Planning your individual trip gives you a headache? You don't really dare to go because you feel overwhelmed by the many possibilities and sources of information? Lately, we are asked quite often how we book our trips. And how much we plan ahead in the first place resp. book.
In this article, we would like to show you how you can best approach travel planning and even save money. Here you will find our best tips& Tricks, tools and sources of information. Plus, you get useful checklists and our very simple and clear Excel template for route planning, which you can download at the end of the article.
travel planning that is fun
Personally, I have a lot of fun planning the trip. With it the vacation already begins for me in the head! Hardly back from the journey, the next one is always already tackled😉
Routine comes with time. You automatically know what to take care of when planning your trip. Packing is also possible thanks to experience. Our packing list, which is constantly being improved, can be used by. With a little routine the preparation is always easier. Even more exotic or supposedly "dangerous" or "dangerous" products. "unthinkable" travel destinations (z.B. our road trip through Iran) suddenly seem possible. So: just be brave and start planning!
1. Travel planning the first – where to go?
What are the factors of your trip?
If your vacation has already been approved and you are looking for a suitable destination for the relevant period of?
Then research on google or on travel blogs. You will find a lot of ideas if you search for the keyword "Where to go in month XY". Alternatively you can use the Lonely Planets Guide "When Where".
Or is there a destination where you would like to go to?
Then you will have your vacation or. have to plan the travel time according to. Find the best time to travel for your dream destination. The weather is usually the best during the main travel seasons, but it can also be very crowded and expensive.
We like to take advantage of off-peak times, i.e. shortly before or shortly after the peak season. Most of the time you will find on the internet. In travel guides a lot of information about weather conditions. Search google for "Best time to travel to country XY". Then compare whether the months before or after the main travel season suit you more climatically.
You should also consider the following points, have an impact on prices and crowds at the sights:
– School vacations in the destination country? – Holidays in the destination country? – School vacations in Germany? – How much time do you have available? – Does your available time fit the destination?
If you for example have only two weeks, but your dream destination is Australia or New Zealand we would advise you not to go there. Of course everything is possible. You'll come back disappointed, though, because you spent so much time on the exhausting travel to and from the destination and barely had any time on the ground.
A borderline case is the USA. Two weeks in Florida can be enough. South Africa is also still doable in two weeks, if you limit yourself to one region (z.B. Garden Route and Cape Town only). Or something more exotic: the north of Oman. Of course, Europe is also very suitable for a two-week road trip.
One week of vacation gives you up to 9 days (Saturday to Sunday). This is great for city breaks or short trips in Europe.
the beautiful Soca Valley in Slovenia is a good place for a short trip in Europe!
From three weeks almost the whole world is open to you :-). any kind of road trip is possible in three weeks. The only exceptions for us would be Australia and New Zealand, for which we would definitely plan at least four weeks. This is also the only reason why we have not been there yet.
What do you want to experience?
If you don't travel alone, grab your travel partner. Write down some of the things you would like to do and see.
Some impulses: Would you rather..
– … relaxation or adventure? – … nature and landscape or cities? – … beaches or mountains? – … summer or winter? – … heat or cooler temperatures? – … outdoor fun or wellness? – … sports and exercise or lying on the beach? – … luxury, comfort or budget? – … rental car or public transportation? – ..
Where do you want to travel
After you have noted what you absolutely want to experience, you can research on the Internet, which country offers as many of your wishes as possible. Browse on Road Traveller or on the numerous other wonderful travel blogs. How much inspiration I found there is unbelievable (more about that in a moment)!
A few additional tips to choose from:
Do you want to go on a road trip or. be on the road as a self-driver with a rental car? Then destinations like Southeast Asia tend to fall out. Some countries in Africa, like Tanzania, are not necessarily the best countries for a road trip. For this, the USA, Canada, Europe or South Africa are perfect for your first road trip.
Foreign culture and new customs
Consider beforehand if you want to deal with a completely new culture, foreign customs and special manners. We definitely had the most preparation time for Iran. What you must want. For example, you have to accept to travel as a woman with headscarf and learn to adapt to the foreign culture and religion.
