Planning an individual trip abroad is a hassle and you need some experience and lots of information. With trackfellas we want offer travelers a platform for a community-driven exchange of travel experiences and routes to close that gap between printed guidebooks and travel recommendation websites. Starting from inspiration for your next travel over trip planning and booking to route documentation, rating and sharing you will find everything you need for your perfect trip in one place. Until we are ready, here are the best travel tips for planning your individual travels in the old-fashioned way:
1. Find awesome travel destinations
When the wanderlust hits, it’s time for a new adventure. There are endless possibilities to explore the world, you just have to get out and travel. And no worries with the right planning, travelling individually is not expensive, difficult or dangerous. Anywhere on this planet there is some place just for you!
How to find it is the most inspiring and fun part of travelling besides the trip itself. Look out for beautiful destinations and activities and dream yourself away. Train rides in crowded India, a legendary road trip across the USA, island-hopping in the tropical Caribbean, trekking the mystic Inka trail, hitchhiking through cultural Europe, dog sledding in the white wilderness of Siberia, biking along the majestic great Wall of China, caravan tour in the hot Sahara, diving at the remarkable Great Barrier Reef or sailing around the world, everything is possible!
Let your desires and preferences as well as your budget and available time help you with your decision. Write down what you want to do and research for stunning places and special activities. For exclusive information ask friends, read through travel blogs and forums, hit the travel books or search in travel recommendation websites. Check as well for local festivals during your stay. These might turn your trip into something very special. You may also look for travel warnings from your government. But don’t take them too serious, for getting a comparison I recommend to read the travel warnings of your home country. Also mind the spoken languages in your chosen destination. In most frequent tourist spots either English, Spanish or French is spoken, often related to the former colonial rulers. Choose a few destinations and check your calendar when and for how long you are free to travel.
2.Travel duration and season
The best time to start planning your trip is 2 – 3 months before the planned departure. First count the days you are free to travel, also consider the jetlag once you return home, which may knock you out for another few days. The longer you can stay abroad, the better you will be able to get to know the country, its inhabitants and culture and also the airfare will reflect less on your daily budget. Set a date, but remain flexible for your departure within a week.
The actual season you are going to travel affects your trip tremendously with prices differing by 30-40%. During public holidays, local as well as in the countries you are traveling to, the tourist spots are much more crowded, often reservations are necessary, although this doesn’t have to be the best season for holiday. Have also a look when and why there is an off-season, where often discounts are offered, but this might in many cases be related to bad weather conditions or other facts, which make traveling unpopular. You can check climate diagrams for certain places to find the best season for yourself. Also notice the further you are from the equator the bigger difference between the amount of daylight during winter and summer exists.
3. Total cost and flight booking
To get an overview of the necessary cash needed for your trip you should have a quick look at some guidebooks for a summary of costs or just check at booking website like hostelworld.com or booking.com for the average cost of a backpackers hostel or hotel. Accomodation is mostly the biggest cost part besides airfares. These you can easily check online via flight search engines, like kayak.com or skyscanner.com. Also select airports nearby your planned destination and check all the potential flight connections with flexible dates. Intercontinental flights are normally cheaper mid-week and off-hours, if you book round trip and in average you get the best price three month before departure. Follow the price trend for several days or weeks for finding special offers. Have an eye as well on error fares websites like holidaypirates.com which promotes incredible cheap tickets, especially when you are flexible in time and destination. By comparing the necessary costs with the amenities of the foreseen travel region you have a good base to choose your favorite destination.
4. Visa & vaccinations
Before planning your trip in detail check the two v’s. Are there any visa restrictions of your home country for your chosen destinations? Often you get a visa-on-arrival for around 1 month. For some countries you have to get a visa in advance, so make sure you will get it in time and your trip inside the country doesn’t exceed the maximum permitted stay. If so you can either leave the country during your trip and reenter to get a new visa or sometimes it is possible to extend your visa at immigration offices.
Vaccinations are very useful, although for some diseases like Malaria, HIV or Dengue fever no proper immunization exists. Inform yourself about local diseases and discuss potential risks with your doctor. Some vaccinations or drugs can be very costly, so better check before if you really need it and if your health insurance refunds them. Get the vaccinations in time, because some need multiple doses, which can require the first vaccination already weeks before your trip. Many countries even refuse entry, if you are coming from an affected country without having a mandatory vaccination, like yellow fever. So bring along your vaccination certificate.
