25 Great Tips For Planning Your Trip From Top Travel Bloggers

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Travel bloggers are, by their nature, a globetrotting bunch. Along the way from Cairo to Copenhagen, or Dubai to Denver, they’ve learned some great tips for navigating the world of travel.

We asked some of the worlds top travel bloggers to share their travel tips for getting started on a trip. They dish their best tips on everything from planning and packing to saving money on flights.

Hiking Boots by Ben Heine

Photo by Ben Heine

Planning

Be flexible. When traveling, always allow room for changes in your schedule. Do this by having an open plan for the day, week or month. Make it a point to see something you would like, but don’t cram a lot of things immediately around it. This gives you time to see what you want, possibly more, and without being forced to leave too soon. I know that its happened to me personally and to most everybody I know. We try to fit in too many things and skip out on going on a random adventure or never fully embracing a place.

Pablo from Where’s Pablo. Twitter: @WheresP

Be open to unpredictability. Most types of travel (especially Independent travel) are unpredictable. Just go – and don’t try to plan out all the details!

David Thompson from Dave’s Travel Corner. Twitter: @DaveDTC

Don’t overplan. I often get asked: how much to plan and how much to leave to chance? I recommend starting with a few big activities to design a big trip around. Then, book travel to and from the destinations and the first night’s hotel. Everything else, I recommend leaving to when in-country. It’s tempting to plan more, but with the knowledge that there are usually other travelers or local guides, ATMs, and transportation – and now wifi – wherever you are going, all can be worked out. Over plan and the serendipity of travel may not have room to come into the schedule.

Kristin from Take Your Big Trip. Twitter: @takeyourbigtrip 

Don’t worry. I have found this out on my own through a lot of traveling and overseas experience — fear is often blown out of proportion when it comes to discussing certain countries. Whether it’s fear of the unknown, fear of logistics once you arrive, or fear from media reports. Even countries that are marked as ”dangerous” often have certain regions that are safe to visit.

David Thompson from Dave’s Travel Corner. Twitter: @DaveDTC

Camera and Passport by Patrick Ng

Photo by Patrick Ng

Be prepared. Commit your family’s passport numbers (and expiry dates) to memory. It makes filling out immigration arrival cards so much quicker and easier.

Bethaney from Flashpacker Family. Twitter: @FlashpackerFam

Plan for the unexpected. When planning a trip, jot down the top 2 or 3 things you want to be sure to do on your travels, and then build in some flexibility for unexpected opportunities that crop up. You might find out about a great day trip or learn about a festival or market you want to go to. It is often these unplanned for activities that end up being the best part of your trip.

Travis Ball from FlashPackerHQ. Twitter: @flashpackerhq

Get in the know. Set up Google Alerts for the cities or countries that you will be visiting next so you can get updated on the news of what’s going on. Instead of searching for information, let it come to you.

Mig Pascual from Curious Nomad. Twitter: @CuriousNomad

Saving Money

Do The Research. Though you can always find great deals when you are actually face-to-face in a place, we’ve found that doing the online research beforehand has prevented us from a lot of undue stress. Online research helps us know approximate costs so we don’t get ripped off. Online research helps us know the key places we’ll want to visit and the different options of how to get there. Again, we usually close deals when we arrive, but knowing what to expect, what the most common scams are, and what I’m looking for, has helped us create more positive travel experiences.

Jacob at Holiday Buzzed. Twitter: @holidaybuzzed

Shop for flights three months to a year in advance. If you are looking for summer airfares in early June, start looking as early as the year before. Before seats fill up, airlines are often willing to offer their best deals to early customers.

Noel Morata. Twitter: @aplantfanatic

Use social sites for savings. A few months beforehand, sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial, and other deal sites in the locations where you’ll be traveling. Keep an eye out for things that you’d like to do. Once you find a deal you might like, do your research – check Urbanspoon, etc. for real reviews. If it looks good, buy it! This is a fun way to learn about an area – and forestall some on-the-spot decision-making when you’re hungry or the kids are bored. We’ve gotten coupons for laser tag, meals, coffee shops, museums, and stores. We’ve also discovered some pretty great restaurants which would not have been on our radar.

Dr. Jessica Voigts from Wandering Educators. Twitter: @WanderingEds 

Look for one seat.  Even if you are flying with more than one person, searching for two seats will give you the lowest seat price for two seats together. Looking for one seat will give you the cheapest seat available.

Noel Morata. Twitter: @aplantfanatic

Check Out The Low Cost Air Carriers Often. We’ve been in South East Asia for over a year now. We constantly check and recheck Air Asia, Cebu Air, and other low cost carriers and often find these amazing deals which dictate our next home. Because flying within South East Asia is so cheap already and there are so many local airlines competing, they will send you deals that are literally cheaper than bus fair. Sign up for their notifications and you’ll be amazing how you can hop from country to country (if you are flexible with your dates) for a fraction of the expected price.

