How I Plan For a Big Trip

You guys may know that I’m going to Japan in a few month, because I keep bringing it up. Well I thought it would be fun to do a post on how I plan for a big trip. It’s the same way I planned for my Peru trip with Sarah in 2014, and Sydney trip with Rory back in 2016. It’s not how I planned for our honeymoon in Fiji last year, as we went with a resort package, so we just chilled. Basically, I like to plan a lot of the details. All of them, if at all possible. I’m talking flights, accommodation, transportation, activities, the whole nine yards.

Okay, so there’s wiggle room when it comes to activities, but basically, the more planning I do, the more prepared I feel.

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For Sydney, I was a little more lenient with things. I planned flights and accommodation in advance, that was it. But we were travelling to our neighbour basically, so there wasn’t a culture or language barrier.

For Peru, we planned a lot. For each town we hit, we booked flights, transport, hotels, most activities in advance. Along the way, we would check up with each accommodation a few days before to make sure everything was all good. This month long trip went pretty much without a hitch. Our over the top planning made worked for us, and we even did a few spontaneous activities.

Some people are fine with leaving it to chance, and working it out as they go. I am not one of those people. If you say let’s go on a big trip. I want to know where we’re going, what will the weather be like, how long will it take to get there, do we have a place to stay at. Even with restaurants, I like booking in advance. Sure we could wing it, but then what if there’s no space, wouldn’t it have been better to make a reservation earlier. You get the picture, I like planning things.

So, rambles aside, here’s how I plan a big trip.

Destination. Obviously, you start with the destination. Where is it we want to go? Taking into account, how long the flight would be, how much it would cost, what do we know about the destination already (language, culture, sights), etc. For us, Japan had been a dream destination for a while. I was also keen on Iceland, but it takes over a day for us to fly there, and also costs an arm and a leg, so Japan it is!

Flights. The next thing I look at (or was already looking at) is flights. I try to pick ones with less layovers or stops, and that are on the same airline. I’m not fond of having to run through an unknown airport to catch a next flight on another airline. Lucky for us, Air New Zealand has direct flights from Auckland to Tokyo. Unlucky is that it leaves early in the morning, so we have to fly up to Auckland the night before. Once we find flights we’re happy with (and sometimes there’s a sale on!),  we buy them. I used to go through agencies, but now I like buying them on my own.

Accommodation. The idea of travelling somewhere and not booking a place is bizarre to me. Why wouldn’t you want the security of knowing where you’re staying in a foreign land? I’d want to know the reviews of the place, what’s around, prices, photos, etc. Trip Advisor is good for this, as it has photos taken by people who stayed there, as well as the professional one.

Budget. This is normally figured out right at the beginning, but once flights and accommodation are sorted, I really start glaring at those numbers. I need to figure in activites, transporation, food, and of course, some spending money.

Sights and Activities. Normally, after picking the destination, there’s already a few things I want to see and do there. Once I have the flights and accommodation booked, I turn my full attention to this. This can take the longest, and is also the most fun part of planning for me. Once I’ve picked everything I can think of, I start narrowing it down by price, whether it’s a day trip, half a day, or just a quick stop. Can you tell how much I plan things?

Itinerary. Okay, so, it’s not a really specific hour by hour itinerary, but I like to know which days require travel, or if we’ll be doing an all day trip. Especially if we’re going to multiple cities. This does have wiggle room though, some days it just says that we’re in a particular city all day. I just need to have pretty much the whole trip laid out in my head. This is where I’m up to for our upcoming Japan trip.

That’s pretty much it! Once I’ve hit all these things, then I just keep looking over it and counting down the days till we go! I’ve only done a few big trips, but they’ve gone pretty smoothly. I just like planning as it helps me feel less anxious about travelling away from home. Especially if it’s across the world.

How do you plan for a big trip?


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