How to Plan a Trip: A Month-by-Month Guide

Tips on how to Plan a Journey: A Month-by-Month Information


Posted: 4/2/2024 | April 2nd, 2024

Journey planning could be a daunting process. Flights, insurance coverage, gear, itineraries, lodging, and a lot extra all have to be thought of and sorted out earlier than you go.

It’s simple to get overwhelmed, particularly once you haven’t finished one thing like this earlier than.

After over near twenty years of touring the world, I’ve deliberate numerous journeys and holidays for myself, mates, and household, even group excursions. To start with, it was trial by fireplace. I discovered a whole lot of classes the laborious means. Nonetheless, that helped me develop an environment friendly guidelines that ensures I don’t miss something essential throughout the trip-planning course of.

One large query I get requested so much is when to begin planning. To reply that query, this put up breaks the planning course of down into month-by-month steps so you’ll be able to plan your subsequent journey with ease.

Right here’s plan a visit:

12 Months Out: Determine on Your Vacation spot(s)

A large commercial jet flying through the bright blue sky as it takes offA large commercial jet flying through the bright blue sky as it takes off
Lots of people discuss vaguely about journey: they by no means say the place they’re going, simply that they’re going. They may discuss it for years earlier than truly departing (in the event that they go in any respect). However it’s a lot simpler to achieve and plan for the purpose of “I’m going to Paris for 2 weeks this summer season” than “I’m going someplace.”

If you have already got a dream vacation spot in thoughts, nice! If not, listed below are some posts that can assist you get began:

However, this far out, the actual factor you wish to do is begin saving cash and determining your prices. Lodging and flights are the plain ones, however how a lot do eating places, sights, and different actions price? Figuring out these prices will permit you precisely estimate how a lot cash you’ll want. Right here is analysis prices:

  1. Purchase a guidebook
  2. Try my free journey guides (we break down all prices for every vacation spot)
  3. Skim the price of dwelling on
  4. Google costs for main actions you wish to do, corresponding to scuba diving, vineyard excursions, and so on. (Get Your Information is an effective place to begin)
  5. Use Skyscanner or Google Flights for flight costs and join alerts to get emails if the value adjustments
  6. Use Uncover Automobiles to cost out (and guide) a rental automobile should you want one
  7. Use and Hostelworld to analysis lodging prices

That will seem to be so much however you simply wish to get a basic thought of how a lot it’s essential save. You possibly can head to this web page to see all my articles on how to economize in your journey.

12 Months Out: Begin Gathering Factors & Miles

A bunch of different travel credit cards being held by avid traveler Nomadic MattA bunch of different travel credit cards being held by avid traveler Nomadic Matt
When you’re working to economize, get a journey bank card so you’ll be able to earn miles and factors totally free flights and lodge stays. It’s what has stored my prices down and me on the street for therefore a few years.

As of late, most playing cards have welcome provides of 60,000-80,000 factors (some could be as excessive as 100,000) once you meet their minimal spending requirement (typically $2,000-5,000 USD inside a 3–6-month time-frame). That’s sufficient miles for a free round-trip economic system flight to Europe from the East Coast of North America.

For extra info on this topic, take a look at these posts:

As well as, get a fee-free ATM card. I exploit Charles Schwab, however there are many different banks that don’t cost ATM charges (don’t overlook to test your native banks and credit score unions too). Right here’s how one can keep away from financial institution charges whereas touring.

8 Months Out: Visa Necessities, Passports, and Vaccines

When you seemingly gained’t want a visa to your required vacation spot, it’s best to nonetheless test to ensure. In the event you’re a US citizen, use the State Division’s search device to find out about your vacation spot’s entry necessities. (Canadians can use this search device.)

Moreover, guarantee that your passport is legitimate for a minimum of six months after your journey ends. Many international locations require this for entry. Passport software and renewal wait instances could be lengthy (the usual is 6-8 weeks within the US), so do that as quickly as doable.

Additionally, analysis should you want any vaccines in your journey as many international locations require vaccines to enter (and I don’t imply COVID). You possibly can study extra about nation necessities and suggestions on the CDC’s web site. They will help you discover a clinic close to you as properly (should you’re within the US).

4-6 Months Out: E-book Your Flight

A huge commerical airliner flying through the dark blue sky as it comes in for a landing at an airportA huge commerical airliner flying through the dark blue sky as it comes in for a landing at an airport
The very best time to guide your flight is usually round 3-4 months earlier than your departure, or 5-6 months earlier than in case you are going throughout a vacation spot’s peak season. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, although, so use it as a information.

Listed below are two articles on rating an inexpensive flight:

In the event you’ve signed up for a journey bank card and acquired your sign-up bonus, use your miles to guide your flight and/or lodge. The additional out you guide, the extra availability there will probably be. Use instruments like and Awayz that can assist you discover the perfect redemptions in your factors (for flights and inns, respectively).

However even should you aren’t utilizing miles or didn’t discover a low cost flight deal, there are nonetheless some ways to keep away from being the individual on the flight who paid essentially the most for his or her ticket. My two favourite websites for locating low cost airfare are Skyscanner and Google Flights.

3-4 Months Out: E-book Your Lodging

A small rolling suitcase standing near the door in a cozy hotel room abroadA small rolling suitcase standing near the door in a cozy hotel room abroad
In the event you’re touring for below two weeks and have a set schedule, guide lodging at some stage in your journey. In the event you’re visiting throughout the excessive season, it’s additionally a good suggestion to guide the whole lot prematurely. For journeys longer than two weeks, I recommend reserving solely the primary couple of nights of your journey. As soon as there, it’s possible you’ll find yourself wanting to vary your plans primarily based on insider recommendation from different vacationers and/or lodge/hostel employees. I choose having flexibility, so I at all times simply guide a couple of nights and go from there.

