We prefer the flexibility, adventure and cost saving of planning our trips ourselves. This is how we go about planning our trips.
1) Pick your destination
What is your dream destination? Partying in Ibiza, hiking to Macchu Picchu, shopping in Milan? Think about what interests you and what you want to see/do and then…
Go online and research about the destination. What time of the year has the best weather? Is there political instability that makes it unsafe to travel? Which are the best districts to stay in?
3) Ask friends, family and fellow online travellers that have been there for recommendations
My uncle is an avid traveller and he always has useful information that helps us plan our trips. Seek help on online travel forums like LonelyPlanet, Tripadvisor and Fodors. Sometimes we just google our questions and chances are somewhere has had the same question previously and posted it on a forum.
Research visa requirements and costs, vaccination and other prophylactic medications (like anti-malarial) that you may need to take.
4) Start formulating your itinerary
From your research you should have an idea of the places you want to see and how many days you will spend in each place. Start planning it in a spreadsheet with proposed dates, flights and accommodation.
You will start to find that sometimes a flight route you would like does not exist, is too time-consuming or is much more expensive. Sometimes accommodation is higher due to a conference or event occurring during your dates – play around with dates and routes to see what is most time and cost effective.
Get a general idea of what the entire trip is going to cost and a rough plan of how it will go and then….
5) Sleep on it!
Sometime we tend to get carried away in the excitement of planning the trip. Have a look at your budget and if your finances will cover the expenses and spending money. Make sure your calendar is free and there are no important work and personal commitments you can foresee that will make travel difficult.