How to Plan Your Trip?
Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren wrote a brilliant book by the name of “How to Read a Book”.
This book teaches you why conventional reading skills are insufficient for understanding difficult books, how to acquire more sophisticated reading skills and how to apply those skills to analyzing great books. On the one hand, one may think planning a trip is quite an easy task just like reading a book. If you are thinking about planning a 1-2 week trip, then you can skip this chapter. However, trips above three weeks (especially if they are to multiple destinations and include transportation within the destinations) do require more planning. Similar to the book mentioned above, this chapter will provide you with a “copy paste” skill that will serve you well for planning any of your future trips. There is a saying “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” I relate to this saying, especially when it comes to being organized and structured. I’m the kind of guy who likes to have a plan.
So, when I recently tackled the task of planning our honeymoon, I started from a zoom out perspective in order to give my ideas some structure. This structure is what I would like to share with you here. My idea is to give you a schematic outline specifying what comes first, what comes next, that you will be able to apply to any trip you do, regardless of how long or the destination.
Step 1: Decide where to go No tips on this one because as you know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You know better than anyone where you desire to go and for what reasons.
Step 2: Decide when to travel If your decision is driven by work obligations, then you do not have many options here. However, if you are flexible and can go when you please, there are certain things to take into consideration, mainly, weather and budget. For example, Costa Rica is a country that can be visited all year long, however, between May and November, on any given day in any given part of the country, it can be raining so hard that you will be looking to get aboard Noah’s Ark. In such a country, where nature is the primary attraction, optimal weather conditions are key to getting the most out of your vacation. On the other hand, one benefit of travelling off season is that prices (both flight and hotel) tend to be substantially lower.
Step 3: Decide on the length of your trip Budget, work and family obligations (how long can you take off work, how long can you leave the kids or alternatively take them with you, etc.), visa restrictions/limitations and more will influence this decision.
Step 4: Purchase your flight tickets I have a chapter dedicated to finding cheap airfare, so I will not elaborate much here. One thing that is important to mention is that there are contradictory rumors about the best time to purchase your ticket in order to find the cheapest price. I recently read an article that said that studies show that the best time to order your plane ticket is 57 days prior to travel.
All I know is that I purchased two roundtrip tickets from San Jose, Costa Rica to Auckland, New Zealand and then returning from Bangkok, Thailand to Costa Rica for $1225 each, nine months prior to travel. When I checked back 57 days prior to our travel date on the same airline, same route, the tickets were priced at $4350 each – 3.5 times more expensive! Conclusion – AS SOON as you know your destination and timeframe, dedicate a maximum 7-14 days to monitor flights and then purchase them!
Step 5: Visas and vaccinations (if necessary) If you purchased your plane ticket less than 90 days prior to travel, it is a good idea to begin the process of obtaining entrance and/or transit visas, if required by your destination country. Unfortunately, this is something that cannot be done many months in advance.
The process can become a bit tricky if you are planning a multiple destination trip and there are no embassies or consulates of your destination country in your country of residence. For example, for our honeymoon, we had to apply for three visas for my wife – New Zealand, Australia and Thailand. We had to Fedex her passport to the USA for the New Zealand visa, and we could not advance with the other two visas until we received the approval and passport back from the USA.
Regarding vaccinations, some vaccinations or medications (such as anti- malarial) need to be started six to eight weeks before departure. Some countries require vaccination certificates (such as a yellow fever vaccination certificate) for entry into the country. You can often find this information on host country, consulates or ministry of health/tourism websites.
If in doubt, you can also refer to a family doctor who can provide you with all of the appropriate medicines and vaccinations to keep you healthy and safe during your trip