- Find someone who can travel with you. This is important because the troll in me comes out during travel. Seriously, my personality has been known to disintegrate. Multiple times. This person is your buddy for the entire trip. Choose wisely.
- Determine how much time you can allocate to the trip.
- Write a list of places/countries you’d like to go. You probably won’t go to more than a few of them. But you gotta start somewhere.
- Narrow countries down to one region because you can fly around more cheaply and see a few countries.
- Check your list of countries against the State Department website’s travel advisories. Since I’m risk averse, I try not to go place where there are terrorist attacks or indiscriminate killing of westerners.
- Be honest, how much can you do in a day and do you want to do? Always factor in a day to travel and not sight-see. Pace yourself. Down time is essential on a long trip. You can’t go balls to the wall for more than 5 days. I can’t anyways.
- Scour over Frommers.com itineraries, knowing Frommers is very ambitious in a day. Key words “use your imagination”=nothing to see here. And whenever they have you doing several things in different sections of a city, consider scaling back. I do love their timeframe stuff though. The 1 day and 3 day itineraries give you a “best-of” concept.
- Consult friends who have traveled there. Everyone loves to be an expert.
- Narrow down your countries and cities. This means deciding where you are going and what are day trips and what are overnight trips and how many times you want to move and how quickly. For me, the danger is being overly ambitious. Wanting to do and see it all. BAD IDEA. You’ll end up working way too hard and fun will become rare.
- Check for any requirements to enter than country. Do you need a Visa?
- Book your flights. I hand this off to my travel companion. He does it all online.
- Use TripAdvisor to select hotels and book hotels through Expedia. I prefer Expedia because the transactions are in US dollars and it saves me a currency fee on my credit cards. Also, I find Expedia to be the most responsive when there is a problem with a booking. This is my task. Usually have a budget of $30-50/hotel on long trips and $50-75 on short trips.
- Apply for Visas two months ahead of trip.
- Download/buy guidebooks and figure out things you want to do in each city. And possible places to eat. This is also my task. I’m a big planner.
- Get your shots updated with your doctor.
- Get excited!
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