If you have more than one destination in mind but your holiday time is fixed, then check out the weather. There are definite perks to travelling somewhere out of the peak season, but if the monsoon rains or blazing heat are going to ruin your activities then you probably want to change your dates or destination.
- Flight checker
If you’re still unsure of where to go then check the cheapest flights from your nearest airport. Another way to maximise your flights is to stopover en route. I made use of Hawaiian flights going via California to have a week in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- Be flexible
This is hard if you have a small amount of time and you need to book transport ahead of time. But I much prefer to have flexibility in my plan. My favourite way of exploring is to have a flight into one place and out of another, with my precise movements in between yet to be decided.
- Don’t book everything from home
This again is hard if you have limited time, but trips or activities are almost always cheaper to book when you arrive. For example trekking to Machu Picchu via the Salkantay trail can be booked for around $200 in Cusco. Double that cost if you book from the U.K. You're also giving more of your money to the local economy, rather than a travel agent with a nice office.
- Read a guidebook
I love blogs (obvs) but there’s nothing like a good ole Lonely Planet. They’re especially helpful when getting an idea about transport between smaller places.
Top Tip! Buy the out of date book secondhand for a bargain.
I just got a 2015 guidebook from Abebooks.co.uk for £3.19 while the new one is over £15. Some prices and details may be out of date, but it’s mostly going to be the same. If you’re relying on a crucial detail for your trip to work (whether the ferry leaves in time to catch your flight), check with an up-to-date source.
- Use Facebook groups and blogs
If you’re not sure how long to spend exploring Vietnam from head to foot, search for a blogger’s itinerary suggestion. If you want a recommendation of the best hostel in Lima - ask in a Facebook group. Personal recommendations for tour guides are priceless, and often allow locals in poorer countries to spread their business without being on the internet.
- Be open to the unexpected
When I visited Chitwan National Park in Nepal I made friends with a group of fellow backpackers at the hostel and ended up on a multi-day jungle trek to a remote village. We slept in mud huts and had to ride on the roof of the bus on the way back to the main town. I couldn't have planned that if I'd tried! I love to research and plan and know about all the possibilities but I always try to be open to new and unexpected situations.
- Just go for it!
In the end you just have to book it. There are plenty of reasons to hesitate, to wait and see if the prices change or some event at home comes up. There will always be a reason but just book it anyway. Book the transport and figure out the rest as you go along.
What other advice is there from planning a trip? Are you spontaneous and don't plan anything? Comment below. If you want any help with your trip then just shout. I looooove researching travel!