2. Travel planning the second – now it's getting concrete
Inspiration and information sources
Your destination is set? Congratulations! Now it's time to start planning and collecting information about the country. Of course, we like to get information from our numerous blogger colleagues. Because Travel blogs offer independent opinions, the most authentic insight possible into the destination, and tips away from mass tourism. The best: most bloggers are happy to help if you have specific questions. On travel blogs you will usually also find a Cost overview for the visited countries. This way you can get an idea in advance if the country you want to visit fits your budget.
Where to find good travel blogs or. whose travel stories you can find? For example on:
Travel inspiration with Pinterest
We're super into getting inspired on Pinterest these days. That's where we bookmark blog articles and just "pin" tips from bloggers to extra country pinboards we've created. How to plan your trip with Pinterest, we have described in detail here!
Also the official tourism sites of the countries often offer good information for the first insight (at google enter "your destination" and "tourism", then you will find the tourism website quite fast).
Travel Guide: most of the time we only travel with a single printed guidebook. Which one is the best for your destination? This is also what travel bloggers often tell you in their articles.
3. travel booking: on your own or supported by travel experts?
At this point, an important question arises:
Do you want to plan completely on your own or do you want to get support?? There are great options to book through country specific travel experts and still travel individually. We also have some of our Let road trips be organized by experts and had just as great a vacation! Depending on the concept, your desired route is created together with you, the booking of flights, rental cars and hotels is done by the tour operator.
We have already had good experiences with the following providers:
4. Booking flights: find the cheapest flight
In the next step we look already roughly for the prices of flights. Because maybe they are so expensive that we have to choose a different travel period or even a different destination after all. However, we book the flight only when the route is planned so far. Because then we know if we need open jaw flights!
Book your flights in time. Ca. 3-4 months (long haul) to 6 weeks (Europe/short haul) before departure, flights are cheapest according to studies.
We always look first at Skyscanner for the cheapest travel dates. For this, we specify "whole month" in the date search. The portal shows you the cheapest days within a defined period of time. You can save a lot of money, because it is surprising how much individual days differ in price. Let's find a good deal, we check the airline's website directly to see if there might be an even cheaper price there.
The flight search engine Skyscanner shows you the cheapest airfares per month (screenshot, as of October 2017)
Another recommended alternative to Skyscanner is momondo.
Important tip: Clear your browser history before you actually book the flight. Because the websites remember your visit. We have had the feeling one or two times that the booking gets more expensive on the second visit!
5. First route planning
Now you should check Think about your rough travel route. That's why it's so important to do it early, because then you know if you need to plan for open jaw flights or maybe return the rental car at another location.
From your initial research, you'll probably already have a few highlights that you're dying to see. Use a map to help you (e.g., a map of the country).B. google maps) and mark your desired destinations on it. How to see how to best combine the highlights. Use it to plan your route. We plan our road trips with google my maps and our road trip route planner as Excel template, which you can download here.
Download free road trip planner to help you plan your trip!
Important to keep in mind when planning your route: How many nights do I have in total? How many kilometers do I want to drive per day at most? How many nights I want to spend in one place? Take into account the "arrival" – do you first need a day to acclimatize? Remember that it is usually better,
enjoy individual places more extensively than rushing from sight to sight. We often limit ourselves to seeing only part of the country. Everything else would degenerate into stress.
We always make sure that we are in some places at least two nights have. So we can plan a full day for sightseeing, hiking or other activities. Also we look that the driving distances do not exceed 350 kilometers per day if possible (or only in exceptional cases). In many countries like the USA or Iran this is not always possible due to the size of the country.
6. Spontaneous travel or is good planning the trump card?
Should you decide your route in advance? Pre-book the hotels or decide spontaneously on the spot? A topic that travel fans discuss passionately and on which opinions differ! No matter how many people you ask, you will probably never get a clear result. We try to approach the topic with a pro and con list from our personal point of view:
Pro: What speaks for the spontaneous booking on the spot?
