Sometimes when the travel bug bites, you don’t feel pulled in any one direction. This can prove to be a fantastic opportunity. To plan a trip from scratch, meaning with no destination in mind, can be a beautiful thing. Picking a destination through throwing out a wide net and finding what deals are out there is a great way to start planning a trip you may not have been able to imagine before. I’ve tried this tactic a few times with amazing results. This is actually how I planned my trip to North Carolina earlier this summer. Below you can find my top ten tips for completely planning a trip from scratch:
- Budget, Budget, Budget: This may be a boring first step, but it’s necessary. Set a budget for how much you want to spend on your airfare and hotels to help narrow your options. I’m not saying you should shoot for budget travel, but just try spend within your means or credit card limits.
- Explore your options: Use the Kayak Explore function, or something like it, and see where you can go within your budget. You can put in your home airport and check flights to anywhere. Don’t rule out a road trip! Check mileage with google maps or try roadtrippers.com to help plan the ultimate road trip to wherever you choose.
- See what each option has to offer: Once you have options, check out the attractions in the area to see which you find most appealing. I like to use Pinterest to have good visuals and links to the top lists of attractions in each list.
- Check Transit: Another thing to check before making any decisions is your destinations transportation options. Is it a walkable city? Is there public transportation? Will you need to rent a car? And those are all things to think about budget-wise, as well.
- Lodging: Check hotel prices in the area. I like to use Tripadvisor for reviews and pricing, but I also use websites like Livingsocial or Groupon to find any deals on hotel rooms. Trivago and TravelZoo also have good deals to be found.
- Ulterior Lodging Options: If the hotel prices are too high for your budget, take a gander at Airbnb or check out if there are any hostels in the area. For me, hostels are always a great budget option with great locations.
- Book it!: Once everything fits the way you want it to (locations, prices, attractions), start booking! I usually book airfare, then hotel and finally choose any additional events or attractions (tours, boat cruises…) later on.
- Take note: Be sure to write down all of your important dates and times, as well as cancellation dates to avoid charges should you need to cancel any portion of your travels. Having all the details in one place will help you keep organized.
- Loose Itinerary: Make a rough plan of things you want to do while you’re there. You should make sure to take note of any special events happening in the area or days certain attractions may be closed.
- ENJOY!: You planned this whole trip from start to end and you deserve to enjoy every minute of it. Don’t forget to relax and take in all the amazing details. You earned it.
What are your best tips for planning a trip from scratch? Where have you gone with these tips?