How many of you find planning a trip easy? How many of you feel confused about the process and feel stressful while executing the plan?
I can assure you after planning trips to 13 countries only in the last 2 years (July 2016 to August 2018); I can safely say I am getting a hang of it. I have managed to visit 27 cities or towns in these countries and clicked countless pictures.
Hence, I wished to write down a small process that I follow when planning a new trip. It more or less remains the same. I am never alone on these trips so I am planning a trip for me and my husband or sometimes even for my parents. Ours is a family where even our parents love to travel, so my in-laws have also accompanied us to some of these countries. I have managed to plan trips for four people in some of these 13 countries. While I am writing this, I have made a very big assumption that not everyone has travelled so often in the last two years, so bear with me if you have achieved more than this number. I salute you.
Before we go further, let me also clarify, we live and work in Europe and hence have better ideas of our holiday schedules. Also, living in Sweden is a big plus. Holidays are fixed and one is aware of office scene/workload well in advance to plan such trips.
OKAY! SO, LET’S BEGIN.
- Book a ticket to your place of choice well in advance 😉
Okay! So even if this is obvious yet it’s a bit tricky. Finding the right time to book the tickets is unbelievably difficult. What worked for me were festival sales by airlines. I must accept that I am a person who has started believing in advance booking. In November- December 2017, I had booked tickets for my April 2018 and August 2018 trips. This was due to the December sale of Norwegian airlines. Luckily, they had the cities I wished to visit in 2018.
Norwegian (lost cost airline) airlines have sufficed my needs. They have certain months of the year when they are running sale tickets. Please take advantage of it as it’s really worth it.
- Book a place to stay well in advance
Though comparatively, Budapest is cheap yet the place to stay remains expensive. As a couple, Hostels are a wonderful option too. I am a firm believer that when exploring a new city; the place to stay should be close to the city centre or easily accessible. This place should serve as a place to rest and have breakfast; remaining part of the day should be spent exploring the city that you have travelled to. I am a curious person by nature when I am in a new city.
Coming back to the topic at hand, I suggest hostels in Budapest. I have booked many hostels for my stays in different cities and rarely (almost never) had any bad experience. I always book my hostels through Hostelworld.
Also, I strongly suggest exploring Airbnb well in advance especially when you are going to stay with family members. For eg. We have lived in this beautiful white house filled with antique things in Flåm in Norway and this place was one of the best things we booked for our trip!
- Figure out your transport
Transport might seem like the most obvious thing to do before landing in a city but often most ignored. Read the reviews and information available online about the public transport system available before one lands there.
It is crucial to figure out how you will reach from the airport to the city. Most cities possess reliable public transport systems that connect the airport to the city. Yet there are many cities and towns which have airports in complicated locations and require prior booking and/or knowledge about the airport shuttle services. For eg. Route from Bergen airport to the actual city can be covered special bus which is convenient but we booked the tickets only after reaching Bergen airport. On the other hand, Lisbon airport had well connected/convenient metro lines to reach the city.
Cities with good transport system also have excellent tourist passes with time limits like 24 hr/48 hr passes that are cheap and convenient. For eg., While exploring Barcelona one needs a public transport system pass, while Lisbon can be explored effectively by living in the right area.
- Make a list of things to visit/ see
A lot can be completed in an evening. Don’t underestimate the power of good planning. There are people who take it as it goes, but at least have some idea what do you want to do in a brand new city. Don’t leave everything on the last minute, it can be overwhelming if you do not have internet access, shy of talking to strangers or simply get confused with directions.
- Figure out the best places to eat
Do you realize how important this is? Most important reason to travel is to explore new places to eat! Preferably select a place close to your chosen ‘place of stay’. If you are a person like me who has food restrictions, it is, even more, a reason to explore. Believe me, when I say there are always good vegetarian options, the point is ‘do you really have time to reach them?’ in that city – as not all of them are easily accessible. Make use of Tripadvisor and Google Guides not only for finding the best places to see in a city but also for restaurants. I have used them in past and rarely was disappointed. For eg., Even in a small town like Faro in South Portugal, I could locate best vegetarian burger outlet. You can read about my Faro experience here.
With all this *Gyan* I am sure you are ready to plan your next big trip!!! Let’s do this for awesome 2019.