solo travel teachings #1: research & planning


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How do you go about planning a solo trip? Any trip for that matter? Are you like me, a very calculated adventurer? For the first part of the 3 part series in my solo travel teachings I want to deep dive in what for me are one of the most important aspects of travelling: research & planning.
It all starts with an idea right? Somehow you came about the idea that you want to travel, accompanied or solo. What I am about to get into is mostly for short spontaneous trips that usually take place within a couple of months or so (sometimes) less after planning.

You have this urge to get out of the your daily life and routines, perhaps even responsibilities and just grab a bag and go. I feel you! Been there, still there. LOL! I am somehow always secretly planning and plotting, counting, converting in how, what, why, when. Well, the why is almost always clear; you want to get out and explore. (For whichever reason; disconnecting, a break, finding yourself).

These are not really steps on how to plan – it’s just my MO. Let’s get into it!

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Can I afford it?
I always start with checking my bank account, LOL! I mean seriously, the idea is to enjoy laif without going absolutely broke or discard your other financial responsibilities. #adultingishard
The questions to myself are always: do you have the necessary funds to support yourself during and especially after the trip? Once I have pulled out the calculator and crunched the numbers, and the answer is YES, I take a look at where my budget allows me to go, LOL!

Where to girl?
Like I said this is what I do for my spontaneous short trips. If I am planning to go to the Caribbean (aka HOME, that’s a whole nother ball game!).
Skyscanner’s option for travel “everywhere” is by far the best invention of all time, I mean really, try this. I usually check the whole month that I might be interested in travelling and pick out the lowest priced tickets to the country/city that interest me.
Flying during the week is sometimes less expensive than say flying out on a Friday – but this all depends on how flexible you are and how many days you still have of PTO (paid time off) if you’re working etc.

5* hotel or?
N
ow it’s time to roll up my sleeves and really get into where the hell I am going to stay . Simultaneously while checking flights I check accommodations as well. I have been using Booking for a while now, I like their prices and the user friendliness of their interface. Also I’m a genius member and I get some percentage off my bookings sometimes. Which is always great! Again, it comes down to same issue here is well, where does my budget allow me to stay? It’s a matter of choosing a cozy 1* close to the center or choosing a 4* IN the center and blow all your budget on that. Up to you, look in your account and see what you can afford. Me personally, I tend to gravitate towards smaller cozier hotels or B&B’s. If there is a sweet deal on a room in a chain hotel, and by sweet I mean realllllyyyy sweet, I might go for that, but usually it is a mid-range, mid-size place that includes the amenities I need:
bed, shower, 24hr reception, good location, if breakfast is included even better!

Main drivers when choosing accommodation

Price: $-$$
Location: SO important, as I am traveling alone I need to stay in a place where is central, and safe. I mean I wouldn’t know that for sure until I get there, but that is why for me, it is key to stay as close to the city center as possible
Good reviews: I like reading reviews. Not only are they informative, some are very entertaining. I’d like to kinda know what to expect, and some reviewers are really thorough. It gives me like a sense of comfort like “Hey Bart just scored this place a 7, based on everything I want to, I’ll take it. I trust Bart” or reviews like “The bathroom was disgusting – Janice” I will trust Janice on that one and move on to the next property. You know what I mean? Like I really trust that people are reviewing honestly. Am I being naive? LOL! IDK, who cares, this is what I do!

I did try AirBnB once a few years ago though – but I wasn’t super happy with the experience. I might give it another go on my next trip, as I have heard nothing but good things about this service.

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me – about to start my research

What is this place about?
Now, it is time for me to frantically search the Internet and find out as possible and as much information my brain can contain about this place I am going to. This is my favorite part! I am a pretty visual person, so I like to watch YouTube videos or any videos that is informative about that specific place. This is also where I “meet” fascinating people traveling around, and I become an instant subscriber or I go follow them on Instagram. Stalker alert! haha!
From here on I also start drafting the many to-do, to-eat and to-see lists. I have a weird habit of creating lists for almost anything. Preferably on sticky notes.

What I search for:
> Local food
> Must see historical places
> What to avoid (like eating in touristy overpriced restaurants rather than at the local cafeteria)
> Where definitely you should not go (neighborhoods, and areas)
> Local events that are happening while there

What I need to know prior:
> Public transportation
> Currency (more on this in the next series)
> And the top things or basic things if you will, I need to know about the culture (language, customs, religion etc) I need to know these things, because the one thing I’m NOT about to do, is be unprepared or offend anyone in their own country.

Like I said, I like to watch video’s, while doing my research, because it’s so entertaining. However, I do visit famous sites like Tripadvisor, and many blogs I come in touch with while Google-ing. I spent a decent amount of time on this. Also, if I know someone who has been to this particular place, I might shoot them with some questions as well. The more I know, the better. Knowledge is and will always remain power!

Thank you for reading dushi’s! Stay tuned for part II on Tips &Tricks coming your way soon!
#livelalaif

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