I get a lot of questions about the trips that I take so I thought I would start a series of blog posts about different aspects of travel. Today’s post is some tips to help you with planning your next trip.
I stayed at Hotel de Codega in Venice, Italy.
Deciding Where to Visit
I am sure most of you are like me and have a Pinterest board full of articles and images about places you want to visit. This is the fun part of trip planning. It is taking your bucket list and deciding what to cross off! Budget doesn’t need to come into play here. Simply make a list and then start to narrow it down.
On a trip you may be only crossing off one location, or you may be able to hit a few. For example, I knew I had several cities in Northern Italy that I really wanted to visit, so it made sense to lump those together to visit in one trip. At a later date I may want to spend more time in one of these locations, so some may stay on my trip wish list.
This is where you will decide how much time to spend in each location so you know if you are looking at a week trip or a 3-week trip.
Make a Route
Using Google maps, mark out the locations you want to visit to decide a plan of attack. This will help you know what airports you will be flying in and out of.
I stayed at Tornabuoni Suites Collection in Florence, Italy.
Make a Transportation Plan
Before booking your flights make sure you know how you will get from city to city, especially if visiting remote areas. For example, when I travelled to Norway, some locations only had flights a few days a week so knowing this information will be helpful.
If you are renting a car, look at those options as I have found that rental costs can be drastically different at some locations. In Europe you will find that train travel is easy and inexpensive, but you need to make sure you leave time to meet those schedules. A good transportation plan is important.
Make a Budget
Now that you have the details planned out you can make a budget. Make sure it is realistic and leave a contingency for unexpected expenses. A currency converter is a handy app to use for this.
I stayed at Appartamenti e Camere Edi in Riomaggiore, Italy.
Now that you have a rough idea of your trip, you can go ahead and book your flights. The first 3 steps can be done well in advance so that you can keep an eye open for flight deals as they come up. Depending on how flexible your schedule is, this can be a great way to travel without spending a lot. It is always good to try to book the longer legs of your flight as far in advance as possible to keep costs down.
Some destinations may have a specific season or month you want to travel or you want to avoid. Keep this in mind when booking. For example, I went to Italy and France in September. The weather was great but the crowds were less than if I had went in the summertime.
Research and Book Places to Stay
On my trip to Italy I used hotels.com to research and book my accommodations. I love that they have all of the reviews written by previous guests to read. It is also a great way to make sure you stay on budget as you can sort the hotel options by rate.
Hotels.com Rewards are awesome! Who doesn’t love collecting points and earning rewards!?! You can collect 1 night for every night you stay at an eligible hotel. Once you have collected 10 Rewards nights, you’ll get 1 free* night at an eligible hotel, and there are more than 297,000 worldwide. The value of your free night is equal to the average rate of the 10 nights you collected to earn it.
Another great tool for assisting with choosing a good accommodation is Loved by Guests awards. The Loved by Guests awards, determined through the analysis of millions of guests reviews, celebrate hotels that provided a top notch experience. Resorts and hotels taking home the top prize of a Loved by Guests Gold Award have all achieved an average guest review rating of 4.7 or higher. In 2016, a total of 153 hotels in Italy were awarded this honour. It was easy finding a place to stay that I knew was highly regarded by previous guests.
All these guest favourite hotels are bookable through the Hotels.com mobile app or online.
Research Things to Do and Places to See
Now that you know when you will be in specific cities, you can plan each day of your trip in a bit more detail. Some trips you may want a more relaxed approached and just do things on a whim, but I find I can fit more in if I plan my days out.
I create an itinerary for each day and then adjust on the go if needed due to weather, etc. If there are events or locations you want to visit where tickets are needed, you can usually get them cheaper by booking ahead. For some activities, especially in peak periods, you will need to book early, too.
Research Places to Eat
Since I have a rigid diet, I like to plan out places to eat or find out where I can purchase food ahead of time. Plus, it is always good to have time to read reviews and get recommendations from other travellers.
For longer trips I usually try to book accommodation in a suite, flat or cabin (you can find these on Hotels.com, too!) so that I can make my own food. Not only will this save money, but it is also great for those trying to eat healthy. When in remote areas, make sure you know the locations of the local grocery stores and their hours.
Make sure that you check your passport to see when it expires. Also see if you need visas, international driver’s permits, etc. On my trip to Norway, a boat licence was needed to rent a boat. By planning ahead I was able to get this before I left for my trip.
Make your Packing List
I am sure I will write a whole blog post detailing how to make a packing list and how important it is to pack light.
Thanks to Nicole Autumn Photography for all the images.
This blog post is brought you in collaboration with Hotels.com . Thank you for supporting the brands that support me.
Doing research beforehand definitely helps ensure you don’t miss anything! I like to at least know what there is to see before arriving any place new!
To travel is to live 🙂 loved your lost, very helpful tips 🙂
I never knew that Google Maps had a feature that allows you to pin the locations you want to visit so you can determine when to go to a certain location. Thats cool and something I have to try out. You pictures are nice as well. Do you take them yourself and how do you edit them.
This was super helpful! My husband and I are in the beginning stages of planning our first trip to Europe and I am so pinning your article to keep us on track and make sure we don’t forget anything in our planning process!
Southern and Style
I’ve never used Hotels.com before, but it sounds like a great site! i love that it offers an array of accommodations, not just hotels. I will definitely refer back to this when planning my next big trip 🙂
XO, SS || Seersucker Sass
I love these tips for successful travel. I’ve started utilizing Google Maps when I have Wifi, and saving it for when I don’t have a connection!
Tori || Victori Media