Planning a trip can be at least half the fun as the trip itself. In my experience there are 4 main types of trips: Backpacking, budget day trips, luxury, and cruises. Keep in mind that all of these options have the potential for adventure.
Let’s continue with another awesome mode of traveling – budget day trips.
Budget day trips can be a great way to get up close and personal with the destination of your choice. Unlike a backpacking trip, budget day trips require a lot more advance planning. Unless you intend on bringing a tent or camper van, budget hotels/activities must be reserved in advance. The only way to be sure that you aren’t paying top dollar is to do your due diligence and “Know before you go”. On one of my visits to Iceland I paid what seemed like a good deal for 2 nights in a decent hotel room. Had I done my due diligence I would of known that there was a nice hotel only one block away for half the price.
The first step is to be realistic and come up with a budget that will meet your needs as well as your wallet. Don’t forget to find out what an average days budget should be in the destination of your choice. If you attempt to go drastically under the lowest recommended budget be prepared to ruff it. In my experience it’s best to make a decision as to whether you prefer to sacrifice a more costly accommodation for a pricier and more advanced activity or vice versa.
Time is one of the key factors of your adventure and its best to use it wisely. Be sure to take into consideration as to how many days/weeks you have for your adventure and the time it may take to get from point A to B on your adventure. For example, if you plan on visiting Lake Como (about a 1.5 hour drive from Milan) and then continuing to Venice in the same day (about a 3 hour and 47 minute drive), I’d recommend spending the full day in Lake Como and then driving to Venice in the evening. This will give you the opportunity to spend a full day at each place and not sacrifice daytime touring for driving time. Another option would be to start out early, spend 3-4 hours at Lake Como and then drive towards Venice and stop along the way at 1 hour intervals. The latter will allow you to see more places, but the lack of time will dilute the quality of the visit (I will delve into this subject further at another time) . Don’t forget that “budget day trips” can be as little as one days trip or can be as long as you want.
Often figuring out what it is that you want to do can be overwhelming because there are often a variety of activities to do in a single destination. The key factors are to:
- Research the options
- Brainstorm and regurgitate all ideas in a neat list on a piece of paper
- Arrange your list in order of preference beginning from the most important – least important to you and your travel companions
- Beginning with the top of your list start calling various tour companies, excursions, and trekking groups. Get the details, prices and hours that they will be available.
- Open Google maps and figure out the travel time between each activity.
- Plan each day one at a time – meaning find a hotel/guest house to spend a night close to your chosen activity, book it, and then book the activity for that day. Remember that you can choose to spend multiple days or even weeks in one location or travel to a new place every day. That is entirely up to you!
- Keep all confirmation emails and receipts of payments
- ORGANIZE your bookings in a daily calendar so that you don’t end up in the wrong place on the wrong day.
Firstly, figure out what your limits are? Are you comfortable paying less for a private hotel room with a shared bathroom? Are you willing to spend the night in your own private room + bathroom that might be a little “grungy”? How do you feel about youth hostels? Are you willing to pay a little more for your own bathroom? Are you looking for a higher end hotel?
Once you have figured out your preferences, you can begin looking.
There are many websites that can help you find cheaper hotels, such as hotels.com, and groupon.com (my personal favorites). If you plan on traveling to 3rd world countries be wary- you usually get what you pay for. I find that often guest houses, frequently run by families, will provide a more sanitized environment for a lot less than a 1 or 2 star hotel. Just be sure to read the small print and pay close attention to customer reviews.
How will you get to your destination?
Before jumping to conclusions and selecting the mode of transport that you simply prefer, do your research and see what the most efficient plan is for the area that you will be traveling to. For example if the majority of your destination can only be reached by bus or car, don’t invest money into a rail pass. Keep in mind that driving to a chosen destination (as opposed to flying) can take allot longer than suggested on Google maps – especially in precarious weather.
On my most recent trip to New Zealand, myself and my husband opted to drive from Christchurch to Fox Glacier (rather than flying). I checked Google Maps and found that the drive should be a little less than 5 hours. Okay we thought, “not too bad”. If we start out at 5:00PM we should arrive by 10:00 PM – it makes sense right? At 4:00AM I woke up in the comfort of my passenger seat – my red eyed husband was still driving… Little did we know that the slippery roads of New Zealand’s temperate rain forest needed to be navigated a lot slower than Google Maps had suggested. Just another one of life’s many lessons.
In conclusion, planning a trip can be at least half as much fun as the trip itself. Budget day trips can be a great way to see the world without having to break the bank. They make great vacations for people who are seeking a little R&R without having to sacrifice the quality of your vacation. Be sure to make wise choices, and stay safe. Enjoy your Budget day trip adventure, have fun and ALWAYS seize the day!