How to Plan a Trip: A Month- by- Month Guide

Posted: 4/2/2024 | April 2nd, 2024Trip organizing can be a difficult task. Airlines, plan, products, excursions, lodging, and so much more all need to be considered and sorted out before you go. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when you have n’t done something like this before. After around close to twenty years of traveling the globe, I’ve planned many trips and trips for myself, friends, and community, even group tour. In the beginning, it was trial by fire. I had a difficult time learning a bit. That nevertheless helped me create a useful checklist that makes sure I do n’t miss anything crucial during the trip planning process. When should I start planning, is one of the great questions I get asked frequently. In order to answer that question, this article breaks the planning process down into month-by-month ways so you can easily plan your next vacation. Here’s how to approach a journey: Table of Contents12 Months Out: Choose on Your Destination ( s ) 12 Months Out: Start Collecting Points &amp, Miles8 Months Out: Visa Requirements, Passports, and Vaccines4- 6 Months Out: Book Your Flight3- 4 Months Out: Book Your Accommodation2 Months Out: Plan Your Activities1 Month Out: Find Travel Insurance7 days out: Package! 12 Months Out: Decide on Your Destination ( s ) A lot of people talk vaguely about travel: they never say where they are going, just that they are going. They might discuss it for decades before making the decision to leave ( if at all ). However, it’s much simpler to accomplish and organize the goal of” I’m going to Paris for two weeks this summer” than” I’m going somewhere.” If you already have a dream destination in mind, wonderful! If no, here are some articles to guide you through the process: Despite this way, the real thing you want to do is start saving money and figuring out your costs. Accommodation and airlines are the visible people, but how much do restaurants, attractions, and other activities value? Knowing these fees will help you accurately estimate how much money you’ll have. Here is how to study costs: Get a book
Check out my no-cost go guides, where we breakdown each destination’s cost.
Browse the cost of living on
Facebook prices for big activities you want to do, such as scuba diving, vineyards tours, etc. ( Get Your Guide is a good place to begin )
Use Google Flights or Skyscanner to find airfare prices, and sign up for email alerts to be sent when the price changes.
Use Discover Cars to determine the cost of a hire car if you need one.
Use and Hostelworld to study hotel costs
Although that may sound a lot, you only want to get an idea of how much money you actually need to save. You can access all of my posts on how to save money for travel by visiting this site. Getting a travel credit cards so you can earn miles and points for free airlines and hotel stays while working toward saving money. It has kept my expenses down and me on track for a long time. These days, most cards have encouraged offers of 60, 000- 80, 000 points ( some can be as high as 100, 000 ) when you meet their minimum spending requirement ( normally$ 2, 000- 5, 000 USD within a 3–6- fortnight time frame ). That’s enough miles for a round-trip economy flight from the East Coast of North America to Europe for free. For more information on this subject, check out these posts: In addition, get a fee- free ATM card. I use Charles Schwab, but there are numerous other banks that do n’t charge ATM fees ( do n’t forget to check your local banks and credit unions as well ). Here’s how you can avoid bank fees while traveling. 8 Months Out: Visa Requirements, Passports, and VaccinesWhile you likely wo n’t need a visa to your desired destination, you should still check to make sure. If you’re a US citizen, use the State Department’s search tool to learn about your destination’s entry requirements. This search tool is available to Canadians. Additionally, ensure that your passport stays in tact for at least six months after your trip ends. This is necessary for entry in many countries. Do this as soon as possible because passport application and renewal wait times can be lengthy ( the typical US wait time is 6 to 8 weeks ). Also, make sure to check if you need any vaccines for your trip because many nations require them to ( and I do n’t mean COVID ). The CDC’s website has more information on country requirements and recommendations. If you’re in the US, they can also point you in the direction of a clinic that is close to you. 4- 6 Months Out: Book Your FlightThe best time to book your flight is generally around 3- 4 months before your departure, or 5- 6 months before if you are going during a destination’s peak season. This is n’t a hard- and- fast rule, though, so use it as a guide. Use your miles to reserve your flight and/or hotel if you’ve already signed up for a travel credit card and received your sign-up bonus. The more availability there will be the further you book. Use tools like Point. me and Awayz to help you find the best redemptions on your points ( for flights and hotels, respectively ). There are still many ways to avoid being the person on the flight who paid the most for their ticket, even if you are n’t using miles or did n’t find a cheap flight deal. Google Flights and Skyscanner are my two go-to websites for finding cheap flights. Booking Accommodation for the Duration of Your TripIf you’re traveling for less than two weeks and have a set schedule, book accommodations for the duration of your trip. If you’re visiting during the high season, it’s also a good idea to book everything in advance. I advise only booking the first few nights of your trip for longer than two weeks of travel. Once there, you might end up wanting to change your plans based on insider advice from other travelers and/or hotel or hotel staff. I prefer having flexibility, so I always just book a few nights and go from there. Hostelworld is my go-to website for finding affordable hostels, and this is where I turn when I need to find the best deals on hotels. – is the best overall platform for finding budget hotels and guesthouses.
