Planning a long trip is always both exhilarating and challenging. It is exciting because of the anticipation of going miles and miles away from home and having a different experience you have never had in your entire life or in a very long time. It is challenging because it comes with hordes of uncertainties, and the planning itself may never be a bed of roses.
It goes without saying that for you to have a successful long trip away from home, then the preparation must be near perfect. Once you leave your house for the lands beyond yonder, a lot of variables come to play. Some of them may not be within your control, but if you take the time to plan and anticipate for their occurrence, you can come with the right mitigation measures and end up with a very successful trip.
In this piece, we take a more in-depth look at what it takes to plan and execute a successful long trip. Whether you have been going for long trips all your life or you are yet to venture into the very first one, you will find useful tips that will help you have a stress free trip so that you have all the peace of mind to enjoy what the worlds beyond your borders have to offer you.
Choosing your destination
The destination you decide to travel will have a significant impact on every aspect of your preparation. It is imperative for you to pick a definite destination so that you have the focus to proceed with the rest of planning. Most people are fond of talking about a vague destination without ever knowing exactly where they want to visit. Consequently, they end up with messed up plans which ultimately ends up ruining their travel experience.
For example, it is not just enough to say that you are taking a long trip to Africa or Europe. These are vast continents with numerous travel destinations you can visit. In as much as it is possible to visit every country in the continents, this may never grant you a great experience due to the plethora of variations that characterize the various travel destinations in such places.
It would be a good idea if you could just decide on specific locations you wish to travel to during your long trip. For instance, you can say that you will be visiting Kenya or Paris. This will bring a lot of focus into your mind, which is vital for planning for the rest of the trip.
How to pick a destination
Coming with a destination should not be a problem, but if you find it challenging, then there are a few approaches you can use to pick a place you will enjoy visiting. If there is a place you have always wanted to visit since your childhood if you get a chance as an adult to visit it, it will make a very nice destination for your long travel. If you are going to the trip as a family, you can choose collectively where you would like to visit. Additionally, if you are traveling as a couple, you can make a joint decision on where to visit, depending on your interests or reasons for travel.
Schedule the trip and decide on the length of the trip
Now that you have an idea about which part of the world you want to head to, it is time to know just when to make the trip and for how long you will be going away. Scheduling the tour should not only be about choosing a date when to leave and when to come back. There are specific considerations worth making and they include but not limited to the followings-:
- The convenience of the date – are you planning to take a break from work and use the time to travel? Do you intend to travel after college, marriage, high school or after retirement? Determine a convenient date for you take the trip.
- The season – if you are traveling to a popular travel destination, then it is essential to consider the low and the high seasons. This is simply because the seasons will have a direct impact on the experience you will have as well as on the cost of the travel. For popular destination, the rates will be higher during the busy seasons and lower during the low seasons.
- The duration of the trip – how long are you planning to stay away and have you made, or do you intend to make all the necessary arrangements to ensure that your absence will not have any adverse effects back at home? For instance, will you be leaving behind kids, a spouse, or work and what will be the effect of your trip on them?
Determine the approximate cost of the long trip
At this point, you have an idea about where you are headed for your long trip, and you have also decided on whether you will be going during the high seasons or low season. The next step is to come up with an approximate cost of the travel and weigh it against your resource to know if you can afford or if you will have to raise additional funds to make the trip a success. Here are some of the costs you should have in mind when coming up with the estimates-:
Passport Validity & Renewal – Many countries require passports to be valid for several months after you return from your long trip, so even if you hold a technically valid passport, you might not be allowed to enter your destination country. So always consider to check the individual country’s passport validity requirements with your travel agent. Renew your passport well in advance as a difference of even a few days can affect your entry to your destination country.
The cost of air tickets – if you will be flying to another country, then your air tickets will be one of the significant expenses you will incur. Depending on your destination and the time of travel, you can estimate the amount to spend on airfares using the resources available on the internet. Though prices may fluctuate from time to time, you can find out from the airlines how much their tickets might cost around that time of the year.
Accommodation – whether you will be backpacking and sleeping in a tent or spending in posh hotels, you will have to spend some money on accommodation. The options here are many, depending on your destination of travel. Finding this cost, is, however, not difficult. All you have to do is some research on the internet, and you will have all the information you need.
Cost of visa and travel vaccination – These may not be so huge, but it is vital to include them when coming up with your budget.
Parks and fees – one of the reasons why people go for long trips are to experience the nature and culture of other places. This will involve visiting parks and other areas bearing the heritage of those regions, for which you will have to pay some fees before you are allowed entry. Again, based on where you are going, you can find out the charges of all the places you want to visit online then include them in your budgeting.
Ground transportation – will you be using public transportation, renting a car or using a taxi? Based on the level of comfort and convenience you desire, the cost of your ground transportation is also worth taking into account.
Miscellaneous – You will probably desire to buy some souvenirs, tip some people and just have some money to spend around. You should set aside an adequate amount of money to spend on your long trip. It is essential because it will affect the kind of comfort and convenience you will have during your trip.
Create a timeline for important bookings
Coming up with and adhering to a timeline is very important for the successful planning for a long trip. There are certain things you must secure in good time and which if you miss, you may miss the trip altogether. Here are some of the timelines worth having as you plan for the trip-:
- Booking tickets and accommodation – you can get cheap tickets when you book early. Check your dates and decide on the specific time which you must have made the booking. The same is the case for the hotel or your accommodation options.
