Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Spend a Year Planning for the Trip of a Lifetime

We all have our list of foreign destinations we’d love to visit.  Along with it, most people attach a list of excuses why they can’t take the trip.  But whether it’s the finances, a lack of free time, or uncertainty regarding the ultimate level of satisfaction derived from the experience, the ostensible roadblocks can almost always be removed with the right amount of planning.

If you have doubts that go along with your dream destination, take one full year to plan accordingly.  By adhering to the following steps, you’ll soon discover that your outrageous travel plans are surprisingly possible and certainly affordable:

Step one (12-10 months before departure): Pick three potential destinations.  Don’t focus on one specific place just yet, as variables may ultimately disqualify that choice.  Instead, decide on one ideal travel destination as well as two alternates.

Step two (11-9 months before departure):  Start acquiring airline miles.  If you don’t already own a credit card with a miles bonus, get one through a credit card company you already do business with.  Capital One Venture, for example, is a great miles deal for folks already working with the bank.

Step three (10-8 months before departure): Narrow your choices down to two.  Start researching flight prices as well as any and all caveats that may come along with using credit cards with no foreign transaction fee in these places.   Before making the final choice, find out how much each costs.

Step four (9-7 months before departure): Establish a travel savings fund.  Start putting money for your trip away.  Instead of simply slipping it into your ordinary savings, establish a unique account.  It makes your upcoming travel plans more official, which increases the chances of them coming to fruition.

Step five (8-6 months before departure):  Pick your destination.  You’ve done the research and crunched the numbers.  You may be no finance major, but your conclusions are undoubtedly reliable enough to base your decision on.   With that said, do not “settle” on a destination – pick the one you want the most.

Step six (7-5 months before departure): Learn the language basics.  The pleasure of your experience will increase tenfold if you take the time to understand the native language if it’s not your own. Directions will make more sense, service will be much more concise, and people will be more polite.

Step seven (6-4 months before departure): Collect sight-seeing ideas.  Research in detail your destination.  Don’t just follow the game plan of some traveller on TV, take the time to find the various locales, restaurants, and shops that you feel are worth visiting.  Consult the unending array of online advice for travellers, such as this blog, for unique and out-of-the-way ideas.

Step eight (5-3 months before departure): Book your flight(s) and hotel reservations, and apply for your passport.  Six to nine months of building up airline miles with your credit card should result in a fair sized chunk of your travel costs being covered.  In addition, three to five months before your arrival is the ideal time to confirm hotel bookings in popular destinations, especially if you plan on traveling during peak tourist season.

Step nine (4 to 2 months before departure): Get into shape.  Your vacation won’t be any fun if going up a single flight of stairs has you winded and looking for a place to sit down.  Increased exercise will not only make you feel better, it’ll also make you look better in those photos you will show your family.

Step ten (3 to 1 months before departure): Wrap up plans and prepare to depart!  If your passport application was rejected, then six to eight weeks is plenty of time to re-apply.  If some aspect of your plans must change, there’s time to do so.  Don’t forget to pay your taxes with a  free IRS efile and be sure to get travel insurance too. By doing the aforementioned months in advance, you allow yourself plenty of time as you near your trip to take care of any and all unexpected factors at play.

Almost all of us wish to see the world, but very few of us are able to climb out of our sea of excuses to make it happen.  However, chances are good that your seemingly impossible travel plans are perfectly practical so long as you give yourself plenty of time to prepare.  Spending a year on arrangements is a small price to pay when we’re talking about the trip of your lifetime.

Welcome to BE ON THE ROAD Travel Blog! I am Sankara, its founder, a 30 something male from Bangalore who is living his dream of exploring the world and simultaneously trying to inspire others to live their dream.
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