Travel planning made easy: tips and checklists

Just get away! Get out of the daily routine and into a new adventure. Once you get a taste for travel, you usually become addicted to it. Because you will never feel as free and full of energy as when exploring new countries and cultures.

The times you spend traveling are the times you will remember for the rest of your life. They are the times you will tell your grandchildren about one day. So if you haven't planned a trip for a while – or even never – it's urgent time (again). With our tips, you can plan your trip with a minimum of hassle and money – so that your next adventure can start soon.

Every trip is an unforgettable adventure

If you've ever traveled, you know that feeling that creeps up on you a few hours, days, or even weeks before you leave. It's a mixture of anticipation, excitement and perhaps respect – of what you'll experience and the challenges you'll encounter.

Because one thing is for sure: no trip runs smoothly. There is always one or the other obstacle that you have to overcome, either already during the planning or afterwards on site.

But it's exactly these imponderables that make you mature as a person. Once you've mastered the challenges, you'll be a more confident and independent person.

"Travel educates" is not without reason a well-known saying. You get to know yourself better, but also a new country, foreign people, exotic cultures and much more. Be it alone, with friends or with your partner. Be it to the other end of the world or within Germany. Whether it's for a weekend, a week, a month or a year, every trip is an unforgettable adventure that will enrich your life – guaranteed!

No big trip without the right preparation

There are a thousand inspiring reasons for a trip. But first and foremost, traveling is simply fun. Leaving home every once in a while allows you to completely switch off from responsibilities such as job or household and escape from stress.

However, a trip can also be stressful beforehand. Because it wants to be carefully planned. The longer and farther away you want to travel, the more effort you have to put into the organization. But don't worry: the preparation is worth it, because as soon as you're on the plane, all the stress is forgotten.

So planning is key when you're about to embark on a major trip. For this reason, the following checklists and tips should help you prepare – regardless of whether it is your first trip or you already have experience, what your destination is, how long you want to be away for.

Because what applies to a big trip, you can of course also break down to a smaller trip. In this sense: Have fun with planning and especially with traveling!

The first step: freeing up time

Many people would like to travel more, but there is always a reason that supposedly speaks against their intention: Mostly it is either too little money or too little time. You will find out later how to travel as cheaply as possible.

But now you first have to deal with the time problem. The first important step is to find a time period in which you can and want to travel. Sometimes this is easy because you have three months of semester break, six weeks of summer vacation, or four weeks of vacation coming up anyway.

In many other cases, however, you have to actively scoop up the missing time – for example, by cleverly taking advantage of bridge days. However, it is often particularly difficult if you are planning a longer trip that is to last several weeks or even months.

Then your job might get in the way because you can't take enough paid vacation time. Or you have children who have to go to school. But don't worry, because nevertheless it is almost always possible to go on a trip. The following options are available to you, for example:

If you have children, you can use the time to travel even before they start school. But then choose the destinations in such a way that they are safe for the children and, of course, exciting as well. This will give you important "quality time" as a family and unforgettable memories.

If your children are already school-age, you can use the vacation periods for your travels. Especially in the summer, you will have six weeks of free time to explore the world together.

If you have older children who are already more independent, you may be able to travel on your own, without your family. For two, three or even four weeks, they can take care of themselves from a certain age and are often even happy to finally have a "storm-free" day. Supervision is still necessary, so that they don't have wild parties or get into other mischief. They also need a contact person for problems. Depending on the family situation, grandparents or other trusted persons may be able to step in during your absence.

If your job is in the way instead or in addition, you can also enjoy various options to free up time for traveling. On the one hand, you can of course simply take vacation time – after all, you have a certain number of paid vacation days per year at your disposal.

On the other hand, if this time is not sufficient for the planned trip, you can also make individual arrangements with your employer. So go and ask for unpaid leave or the possibility of combining two annual vacations.

Models such as a sabbatical or a long-term overtime account are also popular ways to get a little more time off than usual, which you can then use to travel.

If, on the other hand, you are still a pupil or student and would like to travel abroad for a longer period of time than just the (semester) vacations, you can, for example, do an exchange year, apply for a semester abroad or take a semester off. Which options are available to you depends primarily on your school, college or university.

With a little creativity and courage, it is possible in most life situations to free up at least a few weeks, but perhaps even several months for traveling. If you can't or don't want to do that, you can of course simply use extended weekends or your regular vacation or your normal vacation times to travel.

However, the rule of thumb is: the shorter the travel time, the closer the destination should be. For a long weekend, for example, a flight to Berlin or Barcelona is worthwhile, but not to Australia, Canada or Thailand.

The second step: Clarify financial issues

After you got the first problem out of the way – the lack of time – there is still the question of money. In some cases you will continue to receive your normal salary or you can also receive support payments such as BAfoG abroad. This way you can continue to cover your running costs and finance your trip from this or from your savings.

By the way, as a rule of thumb, you should always have enough savings available when traveling to be able to book a return flight if necessary. If, on the other hand, your regular income is interrupted during your trip, for example because you are taking unpaid leave, or if you do not yet have your own income, you have the following options:

You can work before traveling, for example during the vacations, on weekends or after graduating from high school, in order to save enough money.

Alternatively, you have the option of working while traveling. You can rely on classic "Work& Travel" destinations such as Australia and travel from place to place during the trip. Or you can look for a real job at a fixed destination. This can be a part-time job like waitressing, but also a paid internship or something similar. This work experience abroad will also look great on your resume!

It is also helpful to minimize running costs during your absence. Maybe you can sublet your apartment or sell your car. Insurance can also sometimes be suspended for a longer stay abroad.

