Planning travel–whether you are on the precipice of your first solo trip or you are having to order extra pages for your passport–is a nerve-racking business. You are literally putting yourself out there, and the world can be a complicated and stressful place. The stress is not helped by the noise of options and opinions.
Below is the checklist I run through every time I am planning to go somewhere new. I hope it helps you head-off some headaches.
The travel requirement could make or break an international trip, so it’s best to check what paperwork is require before doing any other planning. I typically use CIBT Visas.
Here are the two sites I’m currently using to find cheap plane tickets (but make sure you check their baggage fees before buying):
If you are doing local travel, I suggest looking at Rome2Rio. They compare prices of various modes of transportation and compare the time it would take. They also have an app!
find a place to stay
If you need to look for cheap hotels or hostels, I suggest Hostel World. They also produce great travel content to help you travel better.
If you stay in the hostel, I suggest making sure they have wifi, a community kitchen, and an area to hang out in during the day. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before, you’ll need/ want these three things:
- a locker lock.
- shower shoes.
- and your own towel.
I also check AirBNB, partially because I’m interested in the prices but also because I like looking at the local housing.
Call your bank and tell them about your travel plans so they don’t freeze your accounts for strange activity.
Also check what the local currency is, whether or not your credit cards are accepted there, if there are plenty of ATMs and if most places only accept cash.
I highly recommend travel insurance; World Nomads is my travel insurer of choice.
Anecdote: When my flight home from London for Christmas was cancelled, the original airline was useless helping me arrange alternative travel arrangements. So I took matters into my own hands and booked a flight on with different airline. My travel insure covered the inconvenient headache and I got a full refund for my last-minute flight purchase! Seriously, get travel insurance.
phone + data
Call your cell phone provider and ask about their travel plans. There is also the option of buying SIM cards as you travel. Forbes published Are Travel Sim Card With It? a few years ago.
how to get around where I’m going
Download the Google Maps for wherever you are/ are going so you don’t have to be on Wifi or use your data to navigate. Here is a Google Help Page on how to do that.
#1 travel planning tip
Screw everyone else’s suggestions; screw their Instagram feeds, their travel blog, and their insistence that something is a “can’t miss.” You do you. If you want to sleep in, sleep in. If you want to go to the Hard Rock Cafe again, go to the Hard Rock Cafe again; get your cheese burger, boo. If you want to drag your best friend into a favela in Rio de Janeiro for a beer at sunset… be careful… but, go for it!