I work full time and do my traveling on holidays and weekends. I plan all my trips by myself, and I'm fond of detailed plans with schedules and lists of sights to visit. I have been traveling solo for more than ten years, which now puts me in a good place to share my tips for individual travel planning. But firstly, why should you bother about that at all?

What are the benefits of investing time into your travel planning?

  • First of all, you learn a lot about the places you intend to visit
  • You decide what places you want to see
  • You learn to calculate spending your time
  • You spend time on planning but save on travel expenditures by not using tours
  • You can combine things not usually included into one ready-made trip, for example combining five star accommodations and traveling by public transport
  • You learn that you are capable of doing this
  • You are in charge of everything
  • You have nobody else to blame

1 Anita tiger leaping gorge www.thesanetravel.com

Pictured me hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge in China.

What are the cons?

  • It’s very time consuming.

1) Planning the route

I started by planning my travels with books. I love Rick Steve’s books. I also used Lonely Planet and Rough guides. But once in Shanghai, I saw there was a construction site in place of a big market a book had promised. Moreover, there was no information in books about a recent earthquake in Christchurch, so I changed my mind and don’t use books for my travel planning anymore.
Start with checking travel itineraries on the web. It can be travel agencies or blogs. Then check out the pictures of the places mentioned in itineraries to decide whether you like them or not. Take it slow. Do not rush from one place to another. Plan the time for transfers between destinations. Then go back and make adjustments to your trip length.

2 chinese map www.thesanetravel.com 554

2) Deciding on the length of the trip

Check public transport accessibility for places you want to see if it’s your main means of transportation in the country. Because of difficult or time consuming transportation, I excluded Coromandel from my New Zealand North Iceland trip and chose Coron over El Nido for my Philippines itinerary. Next, figure out how much time you need to do the sightseeing in a particular place, to decide on the length of your stay there. Then go back to your time limit and decide how many places you can include into your itinerary. The usual length of my Europe trips is 2-5 days, and 2 weeks for Asia. For Australia and New Zealand, it can be up to three weeks because of huge traveling distances and costs to get there.

3 coron island hopping philippines www.thesanetravel.com 1170725

3) Flights

Use Google Flights or Matrix ITA Software to find suitable flights. See more about this in my article about useful websites. I buy tickets from Expedia for combined airlines trips or from a particular airline if there is just one involved. It’s very important to check luggage allowances to avoid any inconvenience during your trip when you might face the necessity of leaving a part of your luggage behind.

4 philippines airplane www.thesanetravel.com 1160102

4) Accommodation

First, check hotel reviews on TripAdvisor paying attention to bad comments, like complaints about noise levels or century old rooms. Stay away from those! A handy location near to the underground or other public transportation and /or sightseeing places is also important. The booking.com website is very good for checking the size of the rooms, not to not to end up somewhere very cramped. It’s especially important when looking for a hotel in London. Use hotelscombined to locate the best price, just tick the option “including taxes”. Then check the price on the hotel’s website. Quite often I end up booking the hotel on booking.com or agoda, the last one especially for Asia. You can also book cruises on this website. Read more tips about choosing an accomodation clicking this link.

radisson blu waterfront hotel room stockholm www.thesanetravel.com 1090429

5) Local transportation

Collect information about the public transport possibilities, travel timetables and the length of travel. Make sure you consider all available transportation options in your travel planning. You can find an example about the public transportation in the Philippines clicking this link.

6 naked bus new zealand www.thesanetravel.com 1330764

6) Language

If there are no Latin characters used in the local language, best print out the names of your destinations in the local language to show them to taxi drivers and in transportation ticket offices.

7 signpost shanghai www.thesanetravel.com

7) Planning tools

I use Google Sheets to get my itinerary together and save it offline too. I use Evernote to save the information I find about my future destinations. Read more about useful websites for travel planning clicking this link.

What are your habits of travel planning? Share them in the comment section!

  • Published by Anita on March 11, 2017
  •  

    Author: Anita Sāne

    DSC 7536 m

    About the author
    Anita is a part time traveler, passionate photographer and a mature career woman
    from Latvia, 
    traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. She is a skilled travel planner
    planning and executing her travels by herself. Follow Anita also on Instagram.

     

     

    Comments   

    Ariane
    #10 Ariane 2017-03-19 10:26
    Hi Anita. I spend most planning on my flights (to be honest to find the shortest one's for the best price) after that initial planning... I stop planning. I just hire a car or jump on public transport with my travel guide under my arm visiting whatever I feel like and negociating my accommodation on a day-to-day basis. Since I'me travelling like this I find that my holidays are a lot more fun. So definitely I prefer improvising. But I guess, there are also certain destinations where you have to plan everything to the smalest detail.
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    ADAM DOOLITTLE
    #9 ADAM DOOLITTLE 2017-03-17 18:56
    These are some great tips that will definitely be helpful to those who are newer to travelling. Sometimes it's easy to just use a travel agent but for me I love planning our own trips, too. I particularly enjoy learning about a location while planning. Then when you get to see that location while travelling you already have some background knowledge on it which is great.
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    Stephanie Frias
    #8 Stephanie Frias 2017-03-17 02:46
    How wonderful that you have been successfully planning your travels for so long! I think this is an important angle for those who need to have a lot of control over their travels. I agree completely with what you said, that while doing your own research you learn so much more about a place than if you had relied on someone else to handle it. I think this is also a great to stumble across great additions to your itinerary that you might have not known about if you had trusted someone else to do the scheduling!
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    Vibha Ravi
    #7 Vibha Ravi 2017-03-14 12:20
    Handy tips. I find that planning your itinerary allows you to take into account your own interests rather than going the generalized route. Plus you can combine a range of accommodation - from a luxury hotel to an Airbnb. It's a real pleasure to discover something on your own and all that research makes you appreciate a place better when you visit.
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    Stephanie Fox
    #6 Stephanie Fox 2017-03-14 11:16
    I am a total trip planner myself so can totally relate to all of these - some great tips! I find it so much fun and planning gets me so excited for future trips.
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    Ellis
    #5 Ellis 2017-03-14 08:43
    Planning for me is all part of the fun. It is time consuming but time well spent and enjoyable
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    Rosie Benton
    #4 Rosie Benton 2017-03-14 06:34
    What an informative post with plenty of great tips!! I definitely think you need to plan a trip to be able to get the most out of it. Research into local transportation is always worth doing as it's so much cheaper than taking a taxi. Thanks for sharing!
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    Marky
    #3 Marky 2017-03-14 05:39
    Wow nice to see you included Philippines in your examples. Great helpful tips by the way :)
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    Aleney de Winter
    #2 Aleney de Winter 2017-03-13 22:35
    Great tips here! Planning is the key to successful holiday.
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    Sabs
    #1 Sabs 2017-03-13 10:49
    Thank you for the tips! I am also a big believer in planning a trip well. It saved time and money and helps one see much more than when you are unprepared.
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