Step 7: Book the Big Ticket Items
Now that you have your timeline & budget completed, it’s time to finalize the trip and book some of those big-ticket items. It should go without saying that you should probably book your flights first and then your sleeping accommodations and other transportation. Update your budget as you go to see how your estimated budget is holding up. This is usually the point where you know if you severely under or over budgeted your overall trip and can make adjustments before booking anything else.
For example, accommodations can really add up if you’re not careful. If your working with a lower budget, explore other options than the typical hotel, you can get a great AirBnb or meet new friends in a hostel. Read about our awesome honeymoon AirBnb while in Costa Rica!
Step 8: Book the Smaller Items
Once your big items are done, decide what things you want (or need) to take care of before you arrive in country. I like to have a couple of things booked that I know are not moving such as a day excursion, any important reservations, or long trains. One important thing to do after your big and small items are booked is to make sure you have currency before heading out, don’t rely on an exchange booth or ATM (with their crazy fees!) available on site. Now that some major items are pre-booked, you can clearly see how much you will reasonably be spending per day in country and can use that as a guide on how much money to order from your bank ahead of time.
For example, while in Amsterdam this past spring break I knew I really wanted to go on a day trip to see windmills & tulips and we only had one open day to see them so I immediately booked my day trip before it filled up!
Read more: Travel Tips: How to Plan a Balanced Trip
Step 9: Packing (& Repacking)
You should constantly be checking on the weather at your destination to see if there are any big items you need to buy, but about a week out is a good time to start planning your packing. Additionally, make sure someone has a copy of your itinerary back home and you have a copy of important documents & papers put aside in a secret pocket. It’s a smart idea to register with the State Department in case there is an emergency abroad.
For example, I like to make a list about things I will need for special days (like hiking or the beach) and set those items aside that I do not use in my everyday life. However I hate packing and will do it many, many times over before I am satisfied!
Read more: Travel Tips: Keeping Active while Traveling
Step 10: Good Luck & Enjoy!
Well the day has arrived and your trip is here! Enjoy it, the planning is done. No, it will not be perfect and something may go wrong but it’s ok. Just keep track of your expenses and any changes to your itinerary in that awesome Google Sheet you made and it can serve as a template for your next big adventure! It gets easier each time you plan, I promise!
P.S. I did not discuss things like visas or medical checks because they drastically change from region to region so be sure to add that to your research when selecting your destination!