How to Plan an Epic Trip: Part I

View from airplane window

So you want to travel. But where? When? How?

You know you want it to be epic, but the rest of the details – not a clue.

This is where I am here to help. I am a self taught, trip planning expert. Why? Because I have single-handedly planned almost any type of trip you can imagine – from the last minute beach escape to months-of-planning mountain top treks. References available upon request.

When it comes to trip planning there is actually a lot to consider. Especially if you want it to be epic and you don’t have an unlimited amount of time. This post is part of a series that I will take you through on how to plan and book an amazing trip and how to avoid common mistakes. Part I is all about getting the basics figured out. Where will you go, when and for how long as well as some tips for prepping for Part II – more on this later.

Decide When and Where to Go

This part of trip planning is a bit like the old saying “what came first, the chicken or the egg”? The reason is that if you know where you want to go for sure, then you need to consider the best time of year to go there. On the other hand, if you know you want to go away during a specific time (February let’s say) then you need to decide where the best places are to travel in February.

For the first scenario, when you know WHERE you want to go, here are some things to consider. For example, let’s say you have always dreamed of going to Peru to hike the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu. Great! Sounds like an amazing trip! But maybe not so great if you go at the wrong time of year. In this case the first thing you should do is look up the CLIMATE (long term average weather trends) of the region you are visiting. Be sure to be specific since climates can be significantly different in different parts of a country. When looking at climate information there are two key things I always consider – temperature (not too hot, not too cold, just right!), and precipitation (how much or little it rains at that time of year). A third thing to look for is storms. For example it is well known that travelling to Florida and parts of the Caribbean in the fall can be risky because hurricane season is during this time (highest between August and October). One last thing to consider with choosing timing is whether or not there are any well known events that might affect your trip or whether it is a time of year where certain things typically shut down. These things don’t mean you can’t go, it is just better to have a heads up when deciding. Going back to our Peru example, the Inca trail often closes for maintenance in February, so maybe avoid that month!

Now, if you find yourself in the other situation where you know WHEN your epic adventure is happening but not sure where, you have several options. Once you know when, you have a ton of options to consider, and can choose your destination based on many things such as: season/weather, special events, natural phenomenon, cultural significance, price, availability, and the list goes on. For example, if you’re travelling in October you might decide to go to Munich in Germany so you can take part in Oktoberfest! I have done this and it is truly epic, especially if you enjoy beer, soft pretzels and apple strudel. On the other hand you might decide that you want to escape crowds and visit the French countryside. It really is totally up to you – pretty great huh?

How Long Will You Go?

How long will you be gone? If you answered “As long as I can! Forever maybe” then you and I will get along just fine. The problem is that often we don’t have unlimited time (or money) to travel so we have to make choices. Sometimes you don’t have much choice – your boss won’t let you take more than 2 weeks. In this case you only really decide whether you’ll go for two full weeks or something less. In some cases we may have the time and freedom to travel for a long time but not the money. In most cases, it is some combination of the two.

If you have the flexibility, I suggest you take as much time as you can to really explore and connect with the places you’re visiting. There are a ton of great guides and resources on how to travel without going broke, here are just a few:

Broke Backpacker:

Travel Hacking (Chris Guillebeau):

Nomadic Matt:

One easy way to figure out how much time to spend is to do some research into the things you want to do and see while you’re there. If you want to go on a 5 day scuba diving expedition AND a 5 day jungle trek, then you should plan to spend at least 12-14 days at your destination – if not more so you can rest, explore local sites and don’t forget travel days!

What’s Next?

So, by now you should have an idea of where you’re going, when you will go there, and for how long. Now for the hard part….

Join me for Part II: Booking, Scheduling and Planning for an Epic Trip! COMING SOON!

I want to hear from you!

Have you enjoyed planning your travel or would you rather have someone take care of it for you?


~ Earthly Traveller

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