You’re going international! How exciting. Uh-oh , here comes the crippling anxiety that is constantly coupled with international travel. While the prospect of experiencing new and far away places is super inspiring and extremely exciting, it is also an enormous undertaking. You will undoubtedly be spending a lot of money and time on this and you want it to be perfect. Let’s unpack this foolproof plan together!
This is the time for honesty. Don’t over do it. Sit down and really look at your accounts and books and decide what you can afford. This is the first and most important step. If you need to vacation on a budget, that’s fine, you can totally do so! If you want to go all out, that’s great too. But the first step is to establish the budget that will work for you and your finances. That being said, a lot of how much you can spend will rely on how long you plan to stay. Deciding the length of your trip is also vital in this first step. One week? Two? The choice is yours but now is the time to set it in stone! Last but not least, look at your flights. You can often save money on flights if you choose a trip with a layover, but does that work with your timeline? This is the step that will take the most time and have the most headache, but get it out of the way quick and only fun lays ahead!
2.) Pick a Destination
Once you have your budget pinned down, the length of your trip discussed and confirmed and a plan concerning your flights, you can pick your destination! Have you always dreamed of the green hills of Ireland? Are you dying to see the Pacific Northwest? Indonesia? Africa? Well, you’re almost there. When deciding on your destination, be sure to keep in mind that the further you go from your starting point, the more time you need for travel. If your flight is only an hour, then you don’t have to worry too much about your travel time eating up your visiting time, but if your flight is 24 hours, it is important to be conscious of that and plan accordingly.
3.) Dates of Trip
Once you pick a destination, start your research! This is the fun part. What festivals are happening in your destination? If it nicer in the Spring or Fall? Do you like hot or cold weather? Once you decide these things, research your destination and see what your location has to offer. For example, if you were planning a trip the the Northeast, you may want to schedule it during Leaf Peeping season. Hot chocolate, corn mazes, bonfires and beautiful leaves make this Fall destination to die for. But, if you’re a fan of warmer weather and you still want to go the the Northeast, it may make more sense to plan your trip for July. This is completely your choice!
4.) Establish Your Timeline!
Okay, flights are booked, destination is designated, budget is established. Now what? This step will cut down on SO much worry. It doesn’t matter how you do it, on the computer or an old fashioned pen, paper and folder, but sit down and write down your timeline. Even if you think you will remember everything and won’t ever use it, I promise, it will put your subconscious at ease! Here is a list of some of the things that your timeline folder or file should include:
- Flight details
- Packing lists
- Hotel stays and addresses
- Contact information
Now a days, there are a ton of platforms for booking stays. Staying in an AirBnB allows you the luxury of being able to experience an at home experience away from home. You can cook your meals, which saves money and also avoid staying in a generic hotel room. However, sometimes hotel rooms, though generic, are the safest bet! So know that there are a ton of options and once you decide what your choice will be, you will have your pick at hundreds of options!
6.) Must See Places
Google is your friend. Google the location you will be staying at and read those results! Read the reviews and have some ideas before your trip as to what you would like see. Is there a presentation at a local museum? Is there an art show? A monument you would like to see? Do some research and decide on a couple of maybes. Think about how much tickets to these events may be and factor that into your budget.
Another great asset to be aware of is that once you check in to your hotel, there are a bunch of resources at your finger tips! Most hotel rooms have a binder in them that includes local restaurants and events. Don’t look past this aid!
7.) How to Find Things to Do
Upon check in to your hotel, use the privileges that you are given! The people checking you in at the front desk, many times live in the area and if not, are aware of the surroundings. Ask! Inquire about favorite venues or restaurants, ask about surrounding events and activities. 9 times out of 10, they will have a ton of resources.
If you have chosen to stay at an AirBnB, many hosts will communicate with you via the app about things to do and how to get involved! This is the best way to get ideas about things to do!
Last but definitely not least, Facebook Events is a great way to find surrounding activities in your current location. On Facebook Marketplace, you can choose what type of event you are interested and that date you wish to attend.
8.) Local Involvement
Community centers, YMCA’s and colleges tend to host community events, that are even free sometimes. This is a fantastic way to get involved with the local community that you are visiting! Sometimes, the tourist destinations can get monotonous and mundane so why not look into what the local people are doing!
Another way to experience the local environment and way of life is through food! This universal language has been bringing people together for centuries. Use the resources provided and find some of the most fabulous local restaurants. Keep in mind when deciding on cooking, going out or fast food, that your budget should allot you a certain amount for food.
10.) Have Fun!
All of this planning seems intimidating. I know it. You know it. But the more you plan ahead of time, the more you can enjoy in the moment! And if you can, try to enjoy the planning process too. You are going to experience a life changing trip, and you have all of the control! You get to decide where to go and when and what to do when you are there. That is exciting!