You are currently viewing Travel Planning 101: The Best Strategies For Booking Your Trips in 2023

Travel Planning 101: The Best Strategies For Booking Your Trips in 2023

Sharing is caring!

Welcome to Travel Planning 101- a complete guide for you to get you started on planning your perfect 2023 vacation. 

When it comes to planning a trip, organization is key. Now there are tons of travel apps, digital and physical tools, and methods for saving time and money when it comes to travel planning. Being full time travelers, we've learned a ton of small tips and tricks to do exactly that, and today we're going to share some of our favorite ones with you! 

Traveling doesn't have to be expensive. In fact- you can actually save money during your travels! There is an endless world out there when it comes to places to go, activities to experience, and special holidays around the world to attend. So let's start learning and dive into your mini blog course: Travel Planning 101.

Travel Planning 101: Choosing Your Destination

The first step to planning your trip is to decide exactly where you want to go. So let's start brainstorming.

What Type of Trip Are You Interested In?

If you don't have a specific trip you're looking to plan, but are looking to get out there and explore, then the world is at your fingertips! There are over 200 countries, and something out there for everyone.

Are you looking for an epic celebration? How about a relaxing tropical getaway that won't break the bank? Well there are a ton of options, and after traveling to 94 different countries, we can certainly help you start your travel planning to choose a trip that's right for you.

To give you a taste, here are a few types of travel we can give you the scoop on:

The Best Places for First Time Travelers

If you're new to the travel game, you'll want to explore places that won't give you a ton of culture shock. In our opinion, The US, Canada, Caribbean, and Western Europe are the perfect places to travel for beginners as they are usually easier to communicate, have great transportation options, and are well structured for tourism.

The Best Places to Travel for a Relaxing Beach Vacation

When it comes to finding a relaxing beach vacation, the most popular area is the Caribbean. Americans flock to all inclusive resorts and cruises normally. While this is definitely a safe and easy option, it certainly isn't our personal favorite. 

all inclusive resort, best places to stay in Yucatan

All Includes are safe options, although they are not our favorite.

All Inclusive resorts and cruises are actually so much more expensive than doing a trip on your own, which we dive into further in our guide for having the best vacation in the Caribbean.

Smaller Caribbean islands are great for those that want to relax on the same beautiful. beaches, but have less crowds, and much more affordable options. Additionally, Europe has some incredible beach destinations for a fraction of the cost.

beach in Albania, travel planning
Gjipe Beach, travel planning
Ksamil Beach, Albanian Riviera, travel planning in Europe

Albania has amazing beaches and is super affordable.

The Best Places to Travel for Families

Families love to flood theme parks, particularly Disney, as well as All-inclusive resorts. What people don't think about though, is how many great options there really are when it comes to travel for families. Kids are easier to please than you think, and you don't have to go to overcrowded and expensive places for them to have a good time.

We do think that cruises are a great option for families, as parents can relax without having to worry about losing their kids, or them being safe in general. As previously working on a cruise ship in the kids club, I can definitely attest to the fact that it' a great option to travel for families.

Another great kind of trip to do with kids is road trips. There are a ton of great US and Canada road trips for families to choose from, so take a look to see which is best for you.

cruise ships, travel planning

Cruise ships are basically like floating cities, and are great for families.

The Best Places to Travel for City Lovers

Cities are super fun to travel to, as they are full of history, great dining options, and the best nightlife. For those looking to stay in the US, we personally love cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. However, when it comes to city trips, our absolute favorite is Europe.

Europe is full of history, variety, and has excellent public transportation. Many places are much more affordable than American cities, and the options are endless. Some of our favorite cities in Europe for first timers include Rome, Lisbon, and Barcelona. Others that we fell in love with are Sevilla, St Petersburg, Copenhagen, Budapest, and Tbilisi.

Budapest, travel planning for cities
Sagrada Familia, Travel Planning in Europe
Things to see in Rome Italy, Travel Planning in Europe

Europe has some of the most amazing cities in the world.

Asia is also home to some incredible cities, like Tokyo and Bangkok, and the Middle East has Dubai and Abu Dhabi, if you're looking for places that are super futuristic.

All Your Travels

in One Book

Transform your travel memories into a unique book, with personalized pages, country by country.

The Best Places to Travel for Adventurers

This is personally our favorite when it comes to travel planning, as there is truly nothing like the beauty that nature offers. The US has some of the most incredible landscapes, and doing a road trip and camping is a great way to see some of the best natural spots, while not spending a ton.

