To successfully plan a trip, you must treat it like your life plan. Have an idea of where you want to go, but leave room for surprises.
I can’t just go to another country without a plan. I’m slightly envious of the people who can slide their credit card towards an airline worker and ask for the next flight to anywhere.
Yes, that’s all very whimsical and spontaneous, but I just can’t travel that way.
I’m going to Colombia after New Year’s for two weeks. I thought I would be able to appease myself with only knowing the three cities I wanted to visit, but my inner-control freak lashed out and the next thing I knew I was reading hostel reviews, plotting points on Google Maps and writing a day-by-day itinerary.
I allow myself to go on these hours-long travel planning rampages for several reasons.
Planning a trip allows me to learn more about the country before fresh ink even touches my passport
Before I started looking into Colombia, I had no idea people from Medellin were called paisas. Before I traveled to Japan, I didn’t know it’s considered rude to immediately accept a gift after it’s presented to you. Picking up tidbits of information on a country before I travel there helps me (hopefully) avoid social taboos and learn more about a nation’s history and culture.
Planning a trip helps save money
Like a lot of people, I’m much more inclined to shell out more money to get myself out of a bind. I’m talking about paying way more for a hotel because I didn’t realize an area didn’t have hostels. It could also mean paying an expensive taxi fare because I didn’t look into public transportation before I arrived at a new location. I’m not saying public transportation is always the quickest or safest option, but it still should at least be considered.
Planning a trip just gets me pumped
Yeah, I know I might be headed out to a new country in a couple months, but it’s not until I sit down and start planning that I start getting giddy. Seeing pictures, reading other blogs and scanning travel books is like getting to watch the passengers get off a rollercoaster that you’re standing in line for.
Planning for a trip should be like planning for life. You should know what you want to accomplish and you should have a route mapped out, even if it’s a loose one.But here’s the most important part: be flexible. Be willing to try different options and open yourself to new experiences, even if it wasn’t part of the original plan.