Kobi at Lovely Travel. Twitter: @mylovelytravel

Fly midweek. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly. Pay attention to the restrictions for many of the airfare sales as you can find the best deals on these days.

Noel Morata. Twitter: @aplantfanatic

Use Priceline’s Name Your Own Price. I have been able to save well over $1000 just in the past year using this site for hotel discounts. The key is to take an hour or two to really do some research and understand the bidding strategy beforehand. Find the area that you want to stay and determine your own budget. Then open up Priceline.com and Hotwire.com to compare and contrast areas, pricing and amenities. Next, go right to a site like BiddingForTravel or BetterBidding and peruse the message boards, you can usually get a good indication of what bids are being accepted. From there, start your bidding, one zone at a time until you get the hotel you were looking for. Most of the time I can narrow it down between 1-2 hotels before I start bidding so it’s not really a surprise once my bid is accepted.

Liz Froment from Two Weeks to Travel. Twitter: @LFroment

Sign up for Airfare alerts. If you know your destination or when you want to fly, sign up for airfares deal from your departure city. Each airline will send you the latest airfares sales and alerts via email.

Noel Morata. Twitter: @aplantfanatic

Go for free. There are many ways to see sights for free. You can get many free city walking tours worldwide, and museums are often free during off-peak hours. Other museums are based on donations and plenty museums cost nothing to begin with. Art galleries are usually free (and, if you happen to arrive during an opening, you might get a glass of wine too). Parks and nature spots are usually free of charge.

Inma Gregorio from A World to Travel. Twitter: @aworldtotravel1 

Save on airfare. As perpetual travelers, airfares are our biggest expense. So we always try to search for the best online deals. There are two URLs you should keep in mind when looking for cheap deals: Skyscanner & Kayak Explore. Kayak Explore is a great page if you are flexible on the areas you want to travel. For example; If you know you want to travel to South America but are not sure which country, Explore will show you the cost of all flights from your home town to the area of interest. It makes it a lot easier to choose the location when you can compare all flight costs on the same screen. Skycanner is great if you know the location you are traveling to. They compare all the major booking airlines and sites to find you the cheapest flight to your chosen destination. This saves a lot of time comparing costs on each individual airline.

Nicole & Michael from Suitcase Stories. Twitter: @suitcases2

Is there an app for that? My husband and I were preparing for an African safari, a real bucket list trip. We found out at the last minute that passport-size pictures were required for our visa to Tanzania. How fortunate we were to find out that there is a free, instant app for that.  ID PhotoPrint is an app (available for iPhone, iPad and IPod Touch that provides an on-screen template that allows you to take perfect 2×2 passport-size photos.

Irene S. Levine from More Time To Travel. Twitter: @MoreTime2Travel

Packing

Don’t overpack. No matter how long you’re trip, packing light is key! To maximize your clothing options, choose long lasting items that you enjoy wearing and that can be worn in a variety of settings. Plan to mix and match to ensure that your wardrobe goes a long way and use packing cubes to fit more in less space. Never pack “just in case” items and know that you can buy practically anything you may need along the way. Above all, try not to over-plan. Learning along the way is all part of the process and the fun!

Alexandra Jimenez from Travel Fashion Girl. Twitter: @TravlFashnGirl

Save some room. Pack less than you think you’ll need (clothes, toiletries, etc.). You can re-wear some clothes or have them washed along the way and you can buy extra toiletries anywhere. Save some of that space for things you’ll want to bring back from your trip. Or, we take an extremely lightweight nylon duffle bag (like a gym bag) that rolls up smaller than a sausage. Then, on our trip, we put dirty clothes in the duffle and bring it back as an extra bag, saving room in the main luggage for souvenirs.

Laura and Lance from Travel Addicts. Twitter: @TravelerAddicts

Rolling saves space. When packing, roll your clothes tightly rather than fold them. They take up less space this way – not only that, but they won’t tend to be wrinkled as much that way, either. Stuff footwear with rolled up clothes, too, be it underwear, socks, or whatever. You might be pleasantly surprised by the extra space next time you pack!

Paul Johnson from A Luxury Travel Blog. Twitter: @luxury__travel

Keep it clean. Leave all of the possible use  items at home. This means stuff like your rain poncho, umbrella, headlamp, extra toiletries and so on. A lot of the time you won’t end up using them and more often than not you can buy those items wherever you are. This frees up space in your bag and gives you a smaller list of things to account for and worry about!.”

Pablo from Where’s Pablo. Twitter: @WheresP

Travel light. Both your knees and your back will thank you when you get older. If you forget something at home or need something while abroad – many places in the world will have what you need. I’ve had too many problems with luggage being lost or delayed in the past when I check it in at the airport. There are also security advantages to be in control of your possessions whenever possible. You can keep it with you in say a taxi (rather than putting it in the trunk) and generally keep it with you on buses.