Arches National Park, Utah, Travel Planning in the US
frog rock, Utah, Travel Planning in the US
Canyonlands, Utah, Travel Planning in the US

The US has amazing landscapes, and is great for road trips.

When it comes to incredible nature though, you can really thrive on budget travel in many areas of the world. Our favorite areas for adventure travel are definitely Central America and South America. There are so many unique places in Peru for example, like rainbow mountains, Machu Picchu, and a hanging capsule hotel

Rainbow Mountain, Peru. travel planning for south america
Machu Picchu, travel planning for South America
SkyLodge Adventure Suites, travel planning in South America

Peru has so many unique places to visit for travelers who love adventure.

Central America is perfect for those on a smaller budget, that really want to have fun and see some cool nature. El Salvador is full of incredible volcanoes and black sand beaches, while Nicaragua is the perfect mix of surfing, partying, and chasing waterfalls. Additionally, starting your travel planning for Central America is easier than many other areas of the world, as it's smaller and many travelers end up doing similar routes. Want the scoop? Our travel planning services can get you started on having the most epic Central American adventure.

Masaya Volcano, Granada, Nicaragua, Travel Planning in Central America
Santa Ana Volcano, El Salvador, Travel Planning in Central America
Cerro Chato, La Fortuna, Costa Rica, Travel Planning in Central America

Central America is full of volcanos and cool landscapes.

South East Asia is the perfect mix for those that want to travel on a budget, see incredible beaches, and explore some true hidden gems.

Koh Phi Phi,Travel Planning in SEA

Thailand has stunning nature, and is super budget friendly.

Another epic place for those that want a bit of everything is Cape Town. Sign up for a safari, go on a hike, eat delicious food, or party all night long. Cape Town, South Africa is seriously one of my favorite destinations, and one I highly recommend for all travel types.

Last but not least, Europe also has a ton of cool destinations for adventure travel, although some are on the pricer side. Places in Scandinavia such as Iceland and Norway have breathtaking landscapes like glaciers, black sand beaches, colorful mountains, and some of the most epic hikes. Other budget friendly options include the Azores, Madeira, Albania, and the Canary Islands.

things to see in Lanzarote, Travel Planning for adventure
La Geria, Lanzarote, Travel Planning for adventure
Playa de Montaña Bermeja, Lanzarote, Travel Planning for adventure

The Canary Islands are full of adventure, and are conveniently located in Europe.

The Best Places to Travel for Partiers

Other than beautiful nature and big cities, we also are party lovers, and are always seeking bucket list experiences when it comes to festivals, holidays, and fun parties around the world. Many of the most incredible festivals are located in Europe, such as Tomatina in Spain, Feria de Abril in Sevilla, Kings Day in Amsterdam, Tomorrowland in Belgium, or Carnival in the Canary Islands (the list goes on and on).

bucket list item- Tomatina Festival, Travel Planning for partiers

Tomatina is a festival of the biggest food fight in the world.

When it comes to nightlife, Europe also is extremely fun, and the parties go all night long. Some of the best destinations in Europe for nightlife are Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Dublin, Paris, Budapest, and Belgrade. I also loved the parties in the islands of Thailand, and know that Australians really know how to party (it's definitely on our bucket list).

When it comes to partying, there is one winner though, and that is Brazil. This country knows how to party like no other, and has the best New Years and Carnival celebrations. Parties go all day and all night, and are like no other. While in the area, Buenos Aires in Argentina is also a great place for partying in South America, and is where we are currently basing ourselves!

What Time of Year Do You Want to Plan For?

Another thing to keep in mind while starting your travel planning is the time of year. The destination you choose can greatly depend on when exactly you're looking to plan your trip. That's why we created guides for every month of the year, for fun ideas of where to travel each month.

Travel Planning by Month:

Are There Any Special Events Happening?

There are so many fun holidays around the world to experience, and it's great to know ahead of time for wherever you want to go. If you have a specific destination in mind, look up what special holidays they have in advance. If you have a time you want to travel but don't know a destination specifically, you can definitely check travel guides we previously shared.

How To Travel Cheaper and Better in 15 minutes!

How much more would you travel, if it costed you less resources?

With our Free eBook, you will learn how to save money and time on your future trips. Plus, you'll see the exact system we use.

Grab your copy for free when you sign up for our newsletter 👇

Book cover 2021

Travel Planning 101: Tips for Choosing Your Dates

Now that you know where you want to go, it's time for the next step of the travel planning process- dates! (In some cases the dates may be the first, and the destination second).

