Here’s how to plan your next getaway trip in 8 easy steps.
Do we agree the almighty internet makes planning your getaway easier? At the same time it also makes it harder to choose where to go, how to get there and how to get the most bang for your buck; because there are literally thousands of options, hundreds of travel sites and dozens of travel apps to choose from.
When I started thinking about a trip to Europe last year I ran into a roadblock. In the US, travel agencies have gone the way of the independent book store. Unlike the UK and Europe, you won’t find a high street travel agency ready to help you book your dream trip. In fact after Googling my fingers off, I couldn’t come with one local agency in Denver CO besides AAA. Now AAA is handy if you have a flat tire and need a tow but they’re not European travel experts.
The other option I turned to was Costco; who advertise package travel to Europe, Central and South America, Hawaii and Caribbean. I had difficulty finding what I had in mind – a rail based trip from London to Italy – gave up and went back to searching online.
What I eventually realized after much research was this; two weeks was not enough time to take a train from London to Italy with time to relax and enjoy the trip. So I compromised. We would stay in London and make a quick hop over to Paris on the Eurostar instead. At the last minute I managed to also squeeze in an overnight trip to Edinburgh. Italy was put on the back burner, for now.
Perhaps you’ve experienced similar frustration when you’ve tried to put together a bespoke trip for yourself or your family?
In the UK, many travel agencies offer inclusive packages with rail, cruises and flights to choose from. Lots of options.
With that in mind I grabbed The Times on a spring trip to the UK, and found an ad for Riviera Travel that led me to the perfect Italian lakes trip I’d been dreaming about. Experiencing the joy of a destination that met long held expectations was priceless.
The moral of the story is, don’t give up. Keep searching for what you want. I’ll include my trip plans as well as any other resources I find invaluable. Ask me, I’m happy to share what I know!
8 Tips on How to Plan Your Next Getaway Trip Like a Pro
- First question; where do you want to go? It may be obvious but if your bucket list is long, choose the destination that’s lighting a fire in you right now, a place you wouldn’t want to miss.
- How long do you want your trip to be? I would strongly suggest a two week minimum if you’re traveling from the US to Europe. It takes a day or two to get over jet lag, and by the time you’re really starting to enjoy yourself, it will feel like time to pack up and go home. If you have more time by all means take it. It may let you squeeze in some extra stops.
- Do you want to plan it all yourself or do you want help? Since this was our first trip to Italy, I really wanted to sit back and let someone else organize everything. We still had plenty of time to do our own thing on our tour but I didn’t have to worry about the details. Booking a trip with an agency might make sense for you too.
- Personally I like to know where I’m staying each night. I don’t want to try to book on the fly. I also like to have a base and travel from there. Much more relaxing. (Do you hate to pack and unpack as much as I do?) Here’s how I planned our trip.
- Be realistic about your budget. Your biggest expense is likely to be accommodation. If you don’t hire a car you’ll save even more. In the UK and Europe, public transportation and taxis are reasonable and available and less stressful than driving. Airfares fluctuate wildly depending on time of year. Three words. Shoulder or off season.
- Plan to see your “must see’s”. To enjoy those fully, be ruthless and eliminate any “maybe” stops. Really think about what’s most important to you. Don’t feel you have to see it all. I guarantee you I won’t miss seeing the Mona Lisa in person. But if you’re a super fan then by all means, go!
- Block out each day of your trip. My advice is give yourself some wiggle room. Often. But use your calendar to put in any events, travel or sightseeing you plan to do that day so you can feel organized. I highly endorse using an app like Tripit. It’s awesome. You forward all your travel detail emails to Tripit, it adds it to your trip file so you can view everything in a chronological format.
- Using a smartphone while traveling is a must for me. It allows me to keep track of emails I may need, have Google maps to navigate, access to Tripit for all my trip details including flights and rental cars, and an airline app to pull up a boarding pass and any flight delays. Consider upgrading if you don’t have one. With the right app you can also keep in touch with “home”. It’s one piece of technology I count on.
The key to planning your next getaway trip successfully is knowing you have most of the details covered. You want to be able to relax and enjoy your travel experience the world. There will be “oops I forgot that” moments but trust me, you won’t remember those for long.