I love travelling. I love going to a new place and meeting new people and eating new food. But I must admit that half the fun for me is the planning and anticipation!
The first thing to do when preparing to go on a trip is deciding where and when to go! Keep in mind that the weather can make all the difference! If you are planning on being outdoors all day having it rain the entire time can ruin the whole trip. Usually the best times to travel are in March and September. It’s off season and the weather is usually mild. Obviously if you are planning on lying on the beach and getting a tan or skiing you should probably stick to the appropriate season!
Next on the agenda (and probably the most important!) is the budget. It’s no good deciding that you are going to go to somewhere when you can’t afford to get there. You need to be realistic about how far your money is going to take you.
These are some of the expenses that you need to consider:
Before you leave (visa fees, buying the right equipment etc.)
Transportation costs (depending on where you are going these could include an international plane fare, shorter trips within the continent/country as well as local transport within the city)
Food and Drinks
When trying to figure out your budget, you need to decide what kind of traveler you are. There are 3 main types of travelers. (Of course there are all the in between kind of people as well but for the sake of simplicity we will stick to these 3.)
1. Top of the line - luxury hotels, best restaurants etc.
2. Middle of the road - nice, clean budget hotel, breakfast at the hotel, sandwiches for lunch and maybe a splurge for dinner
3. Economical - sleep in a dorm with 15 other people and eating 2 meals a day.
I would recommend trying to book things is advance and keep your eye out for specials. About two months is usually a good window of time. There are lots of websites that offer deals for hotels. When I travelled to Europe I stayed in budget hotels that had a private room with a private bathroom that worked out cheaper than a shared dorm in a hostel just because I had booked in advance.
If you can try to plan a rough guide as to what you would like to do while you there. This can save you a lot of money, time and hassle while on the trip. For example I booked tickets to the Vatican online and saved myself standing in a queue for 2 hours in the hot sun. Through doing a bit of research I also picked up some tips from other travelers about where to go and get the best deals.
Websites that I find helpful when planning trips are:
*Lonely Planet - general info about places and it does a pretty good job of estimating budgets but I would recommend doing more in depth research as it's not always up to date.
*Trip Advisor - has a wealth of reviews and suggestions which are extremely useful *Kayak – useful to compare airline prices. I use it to see what airlines offer the best prices and then book through the airline itself as it’s generally cheaper. Flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest.
*Hotels - Easyclick, Agoda, Otel, Easytobook, Booking.
It can sometimes take a bit of effort to search through everything that Google comes up with but with some perseverance you will find information that can save you lots of money and time!