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4-Steps to the Perfect Trip

Updated on November 25, 2019
AntonyPilkington profile image

I love to get out and explore as much as possible! Whether it is culture, nature or cuisine, I'm doing my best to learn about it all !

So, you want to travel? Great choice!

Travelling is amazing for so many reasons, but starting the planning process can be daunting! That is why you are here...

Together we will look at how to get started with planning a trip going through:

  1. Where interests you?
  2. Who is going?
  3. When are you going? (and how long for)
  4. How are you going to do it? (Budget etc.)

Let's get to it!

Step 1: The JOY of planning a trip!

There are two ways of reading that sentence:

  1. "Yay! Let's get started! I'm excited, let the adventure begin!"
  2. "URGH! Can't I just get on the plane already?!"

Whichever one strikes a chord with you, fear not! You can adapt these steps to what is best for you!

DISCLAIMER: This will only work if you are honest with yourself and realistic!

Now, I love maps; of the world, of cities, of places in general. So my "STEP 1", naturally, involves grabbing a map of the world and laying it out in front of you!

Have a look at it and cover up anywhere that is of no interest to you to visit right now.

That was an easy step, an now we work through the next steps, covering up places to narrow our search!

STEP 2: WHO is going?

A cart ride with friends at the Mekong Delta in Vietnam
A cart ride with friends at the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

There are basically two options here:

  1. You (alone)
  2. You (with a friend/group)

There are pros and cons to both which are important to think about for example

Travelling alone:

  • Freedom
  • Selfishness
  • More potential to learn/grow (in my opinion)
  • Having to figure things out yourself
  • Forces you to be more social

Travelling with others:

  • Safety in numbers
  • Less individual responsibility for planning
  • Can reduce costs for shared accommodation etc.
  • Already have friends
  • Can figure things out together

The pros of one seem to be the cons of the other so it all comes down to preference.

When I first went travelling alone I was scared that I wouldn't make any friends, turns out that I often found it more difficult to tell people I needed to just chill rather than explore with everyone I met!

Just me, hiking in Sri Lanka, with all my mates
Just me, hiking in Sri Lanka, with all my mates

How does the "WHO" change your planning?

Travelling Solo
Group Travel
Safety - cover places you'll feel unsafe
Group interests - cover places that not everyone will like
Meeting people - cover places that are too touristy/remote
Group dynamic - cover places not fitting for the group
Challenge - cover places that are too similar/different to home, depending on the challenge you want (cultural difference/language etc)
Organisation - cover places that will be logistically challenging for the group (maybe look at package tours for groups bigger than 4?)
As you answer the questions, cover up places on the map to help you narrow your search!

STEP 3: WHEN are you free?

There are two real questions within this section:

  1. How long are you free for?
  2. What time of year are you travelling?

STEP 3a: HOW LONG are you free for?

This question should make you think about how long do you want to be away? and how far are you able to go?

Time is very limiting! You don't want to spend half of your time getting to and from the destination!

If you have a week off work and want to travel, I’d suggest somewhere that isn’t going to take too long to get to:

E.g. Travelling from London to Bali for a week is probably not worth it, maybe look for somewhere closer? (Even though Bali is amazing)

Oh Bali! Why do you have to be so far away?
Oh Bali! Why do you have to be so far away?

My rough preference guide (everyone is different!)

Flight Time (Up to __hrs)
Backpacking time
4 Days +
1 Week +
3 Weeks +
More than 6hrs
1-1.5 Months+

Look at flight times and think about what your time is worth!

Also, how much do you want to see?

Seeing many places in a short time means moving around a lot.

Seeing a few places for a long time gives you more time to take in the culture but you see fewer places...

Anecdote time: I recently went to Belgrade, booked 3 nights to explore the city. Over two weeks later the receptionist, of Hedonist Hostel, booked me a shuttle to Bosnia Herzegovina because the hostel was fully booked. I like to take my time and move on when I am ready.

If there are places you want to go to, but don’t have time to see on this trip? Save them for another trip, cover them up on your map!

Mostar, Bosnia - Sad to leave Serbia but it was definitely worth it!
Mostar, Bosnia - Sad to leave Serbia but it was definitely worth it!

STEP 3b: WHAT TIME OF YEAR will you be travelling?

Looking for sun in January? Cover up Sweden!

Looking for snow at Christmas? Avoid New Zealand!

Not all countries have four seasons in the same way as the UK. A quick google will show you when the best times to visit a country are.

Important seasons (other than Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring) to look out for are the following:

  • Wet/Dry season
  • Monsoon season
  • Hurricane season

Managed to time my trip in New Zealand well with pretty perfect weather!
Managed to time my trip in New Zealand well with pretty perfect weather!

STEP 4: HOW MUCH can you actually afford?

Main factors to consider:

  • Getting there (plane/bus/train)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Accommodation
  • Getting around
  • Food
  • Activities

On average I have found that around £40 ($52) a day is more than enough (after arrival).

This figure does not mean much however as it is possible to live in Thailand for £5 ($6.50) a day:

Price (£)
Price ($)
Hostel (w. breakfast)
Food (2 meals - streetfood)
Walking around markets
Large Beer
Rough prices for a day in Thailand for the budget conscious!
Khaosan Road, Bangkok - one of the best places to get crazy cheap, crazy good street food as a backpacker!
Khaosan Road, Bangkok - one of the best places to get crazy cheap, crazy good street food as a backpacker!

All Done!

Hopefully there are still areas of your map uncovered! If not either start again or maybe it’s not time for a trip away!

If you have a lot left then you are lucky, it is time to start putting together combinations of places and figure out which one really sparks your excitement!

Enjoy you new personalized world to travel!

I hope this helped...

My sole aim is to help you guys plan a trip! Please leave a comment below - if you liked the article, think I missed something or want information about another aspect of travel!!

© 2019 Antony Pilkington


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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 days ago from UK

      You give great tips in this article. We often struggle on the where to go question. The cover up the map strategy is a great idea.


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