Here are some things that will help you:

Travel Planning for Flights: Having Flexibility with Dates

Did you know that flexibility can make the world of difference when it comes to travel planning? For example, flights from New York to London may be $500-$1000 one way during peak times, while you can also find this same exact flight for as low as $100 for a different date!

One thing we love using is Skyscanner, which allows you to choose the options anytime or anywhere. For example, if you have your heart set on Paris, you can put your airport to Paris, and either choose a month to see the cheapest dates to fly within that month, or even put cheapest month, which will show you the cheapest dates to fly there any time of the year.

Travel Planning for Flights: Having Flexibility with Days

Another thing to keep in mind while travel planning is the day of the week. While many people travel on the weekends, it's no surprise that Fridays and Sundays are *normally* more expensive to fly. Try to play around with your dates and you'll find that even changing your Friday for Thursday or Sunday for Monday can make a big difference. Statistically though, the absolute cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Travel Planning for Flights: Having Flexibility with Airports

Another small hack we have with flights is to check nearby airports. For example, did you know just an hour outside NYC is a tiny airport that has incredible flight deals? While everyone looks to fly in and out of JFK or La Guardia, Stewart airport is an option that doesn't simply come up when you put NYC, but really isn't too far from Manhattan at all. 

If you have a destination in mind and find that the flights are ridiculously expensive, consider looking for airports nearby and see if you can find better rates.

Want to know another groundbreaking technique that we use? If you're having trouble finding a cheap flight, we have some special tricks we use to find our deals. If you'd like the inside scoop, you can simply buy us a cup of coffee (it helps fuel our writing!) or you can check out the different travel planning services that we offer, engineered to save you both time and money.

Pink Dot Thessaloniki Greece

Will You Buy Us A Coffee? ☕

As coffee lovers, we always enjoy the energy of caffeine. It helps us get the best free travel guides out there for you! 😄

Travel Planning 101: Finding Your Transportation

Now that you know where you're going to go, and (potentially) how to get there, let's jump to the next step of the travel planning process- transportation.

Travel Planning for Getting Around: What Mode of Transportation Are You Interested In?

First things first, if you don't want to fly, there are definitely different options for making it to where you want to go. Ferries, trains, and Bla Bla cars are a few of the ways to get from one destination to another without having to fly. (We go over this more on our free travel planner).

Jadronlinjia ferry to Brac

Ferries are a great alternative to flying in some areas.

Next, getting around the place you are visiting is also important for the travel planning process. Some destinations are super pedestrian friendly, while some have excellent public transportation, and others you'll need a car for. It's important to check on different travel blogs for other travelers' advice, so that you can get around most efficiently.

For the US, a car is super necessary, unless you're visiting cities like New York, Vegas, or Miami. Europe is much more well connected though, and the majority of places you actually don't need a car at all for, and can travel by trains or buses comfortably. We rented a car in Mexico though, and found it to be the best decision ever. For just $10-20 a day, you can save a ton of time, and find some incredible hidden gems around Mexico.

colorful church Tabasco Mexico, Travel planning for hidden gems
Laguna Atexcac, places to visit in Mexico, Travel planning for hidden gems
cempesuchil fields, colorful spots in Mexico

Some of our favorite hidden gems in Mexico were found only because of having a rental car.

Travel Planning 101: The Best Travel Apps for Booking

There are so many website and travel apps out there, but which ones are best? Here are some of our top ones:

The Best Travel Apps for Flights

When it comes to looking up flights, Sky Scanner is our go to. However, it's also important to note that third party sites don't always include luggage in your ticket! So it's a great place to start, but when you find a flight you like, be careful with which booking agency you are going with, and also check on the airline's official website.

The Best Travel Apps for Car Rentals

For renting a car, the same goes. We usually go on or Kayak to find the deals. If the fine print looks good, we book right away. However, we always go to the car rental's website to double check if there are restrictions on age, mileage, or anything else before making the booking.

We have a few other small tricks for saving on car rentals! Want the inside scoop? Just check our weekly travel tips on our Instagram guides.

The Best Travel Apps for Accommodation

When it comes to accommodation, there are two major partners that take over the market- Airbnb & Booking. While Airbnb used to be an amazing option, cleaning fees have skyrocketed, and you it's no longer as personal, but all about rules and regulations. We don't know about you, but this certainly isn't how we want to spend our trips.

