The way to Plan a Journey: A Month-by-Month Information

Nomadic Matt wearing a backpack while walking along a beach in Hawaii
Posted: 4/2/2024 | April 2nd, 2024

Journey planning could be a daunting process. Flights, insurance coverage, gear, itineraries, lodging, and a lot extra all have to be thought of and sorted out earlier than you go.

It’s straightforward to get overwhelmed, particularly whenever you haven’t carried out one thing like this earlier than.

After over near twenty years of touring the world, I’ve deliberate numerous journeys and holidays for myself, buddies, and household, even group excursions. To start with, it was trial by hearth. I realized quite a lot of classes the onerous method. Nonetheless, that helped me develop an environment friendly guidelines that ensures I don’t miss something essential in the course of the trip-planning course of.

One large query I get requested so much is when to begin planning. To reply that query, this put up breaks the planning course of down into month-by-month steps so you possibly can plan your subsequent journey with ease.

Right here’s find out how to plan a visit:

12 Months Out: Resolve on Your Vacation spot(s)

A large commercial jet flying through the bright blue sky as it takes off
Lots of people speak vaguely about journey: they by no means say the place they’re going, simply that they’re going. They could discuss it for years earlier than truly departing (in the event that they go in any respect). However it’s a lot simpler to achieve and plan for the objective of “I’m going to Paris for 2 weeks this summer season” than “I’m going someplace.”

If you have already got a dream vacation spot in thoughts, nice! If not, listed here are some posts that can assist you get began:

However, this far out, the actual factor you wish to do is begin saving cash and determining your prices. Lodging and flights are the plain ones, however how a lot do eating places, points of interest, and different actions value? Realizing these prices will permit you precisely estimate how a lot cash you’ll want. Right here is find out how to analysis prices:

  1. Purchase a guidebook
  2. Try my free journey guides (we break down all prices for every vacation spot)
  3. Skim the price of dwelling on
  4. Google costs for main actions you wish to do, akin to scuba diving, vineyard excursions, and so forth. (Get Your Information is an effective place to begin)
  5. Use Skyscanner or Google Flights for flight costs and join alerts to get emails if the value modifications
  6. Use Uncover Automobiles to cost out (and e book) a rental automotive for those who want one
  7. Use and Hostelworld to analysis lodging prices

That will seem to be so much however you simply wish to get a basic thought of how a lot it’s essential to save. You’ll be able to head to this web page to see all my articles on how to economize to your journey.

12 Months Out: Begin Gathering Factors & Miles

A bunch of different travel credit cards being held by avid traveler Nomadic Matt
When you’re working to economize, get a journey bank card so you possibly can earn miles and factors at no cost flights and lodge stays. It’s what has stored my prices down and me on the street for thus a few years.

Lately, most playing cards have welcome gives of 60,000-80,000 factors (some could be as excessive as 100,000) whenever you meet their minimal spending requirement (usually $2,000-5,000 USD inside a 3–6-month time-frame). That’s sufficient miles for a free round-trip financial system flight to Europe from the East Coast of North America.

For extra info on this topic, try these posts:

As well as, get a fee-free ATM card. I exploit Charles Schwab, however there are many different banks that don’t cost ATM charges (don’t overlook to test your native banks and credit score unions too). Right here’s how one can keep away from financial institution charges whereas touring.

8 Months Out: Visa Necessities, Passports, and Vaccines

When you doubtless received’t want a visa to your required vacation spot, it is best to nonetheless test to ensure. When you’re a US citizen, use the State Division’s search instrument to study your vacation spot’s entry necessities. (Canadians can use this search instrument.)

Moreover, ensure that your passport is legitimate for not less than six months after your journey ends. Many international locations require this for entry. Passport software and renewal wait instances could be lengthy (the usual is 6-8 weeks within the US), so do that as quickly as doable.

Additionally, analysis for those who want any vaccines to your journey as many international locations require vaccines to enter (and I don’t imply COVID). You’ll be able to be taught extra about nation necessities and suggestions on the CDC’s web site. They may also help you discover a clinic close to you as effectively (for those who’re within the US).

4-6 Months Out: E book Your Flight

A huge commerical airliner flying through the dark blue sky as it comes in for a landing at an airport
The perfect time to e book your flight is usually round 3-4 months earlier than your departure, or 5-6 months earlier than if you’re going throughout a vacation spot’s peak season. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, although, so use it as a information.

Listed here are two articles on find out how to rating an inexpensive flight:

When you’ve signed up for a journey bank card and obtained your sign-up bonus, use your miles to e book your flight and/or lodge. The additional out you e book, the extra availability there shall be. Use instruments like and Awayz that can assist you discover the most effective redemptions in your factors (for flights and accommodations, respectively).

However even for those who aren’t utilizing miles or didn’t discover a low cost flight deal, there are nonetheless some ways to keep away from being the individual on the flight who paid essentially the most for his or her ticket. My two favourite websites for locating low cost airfare are Skyscanner and Google Flights.

3-4 Months Out: E book Your Lodging

A small rolling suitcase standing near the door in a cozy hotel room abroad
When you’re touring for below two weeks and have a set schedule, e book lodging in the course of your journey. When you’re visiting in the course of the excessive season, it’s additionally a good suggestion to e book the whole lot prematurely. For journeys longer than two weeks, I recommend reserving solely the primary couple of nights of your journey. As soon as there, you might find yourself wanting to alter your plans primarily based on insider recommendation from different vacationers and/or lodge/hostel employees. I choose having flexibility, so I at all times simply e book a couple of nights and go from there.

