Do you want to take a trip abroad but don’t know where to begin? Well, don’t worry, I’m here to help. I’m going to walk you through my process, step by step. First things first. If you’re planning on leaving the country you must have a valid passport and current vaccinations. You can find the information on vaccinations needed for your trip through cdc.gov.
Step 1: Pick a location
Whether its Aruba, Switzerland, Canada, or South Korea, be sure to do a lot of research on several locations. I like to make a “pro/con” lists of my potential locations. Be sure to note things like capital cities, currencies, weather, and features of each location. Also be sure to make note of why you want to visit each location in particular, and make note of the average prices for everything you look up for each location. It’ll help you keep a budget.
Step 2: Pick a top 3
Once you have a list of potential locations mapped out, narrow the list down to you top 3 picks. This will make it easier to do more refined research of each location so you can get the best deal at the best time for you. Be sure to look up when the high/low seasons for each location are and when the hotels and hostels are cheapest. This will help you plan cost-effectively.
Step 3: RESEARCH
Look up airfare prices for each location. Look them up multiple time a day, multiple times a week. Clear you cache and cookies if you’ve looked up travel before. Travel sites hike up the prices if they know that you visit the site often. The cheapest time to look up and buy airfare are Tuesday afternoons and evenings, leaving midweek and returning midweek. A few of my favorite sites for cheap airfare and hotels/hostels are: Kayak.com, statravel.com, and skyscanner.com. Look up different prices for different times of the year.
Step 4: Book you (initial) flight
Now is the time to buy you (first) flight. If you’re planning on bouncing around locations when you get to your arrival destination, be sure to look up the local airline prices. It can be surprisingly cheap to fly from city to city, and it’s extremely time efficient if you’re not planning a long trip that can accommodate train and taxi travel.
Step 5: Plan your stay
You’ve booked your flights, now you need to book your hotels. I like to do this after I book all my flights so that I can focus solely on the flights while I’m booking those, and then solely on the hotels once I’ve moved onto those. Again, my favorite site to use for hotels and hostels is STAtravel.com, it’s a great site for student and youth travelers because they offer great deals and specials.
Step 6: Pack your bags
You’ve already researched what the weather is going to be like, now it’s time to pack accordingly. I once read somewhere that, “you should always pack half as much as you think you need, and bring twice as much money.”
Step 7: Survive the Flight
BRING EARPLUGS! This is the number one thing that I usually forget to pack that I always end up needing. They save my life when I have layovers that are too short for me to leave the airport but long enough for me to get some decent sleep before my next flight. I have no patience for monotonous noises, especially when I’m tired and cranky. Also be sure to bring plenty of electronics (headphones), and reading material to keep you occupied once you’re on the plane. And remember, alcohol is free on international flights. You’re welcome :]
Now that you know how to book a trip for yourself go out there and do some solid research and take the trip that you’ve always wanted to take. You’re not getting any younger.