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Do you get a bit disoriented when you want to plan a trip and you just don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. Sometimes we’re just so excited at something in particular that we don’t pay attention to the rest of important things we have to figure out before our trip.
For me, the most exciting was designing the route and choosing the vegan restaurants we were going to visit as well as getting in contact with local people. So I was more focused thinking about routes without giving too much effort to find a flight ticket.
So here is my advice about how to plan a trip! Hope it’s useful for you. If you wish to add something, let me know!
- DECIDE WHEN YOU WANT TO TRAVEL & FOR HOW LONG
Or, maybe when CAN you travel. This is in the case you have a full time job. Sometimes holidays already have a date assigned to each employee and there’s not much we can do about it. But some of us are lucky enough to be able to decide when we want to take our holidays and the only trick is to ask them long time in advance. I still recommend you to talk with your boss; you never know if you will be lucky and be able to negotiate your days-off. It’s very important that you decide when you will go regarding the season as this will affect the cost, the amount of clothes you will take with you and the activities you will be able to do.
About the time that your trip will last, in some countries you get 1 month of holidays per year like here in Peru, but some countries can get less or even more time. I recommend to safe all your days off and take them in one time so you will enjoy them more!
In our case, as I knew Benjamin was going back to France on September, I decided to take my holidays just one month after that so it wouldn’t be too cold. That was my main reason to choose October/ November for the trip. The flight tickets were not too expensive like in July/ August and it’s not as cold as January/February. And as I said in the previous post, I asked for my holidays like 8 months in advanced so I would sure I wouldn’t have any problems after.
- DEFINE YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND BUDGET
This is one of the most basic things we should always do. Be realistic and check how much you’re willing to spend on the trip. Don’t get me wrong. I won’t say that if you don’t have 2000 euros minimum per month it’s better to stay at home. NO! You can travel with as little money as you want, but you have to have a match between your budget and your expectations. You can’t expect getting to all the museums, go to restaurants and staying in fancy hotels for 300 euros per month. That’s just not possible. But if you’re budget is very little and you are willing to give up some comfort, then yes, you can travel a lot for long time without a problem.
For this trip I made a rough budget of 600 euros each one taking in consideration that we will be eating at a lot of vegan restaurants on the trip. Finally, we ended up spending even less money. So yes, it’s possible!
- ARRANGE EVERYTHING AT WORK
Not just be sure that your holidays has been approved, but also get someone to help you with your work for the time you will be out. If not, when you will be back from your amazing holidays you will have a nightmare in the office!!!
- BE SURE TO MEET ALL THE REQUIREMENTS
Depending where you want to go, you need to check which requirements you need. Visas, bookings, minimum amount of money, vaccines, etc. Even if most of the time, they won’t ask you for all these things, it’s very important to have all of them just in case. We don’t want to be sent back home just for some booking, updated passport or because you didn’t get a vaccine, do we?
To know more about requirements and to which countries you don’t need visa to go, you can check Wikipedia. You just have to type “Visa requirements for (insert nationality) citizens”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Visa_requirements_by_nationality). As well, you can get extra information on “Visados” (http://visados.com/).
In my case, as a Peruvian, recently we got free access to the Schengen zone for maximum 3 months. But we have some requirements: Tickets go and back, proof that you can afford the trip, insurance and accommodation bookings. For the tickets there was no a problem because anyways I had to go back to my job. About the money, I got my debit card statement copied with the last amount of money I got. For the insurance I bought it in “Asegura tu viaje” (http://www.aseguratuviaje.com.pe/). It was very cheap, just 127.29 soles (35.54 euros). And finally, for the accommodation I booked on “Booking” (http://www.booking.com/) and then, cancel the bookings. I just used the mail to print it and have something to show to Migrations.
- BUY YOUR FLIGHT TICKET
The website that I use the most is Skyscanner (https://www.skyscanner.com). There I find the cheapest deals and then I look on the website of the company like KLM, Air France, Iberia, etc.
Don’t forget that the best time to buy flight tickets is around 2 or 3 months in advanced.
I usually travel with Air France because it’s not as expensive as KLM and it still offers a really good value for money. This time a direct flight, both ways, cost me 880 euros more or less.
- DEFINE YOUR ROUTE
And here we are! In my favorite part! I love making maps of future routes even if I don’t plan to make them in the near future. Here I will share with you the website I use to make the routes. It’s a website called “Travellers Point” (http://www.travellerspoint.com/) and I love it! It allows you to make different routes depending on the transport you will use and also you can add notes to every city. It’s very useful as you can save as much maps as you want!
