Planning an international trip requires organizing. It can seem daunting to get all your ducks in a row, but it is a must for execution and actually doing it.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to have every little detail jampacked. So how do you know whats important and what you actually have to plan for?
Below are all the pointers to use for travel planning for everyone and anyone, no matter the age or destination.
This is the ultimate guide on everything you need to know about planning trips in 2021 and beyond.
PLanning an international trip
There are so many travel planning guides on the internet right now, but a lot just talk about packing. Here is where you’ll find the perfect outline to get yourself on the road successfully.
Dream trip anyone? 🙂
Travel has definitely taken a hit in 2020, but things are opening up, and that means its time to start planning.
Fares are already going up like crazy, people do not want to stay home anymore. Countries are also vaccinating anywhere and everywhere.
People want life to return to normal and you can bet travel is slowly but surely making its come back.
Planning an international trip has never been more actionable and possible than ever before.
1. first things first - lets look at timing!
Time and planning – it’s important. It calls for paying attention to the details. Lets look at a few factors that would effect your timing with planning:
- Amount of days you have to travel
- Duration to get to your destination, how long is the flight? Are there direct flights?
- Jetlag – Exhaustion ruins trips. Who wants to be tired traveling?
Let’s say you work an office job in the US that gives you 14 vacation days every year. Odds are, you won’t want to take all of your vacation days at once.
For this example, let’s say you are planning an international trip to Bangkok, Thailand shown in the picture above. You want to go for 7 days. Ideally, you wouldn’t strive to go somewhere on such a long flight.
Looking at the picture above, you can see the flight minimum time is 20 hours. Instead of long flights, you should think of the quickest destination you can get to.
This way you can enjoy the trip vs spending so much time on traveling getting to your destination.
actual traveling time isn't useful
Heavy travel time takes away from the experience. Think ahead and plan for shorter trips that gives you more time to enjoy.
As previously mentioned, you want to be mindful of jet lag.
No one wants to come back from a trip feeling more tired than they were before, right? Pay attention to those time differences, it will help you with jet lag and exhaustion.
Now, let’s go back to our Thailand example for a second.
This trip with 7 day availability would be tiring and wouldn’t be very effective for a “vacation.”
I’ll give you a break down of how this would probably play out:
- Plane ride from NYC to Bangkok is about 20 hours. For the flights itself you lose 2 days of your trip. Leaving you with 5 days left to explore.
- Time difference is 12 hours ahead. That means you will be on a very weird sleeping schedule the entire week (and more) while your body gets accustomed.
- As a result, jet lag will negatively effect your trip because you won’t be so energized for adventures while you are trying to cope. Once you push yourself to this limit it’s not fun, nor ideal. Be mindful of how much you can realistically handle.
- No one knows your body more than you. Web Md has some great tips and tricks on How to Cope with Jet lag. Would highly recommend reading that if you are going anywhere with a time difference.
2. high season vs low season
High season vs Low Season – It could be a tricky debate. High season means big crowds and since there’s more demand everything is more expensive. On the contrary, you have low season which is the opposite of high season.
Planning an international trip requires eliminating options that do not work for you. Not a fan of crowds? You should probably skip high season.
Low season is always better in my opinion. However, what comes with low season isn’t always ideal for everyone.
Please feel free to read “How to save money and avoid crowds while traveling” article from CNN that might just change your opinion about low season.
Why? Because low season is underrated. Although it does usually call for rockier weather, planning around low season has its perks.
It is always 100% cheaper than high season. Everything from the crowds, to the prices, to the flights, hotels, and restaurants, are way less.
Google's our friend, utilize it
Google your destination and see what comes up. For example, let’s say you are going to Japan. Search “Japan high season vs low season.” Do this for any destination you are thinking about, this way you know when to go.
Rain and harsh weather isn’t ideal for certain type of travels. Are you going to the beach or are you looking to have a foodie experience where you’ll be mainly in restaurants and indoors?
Depending on your travel theme and when you want to go, researching high and low season is a great call when planning an international trip. You can plan your itinerary accordingly which helps alleviate stress for some.
There are reasons why high seasons are high and low seasons are low. Try to investigate what those reasons are and how it would effect you depending on your destination.
Planning around high vs low season will help identify when is the best time you should go depending on what you will be doing.
3. SAfety, health risks, & Covid
Though a lot of countries are totally ok to travel to, when planning an international trip, you should know if any location imposes health or safety risks.
If it is a new destination, I personally go on the US travel advisories website. Anything that needs to be warned or stated is on that website.
Personally, I don’t like to skip this off of my list because you just never know. Be mindful of my safety when picking a location.
For health risks I go on Center of Disease Control before anywhere else. Simply put in your destination and it will populate in the search.
It is a little bizarre how often I hear so many travelers not having proper vaccines.
Plan ahead, protect yourself. Go to the doctor if you are not sure, they will always help and tell you what vaccines you need incase immunity is low or you’ve never received any vaccines.
The last thing anyone wants is to get sick on a trip, having the proper vaccinations helps you stay a step ahead incase you do get exposed to anything.
