Planning a trip abroad can seem daunting and overwhelming. Over the past few years I have been traveling more and more so my planning skills have been perfected, and I have a stress free way to have an amazing trip. And no, I do not use a travel agent, and you do not have to either! Here is how I plan a trip abroad.
STEP 1: BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
The first thing you need to do when planning a trip is book your flight. Once your flight is booked, you can begin planning the rest.
PICK YOUR LOCATION//
If you know you are wanting to go to say Paris, then research on google the best months to visit your selected location.
LOOK FOR YOUR FLIGHT//
So the most important thing I can mention when getting the best deal on a flight is to be flexible on your travel dates. I use the Hopper app to know when the cheapest days to fly are. This is why being flexible is important. If you were thinking that you wanted to leave from a Friday to Wednesday trip, but the Hopper app shows you that Thursday to Tuesday is cheaper, then we typically look for flights on those days. Hopper also gives some dates of when they predict the flights will be cheapest to purchase. You can also set alerts.
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT//
Once you know when you are planning to book your flight based on Hopper, I do a search on Kayak.com and book from there. I love Kayak because it helps me search the top flights and I have trusted their "buy now" feature. I typically try to fly American Airlines or Delta, and occassionally Southwest. I stay clear of Frontier, Spirit, or any airline that offers the "no frills". Make sure before you book to verify that you get a carry on and personal item. And for international flights, make sure that the meal is included as well. You might laugh, but Patrick and I booked an international flight once and the meal was not included. Try flying a 10hr+ flight with no food, water, or drinks without purchasing. Miserable ha! Also, do not forget to enter your frequent flyer rewards accounts once you have booked when looking up your flight on the airline website.
STEP 2: RESEARCHING & PLANNING
SEARCH THE INTERNET//
Once my flight has been booked, I start researching the location for stuff to do, where to eat, and fun places to drink. I start by looking at travel blogs since there are normally more of a personal, like my travel itineraries. I also look at Pinterest and Instagram locations & hashtags to see what people have done. And it doesn't hurt to reach out to friends or family that you know have visited or live there. They will have the true local experience.
CREATE A LIST//
As I am looking things up, I begin making a list of TO DO, TO EAT, and TO DRINK. If anything looks fun and interesting to you, put it on the list with any details you like. If you want my travel guide, scroll down to the end of this post and enter your email so I can send it to you.
CUSTOM MY GOOGLE MAP//
Once you have created a list of all the potential places you want to go, you can create your own custom google map to keep track of all of your spots. This proves to be super helpful and helps plan your itinerary. I tend to group things that are within the same general area to do within one day. No one wants to go back and forth and here and there when exploring a new city. Seeing all of your potential spots on a map together helps you group days together to plan your itinerary. Here is a sample of what my Paris map looked like. You can also add multiple "layers" to group even further like restaurants, museums, bars, etc to help keep everything straight.
CREATE YOUR ITINERARY//
Using the calendar tab on the Travel Guide (sign up at the bottom of the post), begin to plan your trip out. I tend to only plan a few items per day in order to not be so rushed and to a schedule. Cities are the best explored when you are given time to wander and see what is around. I also look up a few restaurants to have on hand in certain areas so that if I am let's say the 1st Arr of Paris and I am hungry for lunch, I have my TO EAT list from my travel guide ready to look at and pick an option.
STEP 3: BOOK IT
So now that you have made a list and rough itinerary, it is time to start booking things. This is when the trip gets real (if it didn't feel like it already ha). Here is how I suggest to book things.
BOOK YOUR PLACE TO STAY//
I normally just use Airbnb because almost everywhere I have been it has come through with great prices and cute places. Click here for $40 travel credit when you sign up with Airbnb.
BOOK ANY TOURS OR ACTIVITIES//
If you come across any tours, activities, or something that needs to be purchased in advanced, go ahead and do so. Make sure to copy and paste your booking receipts and instructions on additional tabs in the travel guide.
STEP 4: BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Before you leave take a picture of any important things and save them in an album on your phone so you can access them quickly if need be. Also share your itinerary with a family member or someone close so that someone has it in case of an emergency.
CHECK BAGGAGE REQUIREMENTS//
Verify the baggage weight limits and the number of bags you have or do not have. If you need to purchase any extras, do so now. Verify the weight limit and dimensions of the baggage as well. International flights will have different requirements than standard domestic.
VERIFY WEATHER & PACK//
Look up the weather and pack accordingly. Pack in light layers with a common color pallet so that you can mix and match any items depending on the weather or event you are doing. I tend to not like pre-planned outfits because they never fully work out the way you hoped. Having easy tops and bottoms that can be worn any way you want is the easiest! I also always pack a fold up bag just in case you need to buy something or what not while on vacation. It becomes very handy for sure!! Here is what I pack in my travel bag as well, see this post.
STEP 5: BE IN THE MOMENT
Remember that this is your time to explore and immerse yourself in a different culture. So relax and be flexible. Allow yourself the opportunity to explore and go into that random cafe you stumbled upon. Because living by a strict itinerary is no fun.
Comment below where you are wanting to travel next! And do not forget to enter your email below to receive my exclusive travel guide planner.
If there is one thing I insist on traveling with it is a small travel backpack. I have been using one since I went overseas after college graduation to the Mediterranean and have loved it. It is so much better than a purse and holds a lot of my essentials. My most recent trip to Hong Kong (see posts here, here, and here), it was once again a no-brainer. Read below what essentials I always pack for traveling and why.
The main reason I carry a small, travel backpack is that for the most part, everything and I mean everything fits, and the double straps on your back makes carrying around much easier. I am usually a traveler that likes to venture to a specific location and do and explore everything in that area. So sometimes, you might need extra things to transition from day to night, visit the beach, or every purchase that cool dress you saw in the shop. This little thing is like the Mary Poppins of bags for traveling ha.
The first thing I always like to pack is my cosmetic essentials. So depending on the trip or what is on the itinerary for the day I typically like to include things like chap stick, small travel makeup, sunscreen, deodorant, etc. I also like to keep it in a small convenient pouch so it is not rolling around in the bottom of your bag and is easy to get out when you need it.
I always have my passport on me at all times because you never know. I love a passport holder to keep not only my passport but my plane or train tickets as well. I love this new slide in sleeve from Anthropologie since it makes it easier to grab when needed.
Make sure to carry those essential electronics, my two most important electronic gadgets is a selfie stick and portable battery charger. I highly recommend getting a portable battery charger so that you can have your phone to look up directions or use in case of an emergency. Also, you are probably thinking ehh... a selfie stick. Did she really just type that?? Ha, yes, if I am traveling by myself or just me and my husband you cannot rely on people passing by to take photos of you all the time. It makes it easy to just snap the photos you want whenever and wherever. I really like this selfie stick. If you plan on carrying a camera, make sure you have backup battery packs and extra storage cards.
I also like to pack sunglasses, baby wipes, tissues, and bottles of water. I end up always needing at least one of these a day when traveling. Remember to get the travel sizes of some things in order to save space and make your backpack as light as possible.
A born and raised Southern girl who's wanting to inspire every women through style and beauty while living in the big city of Los Angeles.