You can do a lot or a little when planning for a trip. You might want to check out my earlier posts about what you should probably know before you go (here) but other than that, it’s really up to you. (Disclaimer, as with many series, this one is still updating. Make sure to go into any situation with research under your belt!)
Speaking of which… I have adopted a very enthusiastic approach to The Great Adventure. First off, get yourself a binder. Mine is appropriately European themed. In that binder I put dividers. (for ease of use.) Now’s the time to use your printer.
Pointers in General:
Date everything, itineraries, research, everything.
Start with an itinerary. Mine goes from Day Minus 2 (for travel) to day 27. If possible put the date of that day along with the approximate location (if you’re going to multiple locations). This helps me stay in check as to what I’m looking at when and such. Then I’ve just put an outline of things we’re going to do. We’re also doing a Tour, so the itinerary on the tour is something I can put in mine as well. It really helped me get a feel for everything.
After my Itinerary I have a map of Paris (one of the locations) that way I can mark our hotel and other points of interest on the map and also I can have the sort of visual that google maps sort of lacks. I’m not doing this for the organised tour leg because we will be with a tour.
Next I have a table for hotels. There is a column for the name, price (in EUR and AUD), location, distance from the city, distance from the Airport (where we’re flying in and out from) distance to the nearest metro station, it’s trip advisor rating, If it comes with Breakfast, if it has a luggage room, and a website. It just makes it really easy to compare all the hotels we’re looking at without trying to find all the information.
Next I have an excel document that is slightly scary with all it’s formulas. It lists:
All Expected expenditures
the total budget
the difference between the totals
left over money for spending per day
The percentage spent on each category.(along with a pie graph, because who can resist?)
Unit price, total price and everything like that.
While being a little bit of a pain in the arse, this spreadsheet has helped me get organised with the budget without seeing a price and freaking out. and since I can see percentages, I can see where most of the money is being spent.
Then I have the breakdown of all of that. Sometimes I find it easier to to write things out as well as list them. So this table has all the links and running total and it helps in spreading out the spreadsheet more without it being over crowded and stressing me out.
Finally I have my pride and joy. My research. So I don’t go through mountains of paper and ink, I’ve regulated it down to 10p font with two pages to a page. As well as only one “page” per item. I went through the itinerary and highlighted anything I didn’t know about and put that on the list to research. It helps me stay excited because every few days I do a bit more research. Each item is listed in bold at the top, as well as the webpage I got it from. Like everything else, it’s got a date at the top in the header.
Like I have said, do as much or as little of this as you want. For my upcoming Japan trip I am literally doing none of this and I can already see that I’m overspending a little. Either way, each person has their own way to do things, this just keeps me excited.
Get Reading. Get Travelling.