- Excursions and shows – some shows and tours may have early bird rates, thus help you save some money. Check out if you may be lucky to find such, and even if you don’t find any, set a date by which you shall have booked all your tours, shows, excursions and any other activity you intend to do during your long trip.
- Visa and travel vaccines – you should also know when to apply for your visa and known when to expect it back. Obviously, if you are flying out to another country, you will have to get a visa unless it is a visa-free destination. As you work on your visa, you should also check on your travel vaccines and ensure you have a timeline for getting all the important jabs necessary for your destination. Remember, time will be required between the time you get the vaccines and the time you travel out (so that the vaccines can take effect in your body), so plan accordingly so that you are not inconvenienced.
Work out your finances
At this stage, your long trip is beginning to take shape, and the next thing you need to find out is if you have enough resources or money to make the trip happen. There are various ways to finance a long trip, but for the majority of the people, such trips are funded from savings. Once you have plans of going for a long trip, you will desire to save every penny so that you don’t go on the trip with debts.
You may decide to set up a special account to save for the trip, but in addition to that, you can employ certain saving strategies to ensure that you will have enough when the time to take the trip finally arrives. Here are a few methods you can resort to if you desire to save a few more coins for the trip-:
- Cut the coffee – the average American spends up to $1,440 per year on coffee. This is money you can save when you decide to do away with coffee so that you consolidate your funds for the long trip.
- Eat at home – instead of having your meals at fancy restaurants all the time, learn to cook and eat at home. It will not just save you a lot of money, but also you will be eating healthier foods.
- Get rid of the cable – reevaluate if you really need the cable subscriptions. You can downgrade so that you save part of the money or simply do away with it and save all the money.
- Don’t get into more debt –you won’t have the peace of mind to enjoy your trip when you know that upon coming back, you will have lots of debts to pay. If you have any debts, be sure to clear them before you take the trip and also avoid getting any debts during the time you are planning the trip.
- Search for deals – searching for deals is always an excellent way to save a lot of money. Months before your trip, actively search for any deals you may land your hands on. Whether they are for airlines, hotels, restaurants, attraction sites or events, just get as many relevant deals as possible. They will go a long way in helping you save the money you need for the trip.
Double check and prepare the travel documents you will need
By now, you should have a solid idea of all the documents you will need for the destination you are headed for. If you are not sure, simply ask the immigration department, and they will provide you with all the possible documents you must have for that trip.
However, some of the common documents you will need include-: Your passport, tourist visa, driving license or an international driving license, medical documents if you have an existing medical condition that will require attention while you are on the trip, credit cards, and proof of specific immunization such as yellow fever depending on your destination.
Get your visa and travel vaccines
Pick your travel visa and pass by the travel clinic to ensure your immunization record is up to date with regards to the mandatory, required and the recommended vaccinations you need for your destinations. You may have to carry proof of immunization for certain diseases if it is a requirement in your destination country. For example, most countries in Africa will not allow you entry unless you can show proof of the yellow fever vaccine.
Buy travel insurance
As you make preparations for the trip, you should also make preparations to take care of your health while on the trip. Falling ill during the trip will be discouraging, and since treatment can be so expensive in a foreign land, it is always a good idea to equip yourself with travel insurance.
In addition to covering your medical expenses, travel insurance will also offer you additional safety should encounter certain emergencies you never anticipated. For example, you will need the travel insurance when you break or lose your camera when your flight is canceled, and you need alternative accommodation or when you have to cut short your trip due to death in the family. It is a vital considering worth having in mind as you plan your long trip.
Decide on what to pack
You must be very careful when packing for a long trip. You don’t want to carry a lot of weight that might make you pay for extra luggage at the airlines, and you also don’t want to carry few items that you miss some of the essentials you will require. Remember to carry clothes that will be in tandem with the weather at your destination and additional personal effects such as sunscreens and lotions. You should also think about the gadgets to carry along, especially a camera, a laptop and your smartphone unless you want to unplug completely and avoid technology during the trip.
Prepare to leave
Other than the preparations necessary to ensure you have a successful long trip, there are certain preparations you also need to make to ensure that everything is alright back at home. They include the followings:
- Informing relatives and family members about your trip and how long you will be away.
- Alerting the post office about your absence so that they can stop delivering mails when you are away or giving them an address which they can use for forwarding all your correspondences.
- Alerting your credit card company of the trip – when you are traveling to another country, it is always a good idea to let your credit card companies know that you are in that country and for what duration. Otherwise, your transactions may be flagged for fraudulent activities, and your card may end up getting blocked to cause you a great deal of inconvenience when you are away.
- Stop your utility services – if you will be away for months, alert your utility service providers about your absence so that services can be stopped and resumed when you get back.
- Secure your home – if you aren’t leaving anyone behind, be sure to secure your home appropriately. Get new set of locks for the doors and windows or subscribe to a home security service provider to keep watch over your home for the duration you will be away.
- Sell what you may need to sell – if you think you need extra cash, and you have a few items you would like to sell, this would be an excellent time to get rid of them so that you have more cash for the trip.
Enjoy your trip
With all the preparations made, wait for your traveling date, then go and have all the fun you can during the trip. Learn about new cultures, make new friends, try new foods, and accomplish the things which you so wanted to accomplish for the trip. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the desires of your heart.