I spent a lot of my free time last year organising my 10-week trip around Australia. I covered over 6000km, visited 5 states and saw approximately 7 million spiders, so I got a lot of ground covered. I’m pretty good at planning if I do say so myself. This is a quick guide to all the things you need to cover when organising a big trip (that isn’t part of a guided tour or staying the same place for two weeks), and although it isn’t a complete step-by-step, it will give you a starting point to planning your perfect adventure.
CHOOSE A PLACE/COUNTRY: The first thing to do is actually decide where you want to go. I know it sounds silly, but I took so long deciding where I wanted to go and which places were the most important to me. While I did want to go back to America again, I realised that maybe it was time to try a totally new country – one which I knew plenty about but had never visited. So, Australia it was. Keep in mind where you’ll be able to get visas or visa-waivers for, as this can be limiting as to where you can go, what you can do there and how long you can stay for. Once you’ve picked your place, stick to it.
DO YOUR RESEARCH: Once you’ve picked your place, find out everything you can about it: the best places to go, where to stay, cities to visit, activities to do. Is it a hiking town? Is it a shopping city? Is it right by the beach? Have a look and see what you can find out, and tap your friends and family who may have been there for suggestions. Head to the local library and grab a guidebook, or have a quick look on Google. Make a note of all the things that sound good to you and write down a big long list of everything that you want to do.
SEASONS: When’s the best time of year to visit your chosen place? Bear in mind the differences between the north and south hemispheres. For example, in Sydney right now it’s winter, but back at home in the UK, it’s the middle of summer and it’s scorching hot.
ROUGH COSTS: I’m afraid this is the boring part: figuring out how much all this is going to cost. Think of all the things you’ll have to pay for – some of the most important ones are listed below:
- Hotels and hostels
- Transport (how much will your flights be? will you be renting a car? Or getting the Greyhound? Or just public transport?)
- Food and drinks
- Any visas that you’ll need to pay for
Add this all up, add on an emergency fund for anything that may come up. This will form the basis of your budget, but this list isn’t exhaustive. If you’re a souvenir-buyer like me, budget in some cash to spend on all your bits and pieces you like to collect along the way (I like to collect patches as they’re generally pretty cheap and don’t take up a lot of room in the bag).
The Fun Part
SORT IT ALL OUT: Now it’s time to actually sort all of this out into a proper plan – yay! Pick a start point and an end point and then plot out all the little bits in the middle. Figure out your route and make sure it actually makes sense. For example, if you’re travelling the Aussie East Coast heading north, there’s no point booking in a Fraser Island trip before you’ve been to Noosa, as you’ll just have to go back on yourself. If you’re not sure which order to do everything, ask any mates who’ve previously done it, or have a look at your favourite travel bloggers – we’ll have collectively tried and tested every route option physically possible so you’ll get a good idea as to what works.
BOOK THE IMPORTANT THINGS: If you want to make sure you’ve got some things sorted for when you arrive to it’s not quite so daunting, think about booking in some of your activities. When I did the Aussie East Coast (tell me when you’re tired of me saying that. Wait, you’re tired already? Oh, no…) I booked in pretty much all of my activities and things like the Whitsundays cruise and the Fraser Island tour and a whole host of other things I wanted to do. It’s a good idea to do this if you’re going in peak season, otherwise you may not be guaranteed a place if it’s all booked up. We don’t want that.
WORK ON YOUR SAVINGS GOAL: The most boring part about this whole thing is definitely the saving money part. Once you’ve figured out your goal (if you skipped my part about budgeting just scroll up a little), really stick to it. Don’t expect some money to magically appear out of thin air. Don’t expect some very, very obscure person you’ve never met to leave you $100000, because it ain’t gonna happen.
So, that’s pretty much it. Obviously this is a very condensed and very not-at-all exhaustive list of the things you need to do to get ready for a big, self-organised trip, but hopefully this has given you some kind of launch pad. Happy planning!