So you have a dream to travel abroad, do you? That’s fantastic! Inspiration Travels is the place to take that dream and make it become reality. I’ll coach you through the process of taking your idea and making it into a plan, and hopefully an experience that will change your life.
If there is one thing that is true about travel it is that you need a plan, but everyone likes a different level of planning. Going with a full itinerary can take away from what a place or a culture really has to offer, in my opinion. Any time a traveler arrives in a new destination, he or she finds a lot of things that weren’t expected and thus not included in the plan.
On the other end of the spectrum, going to another country completely aimless can be a problem for the same reason: we get a much different reality than we expect during the planning stage back in our own country, in our own home. Everyone has a different style, but I find the best way to find a balance and have a successful trip is to first get an idea of what you would like to get from your travels, then do some research and make a plan that includes a lot of openings for unexpected awesome things to happen.
It takes a lot of research to plan a successful trip abroad, especially one with any kind of time or budget constraints. The detail of that plan depends on what kind of trip you will be taking. Let’s get that figured out first!
Here’s what we need to do first: Get a piece of paper or open a document on your computer.
Make a quick list including:
Who you want to go with?
Do you plan to go with anyone? Family? Friends? Lover? Or, is this a journey you would like to take alone?
Why you want to go?
What is the main purpose of this adventure? Do you just need to get away and unwind, or do you have a greater purpose; perhaps a quest for self-discovery? Do you want to do something to make a difference to people in the third world, such as “voluntourism?” Do you want to explore a culture much different than your own just because human diversity interests you? Maybe you want to visit historical sites and world wonders. Answering this question should be a process of discovery. Discovering an underlying theme or specific purpose for this adventure will make it much more rewarding.
Where do you want to travel?
Which countries or cities do you wish to visit? Do you want to go to a place with subtle or dramatic cultural differences? Different countries have many things to consider from language and social norms to climate and social problems. Certain countries require certain visas and before entering, and in some it may be a good idea to get vaccinations before going. If you need a bit of inspiration, search Google for “amazing places,” or other search terms that have to do with your purpose of traveling and create a Google map. You can then add placemarks to your map, creating a geographical bucket list of places you wish to visit.
For instructions on how to make such a map, check out “How to make a geographical bucket list in Google maps.
How will you take this trip?
Is this a trip you will take with an itinerary, booked hotels, a list of attractions, etc., or is this a spur of the moment trip with a shoestring budget in which you just wing it and see what kinds of adventures you can get into? The former is safe and comes with less stress, but it also comes with less authenticity and adventure. The latter can be much more rewarding, but comes with risks. Find your balance.
What you want to do when you are there?
When you arrive to your destination, what would you do to make it the best trip ever? This will vary greatly depending on the purpose of your trip. Answering this question should be a process. Use your answers to the “Why?” and do some solid research on the places, people and experiences that can make your purpose come to life. Dig beyond what the main attractions and stereotypes to find unique things you can do to peer into a new culture and get a truly life-changing experience.
When do you want to go, and when do you want to return?
How much time do you have before you plan to go, and how long will you travel? Your time budget is one thing that is constrained by your monetary budget. What will the climate be like in the part of the world you want to visit? Make sure you aren’t going into Asia in monsoon season if that is not appealing to you. Are there festivals or major cultural events you wish to attend? Planning your trip to include a stop at world-famous event like Oktoberfest or La Tomatina can be fun.
How can you make it possible?
How much time can you be away from home, work or school? Will you have to give a notice? If so, when? Do you have the money to go, or do you need to come up with some? Making a travel budget, both in terms of time and money is important. To learn more about travel budgeting, see: “How to create a travel budget: time and money.”
Take your time now and go back over your answers and refine them a bit. You should be looking at a document that gets you excited, that get’s you visualizing an amazing experience where the unexpected is welcome. Once you are looking at your list, with answers to these core questions, you will be ready to go on to the next step:
Making a Travel Plan.
First, let’s take those ideas and refine them into a workable plan. Make sure that if this trip involves other people that you take their situations into consideration as you refine the ideas and make a plan.
You will need:
- your list of destinations
- an estimated budget
- a timeline
Next, you will need to make a checklist of things you need to do and equipment or other important things you need for the trip. Here are some ideas to get you started on your list:
- Passport and necessary visas for the countries you plan to visit
- Backpacking gear (silverware, hygiene products, clothing…)
- Camera equipment
- A journal
- Plane tickets/Train tickets
- Accommodation reservations
- Travel Insurance
As you begin collecting the things you need and checking the boxes on your checklist, go back to the first draft of your plan and revise it as you do research. Add placemarks in your Google map. At this point, you shouldn’t need any more advice from me. Let your imagination flow. Get inspired by articles in our archive.
Have people share their Google Maps and own travel