When its time for your trip you will want to be fully prepared before you leave your home. Planning a good trip starts with research. There are many great websites, apps, and other resources to do research for your upcoming trip. Whether you know exactly where you're going and what you'll be doing, or are just winging it, you will want to know as much as possible about your (potential) destination(s). 

Before you start booking your trip, ask yourself these questions...

  • Where do I want to go?
  • When is my trip?
  • What's My Budget?
  • Is it Heavy Tourist Season There?
  • How Long will I be there?
  • Should I fly or Drive?
  • What will the weather be like?
  • Carry on or check a bag?
  • What sites or events do i want to attend?
  • What is the transportation situation like at the destination? (rent a car, public transport, cab?)

Boat In Restaurant, Florida Keys, USA

Bird feeding, Nassau, Bahamas

Where do you want to go today?

Start Your Travel Research

When Is my Trip?

When you are starting to plan your travel you are going to need to know when you can take your trip. A lot of factors go in to making this decision.  Make sure to clear your schedule before you head on a trip. Pick a time of year when you can get off of work for enough time to enjoy a vacation. You don't want to be bothered by your job while you're  away.  The time of year that you will be traveling will have an impact on the destination you choose. There are some trips that are better suited during specific seasons.

Where do I want to Go?

The possibilities are endless. You can go somewhere new, or back to a place you fell in love with before. Travel to a destination that intrigues you, a place that you want to learn more about, head to a relaxing destination and take it easy, go see family or friends that you haven't seen in a while. There are so many great reasons to travel. Find your passion and pursue it. When you're planning a trip there are no wrong answers. Make the most of it!

How long Will I be There?

Once your travel budget is set then you'll know how long you can spend in your destination(s). You will first want to subtract the cost of getting to your destination. (airfare, bus or train tickets, cost of gas if you're driving) The remaining money in your budget will be used for spending on your trip. Take that amount and divide it by what you think the daily cost of your trip will be. Make sure to include hotel, food, event, and transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. The number you come up with will be the amount of days you can afford to stay at the destination.

For example:

You have $2200 in your travel budget and want to head to Honolulu for vacation. You have found a great deal on airfare through expedia, round trip for $600 leaving you $1600 in spending money. You did some extensive research on hotels in Waikiki through tripadvisor and found a room available for $100 nightly that includes daily breakfast, another good deal. You now figure that daily expenses will run you $150 for food and some excursions you want to take on and around the island bringing your daily expenses to $250 per day.

With your initial travel budget you'll be able to afford 6 nights in Hawaii and still have e few bucks left over in case of anything unexpected happening.

$2200 (budget) - $600 (airfare) = $1600 for expenses

$1600 (expense Budget) / $250 (daily Expenses) = 6.4 days you can afford

Keep in mind that your daily expenses will probably vary. We are trying to come up with an average, and it's always a good idea to do a little extra searching for a better value, even during your trip. Coming home with extra money is always a good feeling!

What Will The weather Be Like?

The weather conditions at your destination will have a big impact on how you will be packing for your trip. You want to prepare appropriately for the conditions that you will be encountering on the trip. Before you leave, check out the weather forecast for your destination for the duration of the trip, and look at historical weather conditions for the time of year. Regardless of the conditions that you plan to see on your trip, the weather is very unpredictable. Especially if you're going to a tropical destination it's smart to bring one change of clotes that will keep you warm if conditions get chilly, especially at the airports.

Carry on or Check a bag?

I always recommend carrying your bags on. You'll be travelling light, and Always having your stuff gives you extra flexibility when on the move. Checking a bag may cost bag fees and  gives the airline an opportunity to lose your items, potentially ruining your vacation. If you need to check a bag then make sure you have some basic overnight items and a change of clothes in case of your bag going missing.

What Sites or events do I want to attend?

When planning your trip you want to have an idea of what you will be doing at your destination. Find out what will be going on when you're there. (sporting events, festivals, concerts etc.) You may want to attend some of these events. Most cities are known for a number of different things. Find out what you should be checking out while you're there. The tripadvisor app is a great tool to use when researching your destination. It will help you find attractions, restaurants, and activities, while providing reviews from fellow travelers. Tripadvisor is my favorite travel research tool.

What is your budget?

Your travel budget has a lot to do with how your trip will go. You will want to do extensive research on hotel, food, travel, and event costs at your destination. Some locations will be very expensive, and others are a great value. The good news is that you can usually find some great values in traditionally expensive destinations. When you know how much you have to spend you'll be able to effectively plan out your trip. Don't get to your destination and find out that you'll need to cut the trip short because you're out of cash. It is always a good idea to have some extra money set aside for emergencies in case you incur some unexpected expenses.

What is the transportation like at the destination?

When you arrive at your destination you will need to know how to get around. Before you leave home do some research on the city or town that you are headed to. If you're driving to your destination then  you will have built in transport, but if you are flying in you will need to plan a way to get around. Many hotels will offer a shuttle service to and from their property, and you may not need to leave the grounds once you arrive, especially at some resorts. If you plan on moving around a lot when you get to your destination you will want to find out what type of public transportation is available around the destination, if any. Many cities have extensive public transport systems that will be adequate for your trip, and some will offer few transportation options. If there is no reliable public transport available at your destination then you may want to rent a vehicle to get around. Using taxi services like uber or lyft may also be the best option. Do a search on how to get around in your destination on a major search engine and you should be able to find some good information on transit in the area.

Should I fly or Drive?

You may have options when considering how to get to your destination. Overseas trips will certainly require that you fly, but if you're not crossing a body of water then you might want to consider driving. While it won't get you there nearly as fast as flying (in most cases) it could be economical and fun to take a road trip. Driving does not always save you money on a trip, especially if you're travelling alone. If you have a few people going on the trip then it may make sense financially to drive. Everyone can pitch in on the gas instead of buying individual plane tickets. You'll be able to see some of the sights between destinations, and travel at your own pace when driving. Perhaps the best part is you'll have a vehicle on hand when you get to where you're heading. If you are considering driving make sure that you will have a place to park the vehicle when you arrive. Some cities have very limited parking, and it can get quite expensive sometimes.

Air travel is usually the fastest way to get to your destination, and can be relatively inexpensive if you search airfares diligently. Keep in mind that there are some destinations that will not be serviced by commercial airlines. If your desired location is not serviced by airlines then you may want to consider driving, or flying to an airport in the vicinity and finding alternate transportation.

Driving and flying may not be the only options for your trip. You may want to look into trains, buses, and even boats or ferrys for some destinations. 

Is It Heavy tourist season there?

If you're travelling in the height of the tourist season at your destination then get ready for crowds. Planning your trip outside of the high season can save you money on the trip, and you may have a better experience with smaller crowds. If you are going to a special event then you probably don't have a choice in when you travel, but if the attractions at your destinations are open year round you can probably find a time in the low season to go there.