There are more and more people that want to look over fence and strike out to shorter or longer trip. Content of this article won´t be nothing special for old tramps, but who knows – maybe you will find useful information, too. 🙂
So how to plan the trip and how much to plan?
There isn´t only one way nor the best way. I am aware of that and maybe something that works for us – won´t work for you. But I believe that this article will be helpful for beginners and maybe even encouraging.
Those who are going on their first trip are often wondering whether to go with travel agency or to plan the trip themselves. We abide to our own planning. The first reason and often not the most important one are the expenses. When we do all the planning ourselves it halves the expenses compared to travel agency. The difference becomes even more considerable if you are family of several members.
But the money isn´t the only reason why we plan our own trips. There is a matter of time which we arrange as we like. There is freedom of movement around new country in rhythm that suits you the most. You can adjust travel rhythm to your condition, needs and experiencing or not experiencing beautiful stuff. You can make your own decisions whether to have peaceful and quiet time, in-depth conversation or chaos of streets and markets.
If inside of you kindle even the smallest wish to peek further away of our neighbouring countries, use this article as positive encouragement. And believe that everything is possible and the most beautiful things are always happening outside of our comfort zone.
After you definitely decide to go to travel, you can follow some of these steps:
- PLANE TICKETS
The most important are defining destination and buying plane tickets. You can search for sales and that way you can really buy cheap plane tickets and with that considerably lower the budget of travel. You can follow your heart and your dreams and decide to go to the country you really want to go. There aren´t right and wrong choices, just the one that you make. For us is the most important that we sense the country, that we are attracted to it and really want to see it. I don´t imagine to see all the beautiful places of our Earth, because there are too many. But I wish to see those that are high on my travel wish-list. That is why we – almost always – decide about country first and then we start looking for plane tickets.
- HOW TO GET CHEAPER PLANE TICKETS
If you are traveling with children be attentive to good plane connections, which means you won´t spend a lot of time on the airports when changing planes. You shouldn´t be discouraged to travel by planes because of children as they bear plane trip surprisingly good. At least if we make the plane ride interesting and our carry-on luggage is prepared wisely (more about that in other part of the article).
- TERM OF TRAVEL
When you are deciding about term of your travel, you should be informed about the weather, climate, season, possible monsoon time, even holidays of country of your destination. At that time there can be crowded and prices can be higher. The most expensive are trip during New Year´s time – so if you want to spare an euro – you should avoid traveling at that time. Except if you want to escape from December madness in Slovenia. Which isn´t bad at all. Traveling to Asia right before monsoon season or right after it, can be less crowded and for reasonable price. But the weather isn´t so reliable anymore due to climate changes, so even monsoon season is not as predictable as it used to be. You should just avoid the peak of monsoon season and that´s it. Don´t forget that Chinese New Year begins on February 4th and traveling near China at that time isn´t the best decision, because many Chinese take a vacation. Because of displeasing crowd of Chinese tourist. In time of holidays (ours, locals or Chinese´) it´s good to make a reservation in advance. Or go to less inhabited areas (which experienced travelers often do, the beginners not so much).
- NATURAL RHYTHMS IN THE MOMENT OF TRAVEL OR IN THE MOMENT OF BUYING PLANE TICKETS
You shouldn´t travel or buy tickets in time of eclipse (twice a year) or in time of retrograde Mercury. Knowledge of natural rhythms and finding out its connection to people´s lives here and now is part of me and my occupation for a long time. It is not about how things around us have effect on us, as people often think. It is about what is happening inside of us and in our surrounding. There is higher chance that something will go wrong in time of eclipse or retrograde Mercury. Which is nothing special, actually, but if we can enlarge the possibility that as little as possible go wrong – why not.
You should arrange insurances when the term of travel is determined and you have bought plane tickets. You can take out insurance on your plane ticket and against cancellation of travel. We have never done this when Peter and I were alone. Now that our “cubs” travel with us, we take out insurance in case of cancelation of travel due to illness. Caution: at our insurance company you have to do this in two days after buying tickets. If that is Friday evening, you have to at least send them notice with copy of plane ticket enclosed. You can take insurance against other expenses as well – hotel, rent a car… You should also take additional insurance for traveling abroad. You can do this for shorter period of time – as long as your trip is or for longer period of time. We take this insurance for whole year which is the most favorably.
