How to plan for any trip

A collection of free guidebooks collected on the South Island of NZ. Most tourist information centers in the world offer this kind of guidebooks and they are useful!

The free guides we collected, helping me plan our next stop – they’re highly commercial but they do offer some insights!

Planning requires patience and I kind of lack on that. I do have my share, but it is usually used up on the kids, I’m sure you understand. But, on this post, I’m going to show you how I plan any trip.


How to plan a trip: step by step

The toughest decision is the first one: where to? This question is always asked all family members and all answers are given equal weight. After that, I just need to do some research to answer a few key questions:

  • How much money do we have? Or how much can we afford to spend? This question is key because everything else will depend on the answer to this one. Sometimes, even the first question (Where to?) changes depending on this one.
  • When? Is it warm, cold, rainy season, too dry? Is it the high season or is it off-peak? Which is best for what we want to do (because if you want to ski, it need to be winter, right? And if we want to snorkel, it needs to be warm!)?
  • How do we get there? A plane, boat, car, motorhome, bike, on foot? Is there traffic? How long does it take? How expensive is it? If we need an airplane, is the trip long or not? It all influences how we’re going to travel, because, for short trips (under 5 hours), we can live without screens or food, but beyond that…
  • Do we need a visa? Is it easy to get? Is it too expensive? How long does it take to process and how long does it last?
If you're planning a trip, click here to find out how we plan our trips! Trust us, we've traveled for 2 years non stop with 4 kids!

A pin to make your life easier! Click on the red SAVE button to add it to Pinterest!

  • What do we want to do? Are there beaches, snow, good food, museums, parks, hikes, iconic places, local festivals?
  • How long do we need to do what we want? I’m sure nobody goes to Disney World to stay for a day only.
  • Do we need anything else? Vaccines, special medicine, hiking shoes, insect repellant, gifts, sunscreen, ski gear? Can we take them or do we need to buy on site?
  • Can all of us enjoy it? Of course, there are times we take our kids somewhere we don’t really like much but most of the time, we need everyone to be able to enjoy. So, checking if there are things for the little ones (in our case, Coral), the big ones (Angelo), the teenagers (Melissa), is a must. Also, if it’s the case if allergies’ necessities are met.

Other planning tips

That is basically how I do it. I usually find a guide (it can be a travel guidebook, a website, a blog, a forum, someone from that place) where I can find most of my answers, and then search for more information that confirms or denies what I found out.

We have this cheap accommodation guide and a budget travel guide! Click to see them too!

I do try to find the latest stuff, usual blogs from people who live on the place or who visited on the same time I’m planning to go on the year before. I can take anywhere from one hour to a few months researching. It all depends on how much time we have, how much money we have and how far it is.

Oh, and I never set the expectations bar high – that way I cannot be disappointed. I always leave space for a change of plans, unforeseen circumstances or whatever, really. I try to book only what I really have to and leave the rest to decide on the spot.

It might seem like a lot to do, but it’s not. Once I got used to it, it flows super easily.

My new favorite is Pinterest, I just type in the destination and it brings our so many pins! I can categorize them by destination and keep them there, amazingly organized. If you have never used Pinterest for planning a trip, I highly suggest you try it once.

I present my destination travel resources: a tablet (now computer and phone only), guide books, library books, and a notebook. That's how to plan for any trip.

The resources I was using when we were still trying to figure out our trip

To finish it…

There isn’t one way to do it, and what works for me may not work for you, so don’t be frustrated. Take what works for you and dump all the rest behind!

Also, blogs and books, and every other resource are biased: it’s the view of the writer of that place. They can also be very… old. So use it as a rough guide, don’t really take is as the sole truth.

And if all else fails… just take in consideration your budget, what you want for the trip, and play a little with the dates, see what works best for you, skip the details! Leave the discovery and exploration for when you’re there! We’ve done that quite a few times and it’s lovely.

Just check if it’ll be the right season for your goals because that’s kind of important. I’m sure you don’t want to surf in hurricane season nor ski during summer…

The Wanaka Tree, that grows inside Lake Wanaka. Everyone that stops in Wanaka takes a photo there. It's a NZ must!

Those were my kids at the beginning of the trip, in Wanaka. Enjoy while they’re little, for real.

Share in the comments how you plan for your travels, I’d love to know!




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