When it comes to Booking, this is where you'll find almost any option there is out there. The good thing about booking is that you can earn status, getting you discounts on future rates. 

The one thing we do not like about Booking though, is the customer service. Terribly outsourced, it's almost impossible to resolve issues you may have. If you don't mind the few extra dollars, you can always check for accommodation there, and then book directly through the hotel's website. In addition, Google maps has an option to check for hotels, and there will be some extras you'll find that don't pop up on search engines.

Travel Planning 101: Planning Your Activities

Now that you have the basics of your travel planning done, you'll want to start choosing all of the fun activities there are!

In order to find things to do, fun spots to photograph, and cool restaurants, we rely on three main things- blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

Travel Planning 101 Pin
Travel Planning 101 Pin
Travel Planning 101 Pin

Travel Planning with Blogs

The best way to start with the basics is to start reading travel blogs. These will help you get an idea of the hot spots, and maybe even some cool finds from travelers or locals themselves. Stop looking at Tripadvisor, and start reading recommendations from people with real experience (not some Karen who has never traveled before and was having a bad day).

Now when we say travel blogs, we don't mean the giant websites like CNTravel, Timeout, or Culture Trip, we mean the small pages. This is where you'll find authentic recommendations by locals, and travelers seeking quality, not quantity. Make an ABC list of things you'd like to do: the A list with top sites, the B with things you'd really like to check out after, and a C list with extra activities if you have time to spare.

Travel Planning with Instagram

The amount of places I have found to fuel my travel planning from Instagram is insane. It really is such a great app to take advantage of.

I actually use Instagram for travel planning all year round, as whenever I find a post that I like, I save it to a folder in Instagram for that specific destination. Check out travel accounts or even hashtags of destinations, and you'll have a whole new way of exploring. Instagram is basically a search engine now, and the most popular posts (normally top content in terms of photos and videos) will be put at the top. This is great because creators usually seek out beautiful places, and they usually give tips about the location as well.

Travel Planning on Instagram

Instagram allows you to make folders, which we use to save photos and videos as travel Inso.

Another way you can utilize Instagram for travel planning is to check the official tourism page of the destination you are going, as there is usually a wide variety of places to visit.

Travel Planning with Pinterest

Just like Instagram, Pinterest acts as a search engine, and has great inspo for traveling. The only difference though is that with Pinterest, bloggers can add their link, making it easier to be directed to pages you'll be interested in. If you find an article of photo you like, you can make a board and save it there for later, making it very easy to organize your travels.

Preset - before & after

Transform your photos

One click is all it takes to make your photos look stunning. Get our latest package of Lightroom presets, Into The Wild.

Planning Your Excursions

When it comes to planning activities, many will require reservations. For this reason, it's important to read up on the things you want to do, the times they are running, and if there are specific days that events land on. 

After you've done your research, you can look on different sites for excursion options, and even find some of the best ones by simply doing a search on Instagram. You can book through engines like Viator or Get Your Guide, or you can find the companies and contact them directly.

Planning Other Reservations 

Many places will have restaurants, museums, or other places of interest that require a reservation. For example, when we went to Budapest, there was an exclusive restaurant that was booked out for months! If you want to eat at a high end or very popular restaurant, make sure to reach out ahead of time. If you'd like to visit any attractions, do your research ahead of time as well. Large cathedrals, famous museums, and many other spots may in fact have limited tickets per day, and some sell out far in advance, so it's important to do your homework before.

Polignano Cave Restaurant, what to do in Bari

Polignano has an exclusive restaurant built into a cave, which you always need reservations in advance for.

Travel Planning 101: Organizing Your Travels

Now that you have everything booked, it's time to organize all of the travel planning that you've done! In order to avoid chaos, and have everything run as smoothly as possible, it's important to stay as organized as possible. Here are some of our tactics to organizing your trips.

Check the Entry Requirements

One of the most important things to do before traveling anywhere is making sure that you are actually able to enter the country. Many countries require visas, and now with Covid there are a tons that require vaccinations, or negative Covid test results. Not only that, but many places in the world require other vaccines, in order to keep you safe during your travels.

For example, for many places in South America, it is required to have a yellow fever vaccine. Appointments to get vaccines can be difficult, and take a while, so make sure to be proactive and gather the necessary documents in order to get yours if you need one. 