– You are flexible in your route planning
– If you like it somewhere, you just stay longer
– You can book through Booking.com the night before really good bargains make – you feel free, independent and you can let yourself drift without obligation
Con: What speaks against the spontaneous booking on the spot? Bzw. for a pre-planned (booked) trip
– Be honest with yourself: how flexible are you really in your route planning? Because if you have only 2 weeks time it is difficult to "stay somewhere longer" – You can on the way just follow your plan and you don't have to deal with the guidebook all the time or research on the internet – you want certain National parks visit? Often accommodations in the parks or. in the immediate vicinity booked months in advance (Ex. Yellowstone National Park in the USA or Kruger National Park in South Africa). You need to book these accommodations in advance, which means that you should know your route pretty well – In the Peak season not only national park accommodations are fully booked, but possibly other highlights as well. If you know in advance what you absolutely want to see, you can book these things in advance – We even think that you can experience more by planning ahead can be considered without. simply because you are better informed! – You have better overview of your budget, if many costs are already fixed before the trip – Especially for the first individual trip offers you planning security
Our recommendation – this is how we do it:
– We book in any case the Accommodation of the first stop before. What could be more stressful than having to look for a place to stay after a long flight?? – We plan our route at least roughly in front of. We want to use our maximum time of three weeks as sensibly as possible! – We like to book through booking.com. In case of need you can Cancel accommodations, should you really have made a mistake in the planning – We can be as much freedom as possible and only pre-book as much as you need (e.g.B. quickly booked national park accommodations, etc.)
You see, we are planning fans and burn for the travel planning ;-)!
7. Visa and entry requirements
Familiarize yourself as soon as possible with the Visa rules and entry requirements. You can find information about all countries in the safety instructions of the German Foreign Office.
You must clarify the following points:
– Do you need a
visa? – If yes, there is a "Visa on arrival" easy on arrival or do you need to apply for your visa in advance? – Which documents do you need? – You want to travel to different countries? Find out what the rules are for Entry across national borders and what you have to watch out for. – Is your passport still sufficiently long valid? Mostly the validity must still be 6 months when leaving the country. There must be enough free pages for stamps or. Visa must be available – are for entry Vaccinations necessary? For example, there are countries that require yellow fever vaccination upon entry (s. also point health)
Once your itinerary is set so far and the entry requirements are clear, you can now also book your flights with peace of mind!
8. Booking a rental car
Because there are a lot of things to consider, we will write a separate article about booking a rental car abroad.
Here is the most important information in brief:
– Book the rental car from Germany
Book early, often there are early booking discounts – use comparison portals, z.B. cheap-car-rental.en* Duty should be for you Comprehensive insurance without deductible in case of damage, liability insurance with sufficient coverage (at least 1 Mio. EUR) and theft insurance without deductible – Evtl. additionally Underbody protection, glass protection (often only a few euros more expensive, depending on the destination and road conditions there reasonable) – All (or. sufficient) Kilometers included
Correct fuel regulation Choose (full/full) – Pay attention to (working) air conditioning in the summer International driving license have a car with you (we recommend this everywhere outside Europe!) additional driver to take turns driving on longer routes – You are planning off-road trips or driving in other countries? This must be explicitly allowed in the contract, otherwise the complete insurance coverage expires Fees for one-way rentals note (a bit more expensive) Refueling regulations (it's best to choose the full-full option) – Make sure the rental and drop-off times are correct and reasonable (so you don't pay for an extra day unnecessarily)
We have already rented cars in different countries over the platform billiger-mietwagen.de* and have always been satisfied. The advantages:
We always make sure to book with one of the well known and well rated rental companies in Germany (z.B. Europcar, Hertz, etc.) and prefer to spend a few euros more for it.
Here we have created a rental car takeover checklist, which you can print out and take with you on your trip: Rental car booking checklist abroad
9. Accommodations for every need. Every purse to find. Mostly we look first at Tripadvisor. Here you can find customer reviews and numerous photos, which give you a first impression of the accommodation. Tripadvisor shows you which booking platform offers the lowest price. Often the booking.com* or Expedia.
We have an account with both platforms and like to book there often. Booking.com has the advantage that many rooms can be cancelled up to 24 hours before arrival. The 24 hour customer service is exemplary. The platform advertises its best price guarantee.