5. Plan your travel route
Congratulations you found your personal best travel destination! Check once again the flight connection and finally book the best option. Get yourself a guidebook for the countries or regions you are going to visit. Although there are some online travel guides, you don’t want to miss them when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with no battery or wifi around. If you want to visit more than one country some publishers offer transnational guidebooks of regions or countries. Lonely Planet is the most popular travel guide, but this also means to be inside the backpacker’s mainstream. Other recommended guidebooks for individual travelers are rough guides (english), Loose Travel Handbücher (german), Michael Müller Individualreisen (german) and Guide du routard (french). With this tool in hand you can start to plan your travel route. Anyhow if you prefer to go spontaneously on your trip you may skip the following part, but make sure you don’t get stuck during high season. Alternatively you ask online travel agencies specialized on individual trips like wandertrvl.com for booking assistance for an extra fee. Guidebooks often suggest the best place to visit and offer prefixed travel routes. You could just copy them for your trip, but I recommend you create an individual travel route, except you want to travel the beaten track. At least your guidebook will help you find the best locations for your planned activities, hotels and transportation. Starting from your place of arrival, where you should spend one or two nights to get acclimatized and get rid of the jetlag you can check where to go next. Write down which places you want to visit and make sure you have enough free time for your everything planned. Find out about existing connections between two places in your travel guide or have a look at transportation search engines like rome2rio.com (worldwide), goeuro.com (Europe) 12go.asia (Southeast Asia) or roadtrippers.com (road trips in USA). Some transportation is only available on certain days of the week so search with flexible dates. Collect all relevant information and save it together with your loose itinerary as an excel file in a cloud storage to have it always online with you.
6.Transportation and hotel booking
Once you found your route either check first for important activities or for accommodation. This can become very complex, when transportation, accommodation and your intended activity all depend on each other. So don’t loose the overview, always have an alternative ready and adjust your itinerary if necessary. I really recommend booking ahead at least a hotel at your place of arrival. You stay fully flexible and you don’t have the hassle of searching for a place to sleep in an unknown city after an exhausting flight. Making a reservation or booking accommodation always makes sense in tourist hot spots or during high season. Special days like Christmas, New Years Eve or your own birthdays shouldn’t be left to chance. On the other hand, the more you book ahead, the less flexible you are to change your initial route while travelling. You can research for best accommodations at tripadvisor.com, whereby contacting directly the hotel and making a reservation is often cheaper than booking at hotel portals and enables you to ask specific questions. A smart and cheap alternative is Airbnb.com, where you can rent anything from private rooms to entire houses. Couchsurfing.com offers a platform to find a place to sleep in a private home for free. When you are traveling on a budget this can be the perfect choice, but always check ratings to make sure you get a well-minded and mannered host. Booking transportation ahead is apart from flights often more complicated. Check out rome2rio.com or ask at your hotel nearby, if they can book the transportation for you in advance. In countries and regions with good backpacker infrastructure, such as Southeast Asia it is normally not necessary to book general transportation in advance.
7. Activities booking
You should now already have a plan what to do, where and when. Your guidebook will probably list some agencies for your planned activities. Most of the activities can be booked once you are on-site. For popular activities during high season or in special locations with limited numbers of daily tourists like diving in national parks, visiting crowded sights or going on a tour for several days making a reservation or booking ahead can be really useful. Contact the agency directly for making a reservation or book at getyourguide.com
8. Bank & credit card
Get yourself a credit card without bank charges and fees for usage abroad. Many Internet banks offer such service those days. Also inform your bank about your upcoming travel, so that your transactions are not suspected to be illegal and your card doesn’t get blocked. Better have an additional card with you, in case one stops working or gets blocked nevertheless.
9. Travel insurance
Now that you set up your perfect route nothing can go wrong?! Almost. You definitely want to have a health insurance with cover abroad to get the best medical treatment in case anything happens while travelling. And best medical treatment still means in many less developed countries less quality than in western countries. Ask your health insurance for further information. Depending on your travel expenses and your flexibility you might consider getting a travel insurance. It covers you and your expenses, when your camera breaks, your flights gets canceled, you have to return home earlier due to sickness or even have to cancel your trip before leaving.
10. Enjoy your trip
Finally the day comes and you can start into your self-made adventure. Make sure you have a list of your travel itinerary, including transportation and hotel address and a copy of important documents. In many places you won’t have internet so it makes sense to print the details. Don’t forget your passport and have a great trip!
All these things are quite useful, but we are working on our platform trackfellas.com to get you all you need for your next trip in one. So if this guides was of any help, come back after your trip, tell us about your experience and document your trip so you can share your travel route on our platform!
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Thank you fellas and see you!