Pre-Trip Planning

Maybe I’m about to expose myself as a bit of a nerd here, but I quite enjoy planning trips. I like to be well prepared in general and travelling is no different. Still, I realise that to a lot of people planning and researching sounds dull, dull, dull. However, if you are going to make an extended trip I’d say that at least some organisation is essential to make the most of it. Don’t panic! This doesn’t need to be painful. Read on for my tips on how to efficiently plan your trip so that you can get on with something else.


We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Money makes the world go round’ but can you make it around the world without much money? This is very much up to you but a sensible awareness of your finances and a realistic anticipation of the costs you will face on your trip will mean your trip is less stressful than it might be otherwise. Do a little research into how much things cost at your destination(s). Find out how much you should budget for the time you plan to spend there and the activities you want to take part in. Your research needn’t be arduous. There is so much information online; use it. Let Google be your best friend. The other thing I will say regarding money is obvious. If you have the chance to, you should save, save, save, ahead of leaving. What’s another night out in the same old places compared to a night out in Rio de Janeiro, for instance?


If you are dreaming of going on a big trip and you do not have a passport yet then get cracking with applying for one. You will probably be surprised at how long it can take to get one. If you already have one make sure that it is valid a minimum of six months beyond the date you intend to return home. There are two reasons i suggest this. Firstly, because it is an entry requirement for many countries. Secondly, you may decide to extend your trip a bit, in which case you won’t want to spend your precious remaining time towards the end of your trip applying for a new passport overseas, when you could be out exploring.

Do you need a Visa?

Do you need a visa to enter the country you plan to visit? If you want to visit several countries check for each country. If you are flexible about which countries you might visit then i would also have a quick check on the visa requirements for countries near those you intend to visit, in case when you are on the road you hear about somewhere you hadn’t seriously considered previously but then decide to visit. Some countries will issue a visa upon arrival but some insist you are granted one before travel. Obviously you don’t want to travel a great distance only to be turned away once you arrive, so pre-trip planning in this area could prove invaluable. Remember as well that if you need to get your visa in advance of travelling this can take time and cost money, so make sure you allow for this.


There are some nasty diseases out there folks, so make sure if any are rife in the countries you wish to visit that you find out about getting immunised well before you go. Some immunisations, in order to be effective, involve a course of injections spread over a few weeks or months. Yes, jabs are horrible, but a lengthy bout of hepatitis or some other nasty would be far, far worse. Courses of anti-malarials can also need to be commenced weeks ahead of exposure to areas where the disease is prevalent and because different strains of malaria affect different regions you may not have much choice in which drugs to take. This is important. Your health is precious, nothing ruins a trip (and can endanger your life) like some of the worlds nasty diseases. When immunisation is available it is foolish frankly, not to protect yourself.


Of course, this is probably the first thing you think of. Once the flight is booked your trip is ‘real’ after all and that is very exciting indeed. Flights are the last thing i mention however as without enough money, a passport and often a visa you are not going anywhere, so they should be the first things you arrange. If your destination requires you to have a visa you should never book the flight ahead of ensuring you have a visa as travel companies insist this is your responsibility and you are unlikely to secure any refund, should your visa not be granted for any reason. Once you are ready to book your flights though, it is definitely worth taking some time to compare flight costs with different carriers as they vary hugely. If you are not fussy about who flies you to your destination and you are flexible on travel dates then you can find some great bargains.

Photo credit: Nathalie


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