Simply put, health and safety is important if we want to continue to travel. 🙂
Now with COVID that seems to be somewhat under control, make sure you are planning for tests or vaccine cards and if you can legally enter these countries with your passport.
The best way to do this is to go on the official embassy where you are from and see what they advise for travelers.
Ohhh yessss – What better way to get excited for a trip than to daydream the weather you will be experiencing? Some like cold – some like hot, what is your preference?
It’s time to research on your destination. High seasons and lows seasons are usual indicators of when it starts to get cold or rockier weather.
Do you mind going somewhere with gloomy and rainy weather? Maybe you will be inside and wont have to worry about weather, it depends.
If weather is a big factor of your enjoyment, plan ahead. There are great resources to check for weather, here are my favorites:
- Weather Channel
- Yahoo weather
- If those don’t help, always go back to Google and be very specific. Something will come up in your search. You can search terms like “Typical June Weather in Australia” or something along those lines.
5. It's all about the benjamins right? lets talk money & travel planning
Any type of planning usually involves some type of finances. Number 5 in this guide is allllll about money.
Let’s get into it! So, what do you ask yourself when it comes to money and trip planning?
First things first, before you are even planning an international trip, make sure you have funds to travel to and from your destination, and ofcourse during the trip.
Lets call this step # 1 – Saving for a trip. If you don’t have the funds thats not a problem, just start taking steps to save up for the trip.
If you need help and ideas on saving for an international trip, read my complete and proven saving guide: 10 tips on how to save up for your next trip.
more money, more problems, right?
Next, we have some other money related questions we should be asking ourselves:
- Will your dollar go far at this destination?
- What will you be doing day to day? How much will it cost?
Who doesn’t enjoy when your money goes farther? One of the perks of planning an international trip is to take advantage of strong currency that is used elsewhere for tourism.
I try to stray away from anywhere that isn’t friendly to USD unless the destination is absolutely worth it.
Here are some steps to consider when investigating just how far our money will go.
- Pick a place and research their currency to get a starting point.
- Figure out what 1 USD to your foreign currency is.
- Think of activities you would like to do. Research those activities and figure out a budget or ball park number.
By knowing conversion rates we can plan out a budget and daily rate. Once you know how far your $ will go, and how much things cost, you will have an organized plan on how much you need to save for this trip.
Resources for financially planning an international trip
My favorites Cash Converter tools are:
The last money tip is you should know if your destination is credit card friendly for your own use. Do they usually take card or cash? Google that and it will help prevent annoying surprises on the road.
If people have lived through it, people have talked about it so if you search online you will find something relative.
It helps to know what you are jumping into incase you leave with limited methods of payment.
We also have conversion fees that can be tricky when withdrawing from an ATM or using your credit card.
There is a whole breakdown of that here: The Science of understanding Conversion fees: What to do with your money abroad.
Last but certainly not least, transportation matters. We must think about how we are going to get around. After all, transportation is a big factor.
So when you are planning an international trip, you should think about a few things regarding transportation.
Transportation questions to ask yourself
- Are you going to a city or more of a suburban area?
- If it is a city, is it well connected? Is there a metro, tram, or bus? Is there all 3? (**Tip: To get an idea of the public transportation system, put 2 touristy points on google maps, hit the public transportation button and look at the route. What is google maps telling you to do? If there’s no route or a very complex route, most likely public transportation isn’t that common there.**)
- If you are not going to a city, will you rent a car?
- Can you take a cab? Is that feasible? (I.e will it add up over time?)
- If you don’t want to rent a car, can you get around by booking tours and having tour operators pick you up to and from?
- Can you walk to and from your hot spots and avoid transportation all together?
- Can you rent a bike or scooter if you don’t want to walk?
There are so many ways to get around now a days. If you look into methods of transportation while organizing, something will definitely suit your needs.
Think about the kind of trip you are trying to plan and figure out what method suits your flexibility.
For example, I don’t do tours when I visit a more suburban or rural area because I prefer to rent a car and see things at my own pace.
When I am in big cities, I always take public transportation or walk to get around.
Transportation is a big factor of your trip to think about and can change how you see the city. Giving it a thought or 2 is a great use of perfectly planning for an international trip.
batch things up
When you batch things it means doing relative things together at one time, perhaps it is a day or a few hours. Let’s say you decide you will want to think about your timing of planning on Tuesday.
Then, the next day you will think about conversion fees and start continuously limiting your options until you have a selected few.
If this is your first time that you are planning an international trip, follow this guide and break things down.
It can seem overwhelming with so much planning, especially if you are traveling by yourself.
However, if you break things up little by little it won’t be so bad. You don’t need to make an strict itinerary unless you want to. Make your trip, your trip!
I have done both the incredibly spontaneous itinerary and the planned travel itinerary and I prefer to not go in so blindly anymore.
You already feel like you wish you could do more when you leave a destination, going into a trip blindly only calls for more remorse.
Plan that trip considering these factors, and you will not regret it.
Keep me posted in the comments below on how your trip planning is going or if you have any questions.
Happy Traveling :),
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