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The Survive Travel 8 Step Travel Planning Guide

moviacristina 6 10 August 17, 2015 at 08:42 AM in Travel (2)

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Ideally I would like to be able to just tour a country at leisure. Unfortunately time limits are a thing we must contend with (visas, family, work etc). Hopefully this 8 step travel planning guide will help you get the most out of the time you have and see the things you really want to see. As a bonus, a well planned itinerary will also save you money.

Travel style is a very personal thing. Some people like to see and do everything, others prefer to just chill on the beach for two weeks, and then there is everything in-between, so to write an post on how to plan your perfect trip that suits everyone is not what I am attempting to do. Instead, I am just over-viewing the steps I personally go through when planning a trip. Hopefully you can use them as a guideline and adapt them to yourself.

This travel planning guide starts on a country wide level and then funnels into cities etc, but the method can be adapted for any type of prefecture (city, region, hemisphere etc).
The Survive Travel 8 Step Travel Planning Guide
1. Check About Visas

Step one of my 8 step travel planning guide is to see if I need a visa, and if so what I need to get it (time, money, procedures, etc.). Also, knowing how long it will last and how you can extend it (if needed) is very useful information.

2. Plot Your “Must Sees” is my first stop for checking out what I might want to do.

In this step note down anything that you think “man, I really wanna do/see that.”

First I type in the country and check out the things to do/see lists. I will then do the same for every region, city, area etc. that wikitravel links to in that country.

For each item note:
a) Where it is
b) Any other useful notes (cost, direction etc.)
c) A rating of how much you want to see it. I usually give it a rating of either one or two. One being “I’m absolutely am going to do this” and two being “I’d really like to see/do it but I can skip if if really necessary”

Remember, these are things you really want to see, don’t put in every little thing you might want to do.

I also do a general internet search for “things to do in ‘destination’. Replace the words “things to do” with whatever takes your interest, e.g., off the beaten track, adventure sports, food.

3. Plot the Locations of Your “Must See’s” on a Map

I use google maps. Put the location of each item on from you “must see” list (all of them) and then plot a logical route to take. This prevents backtracking etc.

The accuracy of the item location is relative to the size of the area you are planning, e.g., when planning a whole country I just plot cities. If I am planning a city I will plot the different regions of the city.

4. Figure out Transport

Work out roughly how you are going to get between the locations from step three. Research your preferred mode of transport and then find how much is will cost, how long it will take and any other important information e.g. frequency of the transport, if you need to pre-book tickets etc.

If there are a few choices and you are undecided, note them all down.

5. Create a Rough Time-line

This is the biggest step of this 8 step travel planning guide. For those of you that want to see everything but are limited in time I offer these pieces of advice:

It’s far better to see a little less properly in a relaxed manner, otherwise you will just end up getting stressed out when your “to the minute: plans do not work out.

Always build in “error time”. Things WILL go wrong, but these are the problems you get to solve when traveling. You know what makes problem solving easier, having more time. Problem solving is fun when you are not stressed about it. It’s one of the things I love about traveling.

Ideally, when I have time abundance, I plan to do one thing a day (although I usually end up doing two or more things a day) and then add on one day at the start and one at the end for travel/chill time.

While completing this step you will discover if you need to erase some of those #2’s from step two, or perhaps you can spend a few more days in certain places. Often if I find I have lots of time left over I spend it by breaking up transportation (preferably so I do not spend over four hours on the bus/train/boat etc. in any one time). By doing this you will probably get to visit some of those places other travelers never even think of going.

Also, something I do, which if you are a blogger or other online business person you may want to do also, is build in a half day a week for work… so if all else fails and I get nothing done at least I can do my 4 hours of marketing/ maintenance.

6. Figure Out Accommodation

This is different for everyone and also for every place. Sometimes you may want to couch-surf, hotel, hostel, luxury, camp etc. You may want to book ahead or just rock up and see.

7. Create a budget

For me this is the easiest of the steps in this travel planning guide. No matter where I go I budget $50/day + cost of getting to the country (e.g. visas and airfare). I find that when I average my spending over a month I never go over this figure, however, I am not a luxurious person.

You may wish to be more accurate about your calculations (see below for creating a more detailed budget). If you are going to add up all your predicted costs (transport, visas, accommodation, food, sightseeing etc.), what ever figure you come up with, double it for peace of mind and then forget that you did. In other words, stick to the budget you created, but have peace of mind in the fact that if something happens you have the reserve cash to bail you out.

8. Stay Flexible

You may have noticed that the plan you create from this travel planning guide is not so detailed and is very much a “roughly figure it out”. That is because, in my experience, detailed planning is often a waste of time, because I very rarely stick to my original plans. Many things can/do happen which will change them, both in and out of your control. Sometimes you just need to do things on a whim. You always learn about awesome stuff you want to see/do while in-country.

If you want to do it in more detail you can. The amount of time you have VS the number of things you want to do will determine the need for more detailed plans, i.e. less time your have the more important details becomes in order to do what you want.

My Personal Trip Planning “Equations”

I have decided to include these “equations” that I use when planning a trip if I want to get a more detailed budget than just the flat $50/day. Maybe it is useful, maybe you won’t understand it. As a pretext, the amount of time I spend in a country dependent on my visa allowance, i.e., I stay as long as I am allowed on a single visa, and if a single visa is not enough I will extend it and stay as long as I have on the extension.

Suss visa
Start learning language (if needed)
Rough travel plan – will I need to extend visa? (This is what the above seven steps are for)
Suss budget

Budget Total (T) = $50 x Length of intended stay (term of visa’s) (L)
Travel costs (to/fro and within) (Y)
Food (F) = average daily x L
Expected Sightseeing/courses etc (S)
Visas (V)

Accommodation max (per day) = {T-(Y+F+S+V)}/L
Excess spending money = Whatever is left over from T at end of trip

Run out visa, plan next place
Well that’s it for my 8 step travel planning guide. Do you agree, disagree, have your own steps etc.?

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