If possible, try to reduce your costs during a longer absence – both those for the trip and the running costs at home. Then check whether you can cover them from your savings or expected income.

If you can't get off the ground financially, you should think about models like "work&life" Travel" think about. Taking out a loan may also be an option for people with a steady job. And finally, of course, it is important to save as much as possible when traveling itself.

How it works? Quite simply, you should live just as frugally or even more frugally when traveling as you do in your everyday life. It doesn't have to be the expensive luxury hotel, you don't need a massage every day and you don't always have to eat in a restaurant in the evening.

Instead, you can travel on a minimal budget, for example, by booking cheap or even free accommodation, cooking your own meals and using public transport. If you can afford more luxuries, that is of course perfectly fine. But if not, this strategy will still allow you to have a great trip on a budget.

The third step: Rough travel planning

Now that time and money are no longer a problem, the fun part of traveling can begin. Now you need to plan your trip at least roughly. So you are spoiled for choice:

Where do you want to go?

Do you want to stay in one place or do a round trip??

How will you get around?

What accommodations to choose from?

Now is the time when you need to decide on the key dates of your trip. How much flexibility you retain is a matter of personal taste. Some people like to book the whole vacation directly, so that they don't have to worry about anything when they get there.

Others prefer to see where their trip will take them, what kind of people they will meet or if they like it so much that they want to stay longer than expected.

How exactly you plan your trip now, you have to decide for yourself. What you should already book are your flights and at least the first one or two nights on the spot. Because one thing is for sure: After a long flight, with a lot of luggage under your arm and a heavy jetlag, you definitely don't feel like looking for a place to sleep.

If, on the other hand, the first one, two or even three days are already planned, you can recover and acclimatize in peace and then set off on the actual trip with fresh energy.

The fourth step: book cheap flights

Once you have the basic details of your trip, you should start looking for flights. Although there are also always cheap last-minute offers. In most cases, the earlier you book a flight, the cheaper it is. Depending on where you are going, you can find a good deal by choosing the often unpopular stopover flights or an open jaw flight.

The same applies to other types of travel, such as by train or bus. A certain contingent of particularly cheap tickets is quickly gone after a short time. So you have to be quick to save money here as well.

The fifth step: Clarify organizational matters

Before you can actually set off, however, there are many other organizational to-dos that need to be checked off in the course of your travel planning. The shorter the trip and the closer the destination, the less planning is usually necessary.

However, if you are leaving for a foreign country or want to stay away for a long time, you will have to put a lot more work into organizing your trip in advance. So what are the most important points?

Depending on the destination, you must apply for a passport and any necessary visas in good time. You should allow at least eight weeks for this.

Consult a doctor for advice on travel vaccinations. These also have to be done in time. At best, make an appointment with a specialist about twelve weeks before your planned departure.

Also clarify your insurance coverage. For long trips or destinations outside the EU, you will usually need a special health insurance for abroad. Travel cancellation or luggage insurance can also be useful – depending on the individual case. On the other hand, you may want to suspend some current insurance policies, such as car insurance, for the period in question.

You will need money for your trip. It is not always possible to withdraw cash from an ATM (free of charge), as it is in Germany. For a longer stay, you may need to open a special checking account or apply for a credit card, which can also take several weeks. You should always have cash with you, but only in small amounts. Find out how the cards are insured against misuse in case of emergency and store the blocking numbers in your cell phone.

Check if you need any additional documents for your trip and if so, which ones. Such information can be obtained from the German Foreign Office.

These documents can be put directly on your packing list. It is also best to make a checklist in advance – so that you don't forget anything important in the stress shortly before your departure. Always add to this list as soon as you think of something..

The sixth step: Packing including a checklist

…then your packing list should most likely be complete at the time of departure. A basic checklist can be a good starting point for your planned trip. What you really need and what you don't need depends on your destination, the time of your trip and many other factors. To the preparations belong then still further points:

First, pack all the important documents such as your passport, visa, a copy of your vaccination certificate and ID card, etc. a. Also your flight ticket, booking confirmations for your accommodations and other documents for your trip should always be written on the packing list or put directly into your hand luggage after receipt.

Furthermore you need all the documents for your insurances like the health insurance abroad, but also emergency numbers, blocking numbers for bank cards, etc.

As already mentioned, it's best to save them into your cell phone as well. You can also use this opportunity to download helpful apps directly. The little helpers are available for a wide variety of everyday situations on the road. But it is best to download them in your home WLAN. Otherwise, you may incur costs due to roaming or the wifi in your accommodation may not be powerful enough for it.

Then you pack the appropriate amount of cash. It should be enough for the food during the journey, possible costs such as entry fees. It's best to always have some, but never too much, cash in your pocket. As a rule of thumb you can calculate 50 to 200 Euro. Of course, you must not forget your bank cards such as your giro or credit card.

If you travel to a country for which you need a visa, you should always have passport photos in your luggage.

Last but not least you need all the things for your daily needs like clothes and cosmetics, your smartphone with charging cable and a possible plug adapter, a first-aid kit with sunscreen or helpful utensils like needle and thread.

When packing, also pay attention to the valid regulations at the airport as well as when entering the respective country. Many things you are not allowed to take in your hand luggage or not at all. Otherwise you risk penalties like high fines or even being denied entry completely.

Sounds stressful? As mentioned above, every trip comes with some planning involved. The bigger your venture, the more organization is needed. But you can be sure: All the stress is forgotten as soon as you set foot on the plane. Instead, you gain an unforgettable life experience that you will certainly never regret. Rather you have to be careful not to get "addicted" to traveling as well. Because: "A long journey does not stop at the destination. A piece of us will always travel on in spirit," Andreas Bechstein once said!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *