How to Plan Your Next Trip Like a Pro

As glamorous as it appears on social media, travel can be downright overwhelming.  Where to begin?  How much to spend?  Where to go?  Where to eat?  There’s a lot of factors that go into a trip from lodging to activities.  Have no fear!  With the right amount of planning, you can ensure that your next trip will be a breeze.

What to Do

It’s a big world we live in, and the amount of activities you could do is limitless.  Before any trip, there are several resources I like to explore before takeoff.  I almost always start with Pinterest as this is the spot for trip ideas and photography.  The more you pin, the more you discover.  Honestly, Pinterest can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s a great starting point.  Pin any and all that interests you onto specific boards.  I have a board specifically for American travel and another for European travel.  I even have entire boards dedicated to cities like Los Angeles and New York City.  It’s a great way to organize all your dream trips and bucket list items.  

While Pinterest is like drinking through a firehose at times, TripAdvisor helps you start narrowing it down.  You can create a new trip and start saving specific places you’d like to visit.  Even more, you can check out the best rated spots, restaurants and hotels — and all of it appears with reviews, phone numbers and websites.  You can pull up a map and navigate between all of the spots you marked.  It’s so easy and centralized.  Win, win!

Another place I like check out before traveling is bloggers I trust.  My most favorite blogger is Helene from Helene In Between for her authenticity and frickin’ cool life.  I like to search her website for the locations I’m planning on visiting.  Other bloggers I dig: Brooke from World of Wanderlust and Yaya and Lloyd from Hand Luggage Only.

How to Get There

You also have to deal with how you’re going to get there and get around once there.  The main options are plane, car or train (duh), but sit down to estimate which will be most cost-effective.  Driving a longer distance might be cheaper than a flight, but could you use or build up points?  How far is the airport from where you need to get once you land?  I’m a huge proponent of travel credit cards, which are a great way to cut costs on flight and get there quicker.  

Make sure you research the public transportation system where you’re headed — if there even is one.  Los Angeles is near impossible solely on public transportation.  Does your destination do bike share?  Are attractions walkable?

On my recent trip to Chicago, we drove up in our car, but once we arrived, we Ubered for convenience’s sake.  Finding parking and not getting lost would’ve made us pull our hair out, so we opted to call an Uber as we traipsed around Michigan Avenue at our leisure.  

Where to Stay

Beyond transportation costs, lodging will probably end up being one of your biggest costs.  This is one you’ll want to research.  If staying with family or friends is out of the question, a great place to start is Airbnb to find often cheaper alternatives to chain hotels.  At the same time, be sure to check hotels, which may offer additional services like shuttling.  Consider racking up points through a credit card or repeated stays.  Take a look at TripAdvisor for hotel ratings and the spots that are closest to public transportation and the spots you’d like to visit.

What are your best tips for planning a big trip?

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