Planning trips is one of my favorite activities and over the years, I’ve gotten into a pretty solid routine with it. There’s much, much more to it than just booking a flight and calling it a day, so I’m rounding up some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
The most important part of travel planning is giving yourself enough time to do just that: plan. Here’s how I like to think about the planning process:
1 year out. At around this time every year, I like to look ahead to the next year and start plotting where I want to go. As I do so, I take into account the best times of year to visit, as well as what else I have going on at that time. For me personally, I try to go on 2 big trips a year (one every 6 months), and then smaller ones peppered in between.
6 months out. Once I’ve decided where I want to visit in a year, I’ll then make calendar placeholders for myself to make sure I don’t start planning too late in the game. For instance, if I know I want to go to Italy in June, then I’ll set a reminder for myself to begin looking into it in January. Once January rolls around, I’ll start digging into the big ticket items: flights and hotels.
3 months out. At the three month mark, I try to start making an itinerary. I’ve shared specific tips for how to go about crafting an itinerary before, so definitely check out that post for more in-depth advice. In general though, I like to reach out to friends or family who have visited this place before, search blogs and forums for must-see sites, and compile all of this into an organized document. Also at this time, I’ll make restaurant reservations for the popular places that book up very far in advance.
1 month out. With my high level itinerary already mapped out, I’ll set aside some time at the one month mark to review it with a fine-tooth comb. I’ll restructure my itinerary such that it’s arranged by day and further sub-divided into times of day (morning, afternoon, and evening). I’ll also make any restaurant reservations I haven’t already, as well as book tours, museum tickets, and the like. Lastly, if I’m traveling internationally, I’ll also order the necessary currency at this time.
1 week out. The week leading up to the trip typically has the most to-do’s, so I try my best to divide them evenly over the seven days, as too not feel too overwhelmed. At the start of the week, I’ll do a big drug store haul and pick up any items I’ll need for the trip (ie: special medications, travel size bottles, magazines, etc.). In the middle of the week, I’ll focus on cleaning—tending to both my apartment, as well as my laundry. Once my clothes are clean and I’ve done a thorough audit of the weather in my destination, I’ll start packing. Finally, the day before a trip, I like to get my nails and toes done, as well as tend to my house chores.