Planning travel can be overwhelming. It can be difficult deciding on what destination you want to go to, what activities you want to do and what budget you want to spend.
It’s hard enough planning a trip, let alone planning your dream trip.
But we’ve put together a list of questions to ask yourselves before you decide to book your flight or buy a package.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have the tools to create the vacation of a lifetime without breaking the bank.
Tips to Help You Plan Your Dream Trip
1. Where do you want to go?
We have been to110 countries and we still have a hard time choosing our destination.
It’s a big world and whenever we plan our vacations, we can feel overwhelmed deciding on what destination to choose.
What do you want to do?
So instead of just picking a country out of a hat, we think about what we want to do.
- Do we want our trip to be an adventure?
- Do we want warmth and sunshine?
- Do we want a beach to walk on?
- Do we want to be in the mountains?
- Are we looking for cultural experiences?
- Do we want to relax?
When you know what you want to do, it’s easier to narrow down a destination.
New Zealand or Iceland is great for adventure.
The Mediterranean is a wonderful place to relax while immersing in the culture.
2. What is your budget?
Location plays a huge part in deciding your budget and choosing a destination.
Southeast Asia is probably the most affordable destination on the planet.
South and Central America are more reasonable than North America.
Package tours to the Caribbean and Mexico can save you a lot of money.
Read Our Tips on How to Save Money For Travel Can help you find more money for your next trip.
Eastern Europe is cheaper than western Europe and the Eastern countries of Europe are less traveled and can feel like you are going off the beaten path.
If we want a luxury escape, we can stay in 5-star hotels in Southeast Asia or Central America, but there is no way we can afford five-star in Europe or the US.
3. How Far Will Your Dollar Stretch?
We also think about currency exchange.
For Canadians, the United States can be an expensive vacation, but for people making purchases on the Euro or British Pound, it can be a bargain.
We look up the exchange of the country to see how far our Canadian dollar will go.
How far will your dollar stretch? The British Pound is worth a lot more than the Mexican Peso, for example.
We’ve splurged on what felt like an ultra-luxury vacation in Mexico (for our Canadian budget) but when we talk to someone from Britain, it’s quite affordable to them.
4. What Type of Accommodation do you Prefer?
Accommodation plays a huge role in budgeting your trip.
Depending on the trip we take, we sometimes want a luxury 5-star hotel, but other times a budget hotel will do just fine?
If we are staying in a place for an extended period of time, we will want to look at apartment rentals and AirBnBs.
When staying in an apartment and cooking meals at home we can save our budget for adventures like climbing mountains or going kayaking.
Think of all these questions to help decide how much your budget will get you.
5. Do I have Any Travel Rewards Points?
You’ll see this in a lot of “How to Plan Your Travel” posts, And with good reason!
Avid travelers recommend rewards credit cards because they work!
If you know you are going to be traveling a year from now, sign up for a credit card that offers rewards.
Put your everyday purchases on that card to rack up the points, but make sure to pay it off monthly.
Normally credit card programs have signing bonuses where they’ll offer you enough points for a free domestic flight or several nights in a hotel.
Dave and I have put a two thousand dollars in points towards a luxury vacation with our own private pool en-suite. We couldn’t’ have afforded such a luxury room without them.
We’ve stayed all over the world, using our American Express points.
We always have several hundreds of dollars worth of points to use because we use our card to buy the everyday items that we would already need to purchase like gas, groceries, and day to day items.
Points can add up quickly.
But remember, don’t overextend yourself. Ever.
6. Are my Travel Dates Flexible?
Is your dream trip a spur of the moment vacation where you’ll be looking for last-minute deals?
It’s possible to get great discounts if you can book at the last minute.
If you have flexible dates, you can save a bundle as well!
We use Skyscanner to search for flights and look 3-5 days on either side of our desired date.
We have saved thousands of dollars on a flight (for two people) just by moving our travel dates by a day or two.
We’ve also found business class tickets for the same (or cheaper) flight on a different date than flying coach.
7. Am I willing to Visit During Shoulder Season?
If you have flexibility in your dates, you can go anywhere.
But if you have fixed travel dates because of work, look for the destinations that are in the offseason that fit into your schedule.
Shoulder seasons are different for each part of the world.
The high season in Peru is very different from the high season in the Bahamas.
Can you travel during the shoulder season when everyone else is at work?
You can save a lot of money during the off-season and the crowds are far less.
It’s worth looking into the time of year you are traveling and then deciding on a destination that is currently just coming out of, or just about to enter the high season.
8. Should I travel on a Group Trip?
Do you want to travel with a group on a tour or do you want to plan your own itinerary?
There is nothing wrong with either way. You just need to make a choice.
Many people choose group trips to ease the stress of planning and having to make bus, train, or transfer plans.
When you go with a group, all you have to do is select the tour and book your ticket.
This is an excellent choice for busy professionals that only have a week or two of vacation time a year.
When you have limited time, you don’t have a lot of room for error, so it is a good idea to leave the planning up to the travel professionals.
9. Should I Travel Independently?
Independent travel can also be far more affordable than a prepaid package tour, but it can also take a lot more time to plan.
It’s important to think about how much time you have before your vacation to plan your travels and how much time you have during your vacation.
Independent travel tends to be slower and there is more room for error, so you may find yourself lost or changing plans along the way.
10. Do I Have all the Right Documents?
Before you travel, make sure you look to see if you need visas.
Is your passport up to date? Many countries won’t let you enter if your passport expires within 6 months.
If you are renting a car, do you need an international driver’s license or will your home country’s license suffice?
After you’ve done everything. Make backup copies of all your documents and store them on email or in the cloud.
All of these tips will get you started on the right foot when you are planning out where you want to take your next vacation.
More Travel Planning Resources:
- How to choose the Right Travel Insurance
- How to Pack a First Aid Kit
- The Ultimate Pre-Travel Checklist
What’s your best tip for planning your travels?