Decided to travel and thinking of where to go? The planet is huge, with more than 200 countries and quite a few seas, oceans and continents. The feeling is similar to when you enter a gigantic supermarket. I bet you want everything: see temples in India, make a quick stopover in Singapore, chill on the beach in Thailand and go on a road trip to New Zealand. Where to start? And how to ensure you don’t waste months planning?
Coming up with a good itinerary takes time, effort and patience. To be honest, we were quite lazy when planning our first route. It is always easier to go with “we’ll figure it out later” approach. Well, if you are like us – be prepared to end up a few thousand miles away from your desired location with no access to transport links and very little money. And think about how much time, effort and patience you will need then. Below – our compilation of the 7 most critical itinerary planning mistakes to avoid.
- Skipping climate check
Yes, you wanted to see Nepal for a while – but trust me, when you are freezing in your summer cloths with most mountains roads closed somewhere far from Kathmandu – you’ll wish you reconsidered.
Solution: check temperatures in advance and the best time to visit. Careful consideration for seasonality also helps to travel for cheaper: just schedule your journey off the high season to avoid inflated prices.
- Neglecting visa requirements
Even if you were blessed to be born in the United States, UK, Denmark or one of those other annoying countries that usually don’t need a visa – still check. There are always countries that have some ridiculous rules about entry prerequisites, number of days you are allowed to stay or total amount of entries allowed. Don’t find yourself in the situation where after weeks of planning a perfect three-month route around India you discover your visa is only valid for two.
Solution: check requirements at least one month in advance – this should allow enough time for application and visa processing.
- Not researching your destination
Discovering there are no ATMs that accept foreign credit cards in Iran is not the most pleasant surprise. Especially if you planned a month-long trip. Same holds for being told on Turkey-Armenia border you cannot cross – passage is closed due to intense relations between the two countries.
Solution: research the country in advance. Check the most important information (travel links, quality of water, money, border crossings, main sights). Keep in mind local customs and holidays – those can turn into the best travel experiences. And make sure to at least have an idea of the sightseeing spots you want to see.
- Being too optimistic about distances
Looking at the map of India we were confident we could make it from New Delhi to Goa in less than a day. It looked so close. Words we kept saying on our more than 40-hour bus journey – apparently the distance was more than 2000km.
Solution: make sure you have a good idea of the travel times between locations. A simple check in google maps can save you days of travelling – not to mention money. Same holds for the places you want to visit. Don’t be too ambitious – make sure your plan is feasible and prioritize when necessary.
- Under budgeting
Running out of money in the middle of nowhere is no fun – and not projecting your expenses correctly might mean you’ll have to cut your trip short.
Solution: think carefully about all of the possible expenditures – and cross check the prices. Surely travelling in Asia is cheap – but as everywhere, a good meal or hotel will still cost you.
- Refusing help
Not talking about your friends – but rather about the abundance of useful resources out there that can help you to plan faster, better and more efficiently. Way too often we scribble down our plans in the notebook or notepad on a laptop – and just as often lose them afterwards.
Solution: use specialized websites and apps to help you plan and keep your itinerary together. Apps like Tripit and TripCase centralize all travel documentation and planning in one place. Tripadvisor is a must when picking hotels or restaurants – and Lonely Planet is best for sightseeing spots. Travel blogs are usually a great source of important advice and travel hacks.
- Being inflexible
Yes, rigid planning is critical – but so is flexibility. Planes arrive late, cars break, things get lost – and your travels will rarely run smoothly. You might get robbed – or just decide to stay for a few extra weeks surfing in Bali.
Solution: Don’t book anything too far in advance (unless it’s plane tickets or trains in India). Most of the tours are cheaper to purchase locally and very often just walking in the hotel will give you a better rate as compared to online booking. Don’t be too ambitious on travel schedule – leave some slack in your itinerary. Do your research – but don’t overplan. After all – that’s exactly what makes travelling exciting.
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