The idea of travelling utterly excites me in every which form and I take as much pleasure in arranging and planning a trip as I do when actually travelling. Trust me a badly planned trip is the difference between good and painful memories BUT an overly planned trip will dissuade you from going on the next one so exercise caution and while I recommend planning your holidays right, I steer clear of overdoing it…
Now I usually have a checklist once I have some idea where I want to go and it usually starts with checking my documents and Visa.
Passport and Visa Checks
The very first step is to check if you require a visa to travel to your destination and if your passport or documentation is valid for the dates. A lot of countries will require you to have your passport valid for 3 to 6 months AFTER you have come back from the trip so make sure your passport or ID card is not nearing expiry.
If you are going to be driving add the Driving Licence to the list of documents. It is also good to carry because it is easier as ID than carrying your passport everywhere.
You can check the visa status and requirements from the consulate or embassy of the country in your country. The websites either have relevant information or will point you to Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites that will have the information.
If you are still unsure drop them an email for confirmation and the last resort is a call.
Tip: If I do not need a visa, I still drop an email to the relevant country’s consulate asking for confirmation. You will be surprised how much time it has saved me on the airports at airline counters and it also makes sure you have the most up-t-date information because sometimes the websites do not have all the relevant information.
If you do need a visa I suggest getting it ASAP so you have the freedom to plan your trip.
The world is increasingly becomes unsafe… in our minds! With media bashing countries and stereotyping people freak out about safety while travelling and while some of them are genuine concerns, most of the shouting and screaming is for the media companies to sell their stuff.
A good example is Iran which has the sweetest nicest people (like me!) but media shows them like Muslim extremists going around with guns in their hands blowing places up with nukes brrr! Drives me mad!
Generally every country has its own Travel Advice like UK Government Foreign Travel Advice website which provides the details based on country or territory. It is a good starting point but you have to take it with a pinch of salt and do some other research before making a decision.
I recommend reading varied blogs that closely represent you (brown and gay? This is the perfect blog for you), single travelling, families, couples etc. You have a lot to choose from and because these are based on personal experience the information is better than some clerk typing it up in a government office while being bored out of his/her mind.
Vaccines & Health Checks
This has become quite important and I normally check the UK Government’s Foreign Travel Advise website and also the requirement by the embassy before travelling. If you are unsure about something visit your doctor instead of relying on self medication. It could break your trip.
Some countries require you to be vaccinated before you visit, make sure you carry proper paperwork and also check with your doctor and get all relevant vaccines. (The whole Vaccines cause autism thing is so 2015, get over it).
Tip: If you are carrying prescription drugs, some countries require a note from your doctor, make sure you carry one.
Another very important item is travel insurance. You never know what will happen when you are travelling and it is also best to have Travel Insurance.
Make sure your insurance is valid for your country you are travelling to and covers people of your age and also the activities you are going to be doing (for example skiing and snow sports require additional cover). I usually get it from my bank. I have added more details on what to look for in the Finances section.
Plane, Train, Car, Ferry or Bus?
Not every country is the same and you don’t know what the infrastructure is like and what your best option in terms of transport is. Luckily there is some help to hand. I love Rome2Rio! It shows all different options in going from Point A to Point B with estimated cost associated with each option. Give it a try; you will love it as well!
Have you ever stood at the train station or bus station rummaging through your mails to find the ticket and the internet stops working or the reception there is horrible and the train is about to leave? I have! It sucks balls and after that experience I learnt to make a coherent itinerary so I have everything in place without having to check 300 mails. The best way is either to create one in Excel or do it through an app. The downside of Excel is how horrible it is on smart phone and you might have to print it out but it could also save you in case your phone is dead.
The best app that I absolutely love is Tripit. It scans your emails for bookings or you can forward your booking emails through emails and it shows you a perfectly set plan. It doesn’t get easier than that.
This amazing app just puts everything together and you can see the whole trip in a glance be it travel tickets, accommodations, concert or restaurant bookings. I love technology! You can also see the cost of trip in the app.
Check out my Tips on finding the best flights when when to book it in my post about How to find the best flights.
Accommodation is another big issue when planning a trip. Check out tips, hacks and tools in my post about finding the perfect Accommodation.