Dreaming up an extended travel plan is a wonderful thing. At the time of writing, I am planning a rather large trip. This is both exciting and daunting. As an expat and increasingly well-seasoned traveller – here is my advice on how to get started.
Decide on your destinations
This sounds inanely obvious, but it’s where all intrepid travellers must begin. I start the process with gazing into a world map and mentally mapping my route, which really does help. (Especially if your geography isn’t perfect.) Due to problems of chronic indecision, and wanting to visit EVERYWHERE my travel itinerary always changes countless times. The world is a big place, but you must finalize where you want to visit before you can realistically make any kind of sensible plan. Once you know where you are going you then have an outline, then you can start to shade the other bits in.
Save as much as possible
Try and cut back on as much as possible before you leave for your trip. My friend said to me years ago ‘why would I waste money partying in England, when I know that money can fund a week in Asia?’ This nugget of wisdom has always stuck with me. Work out what you can cut out. A little bit of pre-trip sacrifice goes a long way. It’s easier said than done, but try to stay inspired and motivated by what comes next – your life changing trip.
My personal motto when it comes to big-trip budgets is work out how much you think you will need and then double it. This may sound extreme, but it’s all too easy to get caught out due to bad budgeting. People tend to budget for the big things, but forget about the little extras; coffee, water, non-planned activities - it can all add up alarmingly fast. Decide on the type of travel you want to partake in whether it’s luxury or backpacking and then work out if you can save that amount. Cut your cloth accordingly, you may have to skip a few places, but it’s impossible to see everything anyway. Work out which destinations are the most important to you and why.
As someone who works in the travel industry I would recommend buying a guide book for the countries you plan to visit. I love armchair travel and flicking through a book is a damn sight easier than trawling through the online madness. Not to dismiss the wealth of valuable information on the internet; I draw my original inspiration from the book, and then do the online research. There are immensely good travel blogs out there, along with sites such as ours. It doesn’t hurt to reach out on social media platforms either; if you ask for advice on a place, you will be surprised how many people respond. People enjoy giving personal recommendations, and they can be very helpful in the planning process of your trip. It’s easier to trust a friend than a stranger ranting on TripAdvisor.
Start to book
After the research part, it’s time to book. What I constantly hear from different sources is the ideal time to book a flight is six weeks before you go. But keep an eye out, you can sign up to e-mail alerts with most of the major flight operators. My favourite site for flights is Kayak. But I suggest looking around as much as possible. It’s a boring but necessary evil. After the flights comes the fun – accommodation, where to go and all of that good stuff. Before you know it, you will be on that plane flying off to pursue the adventure of a life time.