Where to start organizing the dream journey?

Each of us carries a more or less orderly life every day. From time to time we all need a break from the routine and to get some rest. So if you don’t want to spend the long-awaited vacation renovating the house – plan the trip of your dreams! How to do it? We have a few tips.

You have every right to relax

You probably know the fact that some people take a vacation just to run some errands or fix the things they left “for later”. Go to the doctor, do some research, clean or do repairs, visit family… And where’s the time for leisure? You do work hard and you deserve some vacation time. It’s worth to use it to charge your batteries!

Of course – there are people who are satisfied enough. Weeding flower beds in the garden, sunbathing or barbecuing with friends helps them to relax and regenerate. We’ll not be trying to advise them, as they seem to perfectly organize their free time. However, if you find you’re slightly bored with that campsite by the lake, do not hesitate to dream about traveling to fascinating places where you’ve never been before. This is the first step to a fantastic adventure that will get you high as no vacation did before!

Where to start the planning?

Although it sounds easy, at this point you need to answer a few questions:

  • Where do you want to go?
  • Are you thinking about organizing it yourself or going with a travel agency?
  • When does it suit you best to go?
  • What is your budget for the trip?

These questions might seem obvious but answering them might not be easy. Therefore we would like to say a few words on each of these topics.

Where to go?

Here comes a tricky question. What type of leisure gives you the most satisfaction/energy? Swimming in the sea? Hiking the mountains? Canoeing? Sightseeing cities/museums and learning about history? Or perhaps you’d like to mix all of that in one trip?

It’s good if you know where do you want to go from the start. Then you can just go answering next questions. But if you do not have a specific destination, and you just thought “I’d like to spend my next holiday in Asia”, there’s a lot of possibilities out there. Take a book guide and start reading. Don’t you have one? You’ll find some of the popular ones on the internet. Select the region you are interested in and learn something about it. Write down some of the things to see there and browse some pictures of other travelers. We often add to our list the things we just saw somewhere on the internet or in a magazine. A perfect example is one of our favorite photos from the road to Monument Valley in the US. When we were preparing our list of places to see in the US, Dawid said that he pictured such a frame in his mind so we have to go there. First, we searched the internet for the exact location (photos are often erroneously described as Road 66, which is, however, about 400 miles from that spot), and when we got there, we spent the night in the car on the side of the road just to take this picture early in the morning 🙂

Patrycja and Dawid walking U.S. Route 163, with Monument Valley in the background.
Monument Valley.

And one more thing – even if you’ll like the first country/region that you’re reading about, it’s worth to take a look at two or three more and compare them. Who knows, maybe the fourth place would be the ideal for a dream trip? 🙂 Be open to suggestions and curious about the world. It will make the decision easier.

Plan on your own or buy an organized trip?

We know some people who like organized tours. We also know those who organize trips on their own.

It is certainly convenient to go with a tour agency. They’ll drive you everywhere, tell you some interesting facts, organize meals… Basically, they organize almost everything, and all that’s left is to prepare some spare money and documents, and get to the “meeting place”. These tours are especially attractive for people who do not want to worry about organizational issues, or do not like to speak other languages than their own.

We’re fans of independent expeditions. We don’t have to rely on anyone and we can travel at our own pace. This allows us to spend more time in places that we like and less in those that were not enjoying too much. However, we don’t always say ‘no’ to organized trips. Examples? In Peru, we took a package tour to the jungle, because we would not feel safe traveling alone. In Thailand and Laos, we booked one-day tours around the plantations of coffee and tea, local villages, temples and a variety of viewpoints. It did save us a lot of time, so we could see more things than we would be able to if we did it on our own.

The truth is that some places, e.g. Antarctica, cannot be reached without a packaged your or scientific expedition. So it’s worth to always consider different options, take a look at both the offer of travel agencies and your own simulation of the costs of an individual trip. From our experience, it’s almost always cheaper to travel on your own. However, it’s not always the most convenient way.

When is the best time to go?

No matter what place you choose, it is best to go there just before or just after the tourist season. Weather is usually already or still good, and you can avoid the crowds, crowded museums or congestion on the mountain trails. It is easier to find accommodation, and its prices are often lower than in the season. Also, in many places, tickets to popular tourist attractions are cheaper as we mentioned in the post about our visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.

In various parts of the world peak of tourist season falls in a different period of the year. In Europe and North America, it will be July and August. In New Zealand, it will be January and February. In Australia and the Pacific Islands, there’s no clear division between low and high season as the weather is usually good throughout the year. In Southeast Asia, despite the fact that in the period from April to September temperatures can be unbearable, there is always a lot of tourists. So it might be a better idea to check for the best conditions, eg. for diving on the Great Barrier Reef or sunbathing on one of the beaches of the Ko Phi Phi archipelago. Here you’ll find graphs of temperatures and suggestions when’s the best time to go to a particular region of South-East Asia.

What is my budget?

You already know that you want to go somewhere, you know where – and you even agreed on the departure date/season. Next thing to keep in focus are the costs. Because, unfortunately, sometimes it is precisely the only thing that keeps our traveling fantasy at bay, forcing us to postpone travel dreams or to choose an alternative direction. Often it’s the budget that decides – not you.

When you decide to book a tour with a travel agency, you know upfront how much you’ll pay. Then, just add to that a little cash for entertainment and souvenirs and you’re done. But when planning a trip on your own, you have to focus more on finances during the trip. Try to precisely estimate the most important expenses associated with transport, accommodation and food and that will give a pretty good reference of the absolute minimum budget to prepare. No one says that you have to book a room in a hotel or flight ticket right away. The idea is to see what is the expected price range for things like eg. renting a car with insurance for 2 weeks, and more or less calculate how much fuel money we will need on our planned route.

The next step is to include the cost of tickets and additional entertainment and add a safety margin for any unplanned expenses. With a budget prepared this way, you can start a trip with a clean conscience! And after the trip, you can compare the estimate with real expenses and see how good you did or what do you need to improve next time.

We will often get back to the topic of traveling finances on our blog. You can already find a lot of information on both tickets to various places, as well as the entire financial summaries from our visit to the various countries, e.g. Canada or USA. We’ll post more in the future so stay tuned – you will find all financial posts here.