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18 Steps to Plan Your Next Trip or Vacation

Vacations made easy. Only 18 steps to get you started!
Last Updated
:
February 8, 2024
by
Editorial Staff
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It’s the same story every time. Inspired by photos from that friend who travels way more than you, you close your laptop late one night and declare to no one but your houseplants that you will plan an amazing trip, dang it! Cut to 2 months before departure and you realize you haven’t actually accomplished anything on your grand travel plans besides bookmarking 857 tabs for Airbnbs with really cool shower curtains.

Look, we get it. Life gets busy. Your tab-addicted brain tricks you into thinking pinning ideas onto your digital vision board counts as making progress. Meanwhile, your sweet houseplants have been waiting far too patiently to hear back on the details about this theoretical epic getaway.

Let us help you out. Ahead, we’ll walk through the key practical steps for, you know, actually planning a killer vacation from start to dreamy finish. We’ll tackle honing in on a destination, picking dates, building an itinerary that takes your FOMO and spins it into JOMO, booking flights and lodging so you have more than a screenshotted confirmation code and more.

Follow along for tips to turn that digital vision board into a slam dunk of an IRL adventure. One that doesn’t involve touring 12 countries in 36 hours thanks to poor planning. Seriously, do it for your dear houseplants.

Let’s begin!

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Step 1: Choose a Destination

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The first step to planning a trip is choosing a destination. This may seem like an obvious first step, but it is important to take the time to carefully consider where you want to go.

Consider your personal interests and preferences, as well as any practical considerations, such as your budget or the time of year you plan to travel.

Research your desired destination thoroughly to learn about the local culture, activities, and accommodations.

With a clear destination in mind, you can begin to plan the rest of your trip, including transportation, accommodations, and activities.

Making the effort to choose the perfect destination will help ensure that your trip is both enjoyable and memorable.

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Step 2: Determine a Length for The Trip

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When it comes to planning a trip, one important factor to consider is the length of your adventure.

Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or a month-long excursion, determining the length of your trip will help you narrow down your destination options and create a more detailed itinerary.

Before deciding on a length, consider factors like your budget, available vacation time, and personal preferences. If you’re working with limited time or funds, a shorter trip may be more feasible.

Alternatively, if you have a flexible schedule and a larger budget, a longer trip may be the perfect opportunity for an extended adventure.

Whatever you choose, planning the length of your trip will ensure that you make the most of your time away from home.

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Step 3: Conduct Research on Costs and Expenses

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Once you have chosen a destination and determined the length of your trip, it’s time to conduct research on potential costs associated with the journey.

This includes researching cost estimates for airfare, accommodations, car rentals, food, entertainment, and other expenses. Knowing what to expect in terms of prices will help you stay within budget as you plan your itinerary.

Besides, researching potential discounts on transportation and accommodations can help you save money while still enjoying your experience.

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Step 4: Start Making and Saving Money

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One of the most important steps in planning a trip is to start making and saving money for the journey ahead. While this may seem like a daunting task at first, it can be broken down into manageable steps.

One way to start is by creating a budget for your trip and figuring out how much you will need to save each week or month to meet your financial goal.

Additionally, consider ways to cut back on expenses in your daily life like packing your own lunch instead of eating out or canceling subscriptions you don’t need.

Another helpful tip is to look for ways to generate more income such as taking on a part-time job or selling items you no longer need.

By being smart with your finances and starting early, you can make your dream trip a reality without financial stress.

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Step 5: Apply for Travel Rewards Credit Cards

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As you continue to plan your next adventure, it’s important to consider the benefits of travel rewards credit cards.

These powerful tools can earn you miles or points that can be redeemed for travel-related expenses like airline tickets and hotel stays.

By applying for and using these cards strategically, you can stretch your budget and get more out of your travels.

However, it’s important to choose the right cards and use them responsibly to avoid racking up unnecessary debt or missing out on valuable rewards.

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Step 6: Find an ATM Card that Doesn’t Charge Fees

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When traveling abroad, it’s important to have access to money. Before your trip, make sure you find an ATM card that doesn’t charge fees for foreign transactions or withdrawals.

This will save you time and money while on the road, and ensure that you can access funds when needed.

Additionally, consider the convenience of a multi-currency debit card, which allows you to withdraw cash or pay with local currencies wherever you go.

These cards are an excellent way to keep your finances organized and secure while traveling the world.

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Step 7: Stay Inspired and Focused

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To remain on track, remain inspired and focused by keeping tabs on your progress. Take photos of the destination you wish to visit and make sure to check them daily as a reminder of why you’re planning in the first place.

Moreover, look for helpful tips online or talk to people who have traveled to the destination you’re considering. Nothing will motivate you more than hearing someone else’s story of success and adventure.

With a combination of planning, research, and motivation, you’ll be on your way to an unforgettable journey in no time!

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Step 8: Look for Last-Minute Discounts and Deals

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It’s important to keep an eye out for last-minute discounts and deals. This can be especially helpful if you’re looking to save money or want to take advantage of a spontaneous opportunity.

Sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and TravelZoo are great places to start your search for competitive prices on flights, accommodations, car rentals, and more.

Additionally, researching potential discounts on transportation and accommodations can help you save money while still enjoying your experience.

