Travel Planning For The Beginner

Well, here we are…the beginning of a brand new year with adventures to be had and possibilities to explore. I always kind of love this time when you consider what is coming in the year ahead and also allow yourself to wonder at the possibilities of things you would like to do. This is not so much about making a list of resolutions that will more than likely fall by the wayside by February. It’s more about allowing yourself to give space to your dreams and believe that maybe, just maybe, they could happen in the year to come. I think that this is especially important in this new year, after surviving the difficult year of 2020. After a year of changes, restrictions, uncertainty, etc I think we could all use the uplift of believing that something wonderful could happen this year.

A friend of mine recently was talking about how she was so jealous of some of the places I’ve been and how she wouldn’t even know where to start to do something like that. I was a little taken aback because planning a trip shouldn’t be daunting, it should be exciting. But to people like my friend who haven’t traveled as much how to begin seems insurmountable. So with this in mind, I have been thinking about my own dream trip that I’ve had in mind for ages and the steps I would take to make it happen and of how to start planning a trip for those that maybe, like my friend, just need to know how to start. Now, it may happen this year but it may not. But if it doesn’t happen this year, at least I will have started and taken steps so that I’m all the more ready for it when the time is right. There is so much joy that comes from the anticipation of an upcoming adventure. You begin to plan and to imagine, seeing yourself in this place that you’ve always wanted to see, and it gives a boost to your mood and a drive to your purpose. So here it is, my beginners guide on how to start planning a trip…

(photo:: by Element5 Digital on
  • PICK THE DESTINATION :: This first step may seem obvious, but it’s important to be as specific as possible for greater success. If you were to say something like, “this year I want to go…somewhere” then it doesn’t really provide that drive to make it happen. It’s more like you’re asking the universe to drop a ready made vacation in your lap. Be specific. Imagine you just won an all expense paid vacation but your time to decide is very limited. Where would you go? Where has always been somewhere you’ve wanted to see but never thought you would? Pick a specific destination.
  • CHOOSE YOUR TRAVELING COMPANION :: Now that you’ve determined where you would want to go now you need to decide who you would want to go there with. Would you want to go with friends? Family? Or would you want to go by yourself? Are you more comfortable to explore the place on your own or would you rather be part of a tour group with a guide? Invite the other person to be part of the process with you. Make the planning a team effort and get each other excited about it over and over again.
  • GET INSPIRED :: This is my favorite part of planning a trip! Once you have decided on the destination, then it’s time to let the vision of that destination become a front and center part of your mind. Go to the bookstore and buy a travel guide to where you want to go, and fill it with sticky notes or dogeared pages. Start a board on Pinterest for your destination and fill it with pictures and ideas. Change your background picture on your phone or computer to be of the place you are going. Tape pictures of the place on your bathroom mirror or your computer- somewhere you will see it often so it can be a constant reminder of where you’re going. Be inspired, be excited, and believe that you are going there.
  • ( for some suggestions on travel guides here are my go-to favorites :: DK Eyewitness Travel books at and Rick Steves’ Europe travel books at )
  • GET A ROUGH IDEA OF THE COST :: As much as I would love the universe to drop an all expense paid vacation in my lap, the reality is that there is a cost to the trip. But the cost should not be a deterrent or panic inducing- think of it more as an investment to an amazing opportunity. In this part, you want to get a basic idea of the cost of this trip. Get online and poke around a little on travel sites to get an idea of the cost of your flight and your hotel. Try looking at travel packages that include flight, lodging, transportation, etc to get a good idea. Remember you’re not booking it right now, just getting a base level of about what it will cost. Don’t panic when you see the numbers after the dollar sign- this is just your research before your investment.
  • (for some suggestions of travel planning sites here are some of my favorites :: Tripmasters and Tripadvisor )
  • START SAVING :: Now that you have a general idea of the cost of your trip, now it’s time to make it happen. You need to be able to put a little bit aside and dedicate it to your travel destination. You can do this any number of ways, the important part is that you do it in a way that will work for you. You can set up a separate savings account and name the account with the destination, then put a specified amount from every paycheck into that account. Get a container and tape a picture of the destination on it and decide that every $5 bill you have goes into that jar. If you can trim your expenses somewhere, then everything you save by trimming put into your travel fund. Whatever it is that works for you to set a little bit aside for your trip. Don’t get discouraged about the amount that you are able to set aside, every small step made is still a step closer to going.
  • NARROW IDEAS DOWN :: As you keep moving towards your trip you will find that your plans begin to narrow down and become more specific. You will start to say things like “This is a spot that I would really love to see” or “I’m not all that interested in seeing this”. The destination becomes a group of smaller areas that the different points of interest are located in (for example: if you are going to Disneyworld, but the smaller areas of the destination are Tomorrowland, Fantasy Land, Frontier Land, etc). Start planning by the area making sure you see the important, must see’s points in that area. Be sure to also allow for extra time in an area because you may discover something wonderful that was not on your list. Get an idea of what area will be best to see on what day of your trip. Will one area take up most of the day? Or if it’s a smaller area that only takes up a small part of the day is it close to another smaller area that will be easy to go to as well? Having a general plan for what you want to see in the time that you have is much better than arriving and winging it the whole time. You’re likely to see and do more having a general plan than hardly seeing anything because you’re too busy getting from one far point to the next. That being said, it is also good to remember that plans may change or adjust sometimes and it is important to be able to roll with it and adjust your plans as needs be.
  • YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY! :: Soon enough, the fateful day arrives when you can book that trip and you gleefully pack your bags with travel guide in hand and set off for your grand adventure. And you will look back at being so nervous about beginning the process and laugh because look how far you have come since then. You’re on your way, your destination and the million memories it will provide await!

I hope this was helpful to any beginning travelers out there. Once you travel somewhere, then you will feel all the more confident in traveling more. Happy Travels!

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