Lately it seems everyone wants to know how I plan my trips. Many wonder how I know where to go and how I find these great photo spots. Well, I have great news for you! It ain’t that hard! And I will do my best to unsolve these mysteries in this article! It’s an ongoing process but I’ll do my best to write down a rather structured “manual” for how to plan a road trip.
How to plan a road trip?
1. Pick your destination
Decide where you want to go. It can be a whole country, a certain region of a country, an island, a few cities…
2. Quick research: create a bucket list
I mostly use Instagram and Pinterest to look for beautiful places. Just enter the name of the country in the search bar and look for gorgeous photos. Pin them in a map and that way you already have a picture list. Google Images will do as well and hiking websites or local websites with a list of activities are also useful. Depending on what I find I make a list of these places.
3. Locate your bucket list
Use Google maps to locate all the places of the list you created. That way you can see if they’re situated close to each other or more further apart. This gives you an idea of the duration of your trip and what kind of trip it will become. If they’re all close by, you can stay in one place and always start your day trips from there. If the places and activities are more widely spread, it will probably be time for an extended road trip!
4. Check the transportation options
How is the public transport? Does it cover the places you want to visit? What’s the price? Does it go frequently? If it’s cheap, frequent and covers the places you want to go, you could consider a road trip by public transport. In Croatia for example it’s very easy to travel by bus. In Spain and Italy it’s easy to travel by train. Just check the local websites.
If you want more freedom or cover places that aren’t reachable by public transport, a rental car is your best option! Always compare prices of different rental offices.
5. Check your routes
How long does each ride take? If you take the bus or train, you can see it on their website. If you’ll rent a car, you can look it up using the directions option of Google Maps. Add the driving durations to your bucket list.
6. Decide how long you want to stay
You’ve got your bucket list, you know what transportation you’ll be using and how long the routes will take, so now you can determine how much time you’ll be needing in each place and write it on your list. That way you know the complete duration of your stay. I always add a few spare days. (depending on your possibilities)
7. Check the best period and book flights
Now that you know how long and where you will be traveling, you can look for the best time to go. Avoid high season and do a little research about the weather. Once you have found this useful information, you can start looking for the best flight options via flight search engines (Kayak, Skyscanner, Cheaptickets) and airline websites. Sometimes it’s even more interesting to add an extra day to your trip to make it cheaper. Try to avoid to fly in the weekend. It’s more expensive.
8. Book hotels
Unfortunately I do not get sponsored for writing this, but I’m a big fan of Booking.com. I always book my hotels via their website. You can locate the hotels on a map and immediately see the prices. The free cancellation option is the best, because it always gives you the option to find better/cheaper places to stay at later in your planning process. You can still book your next trip via my personal link and get a discount after your stay!
9. Book your rental car/public transport
Now that you know your dates and start and ending point, you can book your rental car! Make sure to do a little research about the roads. If you’ll be driving steep mountain roads, it’s better to choose a stronger Diesel engine.
If you don’t want to drive, you can book your bus or train tickets.
(get excited and jump around)
If you weren’t already, you will certainly be super happy now that you’ve booked your flights, hotels ànd your transportation! Jump for joy, do a little victory dance and start to dream about your next trip!
10. Detailed research: create a road book
You’ve got everything planned and now comes the fun part; more research! You’ll probably find more awesome places in the area you will visit and you can still change hotels and adjust your route. Especially if you added a few spare days while planning. It’s an ongoing process. I also look up places via Google Street View. When I track the routes and I move the yellow guy, sometimes you see these blue dots. Those are photos from that exact spot. I found some very cool places that way!
I always make a road book with the following info:
– the hotels I’ll be staying at and flight times
– the places and activities linked to the location where I’ll be staying at (hiking itineraries, pictures of impressive places, maps with awesome locations pinned,…)
– the routes I will be driving with duration and driving instructions
– restaurants and bars
– bus time tables, stops and routes
– vouchers (flights, rental car, transportation, hotels)
– useful information like the address of the local supermarket to get my picnic food, shopping centers in case I forgot something
I’ll add my Madeira road book as an example when I get back! Probably with some remarks added!
And now it’s up to you! I can’t decide for you where to go, but I’m sure my website can help you inspire to go places! Good luck and don’t hesitate to ask your questions in the comments down below!
Have fun and keep traveling!