Airbnb, of course, is also a great way to book great (often cheap) accommodations. I was skeptical at first, but once I understood the concept, I found it great. Because there are countless offers – from living directly with the host to completely owning your own home, from budget to luxury. It is definitely worth a look!
For accommodations in national parks there are sometimes separate national park booking sites. In South Africa this is z.B. SANparks, the accommodations in the national parks are often booked up months in advance. An early determination of the route. Booking the accommodation is therefore worthwhile!
If we haven't already pre-booked an accommodation in Germany, we do it the night before at the latest by smartphone via booking.com or Expedia.
Cabins at Nomadic Desert Camp in the Wahiba Sands desert in Oman
10. Budget planning and recording
At this point you already know the most important cost points like airfares, rental cars and at least have an idea how much you have to budget for accommodations. The biggest cost blocks like flights. Rental cars are usually due at the time of booking. This is the money you should have saved already.
So that you don't lose track of the total costs, we recommend all costs in one overview to record. We use our road trip planner, which you can download (if not already done) here. There we enter all known costs and note if we have already paid and how (credit card, bank transfer, etc).) or if the payment is still due.
11. Book activities
Of course you can book most of the activities directly on the spot. Do here Spontaneity and flexibility absolutely sense, because only on the spot you know what you feel like doing, what the weather is like, etc. For example, we like to book through Get your Guide*.
But there are also Activities that have to be booked months in advance. For example, multi-day hikes in South Africa, activities in the Grand Canyon in the USA and the like.
So make sure you know in advance if some activities need to be pre-booked! If there are things you absolutely want to do, then it is definitely worth the research!
12. Health and insurance while traveling: take good care, stay healthy
Depending on the country you're traveling to, there's more or less to consider and do when it comes to health. If you fly to the USA, a normal first-aid kit is sufficient. In many countries of Africa, South America or Southeast Asia there is much more to consider.
On the websites of the German Foreign Office, the Tropical Institute and Fit for Travel you can inform yourself about the conditions in your destination country. There you will also find information about required vaccinations or important prophylactics (z.B. malaria prophylaxis).
Stay healthy while traveling and take adequate precautions
Regardless of the destination, we strongly recommend International health insurance. I am insured through Suddeutsche Krankenversicherung (SDK), 11,50 Euro per year will be debited automatically and we don't need to think about it anymore. The SDK foreign policy is valid for every trip abroad with a maximum duration of 45 days at a time (longer trips are possible with a surcharge of 2 Euros).
For some long-distance travels (e.g.B. Iran, Tanzania) we have a ie English-language confirmation of insurance coverage for the period of travel and the country of travel. This works quite simply. Without additional costs by phone or e-mail.
The international health insurance is so important, because without it you will be stuck with the costs if you need medical treatment! The German insurance does not cover these costs or only at certain rates (in the EU).
In addition to the obligatory international health insurance, there are other insurances available. Unfortunately, we can't decide which of them makes sense for you. But we give you a short overview here:
A Travel cancellation insurance we have already booked a few times – but lately more and more rarely.
Your German private liability insurance comes also on journeys (under one year!) for damages caused by you. Here you do not need any additional protection.
A Baggage insurance we never do, because the conditions for reimbursement are so high that it's not worth it for just clothing. Of course, it's a different story if you're traveling with expensive equipment.
The Contact details of your insurances incl. You should always have a copy of a summary sheet of the insured services with you!
13. Travel packing list for download
Tips on packing and our super practical travel packing list as an Excel template to customize, we have summarized in a separate article for you.
Download our travel packing list as Excel template
If you want to do more than 3.000 words up to here, then it seems to really burn under your nails :-). Then you love traveling as much as we do, don't you?? We hope we could give you some useful impulses and are looking forward to your feedback! But for now, have fun planning your trip!
* Your trust is important to us! If you book through this referral link, we will receive a small commission. For you, of course, the price remains the same. Thank you very much ♥
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Planning a trip step by step – our tips
Note: we are not legal experts and not medical doctors. This article is not meant to give medical or legal advice. All in the info are best possible researched. Based on personal experience. We are not liable for incorrect information ;-).