Home TRAVEL How one can Plan a Journey: A Month-by-Month Information

How one can Plan a Journey: A Month-by-Month Information

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

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

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

After over near twenty years of touring the world, I’ve deliberate numerous journeys and holidays for myself, pals, and household, even group excursions. At first, it was trial by hearth. I realized a variety of classes the exhausting approach. Nevertheless, that helped me develop an environment friendly guidelines that ensures I don’t miss something vital through the trip-planning course of.


One massive 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’ll be able to plan your subsequent journey with ease.

Right here’s the right way 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 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 truly departing (in the event that they go in any respect). However it’s a lot simpler to achieve and plan for the aim of “I’m going to Paris for 2 weeks this summer season” 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 actual factor you wish to do is begin saving cash and determining your prices. Lodging and flights are the apparent ones, however how a lot do eating places, points of interest, and different actions value? Realizing these prices will enable you precisely estimate how a lot cash you’ll want. Right here is the right way 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, corresponding to scuba diving, vineyard excursions, and many others. (Get Your Information is an efficient 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 guide) a rental automotive for those who want one
  7. Use Reserving.com and Hostelworld to analysis lodging prices

Which will seem to be rather a lot however you simply wish to get a normal thought of how a lot you must save. You may head to this web page to see all my articles on how to save cash to your journey.

12 Months Out: Begin Gathering Factors & Miles

A bunch of different travel credit cards being held by avid traveler Nomadic Matt
Whilst you’re working to save cash, get a journey bank card so you’ll be able to earn miles and factors free of charge flights and lodge stays. It’s what has saved my prices down and me on the highway for thus a few years.

Lately, most playing cards have welcome presents of 60,000-80,000 factors (some will be as excessive as 100,000) whenever you meet their minimal spending requirement (usually $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 data on this topic, take a look at these posts:

As well as, get a fee-free ATM card. I take advantage of Charles Schwab, however there are many different banks that don’t cost ATM charges (don’t neglect to examine 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 received’t want a visa to your required vacation spot, you must nonetheless examine to ensure. When you’re a US citizen, use the State Division’s search software to study your vacation spot’s entry necessities. (Canadians can use this search software.)

Moreover, ensure that your passport is legitimate for not less than six months after your journey ends. Many international locations require this for entry. Passport utility and renewal wait instances will be lengthy (the usual is 6-8 weeks within the US), so do that as quickly as doable.

Additionally, analysis for those who want any vaccines to your journey as many international locations 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 might help you discover a clinic close to you as properly (for those who’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 airport
One of the best time to guide your flight is mostly round 3-4 months earlier than your departure, or 5-6 months earlier than in case you are going throughout a vacation spot’s peak season. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, although, so use it as a information.

Listed here are two articles on the right way to rating an affordable flight:

When you’ve signed up for a journey bank card and obtained your sign-up bonus, use your miles to guide your flight and/or lodge. The additional out you guide, the extra availability there shall be. Use instruments like Level.me and Awayz that will help you discover the perfect redemptions in your factors (for flights and accommodations, respectively).

However even for those who aren’t utilizing miles or didn’t discover a low-cost flight deal, there are nonetheless some ways to keep away from being the individual 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 abroad
When you’re touring for beneath two weeks and have a set schedule, guide lodging during your journey. When you’re visiting through the excessive season, it’s additionally a good suggestion to guide every little thing prematurely. For journeys longer than two weeks, I recommend reserving solely the primary couple of nights of your journey. As soon as there, you could find yourself wanting to vary your plans primarily based on insider recommendation from different vacationers and/or lodge/hostel workers. I desire having flexibility, so I all the time simply guide a number of nights and go from there.

Listed here are my go-to websites with regards to discovering the perfect offers on lodging:

  • Hostelworld – Hostelworld has the biggest number of hostels and is my go-to website for locating inexpensive hostels.
  • Reserving.com – Reserving.com is the perfect total platform for locating funds accommodations and guesthouses.
  • Agoda – Agoda has the perfect outcomes for those who’re heading to Asia (although it generally has good US offers too).

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

When you’re on a decent funds otherwise you wish to join with extra locals throughout your travels, contemplate becoming a member of platforms like Couchsurfing or BeWelcome. These communities enable vacationers to stick with residents free of charge as a form of cultural change.

Lengthy-term vacationers also can strive housesitting or WWOOFing as properly, as they each supply free lodging (in change 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 normal journey ideas, connecting with on-line communities, and pre-booking any vital actions.

Pre-booking ensures you don’t miss out on issues that you just actually wish to do in your journey. When you’re going to a well-liked vacation spot, excursions and actions replenish shortly, and for those who’re going to a smaller place, actions or excursions may solely run on sure days and have restricted availability.

Both approach, Get Your Information the perfect place to seek for and pre-book actions, excursions, and tickets. Native tour operators and points of interest can listing their choices on this on-line market, so you could find 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 digital camera breaks, your flight is canceled, a member of the family dies and it’s a must to come dwelling, or one thing will get stolen. (That’s why you’ll additionally wish to familiarize your self with any frequent journey scams to look out for, in addition to the right way to conduct your self to be able to mix in to keep away from trying like a goal for petty theft.)

Sure, it’s an added expense. However it’s all the time higher to be secure than sorry. I by no means go away dwelling 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 digital camera 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}. When you’re not ready to pay out of pocket, purchase journey insurance coverage.

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

I by no means go away dwelling 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 trip
Your journey is nearly right here, and it’s time to pack! It may be tempting to wish to convey every little thing 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, do not forget that you don’t have to take every little thing you personal. You should buy belongings you want and do laundry on the highway. On the finish of the day, it’s a must to carry every little thing you convey. So convey much less!

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

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


With every little thing taken care of, it’s time to go in your journey and have enjoyable! Make an inventory of last-minute gadgets you must pack the day of (your toothbrush, glasses, cellphone charger, and many others.) and examine in on-line beforehand (you are able to do so 24 hours prematurely). (When you’ve acquired lounge entry by means of a premium journey rewards card, you may end up trying ahead to attending to the airport early.)

When you’re feeling nervous, don’t fear. That’s completely regular. Feeling anxious or not sure 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 Suggestions and Tips

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

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

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you towards 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 corporations that provide the perfect service and worth are:

Wish to Journey for Free?
Journey bank cards permit you to earn factors that may be redeemed free of charge flights and lodging — all with none further spending. Try my information to choosing the right 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 big on-line market the place you could find 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 perfect corporations to make use of whenever you journey. I listing all those I take advantage of after I journey. They’re the perfect at school and you’ll’t go flawed utilizing them in your journey.

The publish How one can Plan a Journey: A Month-by-Month Information appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Journey Website.

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