How to make travel planning easier

Finding cheap flights, arranging visas, booking hotels and plotting itineraries. Travel planning, especially for a big trip, can be an utter nightmare. Take the European road trip that we’re just about to embark on. There were ferry bookings and apartment rentals to organise, European road rules to check and car accessories to buy, and that’s just for starters. So, how do you make travel planning easier?

Hiking to Ella Rock, Sri LankaIt’s never too early to start planning

We start planning our trips as far in advance as possible. This is particularly important when it comes to booking flights, as they tend to be cheaper if you buy them in advance. We’re already looking out for flights to South America in January, for example. You can also get cheaper deals on hotels and accommodation if you book ahead, we snagged a great apartment for November/December in Prague by booking it back in May.

Planning our route for a country walk

Make a list

Before we left the UK in 2013 I made an epic travel checklist of all the tasks to complete and it really helped get us organised. Here are some things I always put on a list when we’re planning a new trip:

  • Check the visa regulations for the country/ies we’re visiting
  • Make sure we have the right travel vaccinations
  • Organise travel insurance
  • Book flights
  • Get our documents in order (passports, driving licenses, insurance certificates)
  • Check our internet banking is in order and inform the bank so they don’t block our cards when we use them abroad (find out about the travel and debit cards we use for travel here).

Hire a travel planner

If the whole idea of a big trip makes you anxious or you travel regularly for work and don’t have time to make arrangements yourself, it could be a good idea to hire a travel agency to help you. They can take on everything from booking flights and hotel rooms to arranging local transport and providing 24-hour emergency help if something goes wrong while you’re abroad. Professional travel planners will typically know how to find you the best deals too because they have connections with hotels and tour companies.

Tools to make travel planning easier

Here are some of the tools we regularly use to make travel planning easier:

  • Skyscanner and Google Flights, for researching and booking flights. We find the monthly calendar tool really helpful on Skyscanner because it shows us the cheapest days to fly.
  • Airbnb and Booking.com, for booking hotels, guesthouses and apartments. We use Aibnb almost exclusively in Europe as it gives us discounts on monthly apartment rentals, like this amazing place we stayed in Split, Croatia.
  • Trail Wallet this iPhone app lets us set a budget for our trip and daily spending goals. Then, when we’re on the road we can track everything we spend and keep an eye on our finances.
  • Travel blogs are our ultimate source of inspiration and information when it comes to planning a new trip. I find other travellers give the most up-to-date travel advice and I like reading personal travel stories.

Organising a big trip can be stressful, from arranging visas, flights, hotels and local transport, here are some ways to make travel planning easier.

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Split the planning

If you’re travelling as a couple, group or family, split the travel planning or work together. If all the planning pressure is piled on one person it’s bound to cause tension and resentment. Andrew and I have joint planning sessions and while I’m usually the list-maker, he takes charge of route planning. We log trip details on our laptop and phone calendars and double-check all of our documents together before we leave.

How do you make travel planning easier?

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