Are you feeling stuck with how to plan your next trip?
Trust me, I know the feeling.
Sometimes it’s hard to come by travel planning tips that you could put to good use. At worst, you’ll find a generic list that suggests you leave enough time to plan your trip.
Read on to learn some travel planning tips (everything from how to communicate you have a food allergy while you’re abroad to saving money for a vacation) from travel bloggers, industry experts, fellow digital nomads, and people who know the travel system.
1. Check the voltage on older small appliances
“If you’re bringing small appliances like a hair straightener or blow dryer, be sure to check the voltage because sometimes for these, older models don’t have dual voltage which means an adapter isn’t enough, and you’ll need a converter for them to work properly.”
—Christina Guan from Happy to Wander
2. Book rental cars ahead of time
“If you need a rental car, booking online in advance will almost always get you a better deal than if you just show up at the counter. And it’s easier and quicker.”
—Caz and Craig from Y Travel Blog
3. Use Pinterest to plan your itinerary
“Pinterest is a great resource for finding things to do at a travel destination. Not only are you able to connect with friends or follow publications, but there is also a powerful search box.
You can use the search box to narrow down your search by keywords by destination or even by interest (like family travel or honeymoons). The possibilities for finding a variety of useful information is huge…and it’s growing bigger every day.”
—Josh and Liz from Peanuts or Pretzels
4. Search on booking sites in incognito mode
“Search engines and booking sites store your previous search history so that they know what they offered you last time. To get around this and ensure you are getting the best deal possible, turn your internet browser incognito so they can’t see you’ve been searching previously.”
—Jen Seligman from The Trusted Traveler
5. Plan ahead to use public transportation
“Whenever the distance is too demanding, I choose to get around using public transports. Not only is [it] cheaper than taxis, it’s a challenging and more authentic way to navigate around a new place. Bear in mind [that] 24-hour, 3-day or even weekly public transport passes are usually way better value-for-money deals than single tickets.”
—Bruno from Geeky Explorer
6. Check the laundry services available at or around hostels
“You’ve been backpacking for 20 days, you’ve run out of underwear — maybe it’s time to look for a hostel with laundry services, or at least near one. Some have laundry services where it’s a coin machine or a variation of, and you pay yourself.
Some, you give them your laundry and they do it and charge you a cost. Check the reviews, or when booking to see if this is an option, or if it is near an outside laundromat.”
—Kristin and Trevor from Imagine Backpacking
7. Traveling with kids? Research the airport ahead of time
“Find out ahead of time about what kid friendly amenities will be available in the airports that you will be traveling with children through. Do they have a play area? Nursing facilities? Places to buy diapers/wipes/anything that you have forgotten? If your kids have dietary restrictions (or are just plain picky eaters), locate some food options that might work for you ahead of time.”
—Shanna and Aaron from There and Back Again Travel
8. Don’t speak the language? Have a food allergy? Write up a restriction card in advance
“Sally, what in the world is a restriction card? In simplest terms, it’s an index card that states your restriction in the target language. You can buy one or make your own. Side note: it’s usually better to write “I’m allergic to…” rather than “I can’t eat…”, since “I can’t eat” is more readily disregarded than allergies. At least in my experience. Better safe than sorry!”
—Sally from Passport and Plates
9. Avoid flying direct to save money
“I never fly direct. Well, almost never. Especially when flying long distances, you’ll nearly always find better prices on routes with one or more connections. You’re typically looking at adding significant travel time, but when the savings amount to hundreds of dollars, for me it makes the most sense to choose the connections every time.”
—Lead from The Sweetest Way
10. Bring a compact umbrella for destinations with iffy weather
“Traveling with a small compact umbrella is always a good idea. You know the saying “wait 5 minutes and the weather will change”. I’ve heard that said about almost every destination.
For popular destinations like New York City, the weather has a tendency to fluctuate from day-to-day, regardless of the season. Rainstorms come on without warning, and hotels often run out of umbrellas to lend guests.”
—Megan and Mike from Mapping Megan
11. While abroad, use ATMs for better rates
“For point-building purposes, it is best to put as many purchases as possible on credit cards. However, in some destinations around the world that’s easier said than done. Use ATMs rather than currency exchanges to get cash when needed (they have far better rates) and find a debit card that refunds ATM fees.”
—Alex from Alex in Wanderland
12. Call airlines to price match a ticket
“Did you know that many airlines will price match? Once you purchase your tickets, keep checking the price of your flight. If you find it drops, call them on it. Airlines often will match their price and refund you the difference. Do the homework and make sure you are getting the best deal.”