Listed here are my go-to websites in terms of discovering the most effective offers on lodging:

  • Hostelworld – Hostelworld has the biggest collection of hostels and is my go-to web site for locating reasonably priced hostels.
  • – is the most effective total platform for locating funds accommodations and guesthouses.
  • Agoda – Agoda has the most effective outcomes for those who’re heading to Asia (although it generally has good US offers too).

I like to recommend checking the cancelation coverage of wherever you e book. I like having the pliability to cancel if one thing comes up.

When you’re on a decent funds otherwise you wish to join with extra locals throughout your travels, take into account becoming a member of platforms like Couchsurfing or BeWelcome. These communities permit vacationers to stick with residents at no cost as a form of cultural trade.

Lengthy-term vacationers may attempt housesitting or WWOOFing as effectively, as they each provide free lodging (in trade for pet sitting or farm work, respectively).

2 Months Out: Plan Your Actions

Now it’s time for the enjoyable a part of journey planning! Which means studying books about your vacation spot, studying basic journey ideas, connecting with on-line communities, and pre-booking any vital actions.

Pre-booking ensures you don’t miss out on issues that you just actually wish to do in your journey. When you’re going to a well-liked vacation spot, excursions and actions replenish shortly, and for those who’re going to a smaller place, actions or excursions would possibly solely run on sure days and have restricted availability.

Both method, Get Your Information the most effective place to seek for and pre-book actions, excursions, and tickets. Native tour operators and points of interest can checklist their choices on this on-line market, so yow will discover tons of stuff right here, from meals excursions to museum tickets with skip-the-line entry.

1 Month Out: Get Journey Insurance coverage

Get journey insurance coverage. That method, these purchases are protected ought to one thing occur that makes you cancel your journey.

Lots of people suppose, “I’m wholesome. I don’t want journey insurance coverage.” However journey insurance coverage is far more than simply medical safety. It covers you when your digital camera breaks, your flight is canceled, a member of the family dies and it’s important to come dwelling, or one thing will get stolen. (That’s why you’ll additionally wish to familiarize your self with any widespread journey scams to look out for, in addition to find out how to conduct your self as a way to mix in to keep away from wanting like a goal for petty theft.)

Sure, it’s an added expense. However it’s at all times higher to be protected than sorry. I by no means depart dwelling with out it, as a result of I’ve seen firsthand simply what can occur on the street.

I by no means thought I might pop my eardrum whereas I used to be scuba diving in Thailand, break my digital camera in Italy, or get knifed in Colombia.

Sadly, unhealthy issues can occur whenever you’re touring. True, these occasions are few and much between. However they will value tens of 1000’s of {dollars}. When you’re not ready to pay out of pocket, purchase journey insurance coverage.

Listed here are some posts on journey insurance coverage to get you began:

I by no means depart dwelling with out journey insurance coverage. You shouldn’t both.

7 days out: Pack!

Nomadic Matt's gear on the bed as he packs his backpack before a trip
Your journey is nearly right here, and it’s time to pack! It may be tempting to wish to carry the whole lot with you “simply in case.” However in terms of journey, much less is extra. Whereas what you pack will depend upon the place you’re going, do not forget that you don’t have to take the whole lot you personal. You should purchase stuff you want and do laundry on the street. On the finish of the day, it’s important to carry the whole lot you carry. So carry much less!

I journey with a 45L REI bag after which a smaller day bag. Right here’s my steered packing checklist that can assist you take simply the correct quantity of stuff and keep away from overpacking (right here’s an inventory for feminine vacationers).

Moreover, carry any prescriptions you want in the course of your journey. Strive to not depend on filling these overseas (although carry a prescription and physician’s word simply in case).


With the whole lot taken care of, it’s time to go in your journey and have enjoyable! Make an inventory of last-minute gadgets it’s essential to pack the day of (your toothbrush, glasses, cellphone charger, and so forth.) and test in on-line beforehand (you are able to do so 24 hours prematurely). (When you’ve acquired lounge entry via a premium journey rewards card, you would possibly end up wanting ahead to attending to the airport early.)

When you’re feeling nervous, don’t fear. That’s completely regular. Feeling anxious or not sure is one thing each traveler experiences. However you’ve made it this far. Belief your planning and observe your instincts. You’re about to have the journey of a lifetime.

E book Your Journey: Logistical Ideas and Tips

E book Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight through the use of Skyscanner. It’s my favourite search engine as a result of it searches web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is being left unturned.

E book Your Lodging
You’ll be able to e book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use because it persistently returns the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and accommodations.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes fallacious. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances previously. My favourite corporations that supply the most effective service and worth are:

Need to Journey for Free?
Journey bank cards let you earn factors that may be redeemed at no cost flights and lodging — all with none further spending. Try my information to choosing the right card and my present favorites to get began and see the most recent finest offers.

Want Assist Discovering Actions for Your Journey?
Get Your Information is a large on-line market the place yow will discover cool strolling excursions, enjoyable excursions, skip-the-line tickets, personal guides, and extra.

Able to E book Your Journey?
Try my useful resource web page for the most effective corporations to make use of whenever you journey. I checklist all those I exploit once I journey. They’re the most effective in school and you may’t go fallacious utilizing them in your journey.

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