Planning your trip: Priorities before you leave
Many times i’ve been asked to help out my buddies in their traveling planning. Most of them know that when it’s time to making a good plan and getting the most out of how much money you plan to spend, the master is just a phone call away. Most of my travel tips come from two places: Travel books and Travel experience. When it comes down to it, trial and error always helps, mistakes I’ve made are the ones you’ll save when reading my columns here at The Republika. So, what do you need to think for before you start spending your hard earned money in a trip? What are the things that you want to be looking at before you decide to click the “buy” button? There are a few things I find to be of supreme importance that need to be taken care of before leaving home, and these are the things we’ll talk about in this week’s World Travel Column at The Republika.
The first thing you need to know In your travel plans is how much you plan on covering in the extension of your trip. Most people want to cover every place possible in their short trip and never think that distance, time and money are a big factor that would put their dreams at risk. First you have to prioritize. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my priorities?
- How many countries do I want to visit?
- How much money do I want to spend?
- How do I plan to move from one place to another?
- What kind of hotels would I like to Spend the Night at?
- What am I looking for as an experience?
Say we are planning a 15 day trip to Europe. It is our first time and we want to go to the following places: London, Rome, Istambul, Paris, The Cinque Terre and The Greek Islands (Mykonos, Santorini, etc). We absolutely would love to go to these places and wouldn’t miss the opportunity of being in the same continent and not visiting. If you’re a savvy traveler and are reading this you probably know that I’m going out on a limb here with these kind of desires, but trust me, i’ve heard crazier plans before. First of all we must understand that nobody in their right mind can get four major cities to fit in a 15 day span, let alone, cities that are transcontinentally distanced. Europe may seem small, but it isn’t that small. Going from London to Istanbul isn’t impossibly far, it’s just, not very practical if you asked me. My first recommendation is to ask yourself which of those four cities is the number one that you wouldn’t want to miss on your first trip. Lets say that you list them in this order: Rome, Istambul, Paris, London. If this was your choice I would recommend to choose Rome as your hub, go visit the Cinque Terre and mix in Florence, Naples and Tuscany. Make it an all out Italian trip. Why would I tell you that if your dream is to go to those other fabulous destinations? Because you already told me you wanted to visit the Cinque Terre and Rome, why not mix in the best of Italy while at it and you can save yourself a lot of money and time and truly enjoy the delicacies of one of the best countries in Europe?
My itinerary would read like this:
- Fly to Rome (1 day)
- Explore the ancient capital (4 days)
- Go north to Florence and Pisa (3 days)
- Visit San Gimignano, Sienna (3 days)
- Go have a look at the Cinque Terre (3 days)
- Get back to Rome and fly back home (Last Day)
This would give us a full 15 very fast paced days in the Italian peninsula. Now, lets say that you really don’t care that much for Florence, Sienna, Pisa and San Gimignano and really want to visit Paris. Well, then I would recommend to spend 9 days in Italy distributed between Rome and the Cinque Terre and then finish your trip in Paris. Lets say this is the way you want to go. This takes us to our second step. Planning your transportation.
I would recommend buying a regional pass with Eurail and use a clam style flight arriving at Rome and Departing from Paris. Travel sites like Kayak and apps like Hipmunk to get the very best flight for you. Now lets get to the train pass first:
A Europe Rail Pass lets you travel within a specific time frame everywhere you can and want in the country of your preference (that is affiliated to the pass). It works as follows: You choose the amount of days and countries you would like to visit and use the rail pass in. Lets say you choose 4 days for France and Italy (which I would recommend for this particular trip), this means you can use your pass in four different days for as many times as you want in a 2 month span.
This is different in other countries, never mistake the JR pass in Japan for Eurail as the JR Pass is usually for continuous days and the Eurail isn’t. Now, with the pass in hand you are ready to buy your plane ticket.
Hipmunk is an excellent website (app) as it lets you choose the best option for your price, including amenities, scheduled stops, etc. Another website that I regularly use is Kayak as it compares prices with all the major travel agency sites on the web. Once you get the best price and buy your ticket you have ended the preliminary stages of planning your trip. It’s very important that before you buy a ticket for your trip you consider the easiness that the desired airport/city presentes to you in relation to the other places you plan on visiting. Some airlines fly to nearby airports such as Girona a full hour away from the city of Barcelona that requieres a train ticket that is usually around 30 Euros. This extra price may not be too much but the hassle of having to travel another hour to get to the city after a 10 hour flight with your baggage is something that can’t be valued. Save yourself this kind of troubles and do your research. Budget flights usually have these kinds of asterisks to their deals.
Next week we’ll talk about the second step in your planning related to hotel search and how to choose between tour guides or guide books to get the best experience possible. Voila!
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Posted on July 17, 2012, in Travel and tagged Asia, Best Deals in Travel, Eurail, Europe, Flights, JR pass, Planning Your Trip, Train, Travel Sites, Travel Tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.