Before you can start a journey you always need to do some important preparations such as booking flights, checking equipment or taking care of the finances. Dependent on the purpose and kind of your trip it might be also a good idea to plan your travel route itinerary. Even if you don’t plan your route in detail, knowing at least a few highlights you definitely want to see can save a lot of research time as soon as you’re there. But what’s the best way to start? I asked myself this question before my first big trip to Thailand. Since it was to be my first big backpacking tour, I was accordingly nervous and wanted to be prepared for everything. So I spent hours and hours researching for the trip. You may feel exactly the same as me then. That’s why I wrote this article. It shall take away some of your nervousness and help you with your planning.
How to start planning
Before I could even begin planning the route, I had to decide which country to go to. There are so many exciting places on our globe, so the list of possibilities is correspondingly long. In my case, I had several countries to choose from that interested me. Apart from Thailand, it was Malaysia, India and Nepal too. So the first thing that mattered was:
I had to decide where I wanted to go and what I really wanted to see.
To get a better idea, I just went to the public library, grabbed a travel guide of each country and flipped through them. The pictures were enough for me to get a first impression of the individual countries. In addition, I used my dear friend Mr Google (today I’d use the greener version ecosia instead) and its image search. With the help of this, I could get an even better idea of these countries. It did not take long to take the decision that I would like to go to Thailand.
So the most important thing before you can start planning in more detail:
Think about what you want to see !!
Do you want to see temples, experience nature, explore rainforests, relax on a beautiful beach or experience a certain culture…whatever it is. Get an idea about what you’d wish to see. Especially when you are at the beginning of your travel planning, the decision which country it shall be should be made. Without it, there is no route that you can plan. Sounds logical, huh?
The next step
Once you’ve decided on a travel destination, you can start planning more in detail. Again, you will have the same question to answer: what’s important? Which things would you like to see? Do you prefer to be away from the usual tourist trails or discover the typical highlights of your destination? I am a fan of experiencing the country as authentically as possible, so you will find in my articles tips to some more remote destinations. For you, it might be different. Thus, decide what you’d like to include on your route.
Start planning your route
As soon as you have answered these questions, it is best to get a travel guide of the chosen country. In Thailand, I have had very good experiences with the Stefan Loose travel guide Thailand. Alternatively, the Lonely Planet Thailand travel guide is also very common. Look through it to help you decide which destinations you’d like to see. Depending on the country, you can ask yourself questions such as whether you want to travel mainly on islands or in the mountains, on the beach or in cities. Which hotspots interest you? Create a list and rank it. Then you can use this list to plan your route. For myself, I noticed that this ranking is more like a rough plan. While we were on the trip in Thailand I’ve kept reducing my list more and more. I want to go on vacation and not rush around the country. In addition, you will change your route on the way if necessary anyway if unpredicted influences make it necessary. For example, the weather can not play along and you have to stay in one place longer. Or you like a spot so much that you do not want to leave and spend a few more nights there. Maybe you even get a tip of a “must seen”-spot while you’re travelling. There are plenty of possible reasons.
That’s why I think the following tip is really important:
Try to stay flexible, but do not go completely unplanned on vacation.
I hope you’ll see a lot of your chosen country. That you’re able to save some time by a bit planning before to have a great trip while you’re there.
Once again, summarized the most important tips for your perfect route:
- Decide which country you want to travel to
- Decide what you want to see there: nature, mountains, beach, temples, culture, …
- Find out about possible travel destinations best with the help of a travel guide, for example by Stefan Loose or Lonely Planet
- Create a ranking of your top destinations
- Reduce this list multiple times and get rid of destinations to end up with a number of spots that you can easily manage during your stay
- Stay flexible and again, cross out destinations from your list when you’re on the go
To make this planning a little easier, I have created a form that will assist you with the individual steps. Thus it will help you to find your perfect travel route. You can download it HERE– of course completely free.
Do you have more tips on how to find a good route for your journey? Or do you not plan at all?