Hong Kong

How to Prepare For a Big Trip And Have a Great Time Discover how I get the most out of my traveling.

Are you going on a big trip and wondering how to best prepare for it?  If so, I get it.  I love taking long flights to faraway destinations.  But, with lots of different destinations to explore, preparation is key to the trip’s success.  For example, I enjoy planning what I am going to see and do.  Further, its especially true if I’m visiting places I’ve never been to before.

Whether its cruising or taking a land tour, I always want to get the most out of my trip. Here is how do I get prepared for a big trip, so I’m sure not to miss anything out.

Prepare by Learning the Trip Itinerary

First, I like to memorize my itinerary.  For example, I like to know which day I will be in a particular city or place.   Then, I want to know how long I will be there, and at what times I’ll arrive and depart. As a result, I will know how much time I’ll have in each destination, and what to prioritize.

Buy the DK Guide (Eyewitness Travel) for Each Destination

I genuinely like the DK guides for cities and countries. For that reason, I buy them every time I visit a new place.  In particular, I enjoy the guides because they are very visual and they offer me all the information I need in a straightforward and easy to understand way.

DK guide of a destination - Ideal to prepare for a big trip
The guide is visual and easy to follow

I read them cover to cover, and I use post-its to take notes for later.

Dk Guide with my notes - excellent resource to prepare for a trip
My notes in the guide

Furthermore, they always include a map of a particular destination. In a city, they add a map of public transit.  Also, the books are pocket-sized, making it easy to carry and follow along with on any big trip.

Lastly, a great feature of these guides is the fact that in the last few pages, they always offer tips such as currency, safety, useful phone numbers, etc.

The DK map
The map in the guide

Prepare by Checking Local Travel Websites

I also like to prepare by starting my research on the local travel authority website for the particular destination that I’m headed too. To be sure, travel authority sites can be very informative and sometimes offer specials and coupons for public transit or attractions.  Further, I check the local temperatures for the time of the year I’ll be visiting.  By doing so, it will help me prepare what I need to pack for my big trip.

Furthermore, I like to check the local transit website to see If I can use public transit to get around, or if I need private transportation.  Also, I check to see if there are daily passes and If I can download the transit map.  Optionally, if I’m visiting a city in Europe or North America, I might also consider renting a car, but in other areas of the world, I wouldn’t feel safe driving.

Lastly, I often check our favorite tour websites to see if the particular city has something of interest, such as a Hop On Hop Off bus.

Social Media For Travel Recommendations Work Like Magic

Facebook travel groups, like our own Travel Addicts Facebook Group, offer an incredible resource of information. Members of the groups are always delighted to share information and tips online.  From experience, the best way to get tips is by using the “Recommendation” feature on Facebook. If you use social media, always remember SAFETY FIRST!  And don’t give out any personal information to strangers.

Use Trip Advisor to Find The Best Restaurants

Food is such a crucial part of learning about a new culture. For this reason, I think that it is essential to try local food and eat like locals. If I go half the way around the globe, I don’t want to eat the same food I would have at home. I spend a lot of time researching about local food and where I should eat. As an example, when we visited Singapore, we ate almost all our meals at the Hawker centers where locals were eating. Most of the time, we had to point at the dish we wanted because the shop owner did not speak a word of English, but the food was incredible.

On our last cruise to Mexico, in Puerto Vallarta, I did some research on what to eat, and we found this little mom and pop restaurant that made incredible Moles. Way way off the touristy area, but it was worth it!

I tried some food joint that I saw on the travel channel, and I have to admit I was thrilled.

Street food on our trip to Bangkok- One of the best we had
Eating Street food in Bangkok

Prepare for Your Trip by Downloading Offline Maps

I spend a lot of time checking Google Maps to prepare for the big trip.  For example, I like to see where all the attractions are and come up with an excellent route to see them most efficiently. Secondly, I always download the offline map on my phone.  By doing so, I can see the maps without an internet connection – in case I don’t have data coverage in the area I am visiting.

Youtube Videos Are Very Helpful for Trip Planning

Practically every destination, nowadays, have thousands of youtube videos covering them.  I watch a few of them before going on a big trip to be prepared, and sure I am not missing anything.  My favorite videos are the ones that give me some history, or fun tips about a particular attraction.  You see, I’m a bit of a history fanatic, so I love to link what I see with the history of the attraction.  For example, I was looking forward to seeing the Golden Buddha in Bankok, after reading the history of how it got discovered.

Bangkok the Golden Buddha - Important to prepare for this trip excursion in advance
The Golden Buddha in Bangkok

Prepare by Buying All The Trip Excursions / Tickets in Advance

Whenever possible, I always buy excursion/attraction tickets in advance. First, this way, I skip the lines for the ticket office. Second, I can use my credit card while at the ticket office, they might only take cash. Third, we avoid the risk that the excursion gets sold out. Lastly, this saves us time, and we can go straight to the attraction.

For example, during our last cruise in the Mediterranean, we bought the tickets for the Parthenon in advance.   When we got to the Parthenon, we found the line to buy tickets was more than 60 minutes long.  Furthermore, there are some tours which you can only buy online.  For example, a couple of years ago, we were able to visit the Colosseum at night with almost nobody in it.  While it was an incredible experience, you could only buy these tickets online, and months in advance. Naturally, I am delighted I did.

Colosseum at night
My tour of the Colosseum at night – and with no tourists.

Print all the Tickets, and Bring Along A Hard Copy

I still feel I need to print all the reservations like boarding passes, tickets, etc. I know that most places accept electronic tickets. You see, on more than one occasion, my phone either did not have coverage, or the battery was about to die.  Thankfully, a paper ticket saved me from those events.

Prepare for a big trip by printing tickets in advance
Fully prepared for a trip with all my tickets printed out

I hope you enjoyed my tips. Comment below and share with us how you prepare for your big trips.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

-Andrea

 

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