How I plan my travels
Choose Your Destination
Choose your destination:
What are your interests? Do you have a travel bucket list? Are you someone that doesn’t have a specific destination in mind and are open to traveling by deals? Are you a foodie searching for the best culinary destination? A quick google search will yield results of various destinations known for their culinary scene. For me, I am interested in Central & South America as well as the Caribbean, so my choices will most likely be in this part of the world. There are several tools and resources available via the internet to give you ideas on places to visit. Skiplagged allows you to enter your departure airport, choose everywhere as your destination and choose your dates. You will be shown a list of places and the prices of the flights that you can choose from. This would definitely be an adventurous way to travel!
Now that you’ve chosen your destination, is a passport required for travel? If yes, please stop what you’re doing. Go and check the expiration date on your passport. Go ahead!! RIGHT NOW!!! I’ll wait...
You good? Okay. Let’s continue!
Most countries will not permit a traveler to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after the final day of travel. This means if your passport has less than six months remaining until the expiration date, you should renew it right away. Does the destination you desire to travel to require a passport and you currently do not have one? Go ahead and begin the process of obtaining it and be aware of the processing times. Here is a link with passport information to include the application process and the renewal application.
How many people are traveling with you? What are your needs or desires for your accommodations? How much time will you be spending there? Will an Airbnb provide what you or your group will need or will a few hotel rooms be more efficient? Do you prefer an all inclusive property? Think about the reason that you are going to this destination to help you determine what type of accommodations will best serve you and/or your group. What’s your budget? I personally like to choose a hotel that provides breakfast so that is one meal that I do not have to worry about. I usually choose a hotel for solo travel and will chose an Airbnb if I’m traveling with others just to ensure we have enough space and that we are comfortable. If you choose an all inclusive property, be sure to verify exactly what’s included in the “all inclusive” so that there are no surprises. I typically read reviews on TripAdvisor for hotel stays and the reviews on the various properties on Airbnb to aid in my decision of choosing a property. Another thing to be aware of with hotels and sometimes all inclusive properties is to find out in advance if there will be a daily resort fee charge and/or an incidental charge. It may be helpful to use your credit card for the incidental charge as you will get this money back granted there are no damages to the property. This will also free up your money and there won’t be a hold on funds you may have designated for your vacation.
Can you drive to your destination? Will you have to fly? How will you get to your hotel or Airbnb once you arrive at the airport? Will you rent a car or will you utilize public transportation or Uber/Lyft? Be sure to research the destination that you are traveling to in order to find out which form of transportation is most utilized in that particular destination. Viator is a great option for booking airport transfers if you’re not comfortable utilizing public transportation. Planning how you will be transported ahead of time takes away the stress and guesswork once you arrive at your destination. If you are renting a vehicle, be sure to check in advance what parking is like at the property you are staying at. Read reviews to determine if other travelers reported difficulty with parking or if there tends to constantly be a lack of available parking. Be sure to get pricing of parking so that you can factor that into your budget. I like to use the Hopper app for flights. I do not book through the app, yet I use it as a guide to determine the best time to purchase the flight. I will usually go to the website of the airline that I want to fly and purchase my tickets. Google flights is another great resource.
What are you going to eat while you’re at your destination? If you’re staying at an all inclusive, some or all of your meals and drinks will be included in accommodation pricing. As I stated previously, I prefer a hotel with breakfast as this is one meal I will not have to worry about. To have an authentic experience, ask locals or the hotel concierge for restaurant recommendations. The Airbnb property manager or owner may also be able to give you some recommendations as well. I also like to venture out on my own to find a restaurant near the hotel I’m staying at. A google search can help you with getting an estimate of how much you can expect to spend each day at the destination you are visiting. This will help ensure that you stay within your budget.
What are you going to do once you arrive? I’m a planner, so I will have my tours chosen and paid for in advance. This helps me with pricing and budgeting for my travels. It’s also helpful with packing as I know what activities I’m doing and I know exactly what to pack for the trip! A few great sources for finding tours is Viator, Airbnb experiences, Get Your Guide, and Trip Advisor just to name a few. Be sure to read the reviews. I typically like to choose tours where the transportation from and to my hotel and a meal or snacks are included in the pricing of the tour. I choose based on my interests, so I’m typically going to do a beach excursion and a cultural type excursion. Try finding tours based on your interests or be adventurous and try something new! You may also be able to get tour information from the hotel concierge or the Airbnb property manager/owner.
Be sure to save money or have a credit card available for unexpected emergencies. Are you driving your own car or renting a car. Just keep in mind that anything can happen and you want to ensure that you are as prepared as possible! Hurricane season is from June 1 through November 30. Be sure to check whether or not the destination you are visiting is in the pathway of hurricanes. Does your medical insurance provide coverage in another state or country? Be aware of where the US Embassy is. Register your trip with STEP so that you get email notifications of any news in the destination that you are traveling to. Registering with STEP also allows consular officers to assist US citizens and nationals who encounter serious legal, medical or financial difficulties.
Consider purchasing travel protection to protect your investment. As a matter of fact, don’t consider it. Do it!! You never know what may happen between now and when you travel and you may have a circumstance that will require you to cancel your trip. Be sure to read all the terms and conditions of the policy. Call customer service if you still aren’t sure.
Some of these tips may be common knowledge, yet I do hope that something I shared proves to be valuable to you in your planning trip! Please let me know if something helps. Feel free to share this with your friends that may be considering planning a trip as well!
If this process still seems to be overwhelming, consider hiring a professional travel advisor. If you weren’t aware, I am a professional travel advisor and I’d love to assist you in planning your next travel adventure! Complete the form that best fits your travel needs to get started!
Solo/Couple/Small Group: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1T7DAVoafWJegExwe3jYF078QhomNDzTM638hvk2bTZg/edit
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