For visas, you'll want to contact the nearest embassy to you, and get an appointment as early as you can. You'll most likely need a passport sized photo of yourself, proof of flights in and out of the country, and a check to pay for the visa (depending on the agency). Always make sure to keep your documents safe, and ensure your passport is valid- some countries even ask that your passport is valid for 6 months to a year from the date you plan on leaving.

Keep You Documents Together

Having everything in one place will make your life so much easier. Always have two copies of your itineraries and confirmation numbers. We like to have multiple digital copies while traveling, and uploading everything to a folder in Google Drive. We use the same email address for all types of bookings, so that we can easily find everything.

Fede uses Microsoft Excel to keep all of the info of confirmation numbers, receipts, etc in one document, while I use a notebook to write everything down. In addition, there are plenty of apps where you can organize your travels, and keep everything all in one place.

road to Zabljak Montenegro

Stay Up To Date📫

We have a non-spammy weekly newsletter, where we give travel tips, and exclusive content and discounts.

Travel Planning 101: Packing for Your Trip

Alright, the travel planning is almost done! Now you are ready to go, and just need to pack for your trip. When it comes to packing, there can be a lot to think about! That's why we're breaking it down for you. Here are the different things to keep in mind for when you are packing for a trip:

What is the Weather Like Where You Are Traveling?

The first thing you'll want to keep in mind is the place you are traveling. If you're visiting the UK, you'll probably want to bring an umbrella. If you're visiting the Caribbean, you'll definitely want beach attire, sunscreen, and a towel. No matter where you go, it's important to know the weather conditions so that you can pack properly for your trip.

snow in Georgia the country, travel planning for the weather
travel planning for the weather
what to do in Nassau, Bahamas, travel planning for the weather

Weather plays a huge part in travel planning.

Do You Need Specific Things for Your Activities?

If you plan on doing special activities, you'll want to plan accordingly. For example, if you're going to hike, make sure to bring sneakers. If you're going to a pebble beach, make sure to have water shoes or maybe a water proof phone pouch.

Have you ever though what would your travel essentials be? when you're traveling, there's certain situations you want to be prepared for. Here you will find a list of what we found out to be absolute necessary items.What to pack? That's the biggest question when preparing for a trip. No

Read More

Is the Place Religious?

Different countries have different religions, and some are quite strict when it comes to how you dress. For example, the UAE requires all women to be covered from head to toe, meaning you'll need something to cover your hair, ankles, wrists, etc. If you plan on going to Italy, there are certain churches where you'll need to cover your shoulders. Make sure you are prepared, so that you won't have to buy extra clothing when you're there.

Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi, packing while travel planning
travel planning in Thailand
travel in Senegal to Touba

Make sure to be properly packed for religious sites while traveling.

What's the Dress Code for Where You're Traveling?

Depending on where you're going, will definitely depend on how you'd like to dress. When we went to Rio for New Years, everyone was dressed in white, and when we visited Hvar, we noticed that everyone dressed up in a specific style to go out. Check out the nightlife scene, or how locals dress so that you don't have to overpack for no reason.

NYE in Brazil, Travel Planning for partiers

In Brazil, everyone dresses in white for the new year.

How Well Developed is the Place that You're Visiting?

We've been to quite a few countries that are under developed, and we were so happy that we prepared properly for visiting them. Not having fresh water, we invested in a water purifier. When visiting places that weren't as safe, we made sure to have bags that were more discreet. and zipped properly. There are quite a few things we also found that were helpful, such as travel essentials in South America that we learned about after visiting. Wherever it is though, it helps to know before you go.

Looking To Travel Somewhere?

Off The Beaten Trips is our travel agency.

But this isn't anything like you've ever experienced before. You'll have an epic trip without having to break the piggy bank.

Unique locations. Epic adventures. Lifetime memories.

Now you are ready to start your travel planning journey! We're excited to know which places you're looking to visit, and how the process goes. If you have any questions or need help, please comment down below!

Feeling overwhelmed? Well, now you don't need to. We offer our customized. travel planning services, so that you can sit back and relax, while we take care of the hard work. Unlike traditional travel agencies, we don't work off commission, so you're guaranteed to save money on flights and accommodation.

We're dedicated to providing you the most valuable information out there, so that you can travel more and spend less this year. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you can always stay in the know, and get access to exclusive deals on all our products and services.

Also, here are some other articles you'll love:

Like this article? Please share it with your family and friends, so that we can continue to keep creating free travel guides for you! It takes just a second, and would mean the world to us. Thanks for being here!

Sharing is caring!