How to Create a Travel Plan
October 25th, 2011

One of the difficulties with travel, at least for many, is choosing a destination. I notice the same struggle for many of my clients when they first speak with me. There are so many possibilities and travelers may feel that they won’t have the opportunity to visit every place they want to explore.  Furthermore, there’s the decision of re-visiting a location that you love (and perhaps expanding into those parts of the country that you haven’t yet seen)  versus venturing to a brand new destination, maybe even a trip completely outside your traditional realm.

I find it helps to have a plan. Of course, being a planner, I might be a little biased, but I believe can assist in diffusing what can sometimes be an almost overwhelming decision. I’m not gearing this article towards those who plan to buy a Eurail multi-country pass and see where it takes them. The appeal of those types of trips is spontaneity, and a precise plan would, quite frankly, ruin that.  That being said, if you are looking to take that type of vacation, you can add that in to your overall travel plan to make sure you do, in fact, get to take that trip.

So how do you make a travel plan? Here are some steps to at least narrowing down your options. A travel professional can certainly help you in this process, especially since they are familiar with up-to-date destination information (exchange rates, destination news, travel trends, etc), which might affect your decisions.

  • Make a rough draft list of your desired destinations. If there are too many to count, pick the top 10, or even 20 (depending on how often you plan to travel each year and how far out you want to plan).
  • Examine this list and arrange them in order of “priority” – where you’re dying to see versus where you’d like to get to if you can.
  • Look at this list again and arrange with respect to time and budget. If you’d like to spend a month exploring Australia but know that won’t be a possibility this year, move it down a few places on the list.

Once you’re here, it’s time to start formulating a more precise plan. This is where a travel planner can particularly be helpful, as the next steps allow you to create a more concrete, yet flexible, timeline and it’s important to know which times of year are best to visit which destinations, visa requirements (which can affect timing), and other factors that may influence your plan.

  • Take your list reorganized list and divide it into years (if you’re lucky enough to travel more than 4 times per year, divide it into seasons or months as applicable).
  • Look at the countries in each year (quarter) starting with year one and proceed chronologically. Discuss features such as climate, time desired at the destination, price points, and overall feasibility. Rearrange the destinations/trips as needed according to these factors adding potential time frams (month, seasons) to each.
  • You should now have a solid, yet flexible plan. Take one final look. Is there anything that slipped through the cracks – a destination on your must see list that should be of highest priority yet somehow isn’t? Adjust as needed.
  • If you have trips you plan to take in the next quarter, or even the next six months, it’s time to start planning.
  • Your plan should be a living document that can be rearranged as needed. If you get the opportunity for travel that you weren’t expecting, rearrange the list as needed/desired. The plan should be a guideline to help make your travels more of a reality instead of a lofty goal. A travel plan that ties you down, however, would pretty much defeat the purpose.

Your plan may, and most likely will, change slightly as you go, but you now have a solid idea of your travels.  Of course, you should adjust for major life events that come along the way. Still, this makes the destination decision more manageable, and allows you the excitement of looking forward to future travels without the anxiousness that can often come during the early stages of the planning process. Need help creating your travel plan? Send me an email!

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