This is my step by step guide on how I plan my holidays, specifically the ones where I want to explore an entire country. It can also work for one-location holidays, but if you want to backpack across several places this may help you out!
Step 1. Choose Location and Time
This is an obvious first step but it’s important you think about where you want to go before planning anything specific. Make a list of places you would like to see, what activities you’d like to participate in, and what’s within your budget. For example, if you want to do some mountain climbing, you could look into Peru or Switzerland.
Next, you should choose the time of year you would like to go. Whether you want to spend your holiday on the beach or in the snow, it depends on when your ideal destination has its seasons.
Step 2. Pinpoint Places on a Map
This is the step that I take when I’m going on a long trip. Get yourself a map of your destination and start researching the places you want to see. Then, once you have a nice list happening, start marking them on your map. This way you can see which attractions are near each other and you can figure out what to see in what order. It can also help you figure out how long you will stay in a certain area. For example, if you wanted to travel around Japan and you wanted to see more in Osaka than Tokyo, then you would stay longer in Osaka.
Step 3. Transportation
Once you know where you’re going and what you want to see, it’s time to research how you’ll get around. If you’re going long distance for a few months, your best options may be to buy/hire a car. If this isn’t for you, you can research into what bus/train passes or reloadable cards your destination has and how much a ride costs. For example, in New York, you can get a Metrocard that you load with money and swipe to travel on the subway trains. Once you have this info it will help out with the next step.
Step 5. Research Costs and Budget
At this point, you know where you want to go, what you want to do, and what expenses are involved. Now you have to figure out how much you have to save and what kind of accommodation is within your budget. Also, start keeping track of flights and keep a look out for some good deals. I recommend downloading an app with which you can watch a certain flight and its changes in price. There are quite a few and they really make a difference!
Step 4. Accommodation
Now that you know what your budget is, start looking at accommodation in your destination/s. By looking at your map you can decide how many nights to spend in one place and, if you want flexibility, you only have to book the first few nights and figure the rest out as you go! If you want cheap accommodation (because who doesn’t), I really love to use HostelWorld. It’s easy to use and it has trustworthy reviews and ratings.
Step 6. Book Flights
This doesn’t necessarily have to be the last step but it gives you time to figure out exactly how long you’ll be away and to keep and eye on deals for cheaper flights. There have been instances where I spontaneously book flights and sort the rest out later and it all worked out fine. There’s no right or wrong, so book your flights when you’re ready, as it will most likely be the most expensive part of your trip.