Travel planning made easy tips and checklists

Just get away! Get out of the daily routine and into a new adventure. Once you have a taste for travel, you will become addicted to it. Because you never feel as free and full of energy as when exploring new countries and cultures.

The times you spend traveling will be remembered for the rest of your life. They are the times you will tell your grandchildren about one day. So if you haven't planned a trip for a while – or even never – it's urgently time (again) to do so. With our tips, you can plan your trip with a minimum of effort and money – so that your next adventure can start soon.

Every journey is an unforgettable adventure

If you've ever been traveling, you know that feeling that creeps up on you a few hours, days, or even weeks before you leave. It's a mixture of anticipation, excitement and perhaps respect – of what you'll experience and the challenges you'll encounter.

Because one thing is for sure: No journey runs smoothly. There's always an obstacle or two that you'll have to overcome, either while planning or afterwards on the ground.

But it is exactly these imponderables that make you mature as a person. If you have mastered the challenges, you will be a more self-confident and independent person afterwards.

"Traveling educates", is not without reason a well known saying. You get to know yourself better, but also a new country, foreign people, exotic cultures and much more. So be it alone, with friends or your partner. Be it to the other end of the world or within Germany. Be it for a weekend, a week, a month or a year: every trip is an unforgettable adventure that enriches your life – guaranteed!

No great journey without the right preparation

There are a thousand inspiring reasons to travel. But first and foremost, traveling is simply fun. When you leave home every now and then, you can completely switch off from obligations such as job or household and escape from stress.

However, a trip can also mean stress beforehand. For it wants to be carefully planned. The longer and farther away you want to travel, the more effort you usually have to put into the organization as well. But don't worry: the preparation is worth it, because as soon as you're on the plane, all the stress is forgotten.

So planning is the key when you want to set off on a major trip. For this reason, the following checklists and tips should help you prepare – regardless of whether this is your first trip or you already have experience, what your destination is, how long you want to be away for.

Because what is true for a big trip, you can of course also break down to a smaller trip. In this sense: Have fun planning and especially traveling!

The first step: freeing up time

Many people would like to travel more, but there is always a reason that supposedly speaks against their intention: usually it is either too little money or too little time. How you can travel as cheap as possible, you will find out later.

Now, however, you must first address the timing issue. The first important step is to find a period in which you can and want to travel. Sometimes it's easy because you'll soon have three months of semester break, six weeks of summer vacation or four weeks of vacation anyway.

In many other cases, however, you have to actively scoop up the missing time – for example, by cleverly taking advantage of bridge days. However, it's often especially difficult if you're planning a longer trip that will last for several weeks or even months.

Then your job may get in the way because you can't take enough paid leave. Or you have children who need to go to school. But don't worry, because nevertheless it is almost always possible to go on the road. For this you have, for example, the following options:

If you have children, you can use the time to travel before they start school. But choose destinations that are safe for your children and, of course, exciting as well. This will give you important "quality time" as a family and unforgettable memories.

If, on the other hand, your children are already of school age, you can align yourself with the vacation periods. Especially in summer, you will have six weeks of free time to explore the world together.

With older children, who are already more independent, you may be able to just go on a trip alone – meaning without your family. For two, three or even four weeks, they can finally provide for themselves well from a certain age and are often even happy to finally have "storm free" times. Supervision is still necessary, for example so that they don't have wild parties or get into other mischief. Plus, they need a point of contact when problems arise. Depending on your family situation, grandparents or other trusted persons may be able to take care of you in your absence.

If your job stands in your way instead or in addition, you also enjoy various options to free up time for traveling. On the one hand, of course, you can simply file for leave – a certain number of paid vacation days are available to you each year, after all.

On the other hand, if this time is not sufficient for the planned trip, you can also make individual arrangements with your employer. So seek the one-on-one conversation and ask, for example, for unpaid leave or the possibility of combining two annual leaves.

Models such as a sabbatical or a long-term overtime account are also popular ways to get a little more time off than usual, which you can then use for traveling.

If, on the other hand, you are still a pupil or student and would like to go abroad for a longer period of time than just the (semester) vacations, you can, for example, do an exchange year, apply for a semester abroad or take a semester off. The options available to you in each case depend primarily on your school or college or university.

So with a little creativity and courage, it's possible in most life situations to shovel at least a few weeks, or perhaps several months, off to travel. If you can't or don't want to do this, you can of course simply use extended weekends or your regular vacation or vacation time to travel.

However, the rule of thumb is: the shorter the travel time, the closer the destination should be. For a long weekend, for example, a flight to Berlin or Barcelona is worthwhile, but not to Australia, Canada or Thailand.

The second step: Clarify financial issues

After you've gotten the first problem out of the way – the lack of time – there's still the matter of money to deal with. In some cases, you will continue to receive your normal salary or you can also receive support payments such as BAfoG abroad. This way you can continue to cover your running costs and finance your trip from them or from your savings.

By the way, as a rule of thumb, you should always have enough savings available when traveling so that you can book a return flight if necessary. If, on the other hand, your regular income stops during your trip, for example because you are taking unpaid leave, or if you do not yet have your own income, you have the following options:

You can work before you travel, such as during vacations, weekends or after you graduate from high school, to save up enough money.

Alternatively you have the possibility to work during the trip. Here you can rely on classic "work& Travel" destinations such as Australia set and meanwhile travel from place to place. Or you look for a real job at a fixed destination. This can be a side job like waitressing, but also a paid internship or something like that. This work experience abroad will also look great on your resume afterwards!

It is also helpful to minimize the running costs during your absence. Maybe you can sublet your apartment or sell your car. Also insurances can sometimes be suspended for a longer stay abroad.

