Lessons on the Road: Travel Planning

I’m introducing a new kind of blog posts in my site, which are more on “Lessons on the Road” or the lessons I’ve learned while traveling. There are tons of them — from technical stuff to inspirational ones — and it would be a pity not to share them with others.

For this write-up, we’ll talk more about planning. Yes, we know it’s important, but to what extent and how should you make sure that you do proper planning?

How do you plan your trip?

Research, research, research

It is fundamental to do research of the place you will visit. Even if you are going to hire a travel agent or avail of a tour package, it pays to know about the destination where you are traveling — what are the social norms and rules, the currency rate, the kind of electricity they have, opening hours, etc. This saves you time and effort. Although someone else may be in-charge of such information, traveling is about learning, so make sure that you go to a place with a bit of knowledge of the people and their laws.

Check your documents and secure them

Do you need visa in going to the destination you have chosen? What are the requirements needed? Is your passport valid for more than six months when you travel? Make sure that your travel documents are placed in a secure place and always with you when you leave. Also, you can provide copies of your documents to your family members in case of emergencies. Are your credit cards working? Is your phone on international roaming? Do you have a print out of your hotel and tour bookings?

Allot your budget

How much are you willing to spend for the entire trip? Are there attractions or activities that you like to see or do that will not cost you so much? If you have more extra to spend, what luxuries do you want to enjoy? Also, always set aside for contingencies. Know where you can get good rates for currency exchange. Maybe you can just exchange a small amount in the airport just to get you to your hotel or accommodation and then find a forex outlet with better rates. Make sure you have cash on hand because you’ll never know if some stores accept credit cards or not or if there are only a few ATMs in the area.

Where can your budget bring you? What are the places you want to visit? What activities do you want to do?

Choose your activities

It’s easy to do this if you’re traveling alone. But if you’re with a group, maybe with your friends or family members, then you have to consider the preferences of others. Do you have children and elderly in your group? Are they more into food trips or shopping? What are your common grounds? Is there a need to split up at certain parts of the trip? Do you want something educational or something active and exciting? What attractions do you all like to visit? Does your budget allow you to do all these things?

Know your schedule

At the very beginning of planning is identifying the date when you’re traveling. What is most convenient for you? Then you can book your tickets or go to a travel agency to arrange your trip. Let’s say you have a ready itinerary from your travel agent, do you have some free time to meet up with a friend? If you’re doing your own, then you can outline the points of interest you want to visit in a day, but be flexible enough to accommodate any changes or surprises. Always allot some extra time for commute or if a queue is expected at a particular place.

Agree on your roles

If you’re traveling as a group, it is always helpful to have designated roles for each. It also allows everyone to be responsible and not just dump all the burdens on one or two persons. Who will handle the finances? Who will do the research? Who will do the bookings? Who will be the navigator? Plus, it makes it even more fun if everyone’s involve in the whole process. How do you decide on things? Will it be majority wins or will it be the one who’s paying for an activity or service who will get to decide?

Enjoy every moment on the road.

Have fun

Traveling is not all fun because there are so many things involved to make it happen. But it also doesn’t mean that you will focus on your responsibilities and forego with the fun part. Enjoy the road. Savor each experience. Laugh at your mistakes. Make the best of everything even in worst-case scenarios. Never compare yourself with other travellers. Focus on your journey. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Talk to people and make friends. Ask if you must. Ask when you’re lost. Ask when you don’t know. Be a student of the world. Learn and treasure each moments.

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