So you’re planning a big trip. Firstly I’d like to say – IMSOEXCITEDFORYOU! I’m sure you’ve worked many hard hours to prepare for this. I know it’s not an easy feat to get to this point.
The next step in your preparation phase is to decide on your approach to planning the trip. I’ve travelled various ways over the years and each approach has their advantages and disadvantages. You also need to consider what will work for the country you are visiting, for e.g. Asia has less online information available than Europe so this could make pre-booking challenging. Anyway, let’s compare the different approaches.
#1 Don’t plan anything AT ALL.
Get yourself a one-way ticket and just go. If you’re inclined to go with this approach you’re probably not the type to read a million blogs so this probably isn’t you.
This is a very romantic notion and allows maximum flexibility and freedom to find impromptu adventures. You never know what you might find! However, it will occasionally result in you missing out on good accommodation or that activity you had been dying to do. These days many popular places require pre-booking (e.g. the Blue Lagoon in Iceland) or have long waiting times if you don’t (e.g. the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam).
On one hand you might miss out on early bird deals or special offers along the way, on the other hand you might luck out and get last minute deals.
#2 Don’t plan anything; let others do it for you!
Visit a travel agent or book in for a tour.
Perfect if you’re time or energy poor and a great way to meet new people. It’s also an option if you’re feeling uneasy about travelling to a particular country without support.
This will obviously mean less flexibility and freedom overall. Often this is more expensive than doing it on your own. Travel agents tend to book hotels, not hostels. Tours have extra costs involved.
#3 Have partial plans.
Book the main transfers or specific activities but leave everything else open. Alternatively, book a few weeks and then leave a few weeks unplanned. You can even combine a little of #1, #2 and #4. This is completely up to you.
Not a bad option. Some flexibility but it means you can secure activities or accommodation that you’re really excited about. It can make it difficult if you’ve already booked some sections of the trip but can’t get tickets for transport in between etc.
#4 Initiate maximum planning mode.
Have everything from transport, accommodation to daily activities planned and paid for (if possible).
This is becoming easier with more online booking systems. If I have the time and there is sufficient online information then this is my favourite way to travel for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s fun to plan and dream (a.k.a procrastinate) whilst you’re working hard pre-travels. Secondly, whilst you’re travelling it is a wonderful feeling when things are already paid for. It also means you budget your TIME better and don’t spend all your days in the one area (easy to do when you’re visiting beautiful places). There’s a safety element too, as you can send your itinerary to friends and family or enter it into SmartTraveller.
This of course results in limited flexibility and can cause issues if something is cancelled or there’s bad weather etc. This can be a pain. In good news, often you can change things around. It’s important to know cancellation policies though.
If you think you might trial this option, I will add a spreadsheet that I’ve used as an example (stay tuned).
I hope this helps! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email us.