I love to plan. I like small scale planning projects and
big scale planning projects, and most of all, I like planning something that results in me enjoying a wonderful holiday. I’m due for long service leave next year, which means I’ll have three months off of work (with pay), and will have the time and opportunity to do a little bit of international travel. I thought it might be fun to include a little holiday-planning series of posts on The Belle Lumiere, and this will be the first in a short string of posts revolving around how I plan an international trip.
Step 1 – Choose Your Destination
Have you ever sat down and thought about where in the entire world you’d like to travel to? It’s a near impossible task, as there are SO many options available. I’d already started thinking about heading back to New York at some stage, and my partner was all over the idea so we decided that the US was the best fit for our 2015 trip. Once we’d decided on the country, we broke it down to where in particular we’d like to visit and came up with New York, Washington DC, and Phoenixville (to hopefully visit some of my family).
Step 2 – Plan Your Travel Time
For me it was pretty easy to pick when we’d be heading overseas, as I only have a three month window to choose from. Looking at the months available, I decided that November would be the best month for us to travel in, as we both want to celebrate Thanksgiving in the US (October was too soon and December would be too cold). We’re still not sure how long we’ll be away for, but at this stage we’re loosely planning around a two-three week trip.
Step 3 – Think About Your Options (accommodation/travel)
It’s a good idea to start thinking about what you’re planning to do when you get to wherever it is that you’re going. Are you going to stay in a hostel, a hotel, with friends? How do you think you’ll get there, is there any particular flight path you think you want to take? At this stage we’re planning on just visiting the east coast of the US, so flying through Hong Kong makes the most sense. As for accommodation, I’m looking into AirBnB options to see what is available. If that fails, we’ll be looking for some reasonably priced hotel options. Hostels are not for us. Deciding what you want early on also makes it easier to keep an eye out for any flight or accommodation sales that may pop up before your travel date.
Step 4 – Write Up A Budget
Figuring out your budget early is the best way to plan a holiday, in my experience. Once you know how much money you can comfortably save, you know the base line of what you have to work with for your trip. Anything you can add into the kitty on top of that can be bonus money, or you can re-assess your budget halfway through the planning process and see if there is anything you’d like to switch up and possibly pay more for.
Step 5 – A General Plan
I like to think about just what it is I want to do when traveling, quite far in advance. I find writing a general, broad plan quite far in advance makes it a lot easier to get to the nitty-gritty detail planning as it gets closer to the date of travel. I’ve written up a list of touristy things we want to see and do while in the US, and as if I think of anything else as time progresses I’ll add them to the list.
So those are the initial planning steps that I follow, I’d love to hear if anyone has a similar or different method to planning an overseas trip! be sure to leave any tips or tricks you can think of in the comments below.