—Shellie from Simply Shellie
13. Deposit money into a travel account after payday
“The moment your paycheck comes in, deposit the ENTIRE difference into your travel account. DO NOT touch your travel account. Will you run out of money? Not if you’re careful. If funds get low, spend a few days eating lentils and watching TV and going for walks until you get paid again.”
—Kate from Adventurous Kate
14. Choose ten clothing items as your essentials
“No matter where you travel and how long you plan to go for, start by choosing ten clothing items for your trip to act as the core of what you bring. If you could only bring ten items and no more for this particular trip, what would they be? These ten clothing items will act as the essentials in your travel wardrobe, also known as a capsule wardrobe.”
—Alexandra from Travel Fashion Girl
15. Take advantage of credit card frequent flyer miles
“If you’re in the U.S., it would be a big waste to not take advantage of frequent flyer miles. Residents of Canada and the U.K. can do this too, to an extent. Just by signing up for credit cards, you could get free flights!
Travel hacking can get really complex, but you can always start small. Signing up for just one good credit card might get you enough points to fly for free.”
—Deia from Nomad Wallet
16. Order foreign currency from your bank for better exchange rates
“It’s always a good idea to have some local currency already in your purse when you touch down. Exchanging money at the airport will always give you a terrible exchange rate. Be organised and order a small amount of foreign currency from your bank before you leave.”
—Brooke from World of Wanderlust
17. Staying at an Airbnb? Watch what you use in the home!
“If it’s actually someone’s home, which you can tell about how much stuff there is everywhere (photos of their significant other, all their clothes in the closet, etc.), then unless they told you to indulge in their food and drink, try limiting yourself to the spices in their cabinet, and go grocery shopping for yourself. Checking out local markets and ingredients is the best!”
—Sarah from Tales From A Fork
18. Stay hydrated during air travel
“The thing about air travel is that it dehydrates you. You can combat this by staying extra hydrated before, during, and after the flight. Before you fly, try drinking something with electrolytes like coconut water or a sports drink. Make sure to drink plenty of water on the plane. I like to bring a water bottle on board with me because they never really give out enough water in the in-flight service.”
—Heather from Art. Travel. Eat. Repeat.
19. If you’re traveling solo, use the Couchsurfing app to meet new people on the road
“If you want to meet new people, the best thing you can do is download the Couchsurfing app to your phone.
You don’t even have to couchsurf, all you have to do is go to the dashboard, click ‘hangout now’, type in what kind of hangout you want to have (eg: have a beer; explore the city; go hiking; have coffee), and you’ll have access to a range of people in the area who want to do what you want to do. I used it a few times, and recommend it to anyone.”
—Charlotte from The Global Shuffle
20. Set up automatic transfers to your savings account to save money for trips
“Before you even have time to spend the money that you want to save, set up an automatic transfer to your savings account. Set this automated payment so that it occurs once a week or every other week, depending on how often you get paid. Every single week I saved $100-150 without even knowing it.”
—Eva from Eva Explores
21. Don’t let FOMO quash your trip saving goals
“FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is one of the most expensive mental disorders out there. A new outfit for the weekend, going to the movies, going out to dinner, one drink leads to another, cab fare…Weekends can literally wipe out your savings in one unforeseen swoop!
Consider inviting friends over for wine or homemade cocktails and suggest BYOB or ask everyone to bring a side dish. Another idea is to research local “free-tivities” in your city and get a group of friends together for a fun day out that won’t break the bank.”
—Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad
22. Don’t book Airbnbs too far in advance
“If you have your eye on a property for something such as Mardi Gras or The Super Bowl, but you think you can book more than 6-9 months out, think again.
As expected they want to hike the prices for these events, so they can make more, but often times, hosts haven’t updated their calendars this far out. I would recommend booking no more than 6 months out with each AirBnB host.”
—Tiffany from Savvy Southern Belle
23. Set up an automated email response for work before your trip
“Be sure to remind co-workers that you will be gone so they know you won’t be available during your trip. That being said check your work calendar to see what commitments you have made while you’re away. Make sure to reschedule them.
Also, remember to create an automated email response or even a personalized voicemail to let people who are trying to get in touch with you know that you’re out of town and when you’ll be back.”
—Alexandria from Alexandria Drake
Over To You
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end!
I know I learned a bunch of people named “Alex” or “Alexandra” are travel bloggers! 😀
But really, the great thing about these tips is that you can act on most of them now (isn’t that the beauty of travel planning?).
Now, what are some travel planning tips you use during prep time? Which ones have saved you tons of money and time (extra points if they save your sanity, too!)? Let me know in the comments below.
And to help you along your travels further, here are some other blog posts you’ll find helpful: