vehicle may be parked outdoors and away from the terminal, and only brought back in time to meet you off your arrival flight.
8. Check Your Passport
Do you have 6 months validity on your passport? For some reason which remains a mystery to everyone, most countries will not allow you entry unless you have 6 months remaining on your passport. And the 6 months must be from the date of your return into your home country.
You’d be surprised how many trips are delayed or cancelled due to passport issues. I have a girlfriend who famously left one of her three children behind on a trip to Thailand (you know who you are) after the child was denied travel by the airline at check in.
9. Know How To Turn Off International Roaming or Buy a Local SIM Card
If you don't turn off international roaming you may be in for a very nasty surprise on your phone bill after you get home. Apple has instructions on how to turn off international roaming for the iPhone.
Another option is to look into what roaming plans your carrier has on offer, or buying a local SIM Card at your destination. You can buy local SIM cards at your destination airport or Travel SIM has cards which will work in over 170 countries.