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Step 9: Take Care of Any Country-Specific Requirements

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Before setting out on your journey, make sure to take care of any country-specific requirements like visas or vaccinations. These are important steps that must be taken in order to ensure a smooth and successful trip.

Also, familiarize yourself with the language and customs of the destination you’re visiting so that you can navigate your way around without any hassle.

By staying on top of any necessary paperwork and thoroughly researching the local culture, you can ensure that your trip goes as planned.

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Step 10: Book the Flight

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It’s time to book the flights. When booking, be sure to consider the departure and arrival times, as well as layover times if applicable.

It’s also important to compare prices across multiple airlines and booking sites to ensure you’re getting the best deal. In addition, consider signing up for airline loyalty programs or credit cards to earn points and rewards for future travel.

Keep in mind that booking directly through the airline may offer additional benefits such as free baggage allowances and more flexible cancellation policies.

Taking the time to carefully consider all options and details can result in a smooth and enjoyable travel experience.

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Step 11: Book the Accommodation

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Now that all the major planning is out of the way, it’s time to take the next important step in any trip: booking the accommodation. This can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re visiting an unfamiliar location.

However, there are a few things you can do to simplify the process.

  1. Be realistic about your budget and expectations for your accommodation.
  2. Consider the location in terms of convenience and proximity to your activities.
  3. Be sure to read reviews from previous guests to ensure you’re making the right decision.

With these factors in mind, you can book the perfect accommodation for your trip and look forward to a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

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Step 12: Plan Some Activities

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Depending on your destination and personal interests, there may be a plethora of options to choose from. Research local attractions, museums, and landmarks that pique your interest, and make a list of your top choices.

Don’t forget to factor in some downtime for relaxation, and to leave room for unexpected adventures that may arise.

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, consider making reservations or purchasing tickets in advance to avoid disappointment or long lines.

By planning some exciting activities for your trip, you’ll create lasting memories and make the most of your time away.

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Step 13: Sell Your Belongings

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For this step, you need to take inventory of your belongings and decide what to do with them. Selling some of your belongings can provide extra cash for your travels, lessen storage costs, and simplify the reintegration process when you return home.

Start with items you no longer use or need, like old electronics or clothes you haven’t worn in years. Consider selling on websites like eBay or Craigslist, or host a garage sale.

For larger items like furniture, try consignment stores or furniture resale shops. Whatever method you choose, be sure to properly value your items and take precautions when selling to strangers.

With a bit of organization and research, selling your belongings can be a win-win situation for your trip and your wallet.

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Step 14: Automate the Bills

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Ensuring that bills are paid on time is crucial, even when you’re away on a trip. That’s why automating your bills before you embark on your adventure is an essential step in trip planning.

With just a few clicks, you can set up automatic payments for your bills, saving you the headache of missed payments and late fees.

Automating your bills can also give you peace of mind, knowing that your finances are being taken care of while you’re away.

Take the time to set up automatic payments for all of your bills before you leave, and enjoy a worry-free trip knowing that your financial responsibilities are being met.

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Step 15: Notify Your Credit Card Companies

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It’s important to notify your credit card companies before starting on any trip abroad. This step ensures that your card won’t be flagged for fraud and subsequently declined.

Besides, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to finances. Contact your credit card provider a few days before your departure date and inform them of your travel plans.

They will make a note in their system, alerting them of any international charges made on your card.

This notification also helps with any potential issues that might arise, such as losing your card or having it stolen during your trip. Taking this simple step can go a long way in making your travels hassle-free.

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Step 16: It’s Time to Pack!

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As you near the end of your trip-planning process, it’s time to pack everything you’ll need for your adventures. This step can often be overwhelming, but with some careful planning, it can be straightforward and stress-free.

Begin by making a list of everything you need to bring, checking off items as you gather them. Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space, and utilize packing cubes or compression bags to keep everything organized.

Remember to consider the weather and activities you’ll be doing and pack accordingly.

Finally, double-check your list and make sure you’ve packed all essential items before hitting the road. Following these packing tips will help ensure a successful and enjoyable trip.

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Step 17: Buy Travel Insurance for Coverage

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Generally speaking here, it is always advisable to purchase travel insurance. This step provides security and peace of mind in case something unexpected happens during your travels.

Travel insurance can cover you in the event of lost luggage, medical emergencies, flight cancelations, and more. Without this coverage, you may have to pay for any damages out of pocket or incur significant fees.

Be sure to research the different policies available and choose one that best fits your needs and budget. Obtaining travel insurance is a smart move for any traveler, providing much-needed coverage in case of an emergency.

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Step 18: Enjoy the Journey!

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Once you’ve completed all of the above steps, it’s time to embark on your trip and make the most of it. Remember to take in all the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences that come your way.

Don’t be afraid to explore new places or try something different—you never know what kind of wonderful surprises await you.

Relax and enjoy each moment as if it were your last, for long-lasting memories are made in the present. Most importantly, have fun and make the most of your journey!

Good luck with your travels and safe travels!

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Final Words

And that’s it—you’re all set for your next adventure! Following the above steps will help you stay organized, on budget, and ready to take on whatever comes your way.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring the world! Bon voyage!

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