How to Not Suck at Travel Planning

Have you thought about travelling around Europe?

After reading about it, thinking about it, and talking about it, I’m going to go on my first ever vagabonding stint. I’ve decided on attempting my first ever vagabonding adventure in Poland. I figured it’s the best location because I speak the language and would love to improve my understanding of the culture. Okay, maybe that’s what I’m going to tell my parents. I’m just going to have fun.

I found a flight to Warsaw, Poland for $800. I haven’t figured out all of the details yet, but that’s what I love. It’s going to feel great to go a few weeks without any structure and to experience what it’s like travelling around Europe.

I wrote a piece on how to travel the world many months back as I was getting into the idea of long term traveling.
How Not to Suck at Travel Planning

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Today I wanted to share my thoughts on planning a trip and other travels I’ve done in the past.

Let’s jump into how to not suck at planning your next travel adventure:

Earn your freedom.

You need to earn your freedom. You can’t just assume that you deserve to travel. You need to pay off your debts and save money for your travels. You need to work hard for your eventual freedom.

Traveling for a long period of time shouldn’t be something you want to jump into just because you found a lifestyle design site and the blogger tells you it’s a good idea. You really need to challenge yourself mentally and physically so that you feel like you worked for your freedom.

More on this next…

Save up far in advance.

I think it’s completely irresponsible to travel when you owe a lot of money or if you haven’t saved anything for your trip. You want to enjoy your travels. You don’t want to come back knowing that you owe money on your student credit card for the trip. You don’t want to feel like crap because you’re paying off a trip that happened many months ago. Traveling shouldn’t be another frivolous credit card purchase.

Sell your crap for extra cash.

There’s just a liberating feeling about letting go of stuff, getting money for it, and putting it towards amazing experiences. As soon as I started traveling I realized that I wanted to experience much more in life, as opposed to spending my money on crap that will be thrown into a closet 2 weeks later. How many $50 shirts do you need? Wouldn’t you rather spend a month in Europe than pickup some newest version of a tablet computer?

Be open minded.

If you’re uptight about things you’ll never have a good time. You really need to be open minded about everything. There’s no point in leaving your home if you’re going to find the faults in every situation because if you want everything to be exactly the same as at home, then you should probably stay at home.

You never know when you might have to sleep in less than ideal circumstances. You never know when you’re going to have to eat pizza four times a day. If you’re not open minded you’ll hate these spontaneous times. If you do open your mind, you’ll laugh at all of your random experiences.

Find cheap accommodations.

We often hear people say, “I would love to travel, it’s just too expensive.” Of course, travel can be very expensive if you’re staying in 5-star hotels and sipping on the finest wines every night. If you plan in advance and find cheap accommodations you can find yourself traveling on the cheap.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive.  Once again, traveling doesn’t have to be another accessory that you put on your credit card and worry about paying off later. If you check out Couch Surfing and are willing to stay in hostels, you can find yourself traveling without breaking the bank. There’s no need to stay in fancy hotels every single night.

Traveling The World After College

Go with the flow.

I never like to plan too much when I’m traveling or on vacation. I really like to go with the flow. It feels great to lose all standard procedures and routines once in a while. Real life becomes far too structured. Losing that structure is great. You feel like a kid all over again when you realize that you don’t formally have to be anywhere all day. This is why going with the flow is key to survival while traveling.

Talk with others.

There’s really no place in this world that others haven’t been to yet. If you don’t believe me, you can do a quick search on TripAdvisor. This is why I highly suggest that you talk with others before venturing off on a trip. You’ll find out what you need to bring, places to visit, and places to avoid. Talking with others is the best tool for planning a trip. You can check out the forums on Trip Advisor, ask your friends in real life, or even look for feedback on Facebook.

Don’t set limits.

You shouldn’t limit yourself and your travel plans. This is your chance to step out of your comfort zone. Enjoy it. Don’t limit yourself by some self-imposed limitations.

Photocopy your important documents.

It’s critical that you photocopy your passport, health card, and any other important documents so that you have an extra copy in case you lose anything. It’s going to be a major hassle if you ever lose your passport. You really need extra photocopies somewhere.

Get a close friend to watch over your expensive stuff.

If you have a car or home you really need to get a close buddy to watch it. It really helps if you leave a list of emergency numbers, your keys, and important documentation behind for someone that you trust. You don’t want to fly back early from a trip to have to deal with a minor issue at home.

Screw souvenirs.

I really wanted to bring up this point. I’m sick of souvenirs and people asking for them. I like to enjoy my trips. I try to avoid tourist traps. I hate feeling like I’m getting ripped off. This is why I’m not crazy about $30 “I love this city” shirts. I’d rather meet lots of cool people and take pictures that I can look back at with a smile on my face in a few years. I don’t want to take up valuable space with souvenirs. The only thing I want to carry around is my laptop while I work on my online business.

This is also why I wanted to share this quote at the end of the post.

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill.

Did I miss any tips on how not to suck at planning a trip? Do you have any rituals before planning a trip?

(photo credit: mr.imaax, ingy the wingy)

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