I am such an obsessive planner when it comes to traveling that my husband often wonders if I enjoy traveling or planning for traveling. By the time I actually board the flight, I practically have had a virtual tour of the place. Some people might call this process the murder of ‘spontaneous fun’ but, trust me, it’s not. A decent planning ensures that you don’t land up in shady places, waste your time in unimportant (which may be famous) places, end up buying low quality local products for obnoxious price and eat Chinese food in a Goan restaurant and vice versa. 😀
What I leave for spontaneity is the experience that the destination offers. Whatever information I find out my during my obsessive research-this-travel-destination phase, I use that only to plan my itinerary. Once my itinerary is set, I let the travel take its own course. I never get into “Ah! this place had a bad review of blah site. I should have avoided it.” mode. I then enjoy that “bad” experience and move on to the next item on my itinerary.
So, if you are someone like me, who likes to gather a lot of information before planning a trip, here are some quick and easy-to-follow tips for your research-this-travel-destination phase and plan-your-travel phase.
- Decide your budget. Once you decide your budget, break it into three parts: Travel mode budget, Stay and food budget and Shopping budget.
- Now, decide your mode of travel based on your Travel mode budget. Get done with the tickets before you move on to the next step.
- Choose where you plan to stay. This is one tricky part. So, let’s simplify it a little. Are you planning an adventurous trip or a luxurious trip? What do you have in mind a hotel, a resort or a homestay? Think! Think and focus your research on that particular kind of stay. You can check out different travel and holiday information portals to look for options. Don’t forget to read the detailed reviews before finalizing an option.
- Does your hotel/homestay/resort offer breakfast as a part of your package? If it does, opt for it. There are very rare chances you will go scouting for breakfast on a vacation.
- Once you are satisfied with the stay and the locality, book the place before you move on to the next step.
- Now, open the Wikipedia page and find out the popular tourist spots of the place. Make a list and checkout these places one by one. You can use “Tourist spot <Name> +experience” or “Tourist spot <Name>+reviews” as keywords on Google. You will get enough information to scrutinize what to see and what not. Do not just visit popular spots in the city, look for places of your interest in the city. For examples, I like churches and cathedrals, so even if they are not very popular, I make a point to see the ones which catch my interest.
- Make a list of the places that you want to visit. On an average, keep only 3-4 places on your list for one day. You should not be rushing from one place to another just to tick the items on your list.
- See the map of the city and spot the places that you have zeroed down to visit. Bunch the ones which fall in one route for one day. Take a print out of the map and mark the routes and places day-wise.
- If you can drive, I suggest you to rent a vehicle for the entire duration of your trip. Use GPS device to navigate in the city.
- If you can’t speak the local language, download a translation app and learn a few commonly used local words. It comes handy always!
- I am not someone who shops a lot during vacations. I am good with good photos, good food and good time but if you like shopping, I would suggest you to check the prices of the items that you plan to buy on various online shopping portals beforehand. Keep a mental note of these prices so that you can negotiate if required. Please note that not all countries have the culture of negotiation.
- If you are planning to shop, travel light. You don’t want to be paying double the airfare just for carrying the stuff back home.
- Read about the culture of that place. Know the basic local etiquette so that you don’t end up offending the locals. Do you need to dress up conservatively? If yes, pack your clothes accordingly.
- If you are on any kind of medication, always carry your medication and prescription with you.
- Last but not the least, take your camera and leave your phone. Don’t you want to carry memories back home?
PS: “A management degree ruins your life”, says my adventurous husband after reading this draft! So, take your call! 😀