Trip journal and vacation planning tips

So you are aching to get away and go on vacation or long adventure… You are dreaming of distant countries, palms, sea or mountains. You are ready to take your dreams further and go ahead on a new journey. But where to start? How to put it all together? Planning a long trip or vacation can be a daunting task. What is step one? Step two, three?

I’ve put together a digital travel planner, which will help you to plan your next journey and not miss a thing. It also will guide you and help to document your travel experience.

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First things first

Decide where you want to go. You might have a vague idea, but when you’ll have the exact destination in mind, your trip becomes more concrete and easier to plan. You’ll have a goal to go to.

Browse through Pinterest or travel blogs to determine your next destination. I also like to check out places on Instagram. Once I have country or city in mind, I browse on Instagram using place tags to see what’s out there in practically real time.

Trip planner cover

Decide the length of your trip

When you’ll establish the number of days you want to spend in the particular country, you would be able to figure out how much money you’ll need for the trip. This brings us to the next step:

Costs research

Write down the basic costs like transportation and accommodation. Those two will take the biggest chunk of your budget.

Research the transportation options. How you’ll get to the destination country and what transport you’ll use between the cities or sights you want to visit.

Write down the details of the hotel or apartment you’ll stay in each city.

Calculate the main costs.

Transportation and accommodation pages

To do before the trip

So now that you have an approximate minimum of costs, you know how much you need to save or earn. Add to that number the average daily amount for food and activities. You’ll be able to find that info on Numbeo.

The information there is not exact and just for familiarization purposes. But the numbers will give you an idea on how much you may expect to spent day to day.

Also, decide on what you need to do before the trip. Stuff like get a visa (if it needed for your country of origin), to buy suitcase or travel accessories. Maybe you’ll need to purchase a new swimsuit, sunglasses etc. Also, research about ATM cards. Sometimes it might be a real trouble to use your bank services abroad since you need to notify the bank every time you leave the country. There are other alternative ATM cards available that is much more abroad friendly. I ordered Revolut and Payoneer cards that make my life much much easier. They worked perfectly in each country I’ve been to.

If you have pets, make sure to find someone to look after them in advance. It might not be an issue for some people of course 😃

To do before the trip

Brainstorming. Research what you want to see, do and try on your trip.

Create a list of activities. Write down major sights you want to see in each city you’ll visit. Also, mark how much it’ll cost to ensure you have enough money.

Now that you know how many days you’ll spend in each city and have a list of activities, jump to calendar section and spread out things you want to do on each day. Usually, you’ll be able to see 1-2 main sights per day. With no rush, it's much more fun. This strategy will help you to make sure that you’ll be able to visit all the main sights you want and not miss anything important.

Plan your activities

FREEBIE

If you are not ready to switch to digital journals and like to use paper versions, here are a Free printables for you.

Transportation and accommodation planning, Activities list, To do before trip and Calendar pages. Those are 22 cm x 21 cm PDFs and will be ideal for standard Travelers notebook. Download PDFs, print and insert into your journal.

Book your flight and accommodations.

After you’ve made a research and planned your dream vacation, it’s time to go ahead and book your flight and accommodations. For the best flight deals, you might want to consider to book tickets 1-2 months in advance. But, keep in mind that sometimes there are last minute deals available, which might cost cheaper. Also, if you do not have an exact date in mind, you can find more appealing deals. Because the days of the week matters, check the flights for each day, the price might differ significantly. Usually, the flights on Thursday and Friday are considered to be the cheapest for international departures. But it’s not always a rule. We found the flight to Barcelona on Monday two times cheaper than on Tuesday. So be flexible with your departure date and research flights on different days of the week.

Sites where to find the best deals:

- Google flights

- Skyscanner

When it comes to accommodations overseas, I absolutely love Airbnb. They have great deals, real apartments and, incredible customer service. One time, we booked the place that was available, only to find out that it was in fact rented on our dates. The cancellation policy was strict and if we canceled the reservation as the host asked us to, we wouldn't have the money back. So we wrote to Airbnb customer support for advice. They dealt with the situation in a matter of hours and refund us all the money. So it’s fair to say that Airbnb is a safe place to book your accommodation, but you need to be cautious and read reviews. Also, message a host before making an instant booking to double check if apartment available (that's what we do from now on).

If I'm looking for a hotel room (which in some cases might be cheaper then renting an apartment, I go to agoda.com. Many times I found deals there much more appealing then on booking.com. I also like to read the reviews about a certain hotel on TripAdvisor. There are real photos from real travelers there, so you’ll have up to date info regarding a room appearance and state.

If you are okay with booking your accommodation just a couple of days before arrival, check out those websites:

roomertravel

cancelon

They list accommodations from people who’ve made a late cancellation or couldn't get a refund and want to get at least some money back. Those deals will allow you to score rooms for a reduced price.

Enjoy your trip

Grab your travel journal and enjoy your dream vacation. In this post, I give a list of ideas for travel journal entries.

Gather the best trip moments and create the timeline with photos and your captions. Fun way to summarize your dream vacation.

Daily log
Best trip moments

To make this travel planner more convenient to use, I’ve made the Contents spread. You can go to needed category of the planner from any page you are on (those slots are clickable). Keep Notes and write down your Ideas during research phase or while on the trip.

Contents. Notes & Ideas

Customize clickable tabs that linked to the empty spreads. Fill those out with stuff that you might find useful. Like Packing list, Bucket list etc.

Empty spread

Happy travel planning and journaling!

P.S. Spain stickers I used in the journal.

Talk to you soon,

Kate

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