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Planning Your Trip

Where to start

There are a number of things you have to decide when planning your trip, all equally important. Feel free to answer these questions with a pen and paper, in your head or print out the free worksheet here.

1) Determine the amount of time you have to travel. Not counting your arrival and departure days, how many days does this give you to travel?

2) Determine who you will be traveling with if, anyone as well as well as whether you want to travel on your own or with an organized tour group.

Don't be intimidated about traveling on your own - even if you are going it alone. Having complete flexibility and freedom is incredible, so definitely consider it. You can even do a combination of the two - start your trip off with a tour then finish with time to travel on your own.

If you are interested in a group tour, see the following links:

3) When do you want to travel? Do you mind crowds in Italy or rain in December. Weather can be an important factor in these decisions. Do a search on Google for "average rainfall November Italy" or "average temperature Barcelona April" and try variations until you find what you need.

4) Determine your and your travel partner (s) objective for your trip. This can be crucial and a discussion is definitely needed in regards to it. Do you want to be up early and going to museums? Does your travel partner like to party and stay out all night? Are you both planners or will you play it by ear? Shared rooms or private? Conservative with money or free spending?

5) The key question - how much is it going to cost. You are going to need to budget a MINIMUM of $60 a day, $75 is probably more realistic. This will get you a dorm bed, food, sightseeing and a maybe a beer at the pub. Do not kid yourself into thinking it will be possible to do it for less - you will run into unexpected expenses, such as bus fare, mandatory bed sheet rentals, shower tokens etc. If you need to, scale back your number of days in order to match your budget. This is your trip of a lifetime - you want to experience it, not be left at the hostel while your room mates head out for some gelato in Italy or fish and chips in England.

6) Determine what kind of accommodation you are interested in staying in. Hostels, budget hotels, private rooms, dorm rooms. Are you more comfortable with a reservation or just winging it?  I definitely recommend a reservation in the high season or if you are planning on staying in a private room in a hostel. Consider whether you are OK with trekking around town with a heavy pack, looking for a place to stay. If you don't have much time, it's not worth it.

7) Get yourself a good guidebook and start reading. I like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides the best, Rick Steves and Let's Go are also very popular. Make sure you look through all of them to see which one suits you the best. Look to see that it has:

  • Places that you are planning to travel to.
  • Very important - that it lists accommodation in your price range.
  • Maps - are they detailed and clear? You will be using them a lot.
  • That it's the latest version published.
  • It's the most specific book for your trip - as in, if you are just going to London - get a London book rather than an England book.

OK - so at this point we should have all our details figured out - from what time of year we are going to who we are going with... Oh, and we've got a guidebook - good job! Keep all of these things handy and your worksheet our because now we are getting into the fun stuff!

Let's move on! Where do we want to go and what kind of route do we need?

Let's find out: Where to go and what route to take


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