Planning your trip can be a real headache especially if you want to have a seamless and hassle-free vacation.
I remember when I was still teaching English in Vietnam my students asked me like “Teacher, how do you usually plan your travels?”.
So, I thought why not share it on my blog so you can also get some tips based on my experience.
Well, actually there’s no perfect way to plan your vacation but doing these steps will help you to have a less hassle journey. Here are my 10 easy steps on how I plan my travels.
Step 1: Choose the destination
When I pick a destination I would normally check the best time to go there like the weather especially in Southeast Asia. Countries like Thailand or the Philippines just have two seasons, wet and dry. I bet you don’t like to go out when it’s raining, right?
Then, I do a quick search of the airfare and hotel prices to check the possible cost if I can actually afford that place.
I also like to avoid going to a place where there’s a holiday event like Tet Holiday or Vietnamese New Year as prices of everything at that time are mostly expensive.
If you’re still struggling to decide where to go, check my destinations page to get some inspirations.
Step 2: Book a flight not too early and not too late
If you ask me when is the perfect time to book a flight, well, I think at least 2 – 3 months before your planned trip.
If you book too early, chances are the seats are still on its regular price. But it actually also depends on the season. During peak seasons, normally the prices don’t change a lot. And every airline is different.
I check the best deals at Skyscanner and Traveloka. These are the two of my favorite flight search engines because it covers most airlines including budget airlines like AirAsia, VietJet or Cebu Pacific. These are the most popular budget airlines in Southeast Asia.
Step 3: Book accommodation early
I like to book my accommodation as early as possible. Booking websites like Booking.com and Agoda are my choice for affordable hotels and hostels.
They also have features where you can book your accommodations now and pay later or at the property. Just don’t forget to cancel your booking 3 days before arrival or depending on your accommodation if ever you change your mind.
If you like to feel like a local and stay in a house or a rental apartment,
Many cities offers a vast array of accommodation in different areas. Bangkok, for example is a huge mega city. Finding where to stay in a place can be overwhelming. Always check whether if it’s good for you to stay in the city center or a little bit far to avoid costly hotels.
Step 4: Research.. research .. research..
I can’t stress that enough but researching your destination is the single most important step you shouldn’t miss.
Getting a lot of information about the place you want to go is like saving yourself from possible inconveniences when you arrive and while you stay.
I like to watch vlogs on youtube and get inspirations from other travel vloggers so I can picture out what I will do, what places will I go and things that I should avoid.
I also check the exchange rate beforehand so I will know how much I can exchange and I can keep. I like to exchange the money that I need for just few days.
Step 5: Make an itinerary
If you’re like me, I want to get the most out of my trip and that includes going around to as many places as I can. So having a list on hand is the way to go.
But in my recent travels like in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I prefer just to sit back and sip some coffee enjoying the fresh air. I feel like that’s the reason why I travel- to relax and enjoy.
If you want to visit the touristy areas, make sure to book some activities in advance to avoid long queues. You might get an early bird deal 🙂
Don’t forget to download an offline map it’s a life saver, trust me.
Step 6: List the things to bring
I’m a light traveler and I like to bring only the clothes that I need.
Having a list will ensure that you don’t miss anything. I put on a guide on what to and what not to bring in luggage or carry-on here.
Step 7: Get cash & buy a sim card
I like to plan and research where I can exchange money and buy a sim card. Sometimes changing cash at the market is cheaper than at the airport.
But you have to be careful not to trust just anybody especially when it comes to money. I always go where a lot of tourist go.
If it’s necessary for you or if you plan to stay for a long time, then you should get a SIM card. Some airports offer free tourist SIM cards and you just have to pay for the data plans.
Step 8: Do not get scammed
Be careful who you ask for advice. When taking a taxi and they ask you a fixed rate that is twice or higher than normal, then don’t go for it. Getting a Grab or Uber is way safer and cheaper.
When crossing borders, there could be some people who will try to offer you something like visa assistance or whatever don’t be fooled as most of the time they are scams.
So research carefully not only what to do but what you need to avoid doing.
Step 9: Learn Some Basic Greetings & Numbers
In Southeast Asia, not everyone can speak English so knowing a little bit of the local language can help you around.
I like to ask the locals on how to properly say it and they’ll be very glad to help you.
I’ve learned to say hello, “Sawat dee khap” in Thai, “Xin Chao” in Vietnamese, “cam on” or thank you. Most of the time I can’t get the right tones but they would really appreciate if you will at least try. So don’t be shy, lah! Okay ah?!
I love shopping so counting numbers in local language really helps a lot. And you also get to bargain well. Bargaining in Southeast Asia is very common and normal.
Step 10 :Plan what to eat and where to buy souvenirs
I sooo love to try local food. I can just eat all day. Like seriously? Yup!
I remember in Bangkok you can find food in any corner of the city. Just amazing! (I’m hungry while I’m writing this)
I like to list the must try foods and the best restaurants to go. It can save you time and money once you’re there. And you will also have a lot of options.
I also like to plan where to buy whether in a night market in Mongkok in Hongkong, Chatuchak Market in Bangkok or just inside the overly big malls in the Philippines.
I think when you’re planning a vacation it must be fun and not like a stressful job to do. Just sit back and relax.. think about the places you want to go and the adventures you want to do.
This is how I usually plan my travels easily now. Everyone is different but I hope you get some tips from me and if you have any more travel tips to add, just let me know down below! 🙂
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I personally use.