After having compiled a beginner’s guide to start planning a trip, here is a more in-dept guide for those of you who prefer to plan out everything in detail (like myself). I never leave anything random when I travel as I want to make the most of the time I have abroad. Being a meticulous person I plan every step of the way. This includes walking directions thanks to google maps so as not to miss anything while walking around a city. Otherwise if we are driving I include scenic spots. I am well aware that there are other kind of travellers. You may be more into random adventure and leave a lot of their trip unplanned, so this post may not be for you.
1. What is the distance between A and B?
Google Maps is the best invention after the internet itself. It calculates the driving distance or walking distance from a location to another and even gives you directions. There are also images which you can view that are uploaded by Google Maps users. These indicate the exact location where that photo had been taken, so that you know what interesting sights are on your way. An infinite thanks to Google for this invention as I could never plan a trip without you!
2. How do I get from A to B?
Another interesting tool online is the transport search engine Rome2Rio. The platform is able to research any transportation method available that can get you from a place to another. It can be public transport like train, buses, flights etc. or even private transportation like taxis and driving. It also gives you timetables and prices if they are available online and links towards the supplier of the company that offers that particular service. Simply impeccable!
3. How do I enter locations in GPS?
Several people either have a GPS or use their own mobile or else rent it with their car. First of all if you travel frequently and tend to rent a car, I suggest you should invest in a proper GPS. There are several advantages of owning a GPS, like frequent road updates and real time traffic. Moreover you will get used to a particular system and you can save your destinations beforehand. But how do you save the places? If you are visiting a village you don’t just write the name of the village! I usually search beforehand a place where I can park my car close to the centre or a safe hard shoulder close that scenic viewpoint that I want to photograph. Again all of this can be done thanks to Google Maps. Right click on Google Maps and click on What’s Here, you get the exact coordinates that you can enter directly in your GPS. You cannot be more precise than that! This way you avoid wasting your time searching for a parking or a place to leave your car! Only for the time-savers! planning a trip
4. How to plan an itinerary
If you going on a longer trip and you are moving from a place to another, you might want to check out the following websites that help you planning a trip with ideas for itineraries and how much to spend in a particular place. Especially for long-haul trips you might want to check itineraries prior to booking your flights to be sure you are spending enough time in your destination as you may not be able to visit again that place for a long while.
✓ Very user-friendly site that makes up an itinerary for you and gives you detailed instructions of how to get from a place to another
☓ Works only for the most popular cities, less visited places are not yet present on this website
Tip: Use this website for the city part of your trip. Not very good for finding stops on a scenic route.
✓ First hand experience who someone who has been there with detailed descriptions and for some of the most remote destinations blogs are your only online resource
☓ Finding travel blogs relevant to your destinations may be tricky
Tip: Don’t get discouraged when you read about the mishaps of other travel bloggers, we tend to write everything on our blogs to provide our readers with the most truthful accounts 🙂
5. How is the weather like during that period? Or when is the best time to go to … ?
There are places where the weather might not be ideal to go on the dates you wish to travel, like the hurricane season in August and September in the Caribbean. Some time ago I had posted a guide on when is the best time to go to certain countries and when is best avoiding them. There are also websites like Holiday Weather Averages which show average rainfall and average temperatures per month so that you can get an idea of how the weather will be like when you are travelling to that place. Other websites which you may find useful are Accuweather for the forecasts and the Travel Webcams for a real time picture of your destinations.
6. Which vaccines do I need to take?
CDC.gov answers your questions right away, giving general information that is relevant for most travellers. However the required vaccinations may vary according to the type of activities you will be doing. For example if you will be in close contact with wildlife, you may need to take the rabies vaccine. However it is always advisable to talk with your personal GP prior to travelling and discuss with them the best options.
7. Is it safe to travel to that country or area?
Travelling to a safe place is becoming more of an issue lately and in my opinion the more remote a destination is, the safer it is. Terrorism has changed our perspectives and what seemed safe before, may no longer be so today. European cities are constantly under the threat of terrorist attacks and large crowds and events are surely not the best place to be. The UK government has a website with the safety situations in all the countries in the world which include terrorism threat levels, natural disaster alerts as well as recent reports of criminality and violence with the areas that should be avoided. Worth taking a look at!
8. Finding restaurants
Food is a serious issue for me and each time I go to a restaurant I make it a point that I research about it on Trip Advisor. I have been disappointed several times and going to touristic places might lead you towards tourist traps. Part of my research includes the research for the best restaurants, which may be tucked away from that busy square or street, that are worth the extra mile. Research on Trip Advisor never disappoints!
A flight to get to a particular country may be very cheap, but I usually do not book a flight without knowing the cost of my whole trip. I travel a lot and I plan a budget for each trip, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to travel so often. So I take budgeting very seriously and I want to know exactly how much a trip is costing me. Numbeo.com gives you a rough idea of the cost of the basics like accommodation, food, transportation etc. On its homepage it offers a very convenient map of the world illustrating the most expensive cities in the world like Northern Europe, Australia, Canada and the US to the cheapest ones in Eastern Europe and the Asian continent. Very cost effective! planning a trip
10. Choosing your favourite flight seat
Choosing the correct seat on a 10 hr flight might make or break your trip, or at least the first part of it. Seat Guru by trip advisor gives you maps of all types of aircrafts and facilities available on each seat, like sockets to charge your devices, the best screens to watch your favourite movies, seats with extra leg room, proximity to the toilets, how much a seat can recline and sometimes there are also travellers photos with reviews on some of the seats. For the most demanding! planning a trip
11. Photography Planning
I love researching beautiful photographs of the place I am visiting taken my fellow colleagues! It is my favourite part of planning a trip. 500px and Flickr are my favourite websites to do my research. Another tip for planning out the perfect shots is checking out the sunrise and sunset time as well as their directions and below are two impeccable tools that I always use: planning a trip
I am well aware that this level of meticulousness may be too much for some. However I take travelling very seriously and I actually enjoy planning a trip in this level of detail. For me this is simply part of the fun! My worse nightmare would be going on a surprise trip without having anything planned. It would be wasted time. Actually I am not sure whether exists anyone else which goes into this level of detail. I would love to hear your suggestions should you have any further resources that may help fellow travellers with their planning. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions that have not been answered in these two blog posts on how to plan a trip.