Phase 1: The Plan

Planning a big trip can be extremely overwhelming for first timers. I’ve been doing this for awhile, so a conversation with my younger brother helped remind me just how much there is to consider when you don’t even know where to start! However, it’s pretty simple for step one: you need to pick a place!

Any place could work: a continent, a country, a city, or just a specific site to see. The important part is that you feel drawn there- don’t just go somewhere because you can or because you’ve ‘heard good things.’  Make sure that planning a trip gets you to where you need to go. Big trips are for the soul, not for a vacation. Big trips, a few weeks to months, are not relaxing. I would stretch to even call them work. A full time job of soul searching, math (!), consistent physical labor, and some awkward situations. Of course, it all depends on the person you are and the people you surround yourself with.

The type of people you’ll meet, the prices you’ll pay, and the types of experiences you have will depend on you and where you go. Hate the beach? Don’t go to the coast. Despise busy cities? Please, don’t go to New York City. Take into consideration the atmospheres that make you feel the most happy. If you’re a hiker, try out a mountainous location. If you’re into sunshine, avoid snow and winter temperatures!

Staying organized is a must for comparing prices, dates, and options! If the absolutely perfect hostel/home stay location is booked- it may be worth it to simply change your dates. I’ve never stayed in a location for more than 2 weeks while traveling. I enjoy the variety of different accommodations, people, and vibes which only certain places can provide. If you ask, many places often provide discounts for longer stays- like booking a week all in one. However, I advise against this if you’ve never set foot on the location before. Some places look amazing online and prove to be scary-as-all-hell upon arrival.

Some important, but often overlooked, things to consider when choosing a travel destination are the walk-ability, perceived tourist level, and nightlife. Maybe you want to party every night, so, you find a party city with a bar in your hostel’s basement. Well… that is going to be LOUD, and different cultures deal with going out and nightlife differently. You may hate the party scene but end up committed to staying. If you decide to throw yourself out into the woods or rural environment, you may end up with no transportation and very bored. Again, you may want to escape it all and feel trapped in the woods- perfectly acceptable, but know what you’re signing up for! Tourist attractions and major cities draw huge crowds of tourists and  locals alike. Don’t necessarily try to avoid tourist areas! These became tourist draws for a reason! But, don’t take that as the full experience- go off the path (safely!) to see what else you can find. There is nothing quite like wandering too far away from a street fair to end up playing soccer with some kids in an alley.

The simple task of finding something to draw your soul in is a hard task for some. Their heartstrings pull them everywhere all at once- and maybe that works for you, traveling the world all in one go. Let the culture, food, weather, sights, and opportunity guide you. However, you don’t have to do it all at once. Simply taking a trip to Europe does not mean that you have to backpack the entirety of Europe. But, once people arrive, they realize it is very easy and fairly cheap to go from country to country, making it an even more exciting and fulfilling trip.

You don’t need to pick a place, go directly there, stay for a week in one hostel, and then go home. Please, let yourself float with the waves of opportunity and excitement as they come to you- never abandon your desire just because you’ve landed in a comfortable situation (whether that means a fantastic place you never want to leave, or the fear from how horrible your first stay is that you can’t imagine even trying another one).

Here are some of my favorite links to help you out!

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