Sometimes my parents worry about me traveling alone all the time, and a lot of friends ask “how do you do so much in so little time?”- My secret? Proper planning and being organized.
- Select a travel location
- Create Google Drive folder or computer folder
- Purchase flights
- Figure out accommodations
- Research activities
- Create detailed itinerary
- Look up directions
- Pack Your Bags!
- Print all travel documents and store in secure location
- Have fun and enjoy your trip!
Selecting a Travel Location
First I look at my bucket list of places to go, my calendar, and Google Flights. If you haven’t already heard of Google Flights, I suggest taking a look! I pick out the dates that would work best for my schedule, set the date filter on Google Flights, then browse the globe to see what flights would fit my budget.
Setting up Your Organizational System:
The Next thing I do is to set up a folder in Google Docs, or on my computer to store any research and documents for the trip. I setup folders for flights, tickets, and each major stop or city of the trip.
It’s often cheaper to buy a round-way ticket, however you can see more places if you fly into one location and fly out of another! If you have the ability to plan your trip many months in advance, you can track prices of certain locations to be able to buy when the price is at it’s lowest point. I have found that purchasing a flight 3 to 4 months before a trip resulted in some great deals.
Figuring out Accommodations:
Once you have your flights, the next step is sketching out an itinerary, figuring out what spots you want to visit and where you want to stay. I typically prefer to stay in hostels but have used Airbnb as well.
When traveling alone, I love to meet people and usually look for hostels that may fall under the category of “party hostel” simply because those places often plan more evening events and I have found it’s easier to meet a lot of people! I would still suggest reading the reviews and staying in a place where you think you would be comfortable, not everyone enjoys the non-stop action of busy hostels.
At this point you have your flights, cities you plan to go to, and a roof over your head for each city, so you can move on to looking at things to do in each place! This is where having a folder on your Google Drive or computer will be handy. I love to go to concerts and music festivals if the season is right! Websites like SongKick.com can help to find out who may be playing in what city. I also look up popular day trips, swing dancing, and unique tours such as visiting glassblowing shops! You can also look up museums to visit, and famous sites.
Facebook events are also a great thing to look into. A lot of smaller local festivals and concerts will have Facebook events.
I research everything and lay out all of the options for each day of the trip. Whether or not you choose to do these activities when you are there is up to you, but I’ve found it’s always nice to know what is available!
Putting Together an Itinerary:
At this stage I also put together a detailed itinerary including:
- Flights- confirmation codes, arrival times, departure times, contact information
- Accommodations- confirmation codes, contact information, address
- Activities- time, location, and website or contact information
It’s good to be as detailed as possible, and to leave a copy with a family member or close friend.
I typically pack 3 days to a week before leaving to leave time to remember anything I may forget and make any last minute purchases of things I still may need. Looking into travel accessories on Amazon can lead to finding some neat gadgets. Some unique ones that I like to travel with are a Trtl Pillow, a caribeaner phone charger, an extra large external battery, and an infinity scarf with a secret pocket. Etsy is a great place to look for things like personalized passport covers, camera straps, and boarding pass holders!
Last Minute Things:
I also look into what to do if my passport gets stolen in each place I am visiting and write down the contact information and address of where to go to get it replaced in case of emergency.
Last but not least, I look up and print out directions from the airport to where I’m staying as well as back to the airport. (Google Maps has a great function that allows you to select the date, time, and view the public transportation options.) I also print out all relevant documents and put them in a large zip-lock bag.