How I plan travel for the year, practical travel planning tips

Planning a travel trip is an exciting task from the start to the end. It may be exciting at the same time but as well overwhelming. There is whole lot to think about and consider. There are things beyond just cost, location and time frame. How about things like visa, political situation, budget for spending in there, activities, itinerary, your holiday days amount and so on and forth. You will feel overwhelmed by information, services offered and different opinions of people.

I love planning ahead. Especially when it comes to the new year, I am eager to start planning, researching and even booking for holidays and work trips ahead. I can even use up all of my holidays straight away. It is important to think of whether you are type of a person who would prefer short vacations, but frequently (may be exhausting and tiring for some), or a longer break where you give yourself time to relax. 

Over the years of travelling for leisure, fun and work, I can say I have master my travel planning skills. From research, planning itinerary, budgeting, securing great travel deals to securing partnerships and work. I would say, that I have also master my time allocation and planning to be most effective. 

"We all travel for different reasons" 

Hence, sometimes I feel it is difficult to travel even with your friends. Travelling is a personal thing to me and it is different than just hanging out with a friend for a day. It is important that all travel companions are aligned and agreed on place, costs and things to do.

In this post, I'd like to share my tips of good travel planning ahead:

1. Break down steps in categories 

Write down what you need to do will help you to be more organized and not to be confused. In addition, it won't make up jump from one thing to another and make your life hard to make a final decision. Be pragmatist about this. Break down from things like how to get from and to airport, what to do there, tourism attraction costs, where to eat and so on. Always bare in mind for how long you are going, when you are arriving and when are you departing. As these timing will affect your overall free time spent there, and you don't want to miss your connection!

Use paper and pen or spreadsheets. Whichever tool is closer and user-friendly for you. It is also good idea to be able to share it with your friends and travelling partners so you all can agree on certain places and aspects. Moreover, this can help to guide you when booking things and when tracking the costs.

2. Don't over-plan and neither under-plan

Check resources thoroughly of what you would like to cover and utilize your time while there. However, leave some space too for random things that you may discover at the place. Such as suggestions from locals where to eat or any events or places to go see which you may have not knew about. 

Don't try to plan out detailed itinerary for every single day and every hour. You are not a travel agency and if something doesn't work out the way you wanted, you will feel more upset and anxious about it. Always have list of places write down or marked in map which will allow you to guide through areas. My Google Maps is full of marked stars, and it can be very messy, but good starting point. Look into getting some travel apps or do you own spreadsheets. For my travels, I do always note down either on paper or on spreadsheets all information needed, so I can keep everything in one place when needed to refer back at any point of the time.

How I plan travel for the year, practical travel planning tips

3. Look into the future

Whether you are a student, self-employed or full time employer. One way or another, we have some days allowance for holidays. One have more, the other have less. But either way, we all know when is the peak season for work and for holidays. Try to plot your holiday assumptions in advance, this way you will know approximately when you can afford for long break or short break, are there any occasions when you will have to travel, such as weddings, events, conferences, think about bank holidays and other peak seasons. Most importantly, look into how many days of holidays you have and try to split them during the year accordingly.

What happens a lot of time to people is that they spend randomly their dedicated holiday days from work, then take 2 week long break and end up having no more holidays for the rest of the year. It works for somebody, but if you want to travel, split and plan your days wisely. Time is precious.

How I plan travel for the year, practical travel planning tips

4. Research and research

Can't say more to it. Research cheap destinations for your period, or just research in general where and when is it cheapest to travel to. I can spend hours and days on researching places to go and time variations.

Look for deals, discounts or holiday finder tools. Opt in for low budget airlines if you travelling near and for short period of time. They tend to have the best deals. These are my best travelling finders where I tend to start my search: Ryanair fare finder, SkyscannerKiwi or Kayak. I do recommend also to subscribe for hotels, airlines and travelling journals newsletters so you can stay updated with some travel destination recommendations, deals or discount codes!

Write down all alternatives from point A to B. Check variety of options, be flexible with dates, with airport and airlines. Mix and match and see which suits you the best. If you are looking for more distant destination, maybe long layover is not bad too if you can go out of the airport and explore the city for a day? 

5. Research ways of saving while travelling

Travelling can be fun and at the same time very costly. If you are already planning that you will travel, think also about how you will save for this trip. Put aside money pocket for each trip or for your travels overall.