David Thompson from Dave’s Travel Corner. Twitter: @DaveDTC

Split your stuff up. In packing for trips, we split pack everything. I carry half of all the clothes (both mine and my wife’s) and she carries the other half. We have had several instances where the airlines have misplaced one of our bags, but not the other. By splitting clothes, we both have something to wear for a few days until the rest of the luggage can (hopefully) catch up to us.

Laura and Lance from Travel Addicts. Twitter: @TravelerAddicts

Money and Safety

Wallet in back pocket save money by Laura Mason

Photo by Laura Mason

Cut it in half. The best travel tip I’ve heard (from multiple sources). Take only half of the stuff you originally planned on bringing and double the amount of money you had planned on. Nothing worse than shlepping a bunch of crap you don’t need halfway around the world or missing out on a great experience because you didn’t bring enough money.

Travis Ball from FlashPackerHQ. Twitter: @flashpackerhq

Double up. Get a second bank account, preferably one that offers ATM fee reimbursement around the world (Schwab, Fidelity in the U.S.). Now you have two ATM cards in case one is lost, stolen or won’t work, though obviously use the free withdrawals as your main card. Next, only keep a reasonable amount of money in that second account and occasionally transfer more as needed. This will limit any potential losses. Finally, keep the two cards stored in separate locations on your person or baggage.

Jeff Blum from Lengthy Travel. Twitter: @lengthytravel

Did you enjoy this post? We’ll be posting another article with some great tips from travel bloggers on how to get more out of your next trip soon. Sign up to get our posts in your email inbox so you won’t miss it.

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40 Responses

  1. Pablo

    Tons of great info in here! I always forget to tell people the rolling up clothes to save space thing. I’ve always done that and always forget to mention it.

    Awesome list, thank you for including me!
    Pablo recently posted..What’s Your Lemonade Stand?My Profile

    Reply
    • Charles Kosman

      Terry, I agree. We’re notorious under planners when it comes to our travels. Most days we have trouble committing to something more than a few weeks in the future. For us, one of the greatest things about living our lifestyle is freedom of choice. Sure, we do tons of research and get a good idea of what to see and do but we always leave our possibilities wide open.

      We’ve had some of our best adventures miles from where we thought we’d be and we wouldn’t have it any other way. When we plan too much it just stresses us out about having to be somewhere on a specific date. I can understand why some people feel the opposite though. They stress out when too much is left to chance. To each their own I say. 😉

      Reply
  2. Peter Lee

    A meaningful post ! Thanks for sharing this information as I needed it a lot. Actually, I am going to Singapore with my family by the end of this year.

    Reply
  3. shubhajit

    I also don’t believe in over-planning, because it makes thing sour. And things aren’t work the way you plan, especially in money matters. Stuff with too much electronics can also be cumbersome. Until you are professional photographer I believe there is no need to an extra bag for your camera. another thing is laptop and expensive gadget.

    Life is easier when travel light.

    Reply
  4. Kristin @ KEEN Digital Summit

    I think the traveling light bit is the most important tip a traveler can implement. It drives me crazy traveling with my family, who thinks they need two suitcases for a 10-day vacation! If it’s 10 days or less, you should *always* be able to pack in a carry-on.

    Reply
  5. Jess with2kidsintow

    Great tips! One thing we find helpful as a family of 4 is to jot down the pertinent info (including expiry dates) from our passports and put them all onto one business-sized card, then laminate it and keep it handy to pull out when filling out immigration forms. Also remember to inform your credit card company of your possible itinerary. If all of a sudden they see transactions from half-way around the world that are not ‘normal’ for you, they may freeze your account due to suspected fraud. Not a nice surprise for you! Lastly, don’t forget to get some travel insurance!
    Jess with2kidsintow recently posted..Bangkok With Kids: 5 Fun Things To Do On A BudgetMy Profile

    Reply
  6. Samantha

    Awesome tips! Definitely thought of by seasoned travelers but I still can’t make myself pack less than I think I need. I’m such an overpacker because I always think “Oh you’ll never know if I’ll need this” and of course I end up never using it and wasting space. Rolling is the way to go though for sure!
    Samantha recently posted..Costa Rican Coffee – The Gold Coffee BeansMy Profile

    Reply
  7. Laura

    Really great info!! There’s some things I didn’t think about that gave me some good ideas especially about packing clothes and how much to bring. I always have that issue if I’m bringing enough.
    Laura recently posted..What To Do In Cabo San LucasMy Profile

    Reply
  8. Gokhan

    Wrote everything down! I wish i could be able to start planning like this but i am really bad at it!

    Reply
  9. Jenny

    Great tips! We’ve just returned from a trip to Japan during the summer months – we expected more rain; luckily didn’t get hardly any, had a fabulous time – packed too much. I will never do that again because of all the stairs. We have decided packing light is the way to go, something warm, something light & something you can dress up. Really lets face it, how many clothes can you wear? So it is a lesson – don’t over pack and purchase items if need be. This article just confirmed my ideas on packing.

    Reply
  10. Angel

    Great tips… Thanks for sharing the wonderful information. Am sure it’ll be useful for all travellers

    Reply

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