While basking in the summer sun during my trip home to New Zealand earlier this year, I was joyous to learn my best friends and family are also planning some big travel adventures, and perhaps unsurprisingly they all had one question in common – where do I even start to plan a big trip?
It can definitely be difficult to know where to start planning a round the world trip, but rest assured, however it turns out, a big adventure like this is bound to be buckets of fun! Having planned a fair few international trips in the last two years though, I’ve developed a system to make things a little easier, so in this post I’ll share with you my 7 Steps to Start Planning Your Big Overseas Adventure.
Your first step in planning any big trip should always be to dream big and actually paint the picture. You might have heard the saying “a dream without a plan is just a wish”, but dreaming is still a very important part of the planning process. After all, this dream is going to be your motivation to scrape and save every last dollar until you jump on that plane!
So however you like to do it, with an inspiration board, a timeline, a brainstorm etc, just get that vision of your dream trip out on paper. Make sure to include the main destinations and experiences you’d like to include. Consider, do you want to travel in Summer or Winter? Do you want to travel solo, or in a group? Do you want to do a eurail trip or group tour, or a combination of both?
Even if you have a very specific vision for your trip, your second step should be to research specifically and locally. I always wished I’d done more of this before I left New Zealand, but because I always knew there were certain places I wanted to visit in Europe, I was a little lazy to research much beyond that. I found once I’d arrived in Europe though, I had not always given myself a good amount of time in some cities and that if I’d known about nearby destinations to the places I was visiting, I could have added some extra days to my visit.
So please, gift yourself the time to define roughly what you want to do in each place, and then to check if there are any nearby places or attractions worth a day trip. A quick zoom in on google maps is an easy way to spot possible day trip destinations.
Setting your departure deadline and calculating your savings plan is like putting fuel in the plane to get you there. This is where you decide either how much you can save until your planned departure date, or, how long it will take you to save enough for your desired trip.
To get a rough idea of how much money you’ll need, I always make an estimate of what my per day expenses will be for food, accommodation, transport and attractions, plus a bit extra for miscellaneous spending. Also add the cost of any significant expenses, like your return flights or guided tours. Whatever way you choose to budget, you just need to set yourself a departure deadline and then make it happen.
Now that you’ve done some research and calculated your budget you can set your travel priorities. Depending on how much you can/plan to save, this will determine how long you can keep travelling and therefore how many places you can visit. I suggest avoiding the temptation to visit everywhere on your list by spending just one or two nights in each place. You will only end up exhausted and unable to enjoy each place as much as it deserves.
So choose the destinations and experiences that really excite you. These are likely to be the reasons you decided to plan this trip in the first place, so refer back to your dream vision from step one at this point too.
After prioritising, you can start to set some dates in ink and plan your days based on attractions and activities. This is the stage when I reach for my Lonely Planet. I always used to avoid spending money on guide books because I knew I could get the same information free on the web, but the way Lonely Planet packages information on each destination is super useful and time-saving. They always have a write up on the main attractions in a city with opening hours, directions and pricing etc.
So work out what the main attractions you want to see in each destination are, then how many days you’ll need to cover them. I suggest adding an extra half or whole day to each place just to soak in the atmosphere. This is also a good time to check if any of the attractions you want to see have closing days. Lonely Planet provide really good planning information like this too.
If you’re looking to purchase any Lonely Planet Guide Books, please follow my amazon affiliate link in which a part of any purchase you make will go toward keeping me travelling – so thank you!
Now’s the time to book your accommodation over any public holidays or local celebrations. Yes, it’s finally time to start making some reservations! Depending how flexible you’d like to be with your travel days, you may not want to book all your accommodation up front, but I would always make sure to check if you will be away during any public holidays or celebrations as accommodation is likely to book out over these dates. Making reservations during peak season is also a good idea unless you want to be stuck in the grottiest hostel / most expensive hotel in town.
7. Let it Happpen
After your first few bookings it gets a lot easier and you’ll probably notice everything start falling into place. I always find making the first booking the hardest, whether it’s booking the flight, or accomodation, because that sets the dates for the rest of the trip. Once you’ve got this set though it should get a lot easier and before you know it, you’ll be on your way!
The Boring Essentials…
- Every well planned trip includes comprehensive travel insurance! Please don’t be a fool and travel without it.
- Find out about the local situation where you are travelling to by reading up on government travel advisory websites.
- Check health warnings for your destination and if you need any vaccinations make sure to allow time to get them before you go.
Need some help planning your big overseas trip? Pick up your Lonely Planet Guides from Amazon and get planning.
Part of any purchases made through this affiliate link will go towards keeping me travelling – so thank you!
So there you have my advice for planning your big overseas, round the world adventure! Thanks for visiting WorldFanFair and check me out on YouTube for more…