I just got back from a 2 week trip to Peru and I can't believe it's over! It was definitely the trip of a lifetime, so look out for another article in the coming weeks with photos and my day-to-day itinerary! Planning a big trip like this can easily get overwhelming. I've gotten a lot of requests from followers on Instagram to make an article about planning a trip like this, how to save up, tips and tricks and more! So below is everything you need to know/consider when planning your next trip! :)
1. SAVING UP $
Before we can even begin to plan a trip, you gotta make sure you can afford it. So let me talk to you a little about my personal finances as an example of how I saved up. A fixed amount from every pay check goes into my TSFA and RRSP (in short, my savings). Then I have a benchmark amount I want to always have in my checking account. At the end of the month, when money has been moved to my savings and all bills have been paid, whatever is left over from that benchmark amount in my checking account, goes into a regular savings account and that can be used for travel, activities, purchases, etc. Any income I make from Instagram and this blog, will usually also get added into that section. And that is how I saved up for this trip!
Once you've researched everything and settled on your dream destination (that you can now afford), the first thing you should do is book that big flight. By now I'm sure you've researched prices and have found the date of your departure and return. Take time to look around on different websites and always check to see if luggage is included. If a price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some airlines will get you with their low cost airfare, but then you are stuck paying a lot of money in extras on the flight (like water!) and for your luggage. It will most likely be the biggest expense of the trip so be smart about it.
Accomodation is the second biggest expense on your trip, so you'll feel much less stressed once it's all booked and confirmed. The longer you wait, the higher the prices can get, so it's wise to get this booked as soon as possible. I've personally stayed in hostels more than hotels and I've always had a lot of fun. It's way less expensive than a hotels in most cases and it's a great way to meet people! You can check out hostels on www.hostelworld.com.
4. TRAVEL VISAS
Some countries will require a travel entry Visa. Sometimes these can take weeks to arrive, so better plan early! Just google "entry Visa ___" and you're set.
5. ATTRACTIONS + VISITS
What do you wanna do while you are there? For my trip to Machu Picchu, I needed to book the tickets months in advance because they allow only a certain number of people in per day and it sells out pretty fast. The last thing you want is to go all that way, spend all that money and not be able to experience something you really wanted to do!
6. HEALTH + VACCINES
Depending on the location you are going to, you may need certain vaccines to protect you. Some countries even require vaccines for entry into the country. A great place to read up on requirements of the sort is this website: https://travel.gc.ca/.
7. RESEARCH + BLOGS
Once everything is booked, you can start planning your itinerary and getting a taste of what you want to do once you are there. The key is research. You can research weather, places to eat, places to see, best times to visit places, etc. All this will help make your trip more enjoyable and you'll feel like a pro traveller! For instance, while researching the Taj Mahal on our trip to India, we found a blog that suggested to go before the sun rises to be there before the crowds and get absolutely no one in your photos. That's what we did, and it remains until now, one of the best moment of my life!
Some currencies have to be ordered in advance, so don't show up to the exchange office a day before your departure. Inform yourself and prepare accordingly. Worst case scenario, you can always exchange money at the airport, but the fee is way higher.
9. PACK: WHAT TO BRING
Google: what to pack for ___. We did this for Peru and thank god we did. The weather is so volatile in Peru, thank god we had this blog to help us out! If you are travelling with friends/family, you should consult on who is bringing what. You don't need 3 full size toothpaste tubes, one person can bring toothpaste and the other can bring bug spray. This way, you can lighten the load in your suitcases, and even sometimes, your expenses. You can use this strategy for sunscreen, bug spray, toothpaste, Advil/Tylenol, shampoo, conditioner, you name it!
10. THINGS TO REMEMBER
It's easy to let ourselves get stressed out by the little things. Remember, as long as you have your passport, a debit/credit card and an outfit, you can figure out the rest. Losing luggage is just a minor set back and running out of cash early isn't as problematic as you think. There are ATMs everywhere in the world. Don't let little things mess up the vibe of your trip, take a step back, re-center and enjoy!