Agoda – Agoda offers the best results if you’re visiting Asia ( though it occasionally offers good US deals as well ).
I suggest checking the cancellation policy of the hotel where you are staying. I enjoy having the option to change or cancel. Consider signing up for platforms like Couchsurfing or BeWelcome if you’re on a tight budget or want to interact with more locals while traveling. In these communities, visitors are able to stay with residents for free as a form of cultural exchange. Long-term travelers can also try housesitting or WWOOFing, both of which provide free lodging ( in exchange for pet sitting or farm work, respectively ). 2 Months Out: Plan Your ActivitiesNow it’s time for the fun part of travel planning! That means reading books about your destination, learning general travel tips, connecting with online communities, and pre- booking any necessary activities. Pre-booking ensures that you do n’t miss out on activities that are truly important for your trip. If you’re going to a popular destination, tours and activities fill up quickly, and if you’re going to a smaller place, activities or tours might only run on certain days and have limited availability. Either way, Get Your Guide the best place to search for and pre- book activities, tours, and tickets. You can find tons of stuff here, from food tours to museum tickets with skip-the-line entry, because local tour operators and attractions can list their offerings on this online marketplace. 1 Month Out: Get Travel InsuranceGet travel insurance. In this way, these purchases are safeguarded in the event that something unexpected forces you to cancel your trip. A lot of people think,” I’m healthy. I do n’t need travel insurance”. Travel insurance goes beyond just providing medical protection. It covers you when your camera breaks, your flight is canceled, a family member dies and you have to come home, or something gets stolen. ( You’ll also want to be aware of any common travel scams and how to act yourself in order to blend in and avoid becoming a target for petty theft. ) Yes, it’s an added expense. However, it’s always preferable to be safe than sorry. Because I’ve seen firsthand what can happen on the road, I never leave home without it. I never thought I would pop my eardrum while I was scuba diving in Thailand, break my camera in Italy, or get knifed in Colombia. Unfortunately, bad things can happen when you’re traveling. True, these events are few and far between. However, they can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you’re not prepared to pay out of pocket, buy travel insurance. To get you started, here are some posts about travel insurance. You should n’t either. 7 days out: Pack! Your trip is almost here, and it’s time to pack! It can be tempting to bring everything with you” just in case.” But when it comes to travel, less is more. Remember that you do n’t need to bring everything you own, even though where you are going will depend on what you are packing. You can purchase items you need and do the washing on the way. You must carry everything you need at the end of the day. So bring less! I use a smaller day bag and a 45L REI bag when I travel. For female travelers, here is my packing list to help you take the right amount of things and prevent overpacking ( here is a list ). Additionally, bring any prescriptions you need for the duration of your trip. Bring a prescription and doctor’s note just in case; try not to rely on filling those abroad. ***With everything planned out, it’s time to travel and have fun! Make a list of last- minute items you need to pack the day of (your toothbrush, glasses, phone charger, etc. ) and make an online reservation (you can do so 24 hours in advance ) You might find yourself looking forward to getting to the airport early if you have access to a premium travel rewards card. If you’re feeling nervous, do n’t worry. That’s perfectly normal. Every traveler experiences anxiety or ambiguity. But you’ve made it this far. Trust your planning and follow your instincts. You’re about to have the trip of a lifetime.