Travel planning: just the essentials

Nooooo! Don't make me do more than the bare minimum of travel planning!

Nooooo! Don’t make me do more than the bare minimum of travel planning!

You’d think that someone who travels as much as I do would like travel planning. Nope, I hate it.

When I took just one or two vacations a year, travel planning was fun. I’d spend hours finding the perfect hotels and creating lists of great restaurants to try and sites to see (this is how my Field Notes were born, which I’ve written for Rome, Seattle, Turkey, Barcelona, Vancouver and New York City).

But now that I’m a travel writer, I can rarely afford the time to daydream about my destination let alone research lists of cool things I want to see and do. Often I have just a week or two between trips and need to file stories before I can leave again. This means I needed to whittle down travel planning to just the essentials.

So what are the essentials?

In this article I’ve written for Passport Health, a travel health website, I outline what I consider to be the bare minimum. I list out essentials to plan in advance for both ease of mind and for safety, identify some ways to save money (do you know about the Global ATM Alliance?), and give some packing tips too. There’s some advice that’s special for Canadians, but other nationalities can benefit from it too:

The essential steps for travel planning

Two kitties basking in the sun on the island of Gili T, Indonesia

What I wish travel planning was actually like

If you’re looking for other practical travel tips, check out my Advice about how to travel page where I give logistical advice for places that lack info for independent travellers (e.g. Machu Picchu, Panama City), health tips (e.g. preventing altitude sickness, visiting the dentist in Thailand), packing tips, advice for respectful travel, plus tips if you’d like to start living a nomadic life like I do.

What are your essential travel planning tips?






4 responses to “Travel planning: just the essentials

  1. you are all invited to me, travel is life go out and chill


  2. I like your idea of every person having a few priority things they want to do. It helps manage expectations an make sure everyone is happy!


  3. By far, I agree (and fail, often) with your tip on ‘packing light.’

    It’s so easy to get into the headspace of “Oh, I may need this…” however MOST of the time, you can find it where you are going anyway!

    Another tip: Visa preparation – always do this well in advance, because lots of the time you will have to apply in your home country, and send your passport off and wait weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great advice, Alex, agreed. I applied for my Brazil visa almost too late — I couldn’t believe how much info they wanted! Luckily I didn’t have to send my passport anywhere so I made it just in time. Many thanks for the tip!


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