Easy methods to Plan a Journey: A Month-by-Month Information

Nomadic Matt wearing a backpack while walking along a beach in Hawaii
Posted: 4/2/2024 | April 2nd, 2024

Journey planning generally is a daunting process. Flights, insurance coverage, gear, itineraries, lodging, and a lot extra all have to be thought-about and sorted out earlier than you go.

It’s straightforward to get overwhelmed, particularly whenever you haven’t completed one thing like this earlier than.

After over near twenty years of touring the world, I’ve deliberate numerous journeys and holidays for myself, associates, and household, even group excursions. To start with, it was trial by fireplace. I discovered lots of classes the exhausting approach. Nonetheless, that helped me develop an environment friendly guidelines that ensures I don’t miss something essential through the trip-planning course of.

One huge query I get requested rather a lot is when to begin planning. To reply that query, this publish breaks the planning course of down into month-by-month steps so you possibly can plan your subsequent journey with ease.

Right here’s tips on how to plan a visit:

12 Months Out: Determine on Your Vacation spot(s)

A large commercial jet flying through the bright blue sky as it takes offA large commercial jet flying through the bright blue sky as it takes off
Lots of people speak vaguely about journey: they by no means say the place they’re going, simply that they’re going. They could speak about it for years earlier than really departing (in the event that they go in any respect). Nevertheless it’s a lot simpler to achieve and plan for the purpose of “I’m going to Paris for 2 weeks this summer time” than “I’m going someplace.”

If you have already got a dream vacation spot in thoughts, nice! If not, listed here are some posts that will help you get began:

However, this far out, the true factor you wish to do is begin saving cash and determining your prices. Lodging and flights are the plain ones, however how a lot do eating places, points of interest, and different actions value? Understanding these prices will permit you precisely estimate how a lot cash you’ll want. Right here is tips on how to analysis prices:

  1. Purchase a guidebook
  2. Try my free journey guides (we break down all prices for every vacation spot)
  3. Skim the price of dwelling on Numbeo.com
  4. Google costs for main actions you wish to do, resembling scuba diving, vineyard excursions, and so on. (Get Your Information is an effective place to begin)
  5. Use Skyscanner or Google Flights for flight costs and join alerts to get emails if the worth modifications
  6. Use Uncover Vehicles to cost out (and e book) a rental automobile should you want one
  7. Use Reserving.com and Hostelworld to analysis lodging prices

Which will look like rather a lot however you simply wish to get a basic concept of how a lot it is advisable save. You may head to this web page to see all my articles on how to economize to your journey.

12 Months Out: Begin Amassing Factors & Miles

A bunch of different travel credit cards being held by avid traveler Nomadic MattA bunch of different travel credit cards being held by avid traveler Nomadic Matt
Whilst you’re working to economize, get a journey bank card so you possibly can earn miles and factors without cost flights and lodge stays. It’s what has stored my prices down and me on the highway for therefore a few years.

As of late, most playing cards have welcome gives of 60,000-80,000 factors (some may be as excessive as 100,000) whenever you meet their minimal spending requirement (typically $2,000-5,000 USD inside a 3–6-month timeframe). That’s sufficient miles for a free round-trip economic system flight to Europe from the East Coast of North America.

For extra info on this topic, take a look at these posts:

As well as, get a fee-free ATM card. I exploit Charles Schwab, however there are many different banks that don’t cost ATM charges (don’t neglect to test your native banks and credit score unions too). Right here’s how one can keep away from financial institution charges whereas touring.

8 Months Out: Visa Necessities, Passports, and Vaccines

Whilst you doubtless gained’t want a visa to your required vacation spot, you must nonetheless test to ensure. In the event you’re a US citizen, use the State Division’s search instrument to study your vacation spot’s entry necessities. (Canadians can use this search instrument.)

Moreover, guarantee that your passport is legitimate for no less than six months after your journey ends. Many nations require this for entry. Passport utility and renewal wait instances may be lengthy (the usual is 6-8 weeks within the US), so do that as quickly as doable.

Additionally, analysis should you want any vaccines to your journey as many nations require vaccines to enter (and I don’t imply COVID). You may study extra about nation necessities and proposals on the CDC’s web site. They may also help you discover a clinic close to you as properly (should you’re within the US).

4-6 Months Out: E-book Your Flight

A huge commerical airliner flying through the dark blue sky as it comes in for a landing at an airportA huge commerical airliner flying through the dark blue sky as it comes in for a landing at an airport
The very best time to e book your flight is mostly round 3-4 months earlier than your departure, or 5-6 months earlier than if you’re going throughout a vacation spot’s peak season. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, although, so use it as a information.

Listed below are two articles on tips on how to rating an inexpensive flight:

In the event you’ve signed up for a journey bank card and acquired your sign-up bonus, use your miles to e book your flight and/or lodge. The additional out you e book, the extra availability there will probably be. Use instruments like Level.me and Awayz that will help you discover the most effective redemptions in your factors (for flights and inns, respectively).

However even should you aren’t utilizing miles or didn’t discover a low-cost flight deal, there are nonetheless some ways to keep away from being the particular person on the flight who paid essentially the most for his or her ticket. My two favourite websites for locating low-cost airfare are Skyscanner and Google Flights.

3-4 Months Out: E-book Your Lodging

A small rolling suitcase standing near the door in a cozy hotel room abroadA small rolling suitcase standing near the door in a cozy hotel room abroad
In the event you’re touring for beneath two weeks and have a set schedule, e book lodging throughout your journey. In the event you’re visiting through the excessive season, it’s additionally a good suggestion to e book every part upfront. For journeys longer than two weeks, I counsel reserving solely the primary couple of nights of your journey. As soon as there, chances are you’ll find yourself wanting to alter your plans primarily based on insider recommendation from different vacationers and/or lodge/hostel workers. I desire having flexibility, so I at all times simply e book a number of nights and go from there.