- DEFINE YOUR TRANSPORTATION WAY
Depending on the country or countries you are planning to go there’re different types of transportation between cities. In this case we will be talking about Europe, so I will give you some useful websites that hope can help you out!
- LOW COST FLIGHTS: Ryan Air (http://ryainair.com) and Easy Jet (http://www.easyjet.com/en/).
- TRAINS: Eurail (http://www.eurail.com), SNCF (http://www.sncf.com/en).
- BUSES: Ouibus (http://www.ouibus.com/), Polski Bus (http://www.polskibus.com/en), Eurolines (http://eurolines.com/en/), Is Lines (https://www.isilines.fr/) and Flixibus (https://www.flixbus.com/).
- CAR SHARING: Blablacar (https://www.blablacar.com/).
- HITCHHIKING: By far, the best way of transport for us. Free and you get to meet amazing people on the way. If you want to know which it’s a good spot to hitchhike, get into Hitchhwiki (http://hitchhwiki.com).
Personally, we have used Ryan Air and it was great! We just used it from Dusseldorf to Tallinn and it cost around 60 euros, which was almost half of what it cost in conventional airlines. Then we took a couple of buses, but most of our trip was by hitchhiking.
I haven’t taken many trains, just the one that go from Paris to Benjamin’s place. But usually trains are very expensive so I avoid them. A few years ago, car sharing was the cheapest option but now that there’re so many new bus companies, buses are the cheapest paid option.
- DEFINE YOUR ACCOMMODATION
For accommodation you also have different options depending on your budget and the comfort you want. I will also share with you a few useful websites.
- HOSTELS & HOTEL: Booking (http://www.booking.com/). To help me out to continue working with more content, please your help to book your accommodation using the banner on the right side of the website. It won’t cost you anything and it would help me a lot to keep updating more useful information for you! We will appreciate it a lot!
- AIRBNB: You can get here to get a 20$ discount in your first booking! (es.airbnb.com/c/gechevarria12)
- FREE ACCOMMODATION: Couchsurfing (https://www.couchsurfing.com/)
- CAMPING: In Hitchhwiki you can also find good spots to camp (http://hitchhwiki.com)
Benjamin and I love Couchsurfing! It’s an awesome opportunity to meet amazing people and share with locals! But as always, everything depends on how you want to travel.
- FIND OUT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO THERE
Probably you already have a few ideas of the places you want to visit while in the country or city you have chosen, but there’s an app I love to make decisions even easier! It’s called “Sygic Travel” (https://travel.sygic.com) and depending of the time you will be at one city, it makes an itinerary for you that you can easily change depending on your interests.
We used this app in a few cities because usually we love to just walk around, but it was very useful, especially because everything is displayed on a map and you can make your own itinerary.
- MAKE SOME ARRANGEMENTS ACCORDING TO YOUR BUDGET
To this point, you already have your expectations matched with your budget and you can have a better idea of how much will you spend and you can add or reduce places according to this.
- LOOK FOR VEGAN RESTAURANTS
One of the best places to check reviews of Vegan Restaurants is Happy Cow (http://happycow.net/). There you can find the restaurants by city and the ones closer to you. You can also ask on vegan groups of the place you’re going. People are always so nice and give you great advice!
- LOOK FOR OTHER VEGANS AROUND THE AREA
Vegan groups are also amazing for this as well as Couchsurfing! You can also contact Animal Sanctuaries around the area or Animal Activist groups. That’s an awesome way to meet lovely people!
- PACK LIGHT
You should pack just the essentials, because if you pack too much then you will have to carry a lot of weight with you all the time. This is depending on how you’re traveling. If you’re going with a Backpack like Benjamin and I, it’s better to keep it simple. I usually pack for 1 week the same I will do for 1 month or for 3 months if I know I won’t have a base home nearby.
The weather is a very important factor too as in winter clothes are heavier and you will need to take a few extra clothes than you will normally do.
14. TAKE A NOTEBOOK WITH YOU
Take an small notebook or something where you can make some notes about your trip, maybe places you visited, how much you expend, something about the country/ city, etc.
In my case, I love to write about how much I spend and write a few things about the people I meet on my way. People who has picked me up while hitchhiking or people who has hosted me. I write their names, where they’re from and random things I learned about them.
Maybe not everything is going to be as planned, but that’s the beauty of traveling. Don’t let anything to ruin your moment! ENJOY, ENJOY AND KEEP ENJOYING EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF IT!