Does your bucket list trip seem like an impossible fantasy? It’s time to make a detailed game plan that will bridge the gap between dreams and reality. The most ambitious trips are possible with a solid game plan. In some cases, approaching the process is much like starting a business in that it requires detailed financial analysis and timeline planning.
Here’s exactly how to plan a trip, step-by-step from start to finish.
1. Start with the Big Idea
Start with a single trip and write it down like a headline on a piece of paper. This is your big idea and the trip you are dying to do next. On a separate piece of paper, write down all of your dream trips. This second paper acts more like a dream list or list of travel goals. You can simply lay them out, or prioritize and leave room for basic notes.
Now that you have the big idea on paper, it’s time to nail down specifics and get to the nitty gritty planning phase.
2. Build a Budget and Plan Your Gear
How much will this cost and how will I set aside the time? These are the two major hurdles to any big trip and they are both solvable although it will require some time to save and plan out the time for most people. Start by researching and itemizing the costs for flights, lodging, activities, and food. These are your primary costs and you should use the higher estimated numbers found through research. Also, look for potential deals and ways to cut down these costs (travel hacking is an option!) while researching—save those alternative numbers.
Gear costs are also an important consideration and skimping on gear is not advisable. Purchasing quality gear that will last for many trips however, will ultimately spread the upfront costs out across a range of experiences. For example, the Global Companion 40L travel pack can handle flights and travel across every single continent, making it a bag for life. The Pack-It Specter Set Compression Cubes will also save space and make it possible to pack more gear in fewer bags, streamlining your setup. Make a list of gear required and do an inventory of existing equipment to cut down costs. If you really need to save, consider borrowing or shopping for used deals on quality gear to make the trip happen.
Add up the total costs and set a timeline for the trip. When will you depart? Now you know how much is needed to make it happen. With this knowledge, you can build a monthly savings plan and buy the ticket in advance to save money.
3. Time to Sacrifice and Save
Now you have a cost analysis and it’s time to set aside the cash. Set up a travel specific savings account and dedicate yourself to filling the account with the predetermined monthly savings needed to make the trip a reality. Saving for travel often requires sacrifices, but the juice is worth the squeeze. Stop eating out, start a side hustle, sell old gear, etc. It’s time to get real and put aside the money.
4. Make it Real
When I decided to drive the Pan American highway from the United States to Chile, I floated the idea to family and friends. The feedback wasn’t always positive, but I wasn’t seeking advice or support. I was simply bringing the idea into the real world to make it a real possibility. I started a blog, wrote about my trip plans, and pushed hard to bring it full circle. Don’t be afraid of failure. Say it out loud and pursue your travel dreams.
5. Pull the Trigger
You’ve planned, saved and made the sacrifices. When the time comes, take the first step forward and smile because you’ve earned this trip.
Planning for travel is all part of the gratifying experience of traveling the world and building a life filled with great stories. Now that you have a process in place, working through that list of dream trips is entirely possible.
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