Listed below are my go-to websites with regards to discovering the most effective offers on lodging:

  • Hostelworld – Hostelworld has the biggest number of hostels and is my go-to web site for locating inexpensive hostels.
  • Reserving.com – Reserving.com is the most effective total platform for locating funds inns and guesthouses.
  • Agoda – Agoda has the most effective outcomes should you’re heading to Asia (although it typically has good US offers too).

I like to recommend checking the cancelation coverage of wherever you e book. I like having the pliability to cancel if one thing comes up.

In the event you’re on a decent funds otherwise you wish to join with extra locals throughout your travels, think about becoming a member of platforms like Couchsurfing or BeWelcome. These communities permit vacationers to stick with residents without cost as a form of cultural alternate.

Lengthy-term vacationers may strive housesitting or WWOOFing as properly, as they each provide free lodging (in alternate for pet sitting or farm work, respectively).

2 Months Out: Plan Your Actions

Now it’s time for the enjoyable a part of journey planning! Which means studying books about your vacation spot, studying basic journey suggestions, connecting with on-line communities, and pre-booking any mandatory actions.

Pre-booking ensures you don’t miss out on issues that you just actually wish to do in your journey. In the event you’re going to a preferred vacation spot, excursions and actions replenish shortly, and should you’re going to a smaller place, actions or excursions would possibly solely run on sure days and have restricted availability.

Both approach, Get Your Information the most effective place to seek for and pre-book actions, excursions, and tickets. Native tour operators and points of interest can checklist their choices on this on-line market, so you will discover tons of stuff right here, from meals excursions to museum tickets with skip-the-line entry.

1 Month Out: Get Journey Insurance coverage

Get journey insurance coverage. That approach, these purchases are protected ought to one thing occur that makes you cancel your journey.

Lots of people suppose, “I’m wholesome. I don’t want journey insurance coverage.” However journey insurance coverage is far more than simply medical safety. It covers you when your digicam breaks, your flight is canceled, a member of the family dies and you must come residence, or one thing will get stolen. (That’s why you’ll additionally wish to familiarize your self with any widespread journey scams to look out for, in addition to tips on how to conduct your self with a purpose to mix in to keep away from trying like a goal for petty theft.)

Sure, it’s an added expense. Nevertheless it’s at all times higher to be secure than sorry. I by no means go away residence with out it, as a result of I’ve seen firsthand simply what can occur on the highway.

I by no means thought I might pop my eardrum whereas I used to be scuba diving in Thailand, break my digicam in Italy, or get knifed in Colombia.

Sadly, unhealthy issues can occur whenever you’re touring. True, these occasions are few and much between. However they’ll value tens of hundreds of {dollars}. In the event you’re not ready to pay out of pocket, purchase journey insurance coverage.

Listed below are some posts on journey insurance coverage to get you began:

I by no means go away residence with out journey insurance coverage. You shouldn’t both.

7 days out: Pack!

Nomadic Matt's gear on the bed as he packs his backpack before a tripNomadic Matt's gear on the bed as he packs his backpack before a trip
Your journey is sort of right here, and it’s time to pack! It may be tempting to wish to deliver every part with you “simply in case.” However with regards to journey, much less is extra. Whereas what you pack will rely on the place you’re going, keep in mind that you don’t have to take every part you personal. You should buy belongings you want and do laundry on the highway. On the finish of the day, you must carry every part you deliver. So deliver much less!

I journey with a 45L REI bag after which a smaller day bag. Right here’s my urged packing checklist that will help you take simply the correct amount of stuff and keep away from overpacking (right here’s a listing for feminine vacationers).

Moreover, deliver any prescriptions you want throughout your journey. Attempt to not depend on filling these overseas (although deliver a prescription and physician’s notice simply in case).


With every part taken care of, it’s time to go in your journey and have enjoyable! Make a listing of last-minute gadgets it is advisable pack the day of (your toothbrush, glasses, telephone charger, and so on.) and test in on-line beforehand (you are able to do so 24 hours upfront). (In the event you’ve acquired lounge entry by way of a premium journey rewards card, you would possibly end up trying ahead to attending to the airport early.)

In the event you’re feeling nervous, don’t fear. That’s completely regular. Feeling anxious or uncertain is one thing each traveler experiences. However you’ve made it this far. Belief your planning and comply with your instincts. You’re about to have the journey of a lifetime.

E-book Your Journey: Logistical Ideas and Methods

E-book Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of Skyscanner. It’s my favourite search engine as a result of it searches web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is being left unturned.

E-book Your Lodging
You may e book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use Reserving.com because it persistently returns the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and inns.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes flawed. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances up to now. My favourite firms that supply the most effective service and worth are:

Need to Journey for Free?
Journey bank cards will let you earn factors that may be redeemed without cost flights and lodging — all with none additional spending. Try my information to selecting the correct card and my present favorites to get began and see the newest finest offers.

Want Assist Discovering Actions for Your Journey?
Get Your Information is a large on-line market the place you will discover cool strolling excursions, enjoyable excursions, skip-the-line tickets, non-public guides, and extra.

Able to E-book Your Journey?
Try my useful resource web page for the most effective firms to make use of whenever you journey. I checklist all those I exploit once I journey. They’re the most effective in school and you’ll’t go flawed utilizing them in your journey.

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