Imagine you’re going on a five-day trip. What do you do first? Initially, you might be confused about where to begin and how to pack. There are some people who blindly pack over 10 pieces of clothing for just a short trip and end up carrying loads of luggage. One bag or many? Summer wear or winter or both—who knows what the weather will be like during the time of your travel? Planning can be such a daunting task sometimes. It is, if you are not planning it right, and do not do your research well.
There is a lot to think about before you go on your first trip. From getting a visa (if it’s an international trip), to figuring out transportation, booking hotels and tickets, getting local currency and so on. All this can be downright stressful. Isn’t this a little contradictory, if you are supposed to have a relaxing vacation?
When I planned my first trip, I was lost, but I also learned my share of lessons along the way. From planning your journey to understanding the destination, I am here to help. In this article, I will take you through planning your first trip, by laying out a simple guide that should ensure you don’t forget anything at all.
Also read: A guide to minimalist travel packing
Here’s How You Can Take A Travel Dream And Turn It Into Reality, Hassle-free
1. Identify And Set A Travel Budget
Before you can actually plan a trip, you need to figure out your finances and how much you can afford to spend on the destination and your adventures. For instance, I had 10,000 INR for my first trip. So, I planned a domestic trip to Goa and narrowed down what I wanted to do there as well. To plan any trip (domestic or international), you must create your own customised travel budget. Doing this will dictate a lot of your next steps, including where you can travel and the duration of your stay. Once this is decided, select your destination.
Tip: Save, travel, repeat! It’s good to have savings, but also be aware of your budget and spend accordingly. I’m sure you want to make more than one trip in a year, right?
2. Pick Your Destination Wisely
The visuals you see on social media probably drive you crazy, right? (They surely drive me crazy). But let’s face reality—a few factors such as weather, distance, flights, tickets, activities, etc can help you decide on a destination. Beaches or mountains, pick according to the season and your likes and dislikes. Check out the best time to visit, things to do and definitely consider the cost of your return flight, to have a comfortable and well-budgeted trip (consider offers and discounts).
Tip: Do check the weather forecast for the destination. In my case, I checked Goa’s season and it was summer. So, I knew it was going to be only sunshine most of the time. So, I avoided packing unnecessary items, without considering the ‘what ifs’.
3. Consider The Duration Of Your Trip
Well, this also depends on the season you pick—is it tourism season or not? It will help you define how long your trip should be. Long queues and crowds everywhere can get frustrating. Likewise, during the off-season, look into which, if at all, attractions will be available. Off-seasons also correspond with not so great weather. Weigh this research, and decide what way does not hamper your journey or the experiences you plan to indulge in. My trip to Goa was for five days and I did manage to enjoy some of the water activities, its best food and great street shopping—all within my fixed budget.
Tip: Do ensure your journey is in sync with your initial budget, to avoid over spending.
4. Check On Accommodations
Where you’re going to stay is another key factor to consider, as accommodations are usually subject to availability and season. The prices differ and can fluctuate depending on booking dates. Close your bookings a few months in advance— this helps cut down additional/unnecessary costs. On my Goa trip, I looked for a comfortable, cosy accommodation. I also usually carry my own toiletries, and no product more than 100 ml (to make sure I can put it in my cabin baggage).
Tip: While some of you might like to book accommodations on spot, it is advisable to make a list of hotels and get an idea of their availability before getting there. You don’t want to be stranded on the streets, right?
5. Safety At The Destination
Before you plan to travel, your research should be able to tell you how safe the destination is. However, do look at official information to understand the safety of the place you’re visiting. For instance, in the case of Goa, I recommend looking at reliable websites like this. Find the right source for the destination you plan to visit, to avoid any issues. It is also a good idea to be aware of the safety measures if you are travelling solo (especially, for women).
Tip: Studying about the place beforehand is always a good habit. Moreover, if you have friends who have already been to your particular destination, word-of-mouth can help. Get some on-ground tips from them.
Also read: 21 tips for solo female travellers
So, Are You Ready For Your First Trip?
While planning your first trip, also make a list of things you want to carry with you. Here’s what I did to avoid overpacking—I calculated the number of days and matched that with the number of clothing pieces I would require depending on my activities. 1-2 pieces per day were what I arrived at. And voila—it was perfect, including my accessories. No extras, no less, every item was planned before I went on my holiday.
It is always best to travel light, wearing the most comfortable outfit with sneakers and a jacket to deal with air conditioning on the plane/train/bus. Afterall, a well planned trip with one small suitcase, and a tiny handbag or backpack can be easy, right?
Also read: Essential tips for first-time travellers