Let’s Go! Go! Go! My favorite four words… EVER! Unfortunately traveling is not that simple. In fact, it can be overwhelming. With some travel planning and a lot of organization it is possible to work 9-5, manage your life and take amazing stress free vacations. Here’s how I manage to work full time and travel.

PreTravel Planning

I love travel planning. I’m constantly planning future trips. I use Pinterest to organize my information with a visual bookmark. I pin everything. I see a commercial of a destination I absolutely must see, pinned. Surfing social media and something makes me pause, pinned. Overhear a conversation about someones amazing vacation, pinned. It’s impossible to keep all that information in my brain and my boards are life savers when I begin to plan a trip. I also go on a pinning spree searching Pinterest itself once I have decided on a location. Check out my Pinterest account!

I have a master year at a glance travel calendar. I use it to track the best time of year to visit a specific location based on weather. I try to travel in the shoulder season; weather is not extreme and there are less crowds. I try not to travel internationally in the winter because I lose precious daylight. I also use the calendar to record festivals I want to attend. It’s been useful to have this information available as I consider when and where to go.

I also have a bucket list. Sorta. Actually, it’s a mess. The more time I spend interacting with travel bloggers the bigger mess it becomes! Part of it is on my phone. Parts are on word documents. Parts are those printed FB travel quizzes. It’s all over the place. I have the intention of combining it all to a spread sheet. There are so many places to go and experiences to have it’s important to have some sort of direction. At the least a top 5 destination list.  Today mine would be Africa, Spain, Denmark/Norway, Russia, Philippines. It would likely be different tomorrow!

Travel Planning Basics

What is your travel style? Not sure? Here’s some questions to get you started. Do prefer groups tours or solo independent travel? Would you describe yourself as a budget, road trip or luxury resort type of person? Are you adventurous? Do you enjoy festivals? Do you prefer the iconic sites or do you want to go off the beaten path? Is culture important to you? How important, do you want to live like a local? Are you a foodie? Do you want to travel fast or slow? Do you like to plan or see what comes up once you are there? Would you prefer RTW with multiple quick stops or spend several weeks in one region?

It is important for you to know your style and do some research on your destination to determine the number of days you will need at your destination. Personally, I want it all. For me the worst words ever are “Did you see___?” and I didn’t. My heart breaks. Its a big world and I have limited vacation days; I will not be returning to the same location because I missed the Blue Grotto (still not over that). As a result I…

Research, research, research. I determine what I must see and what I would like to see. I love street art and make sure to allow time to explore it. This year I have made a commitment to include some type of food experience in my plans. I create a tentative schedule and plug in day trips first. Then I pencil in activities or sites close to where the day trips begin or end. I plan out the entire trip before I look at plane tickets. My planning determines the number of days I need in the area. If I arrive and [gasp] missed some awesome experience in my planning, it’s not the end of the world. I can easily swap the new experience with something I have penciled in.

Before you book your flight… Is your passport current? Do you need a visa? What’s the currency exchange rate? Are there any travel restrictions? Do you need travel insurance? What about [gulp] vaccinations? Check out the resources page for links to answer these questions and find flights, hotels and transportation.

Now you’re committed. But you aren’t done yet. Make copies of everything and upload them into google drive, drop box or a folder in your email account. Keep a color copy of your passport in your day bag. Make a decision about travel insurance. Set up a free trip journal to keep your friends and family updated at My Trip Journal. If you will be bringing your laptop, back it up. Prep your camera; purchase an additional battery and memory card. I had a battery die in London. You wouldn’t think that would be a problem in London. It was. I searched for a new battery for two hours. And got lost. Should this ever happen to you, the guy with the little shop in the tube is your best bet.

Pin it for later!

Traveling can be overwhelming. With travel planning and organization it is possible to work 9-5, manage your life and take amazing stress free vacations.

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What is your best travel planning tip?