How to Plan a Trip : Beginners Guide


Shea Duplechain

6/1/20235 min leer

Beautiful beach on the Amalfi Coast in Italy during the summer.
Beautiful beach on the Amalfi Coast in Italy during the summer.

If you have limited experience traveling, or none at all, it can be difficult figuring out where to start when planning for an upcoming trip. Here is a useful planning guide I've used and still use that can help you build out your trip and make your travel experience stressfree!

How Many Days Are You Going?

The amount of time you spend on a trip can be decided by a variety of factors like how long you are able to take off from work or be away from home, to even the amount of money you are willing to spend. I’ve found that when planning out a trip, starting with the number of days i'll be going gives a good framework to base other steps off of like budgeting and itineraries. Even if it is estimated at first, the number of days will allow you to see how much money you’ll need to spend and then you can adjust the days based on that. It will also allow you to have a clearer picture of how much time you’ll have to do the activities that you are planning the trip, and then you can also adjust based on that.

Research Where You’re Going!

The second step of planning, and the one I enjoy the most, is doing research for your upcoming trip. Research for a trip can consist of anything from looking up the best restaurants, to trying to better understand the local culture. Doing prior research will help you become more familiar with the destination before you get there, and will allow you to more easily navigate it when you do get there. Depending on how far ahead you’re planning, this process may also let you know when's the best time to travel to your desired destination.

There are plenty of ways to do research, but the method I find myself doing the most is watching videos from other people that have already been to the place I am going. You can find videos on youtube for pretty much any destination in the world that people have made travel guides for and shared their experiences. These types of videos often help me determine the sights I want to see, and also provide a lot of helpful tips and advice that can apply when I go there myself. In addition to videos, there are plenty of travel blogs through the internet that will provide you with similar information.

Aside from whatever sights or activities you may be interested in at a particular destination, I would also recommend doing research on transportation as well. Transportation across the world varies, and it will be helpful if you have a better understanding of the transportation where you will be going and how to prepare for it. Some places, like in Europe, have well developed train and metro systems that allow you to travel around a city or country with ease. For someone who has never been to Europe or used train and metro systems, this can be a confusing and stressful process. If you've never used trains or metro’s as transportation, it could be helpful to look up guides to brief yourself on how to properly navigate them. Other areas could be more remote or just do not have similar infrastructure and may require you to rent a car. Knowing you need to rent a car ahead of time will be helpful when calculating a budget.

Check out Malini Angelica for a closer look at cities and their culture.

Check out NomadicMatt for helpful travel guides and tips

Check out The Tour Guy for quick city guides

Organize Your Itinerary!

After you’ve done some research, you’ll start to have a better understanding of what you’ll want to do and see on your trip. Destinations often have an abundance of sights to visit or excursions to take part in, so it may be difficult at times to narrow down what you’re wanting to do. What I do in this part of the planning process is begin to rank the sights and excursions. I begin with the must see or do things and see what those will require in terms of time it will take or money it will cost. This also helps with eliminating things that I don’t prioritize and am willing to not see or do.

Due to trips only being for a limited amount of time, it's important to try and maximize what you can do in what will feel like a small amount of time. You should start to match up your list of activities with the number of days you’re going and see how well they mesh. It's important to be realistic with this step as you’ll want to find a healthy balance of being time efficient but also still fully immersing yourself into everything as well. You may find that something will take up too much of your time or may be too expensive. In this situation you may have to make a decision whether to shelve it or commit to it and potentially lose out on doing other activities. No matter what, just make sure you’re staying true to your interest, as you don’t want to regret not doing something when your trip is over.

Now that you’ve built out your itinerary, there are a few more things you can do that will help you before you get there. Take a look at your itinerary and see if any of the sights or activities you plan on doing are near each other. Organizing your iternerary in a waydoing this you will save yourself time and could potentially add more sight and activities to your schedule. I would also start doing more specific research on individual things on your list. This can help provide you with information that is more relevant to your trip as opposed to the broader research before. Finding out information such as if you should buy tickets for a particular place or event ahead of time, or when the best time of day to visit somewhere is valuable information that can create a better experience for you overall. Creating a budget for a trip will also be a useful tool to better understand what expenses you will have.

Enjoy Your Trip!

Traveling can be an overwhelming experience, especially when going somewhere for the first time. As you start to travel more, you’ll begin to better understand how you like to travel and what works best for you in terms of planning for a trip. Experience is something that you can not learn from watching videos or reading about on line, it's something you have to gain yourself, which can be exciting or overwhelming. The best advice I can give someone with limited traveling experiences is you can never do too much research! Learning more about a place ahead of time is something that travelers of all levels of experience continue to do. The only difference, as you’ll learn yourself, your research will get more and more specific over time as you begin to tailor your style of travel and interest. Aside from that, just enjoy your trip. Don’t overburden yourself, and just enjoy the time and moments you're in!