Listed below are my go-to websites in terms of discovering the perfect offers on lodging:

  • Hostelworld – Hostelworld has the biggest collection of hostels and is my go-to website for locating inexpensive hostels.
  • – is the perfect total platform for locating funds inns and guesthouses.
  • Agoda – Agoda has the perfect outcomes should you’re heading to Asia (although it typically has good US offers too).

I like to recommend checking the cancelation coverage of wherever you guide. I like having the flexibleness to cancel if one thing comes up.

In the event you’re on a decent funds otherwise you wish to join with extra locals throughout your travels, contemplate becoming a member of platforms like Couchsurfing or BeWelcome. These communities permit vacationers to stick with residents totally free as a form of cultural trade.

Lengthy-term vacationers may strive housesitting or WWOOFing as properly, as they each supply free lodging (in trade for pet sitting or farm work, respectively).

2 Months Out: Plan Your Actions

Now it’s time for the enjoyable a part of journey planning! Meaning studying books about your vacation spot, studying basic journey suggestions, connecting with on-line communities, and pre-booking any needed actions.

Pre-booking ensures you don’t miss out on issues that you simply actually wish to do in your journey. In the event you’re going to a preferred vacation spot, excursions and actions replenish shortly, and should you’re going to a smaller place, actions or excursions may solely run on sure days and have restricted availability.

Both means, Get Your Information the perfect place to seek for and pre-book actions, excursions, and tickets. Native tour operators and sights can record their choices on this on-line market, so you could find tons of stuff right here, from meals excursions to museum tickets with skip-the-line entry.

1 Month Out: Get Journey Insurance coverage

Get journey insurance coverage. That means, these purchases are protected ought to one thing occur that makes you cancel your journey.

Lots of people assume, “I’m wholesome. I don’t want journey insurance coverage.” However journey insurance coverage is far more than simply medical safety. It covers you when your digicam breaks, your flight is canceled, a member of the family dies and it’s important to come house, or one thing will get stolen. (That’s why you’ll additionally wish to familiarize your self with any frequent journey scams to look out for, in addition to conduct your self with the intention to mix in to keep away from wanting like a goal for petty theft.)

Sure, it’s an added expense. However it’s at all times higher to be protected than sorry. I by no means go away house with out it, as a result of I’ve seen firsthand simply what can occur on the street.

I by no means thought I might pop my eardrum whereas I used to be scuba diving in Thailand, break my digicam in Italy, or get knifed in Colombia.

Sadly, dangerous issues can occur once you’re touring. True, these occasions are few and much between. However they’ll price tens of 1000’s of {dollars}. In the event you’re not ready to pay out of pocket, purchase journey insurance coverage.

Listed below are some posts on journey insurance coverage to get you began:

I by no means go away house with out journey insurance coverage. You shouldn’t both.

7 days out: Pack!

Nomadic Matt's gear on the bed as he packs his backpack before a tripNomadic Matt's gear on the bed as he packs his backpack before a trip
Your journey is nearly right here, and it’s time to pack! It may be tempting to wish to carry the whole lot with you “simply in case.” However in terms of journey, much less is extra. Whereas what you pack will rely upon the place you’re going, do not forget that you don’t must take the whole lot you personal. You should purchase stuff you want and do laundry on the street. On the finish of the day, it’s important to carry the whole lot you carry. So carry much less!

I journey with a 45L REI bag after which a smaller day bag. Right here’s my prompt packing record that can assist you take simply the correct quantity of stuff and keep away from overpacking (right here’s an inventory for feminine vacationers).

Moreover, carry any prescriptions you want at some stage in your journey. Attempt to not depend on filling these overseas (although carry a prescription and physician’s notice simply in case).


With the whole lot taken care of, it’s time to go in your journey and have enjoyable! Make an inventory of last-minute gadgets it’s essential pack the day of (your toothbrush, glasses, cellphone charger, and so on.) and test in on-line beforehand (you are able to do so 24 hours prematurely). (In the event you’ve received lounge entry via a premium journey rewards card, you may end up wanting ahead to attending to the airport early.)

In the event you’re feeling nervous, don’t fear. That’s completely regular. Feeling anxious or uncertain is one thing each traveler experiences. However you’ve made it this far. Belief your planning and comply with your instincts. You’re about to have the journey of a lifetime.

E-book Your Journey: Logistical Ideas and Tips

E-book Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight through the use of Skyscanner. It’s my favourite search engine as a result of it searches web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is being left unturned.

E-book Your Lodging
You possibly can guide your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use because it persistently returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and inns.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you towards sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes flawed. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances previously. My favourite corporations that supply the perfect service and worth are:

Need to Journey for Free?
Journey bank cards mean you can earn factors that may be redeemed totally free flights and lodging — all with none additional spending. Try my information to selecting the correct card and my present favorites to get began and see the most recent greatest offers.

Want Assist Discovering Actions for Your Journey?
Get Your Information is a big on-line market the place you could find cool strolling excursions, enjoyable excursions, skip-the-line tickets, non-public guides, and extra.

Able to E-book Your Journey?
Try my useful resource web page for the perfect corporations to make use of once you journey. I record all those I exploit once I journey. They’re the perfect at school and you may’t go flawed utilizing them in your journey.


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