How to Start Planning an International Trip
Hey, friends! If you read last week’s post, then you know I recently did an Instagram poll, asking if you wanted to see fall dessert recipes or a post on planning travel. Well, the poll ended up being tied. So, last week, I did top fall dessert recipes (from Pinterest), and now I’m talking to you about how to start planning an international trip!
Comment below if you are currently planning a trip overseas, or if you have any planning tips you swear by! The last international trip I planned, was our honeymoon, and I think it was a pretty fantastic trip. For this post, I am going to be using the trip we are currently planning, as an example. And that, my friends, is a trip out to Seattle and Alberta, Canada in August!
Alright, so let’s just dive right into how I go about starting to plan in international vacation!
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Start Basic Research
Okay, I’m sure you know a little bit about your international travel destination, because you chose to go. So, let’s say you’re familiar. I want you to do a bit more research and determine the following:
What time of year are you going to head to this destination?
How many days do you think you will need to explore?
What type of trip is this? ie. Luxury, Adventure, City, etc.
How difficult is it to get to your destination?
Book Whatever Will Sell Out First (or whatever will become too expensive as your trip gets closer)
Let’s say you answered the above questions. I’m going to give you our answers for our trip, specifically for the portion that will be Banff/Jasper/Yoho National Parks in Canada.
We will be heading to Canada in August, which is peak season.
We’re heading to Seattle for a long-weekend prior to flying to Calgary. Then, we are planning on having between 8-10 days to explore all 3 national parks.
This is definitely an adventure trip for us! Lots of hiking 🙂
Getting to the parks is not necessarily difficult, but there are a couple steps needed. We are going to fly from Seattle to Calgary, and then rent a camper van to get to Banff, for our first stop. You would definitely need to rent a car to get from any of the area’s airports.
Now, based on the information given, and our preliminary research, we know that August is peak season. We also know that this is more of an adventure vacation, not luxury, and therefore, we will not be spending the $300+ per night needed to stay in a decent hotel. Yep, you read that correctly.
We are going to rent a camper van, eliminating the need to get a rental car and book hotels. However, we need somewhere to park that camper van. Again, based on my research, I know that you cannot book campsites in Canada’s National Parks until January 2020.
So, here’s the order in which we plan on booking our vacation: camper van, campsites, and then flights. This is based on what we think will sell out, when things are available to book, and price fluctuations.
Book Remaining Accommodations, Flights, Etc.
If you will be traveling to a destination in its peak season, I highly recommend you book things as soon as possible. It is unlikely that prices will drop on car rentals/accommodations, unless you book super last minute and there’s a cancellation. I just don’t recommend it. If it’s not peak season, by all means, wait.
Do More Research
Let Pinterest be your best friend when planning an international trip! Find suggested itineraries based on your time of year and length of travel! How about a list of free activities in your destination? Or even just tips on what time to get to certain sights on your trip! Did you know that it’s recommended you get to a few of the more famous lakes in Banff before 6am?
Traveling the national parks in Canada can be very expensive, so I am using my research to find (mostly) free activities to do on our stay. We are planning on hiking for the majority of our trip, which is obviously free! But, I definitely would not have know how early to get places or where to park a larger vehicle, such as a camper van, etc.
Book Day Trips/Guided Tours
Okay, the final step is booking any activities that require tickets, and this can be done within the couple months leading up to your vacation.
I love using Viator for booking these types of activities, and have used them in Spain and Belize, plus my brother and his wife just used Viator for an Eiffel Tower tour in Paris!
Pick and choose a few activities that spark your interest, but keep in mind that you probably don’t want to feel locked into a specific thing every day of your trip. Leave some wiggle room to just explore.
Make sure you have a valid (not expired) passport.
Check for any visas/immunizations you may need.
Find a suggested packing list for your time of year/activities.
If you are going to multiple destinations and changing accommodations, pack lightly or at least in a way that is easy to transport. You don’t want to be hauling a bunch of tote bags, instead of rolling one larger suitcase.
Okay, that’s all I have to say about planning an international trip! What is your best advice? If you have been to Alberta, let me know what I cannot miss!