It’s almost May. Wait a second, maybe you didn’t really hear that… I’ll say it again….
IT’S ALMOST MAYYYYYY!!!!!
WTF?! Yes that’s right, last time we checked the holidays were sneaking up, and then New Years happened, and then cha ching ching CHING! Suddenly, it’s almost Summer – already! How did it happen?
I don’t know, but more importantly, what are we going to do? Don’t we have a trip planned?
For me, up until now, my plans for the Summer have just been a random list of countries, and activities, with little to no structure or real time frames. The more I talk about it the longer the list gets. Between now and October I hope to do a lot of hiking, camping, exploration (hitch hiking), site seeing, and photography in the following places: Germany, Norway, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, and Finland, and that’s just in the north! There is probably not enough time, then again, if hiking, and exploring is all that I’m doing it is completely doable.
What is really the hard part though, is making the plan. Plans take time. They take research, and they are the proverbial onion that just gives layer after layer. The more you peel the more you see, the more you see, the more you want to peel. Pretty soon your head feels like a pitcher full of lemonade about to spill over, and you’ve barely scratched the surface – of what to do! AHHHHHHHH
Seriously though, you have to start somewhere, prices are usually a good place to begin. I’m assuming that if this post feels helpful for an upcoming trip, or is motivating you to starting thinking about your vacations this year, that flying is part of that plan. And so buying plane tickets will be a necessary step in your plans. And that’s what I’m going to talk about.
The bedrock of any trip is the budget. And your trip needs to fit into your budget right? What’s that you say? You have limitless money to spend, your budget can be anything? How dare you. I’m supremely jealous. Go away 🙂 Hehehe just kidding, keep reading, but for most of the 99%, there is a limit to what can be spent on a vacation, and knowing the largest costs (e.g. airplane tickets) in that vacation budget ahead of time is a strong determining factor for what said trip will be.
So let’s pretend it wasn’t already the end of April, let’s say it was February, it’s still cold, and even signs of Spring would be a welcomed blessing, let alone the long days of Summer. January and February are the best times to start booking travel for the Summer. Once people start losing their minds sitting inside during the long dark winter months, travel companies begin jacking up their prices for the high season (generally mid June – early September), so the sooner you plan and book, the lower your rates are going to be. The irony of all this planning and price raising stuff is that it’s usually hard to decide when you will want to go anywhere until you’ve seen all the options for what you can do while you’re there.
What that basically means is, while buying a plane ticket is the first actionable step to take in ensuring you have a vacation, before you can do that, you need to have a decent outline for where you’re going, how long you’ll stay, what your starting point and ending point will be, plus any connections in between. Other stuff to consider are what kinds of things you’ll do while you’re there; if you’ll need to rent a car or buy some train tickets, and what are the main sites to visit? You don’t have to go into so much detail, but it should be possible to put a rough estimate on the total cost of your trip, before you put down the plastic.
When I was planning for a trip to Norway last year, this entire process started with the idea of going to Norway, which really just happened because of a conversation at a supper club with some Norwegian guys who were vacationing in Berlin. Up until then, what was happening that Summer was a giant blur with even less ideas than now. But those guys had mentioned how beautiful the Fjords were, and how great it was to visit in the Summer, and that was enough I was sold I like them, I like the image they painted of their country.
I started to research what the airports were and how much a roundtrip flight was to Norway from Berlin. Next I went over to Tripadvisor.com and checked out the top 20 or so attractions people reviewed for the country – to have an idea of what kind of exploring could be done there and how long they take to visit. Along with the reviews on Tripadvisor.com are lots of photos from other travelers – these helped to give me an idea of what sites are worth visiting, and how the country looked from the eyes of a tourist, which provides reassurance when deciding if it’s time to get serious about investing in a trip somewhere.
Then it was time to check out hotel and other costs. I’d heard it was expensive in Norway so I started looking at restaurant menus, and hotel prices. Hotel’s were definitely too pricey in Oslo, but Airbnb’s and some budget places in the next smaller city Bergen seemed affordable. Seeing Bergen was affordable also built my confidence because some of the most talked about Fjords in Norway are near Bergen. So now I was looking into Fjords, and which are the best, and how far they are, if I was gonna get there by car or public transport, what were my options and what would they cost?
As I said, for each question there are ten other questions to follow. It’s daunting, but eventually you start seeing the light at the other side. And soon you know a lot about this place you’re dreaming of going to. All of that research really makes the trip feel more real, it warms up the feeling of committing to it and having an awesome experience. Even if you decide not to do any of the things you found in your research, having an overview is one of the important sub-steps in the process of taking the bigger leap of booking your travel.
The micro-matter details of a trip go far deeper than these high level steps; to choose a place, know the budget, find the sites, book the flight, is just the tip of the iceberg. But it’s the starting point, and at this time of year it’s still possible to figure it out and lock in some good prices. You know how much time you have, and you know your budget. Keep in mind, you want to give yourself plenty of time at your destination (I’ve talked about this in my Thailand post) if your trip is 5 days long, don’t spend 2 days on an airplane just sayin.
But most importantly, think of all the vacations you’ve wanted to do, but still haven’t done, don’t slouch back and simply go to the same place again, the world is huge, and if you have a desire to see as much of it as possible, like me, there isn’t much time for going to the same place twice (I don’t plan on doing the same things in Norway this year FYI ;)). Start looking deeper into those ideas feel free to message me if you want some suggestions.
Figure out a way to make it happen!