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  • Writer's pictureAlexis Dean

Trip planning 101: Where do I go from here?!

It's time to plan your next adventure, but you're stuck. There are endless destinations around the world you'd like to visit, but which one would be best for this trip? How will you ever choose? I've found the perfect #TravelHack for this, and I'm about to show you how to do it too.

Most of the time when planning a trip, we have a time frame already chosen for when we can / would like to travel. Be it a specific month, week, or exact dates. You can use this to help choose a destination!

Step 1. When do I want to travel?

The first thing I do once I've figured the month I will traveling in, is open up google search and type in "best destinations to visit in February" (lets us that as an example!). From there, you'll find dozens of articles from places like Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and more. I use this to make a list of my top 5 places from all the suggested options to help narrow it down. Some of the things that factor in to what makes my "top 5" are considerations like, environment (city, beach, forest etc), food (as a foodie this is an important one for me), and weather (no one likes to accidentally plan a trip somewhere during hurricane season.)

Step 2. What type of trip am I looking for?

I've realized over time that there are two types of trip for me. A "vacation" or a "trip". It may sound silly, but the difference between the two is how I want to spend my time while I'm there. For example, for my birthday in November 2021 I went to Jamaica on a vacation. This for me meant staying at an all inclusive resort, sleeping in, not packing my schedule full of stuff each day, and a lot of relaxing. Over a 7 day stay, I only went out on 2 days of excursions, and I treated myself to 2 days at the spa.

When I visited Thailand in March 2020, I went on a "trip". I was there for 2 weeks and stayed in 3 different destinations, visited places daily, went on a guided foodie tour of Bangkok, and a fun snorkeling + boating adventure. While I relaxed for portions of it, this was really about experiencing Thailand and putting myself out there for adventures. It was totally different than my Jamaican vacation. Once you've decided which of these experiences you're looking for, take that list you made of 5 places, and break it down to 3 places.

Step 3. Planes, Trains & Automobiles?

Once you've got your list whittled down to 3 destinations, it's time to compare transportation prices! While everyone has different budgets for their adventures, I think we can all agree the feeling of not wanting to go somewhere for 3 x the price we can go somewhere else we want to visit equally as bad. Some of my favorite flight seeking tools are Google Flights, SkyScanner, and Scotts Cheap Flights. You can browse options departing from multiple airports and regions. I also like how these sties provide you with tools to view flight prices by month, and week to find the best rates if your dates are flexible.

I do have one cardinal rule when it comes to booking flights. Always book it directly through the airline. Once you've found that wonderful rate, go straight to the airlines website and book directly. If the rate on their site is not the same, give the booking number a call and they may be able to match the rate you found online. Why do this? It gives you the most protection when it comes to travel disruptions, lost luggage and more.

Another great #TravelHack for booking your flight is to use your credit card when possible. Most (not all) major credit cards have travel protection/insurance built into the card. For more details, I recommend calling your credit card company and asking them for a copy of what their travel terms and conditions are for purchasing flights! It may just save you a headache if anything happens, and may help you from having to purchase extra travel insurance.

Step 4. I'm going to sleep where?

You've narrowed in town to 3 choices, and finally got your cost to travel there by using your flight resources. You'll be making your final cut and decision when seeking overnight lodging! Take your budget into consideration along with your desired type of trip, and from there decide if a vacation rental service like Airbnb or Vrbo is a good fit. Will a hostel shared dorm of private room fit the bill? Or is it a better deal to book a hotel room with resort like amenities? The choice is yours!

Some things to consider when selecting overnight accommodation will be things like: Am I traveling alone? Do I want to have a common space where I can easily meet other people? Am I sharing a room with a friend? Would I prefer amenities a hotel may offer like room service and daily housekeeping? One of my favorite services for finding a good hotel is by using TripAdvisor, then visiting the hotel website directly.

Hotel room at RIU Montego Bay Jamaica
RIU Montego Bay Jamaica

Step 5. The decision

Once you've followed all the steps above, and compared everything with your over all trip budget and desires. The answer should be easy! You've chosen your destination, and already have flights + lodging in mind. You are ready to go and book it.

Now that you have Trip Planning 101: Where do I even Go in your head, I hope these tips can help plan your next adventure! Make sure to subscribe for more #TravelHacks and return for Trip Planning 101: Where do I even stay?!

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