It's super simple.
I will walk through the steps of how I go about planning Han and I's trips. Whether they be small inter country trips or big overseas adventures.
Example: Our first trip to Europe/UK was on what you would call a "budget." We booked flights in the off season (typically August-February) as it's typically cheaper than the high season (about March-July) to Dublin, Ireland as it was the cheapest place to fly in to at the time. We flew in to Dublin Dec. 16 & flew out the 30th. Tickets were $846 per person.
- Pick Your Destination
Since your budget is the biggest factor, this should be a no brainer. You pick and you are super excited to start. (I know, I've been there.)
- (If you need to) Secure Travel Documents
Probably goes without saying, you can't travel internationally (if that's your goal) without a passport from your country of citizenship. Getting one is a pretty long process and a little pricey (last year, cost was $135 total) Be very careful when applying as any information that is wrong or off can put your application in purgatory for a while. (Apparently, the US Government does not accept State ID's as valid Identification in lieu of a Liscense...This caused a rejection of my application the first time. I had to submit a whole slew of documentation proving I was indeed a US citizen and not a terrorist, but that's a story for another blog post.)
- Look up Transportation
Transportation is usually the most expensive portion of our trips and therefore the first thing I book to make it as cheap as possible. However you choose to get there, you need to do some research. No ONE website will be your hail mary for all travel unfortunately...I spend many hours tirelessly combing the internet for flights on websites like
and most recently
I then continue to monitor the websites for a few weeks to see how much the price fluctuates. Make sure you do this in Incognito Mode. These websites often have tracking cookies that store information to load the site faster, but it also tells them that you've been there before and it will cause them to raise the price on you every time they find you checking them out. Incognito prevents them from storing cookies, so you see the real fluctuations.
I usually end up booking our lodging separately from transportation because so far while doing my research, it's been cheaper to do that than book a package. It's not Always cheaper though. Our upcoming trip to Cancun, Mexico was booked as a package through Priceline and it ended up being significantly cheaper than booking separately as I usually do. The only way I knew this was from a lot of research. I highly recommend using
Booking.com - typical hotel booking site. Cheapest is my experience.
Airbnb - pay to stay in entire apartment or a room in someone's home. Great opportunity to meet locals and get inside experience
Couch Surf - this is by far the cheapest method. Stay free in someone's home. May not be on some people's comfort levels but a great way to make friends and be immersed in local culture.
- Travel Insurance
I am a huge advocate of having travel insurance for overseas trips. Domestic trips...well it tends to be kind of a waste for us because we have health insurance and it works at any emergency room but Internationally, it is an absolute must. I got extremely ill on our first trip to London this last Christmas. Ended up bedridden and in terrible pain for the next two weeks until we got home and I immediately went to the ER. I WAS STUPID and I will not let you be. Just buy the damn insurance. Better to have it and not need it than need it and blah blah ya know? I got sick in fucking London, England. It can happen anywhere.
- Keep a Spreadsheet or folder for all your travel info
I keep a rolling spreadsheet of expenses and bookings on my laptop. Once I book the transportation. I put the relevant information into a spreadsheet to keep track of cost and to make sure I don't forget anything (like the time I accidentally screwed up our flight date from London to Paris...and that was even WITH an organized spreadsheet.)
I place all things that need to be printed (confirmations, tickets etc.) in a folder on my desktop and get it all printed out before we leave and carry it around with me in a thin folder in my backpack.
This may seem a little "analog" but you never know what will happen to your electronics and then you'd be lost. Better to have a back up.
Sometimes bookings you make on "Third Party Sites" (this is usually the term given to websites like priceline, kayak, expedia and all those assorted travel deals sites) may not get accurately recorded or a glitch in the matrix will happen and you'll be very glad to have your good ol' paper back ups to prove your bookings are legit.
- Double/Triple Check all dates and Confirmation Codes
This is pretty important. I try to do this a week or so before we actually begin the trip to make sure that I haven't forgotten anything. I call our lodging and the airlines to make sure we are all good on that front.
- Have a fucking blast!
Now stop worrying and go have fun! You just spent a lot of time and money planning this biz. Enjoy it. If anything bad happens, you have the travel insurance to fall back on. :)