Plan a trip can seem like both the most exciting and also the most overwhelming part of the trip. Creating a Pinterest board full of gorgeous images is fun, but then you start trying to figure out the actual logistics and it hits you… Oh god, it’s so much work.
But planning a trip doesn’t have to be a source of constant anxiety and overwhelm! Over the years, I’ve refined my trip planning process and boiled it down to a few simple steps.
With an emphasis on the importance of following an Ecotourism, I will teach you all of my tips. By the end of this guide, plan a trip will never be easier!
A responsible and conscious traveler is an informed traveler, which is why it’s important to consult guides, maps, blogs and forums from those who have been there before us.
Choosing the right destination
In general, both for travel in Europe and especially in other continents, before choosing a destination and plan the trip, it is essential to look for some useful information. History, culture, economy, nature, religion and cuisine in order to know all the aspects that may seem secondary to us, but which are very important in the country that will host us.
In some of them, for example, clothing is a factor of acceptance and integration: dressing in a summer clothes could be considered a cultural and/or religious offense, so it will be my priority to inform my clients of the cultural aspects they will encounter.
When I plan a trip, I make sure to first of all inform myself on what their needs and habits are. From dietary to physical to organizational.
Informing yourself is also important to avoid unforeseen events: have you ever left for a place believing that there was one type of weather, and as soon as you set foot there you realized that it was the opposite? I have: in the Canary Islands. I thought I was going somewhere seaside, my suitcase was crawling with bikinis and cover-ups. Once on the island, I had to adapt to polar temperatures, cold wind and even snow in Tenerife. The only solution was to restock my wardrobe in the local stores.
From agency to accommodation
And if choosing a destination isn’t easy and obvious, now really begins the most delicate phase of organizing your trip. Clearly it is not always easy to understand what is the best alternative to make our trip as responsible and sustainable as possible, but I will try to give you some useful advice even in the choice of hotels, transportation and tourist facilities.
Agency or trip DIY?
First of all, you have to decide if you want to rely on an agency or a tour operator, or if you prefer to do it on your own.
Relying on a professional that guarantees attention to sustainability can obviously be a help to save time and energy: by paying a small percentage more, you are sure to not have to think about anything except leaving and relaxing in a carefree mood.
To be truly green, a travel agency or tour operator must:
– Promote slow and conscious tourism.
– Reduce environmental impact and resource consumption.
– Never put respect for animals, plants and habitats on the back burner.
– Encourage the local economy.
– Rely on qualified local guides.
– Avoid tourist proposals in agreement with multinationals.
– Offer opportunities for cultural exchange and personal growth.
– Discourage mass tourism.
– Rely on experienced and competent staff.
– Offer clear and detailed information.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to organize the trip independently, keep in mind that, in addition to the destination and how to get there, you obviously have to take care of all the details, including the choice of accommodation, transportation, any insurance, passport control, etc…
Beware of visa and security arrangements!
Before leaving for any trip abroad, I recommend you visit the Travel.State.Gov website for accurate and up-to-date information on risk level, currency, religion, time zone, language, safety, climate, health and all the basic features of the country you intend to visit, which you can also conveniently download in the form of a card!
Then you need to check on any visa you need to apply for (sometimes in advance) to enter or visit the country. Usually it is issued immediately at customs, while in some cases you will have to apply online before leaving. Always consider the visa issue even for short stopovers or simple transits. In some countries, moreover, it is not a given that you will be able to obtain a tourist visa: check on the internet, on tourism sites, on the web page of the government of the country and if it is not enough call the consulate or embassy of your country.
Let’s talk about money
It is always necessary to get information from reliable sources about the accepted currencies and the official exchange rate, to avoid unpleasant surprises once you arrive at your destination. ATMs often have very high exchange rates, and banks in busy tourist areas do not exchange money except at certain times of day. It is advisable to always have a credit card or debit Visa or Mastercard, American Express is often not accepted in Italy.
Choosing where to sleep
There are many possibilities, including farmhouses, hotels, hostels, vacation homes, camping, 5-star hotels, lodges… in short, the basic principle to follow is always one:
If possible, choose facilities run by local people.
Not only will you save money, but you will be able to contribute directly to the development of the local economy and you will be in the heart of that community. Living with local people is a way to make new friends, learn about the local culture, taste the local specialties and immerse yourself in the life of the area.
However, if you opt for a hotel, a hostel or a lodge, check out the many sustainability certifications that are issued, based on different parameters (from waste disposal to energy saving, from ecological swimming pools to the plastic produced, to the food provided…). Online you can find many organizations that guarantee both high quality standards and a reduced environmental impact.
To sum up, try to choose local facilities, which help the environment and encourage the work of local people.
Once the destination has been chosen and the facility where to sleep has been selected, one last question remains… How do I get there?
This is a question not to be underestimated, especially when we are abroad. Distances are relative, in England 30 minutes of travel are very different from 30 minutes of travel in Italy. Consider that public transport really have different efficiency in different country. On google you will find a lot of useful information and answers about tickets, routes and costs, pay particular attention not to find yourself unprepared.
In my last article “How to travel Amalfi Coast” I explained very well what can be the problems and differences between the various types of transport.
Organize your days
Whether it’s short trips or long trips, time lost in the room doesn’t come back.
Having a detailed plan of all your vacation days can be really useful when you want to find out as much as possible about your destination. Personally, I always prefer to have a detailed plan of all the activities I’m going to do. BUT, I always leave half a day free to get carried away by Carpe Diem! You certainly can’t plan everything, especially on vacation!
The experiences found on portals like Expedia or Booking are varied. However always ask at the reception (if there is one) or online about experiences organized by local people.
Now that everything is planned… it’s time to pack!
On this point I just feel like giving you one piece of advice, travel light!
Overcrowded and heavy suitcases can really become a problem if you go to countries where there are no elevators. Coming from me, it sounds like a joke since I always take half of my house with me when I move.
I suggest you make a list of the things you think are necessary. Clearly, clothing and equipment will vary depending on the season, the type of trip, the activities you will be doing and the country you will be visiting.
All you have to do is get started!
I have shown you all the steps to organize the perfect trip. It is a very useful guide to not forget the essential steps and to be a responsible and aware ecotourist.
Start choosing your destination, if you have any questions for me, you can safely leave your comment below the article: I will personally answer you!
See you soon, 💗
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