If possible, try to keep your costs down during an extended absence – both those for the trip and the running costs at home. Then check if you can cover them out of your savings or expected income respectively.

If you still can't get off the ground financially that way, you should think about models like "Work& Travel" think about it. Taking out a loan may also be an option for people in permanent employment. And last, of course, is to save as much as possible when traveling itself.

How to do it? Quite simply, you should live just as frugally or even more frugally when traveling as you do in your normal everyday life. It doesn't have to be the expensive luxury hotel, you don't need a massage every day, and you don't always have to eat in a restaurant in the evening.

Instead, you can travel on a minimal budget if, for example, you book cheap or even free accommodation, cook your own meals and use public transport. If you can afford more luxury, of course, that's perfectly fine. But if not, this strategy will still allow you to have a great trip on a budget.

The third step: Make rough travel plans

Now that time and money are no longer a problem, the fun part of traveling can begin. Namely, now it's time to plan your trip, at least roughly. So you are spoiled for choice:

Want to stay in one place or make a round trip?

How will you get around?

Which accommodations are available?

So now is the time when you need to set the key dates of your trip. How much flexibility you retain is a matter of personal taste. Some people like to book the entire vacation directly, so they don't have to worry about anything when they get there.

Others prefer to see on the spot where their way takes them, which people they meet or whether they like it somewhere perhaps so well that they want to stay nevertheless longer than thought.

How exactly you plan your trip right now, you have to decide for yourself. What you should already book, however, are your flights and at least the first one or two nights on site. Because one thing is for sure: After a long flight, with a lot of luggage under your arm and a heavy jetlag you definitely don't feel like looking for a place to sleep at first.

If, on the other hand, the first one, two or even three days are already planned, you can recover and acclimatize in peace and then set off on the actual trip with fresh energy.

The fourth step: book cheap flights

As soon as the key data of your trip are set, you should start looking for flights. Although there are also always cheap last minute offers. In most cases, the earlier you book a flight, the cheaper it is. Depending on where you want to go, you can find a cheap offer by choosing the often unpopular flights with a stopover or an open jaw flight.

The same applies to other types of travel, such as by train or bus. A certain contingent of especially cheap tickets is quickly gone after a short time. So you have to be quick to save money here as well.

The fifth step: Clarify organizational matters

Before you can actually leave, however, there are many other organizational to-dos to check off in the course of your travel planning. The shorter the trip and the closer the destination, the less planning is usually required.

However, if you are leaving for a foreign country or plan to stay away for a long time, you will have to put a lot more work into organizing your trip beforehand. So what are the most important points?

Depending on your destination, you must apply for a passport and any necessary visas in good time. You should allow at least eight weeks for this.

Consult a doctor for advice on travel vaccinations. These must also be done in time. At best, make an appointment with a specialist about twelve weeks before your planned departure.

Also check your insurance coverage. For long journeys or destinations outside the EU, you will usually need special international health insurance. Travel cancellation or baggage insurance can also be useful – depending on the individual case. On the other hand, you may be able to suspend some current insurance policies, such as car insurance, for the period in question.

You will need money for your trip. It is not always possible to withdraw money (free of charge) from an ATM, as is the case in Germany. For a longer stay you may need to open a special current account or apply for a credit card – which can also take several weeks. You should always have cash with you, but only in small amounts. Also find out how the tickets are insured against misuse in case of emergency and store the blocking numbers directly in your cell phone.

Check if you need any other documents for your trip and if so, which ones. You can research such information at the German Foreign Office, for example.

These documents can then be added directly to your packing list. Because it is also best to make such a reservation early – so that you don't forget anything important in the stress shortly before departure. Always add to this list as soon as you think of something..

The sixth step: Packing including checklist

…then your packing list should most likely be complete at the time of departure. A basic checklist can be a good starting point for your planned trip. What you really need and what you don't need depends on your destination, the time of your trip and many other factors. To the preparations belong then still further points:

First you pack all important documents like your passport, your visa, a copy of your vaccination card as well as your identity card, etc. a. You should also always write your flight ticket, accommodation booking confirmations and other documents for your trip on your packing list or put them directly in your hand luggage when you receive them.

Furthermore you need all documents for your insurances like the foreign health insurance, but also emergency numbers, blocking numbers for bank cards, etc.

As already mentioned, it is best to store them in your cell phone as well. You can also use this opportunity directly to download helpful apps. The little helpers are available for a wide variety of everyday situations on the go. However, it is best to download them while still in your home WLAN. Otherwise, you may incur roaming costs or the WLAN in your accommodation may not be powerful enough for this purpose.

Then pack the appropriate amount of cash. It should be enough for food during the journey, possible costs like entry fees. It is best to always have some, but never too much, cash in your pocket. As a rule of thumb you can roughly calculate 50 to 200 Euro. In addition, of course, do not forget your bank cards such as the current or credit card.

If you are traveling to a country for which you need a visa, you should always have passport photos in your luggage.

Finally, of course, you need all the things for everyday needs such as clothes and cosmetics, your smartphone with charging cable and a possible plug adapter, a first-aid kit with sunscreen or helpful utensils such as needle and thread.

When packing, also note the regulations in effect at the airport as well as when entering the country in question. In fact, you are not allowed to take many things in your hand luggage or at all. Otherwise you risk penalties like high fines or even being denied entry completely.

Sounds stressful? As mentioned before, any trip involves some planning. The bigger your operation, the more organization is required. But you can be sure: All the stress is forgotten as soon as you set foot in the plane. Instead, you gain an unforgettable life experience that you will certainly never regret. Rather you have to be careful not to get "addicted" to traveling as well. Because: "A long journey does not stop at the destination. A piece of us will always travel on in spirit", as Andreas Bechstein once knew!