- PASPORTS, VISAS
You should check validity of passport and find out whether you need visa for the country you are traveling to. You should do this as soon as possible, so you wouldn´t worry about that just before your trip starts. We have big privilege not needing visa for many countries. We can travel even to Hong Kong without visa as opposed to Chinese.
- MAP OF DESTINATION COUNTRY
Before you start planning the trip, you should get yourself a map of your destination country. We always buy paper map if it is possible. I know – someone will say that in era of computers this is unnecessary additional cost. Maybe that´s true. But for us it is easier that way. And for me having a paper map in hands is really great feeling.
- PLANNING THE TRIP
And then my favorite part comes – planning the trip itself.
How to do it? At first I look at a lot of photos of our destination country. I type the name of the county in Google and I look and look … if something draws my attention I check where this place is located. And I make a tick. Then I read some travel itineraries of more quality travel agencies. I always get some useful information there. And I make some more ticks. I continue with reading blogs – Slovene and foreign. More ticks. Sometimes I write to some of the travelers. Even if I don´t know them. They have already been to that country, so they know it. You should never be afraid to ask. This way you can get good view and advice. And you can find some new friends. I also recommend travel lecture, they can be useful.
That way silhouette of a journey starts to show. You should also know how many kilometers you are talking about, so you can imagine how quickly (or slowly) you can travel. Program Google Earth is useful for that. Then you should read Trip Advisor. Through comments of travelers you can get a good amount of useful information about quality and prices of accommodations, activities and beautiful places. Trip Advisor is a must of our planning. But we never read Lonely Planet. It somehow doesn´t suit us, as well as many of well known travelers.
- ACOMMODATIONS ON THE WAY
Than the search for accommodation begins. Through Booking, Agoda, Trivago or direct contact in our destination country. We always make a reservation of accommodations in advance with possibility to change or cancel it – if it is possible. Many times we find inexpensive and likable accommodations according to comments of travelers on Trip Advisor that Booking, Agoda and Trivago don´t offer. How? On the internet we find that certain hotel, hostel or the one who rents certain accommodation and we write directly to them. Of course only if travelers recommended that certain accommodation on Trip Advisor. Basic English is enough. When you get over first fear towards such communication, everything goes smoothly.
I wish that we would be able to go on a longer trip for a few months and then I wouldn´t be reserving accommodations in advance. That is my wish, my vision. But as we normally travel for 3 to 4 weeks and with two children, we like to make travel easier, so we make reservations. But we don´t always stick to them. That way we avoid losing our time or troubles with finding a descent accommodation on the spot, when kids are tired and need some rest. But more time that we have – less we need it.
You should always enquire transportation in your destination country. In Asia you normally use local transportation, combined with hired drivers, especially if you travel with kids. But it is not necessary. But you should rent a car if you travel to destinations where the traffic isn´t so chaotic. That offers you more freedom of movement but not necessarily the genuine contact with local people. What suits us the most is something in the middle. The price of rent a car can vary greatly and it depends how much in advance you make a reservation or by which internet agency the reservation is made. It is interesting that European prices are lower than American´s. We have good experience with Billinger Mietwagen, Autoeurope, Expedia.ie and we never found better offer directly with certain rent-a-car service. It is really important that you take out insurance without straight deductible (without your own participation if damage happens). Otherwise it can be as much as 1000 Eur, so be careful. But it is also a great chance that you won´t need that. But we already had an accident when someone hit our car on parking spot and this insurance made sense.
- REST AND ACTIVITIES ON THE WAY
When you are planning your trip, you should plan enough time. Not enough time to see everything there is to see, but enough time to feel the country, to be able to stop and enjoy the journey, talk to the locals, read a book in peace. Less is more. And when it is done slowly, it is more beautiful and more adventures. Of course you travel around the country. But you should stop for a few days as well, on one or two or three locations. You should try to come home rested – mentally and physically. So you should rather plan slower tempo of traveling.
- STOP PLANNING
And then comes the moment when we say – stop planning. That´s it. And we let it go, and maybe we even forget about it a little. We live. Because we buy plane tickets mostly half-a-year prior, is this part so important. Because the most important is life that we live here and now and not somewhere in the future. Ten days or a week before our trip starts we start to occupy ourselves with the trip again.
More about this you can read in next article.