How To Plan An International Trip – 3 tips To Designing Your Dream Vacation

So you’ve decided to take your first international trip, (or your first international trip that doesn’t
involve a tour company or a cruise line) and you’ve chosen a country to go to, but now how do
you figure out what to see and where to go within that country?

 You don’t want to come home from your big
trip and read about darling restaurants that you missed eating at, hidden treasures that you
knew nothing about, secret piazzas where you could have enjoyed the best coffee in the world,
fantastic sights that were close to where you were. 

afternoons-in-Pienza
Summer afternoons meandering around Pienza, Italy

Here are some ways to help you source out what to see and do when you are planning your trip. 

3 Ways To Help Plan Your International Trip 

1.) Read Books 
With my love of Italy I am always reading books by people who bought homes there and
built a life in some delightful little town. My first was Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances
Mayes, and I have read many many more since then. (See my reading list here

Travel-Essays

You will find out about cool little places to visit, amazing non-touristy restaurants where
the locals eat, special places that tours never take you to.
I make lists as I’m reading, and then fit bits and pieces into various trips I go on.
It’s fabulous! 

2. Read Travel Blogs 
I love to spend mornings with a cup of coffee scrolling through travel blogs reading
about other ‘real people‘s ‘ travels. You can find all kinds of amazing information about
places to avoid, what things cost, incredible places to visit that aren’t in any guide books
– all those wonderful insider tips that you can only learn from someone who has done it
themselves. I get the best, best information from travel blogs! 

Peace-Love-Shea-Morroco
PeaceLoveShea’s Shea Marie in the spice markets of Marrakesh

After reading PeaceLoveShea’s blogs on Morroco I cannot wait to go there! Her photos are to die for – check them out here

3. Make A Mood Board 
I always make vision boards, but now after finding the website dnariyadh.com I’m
getting obsessed with mood boards.

portugal-travel-mood-board
Dnariyadh.com Portugal mood board

travel-mood-boards
Dnariyadh.com Marrakesh mood board

Putting together a visual collection of things that interest you in or about a country, be it sailing in the Greek islands, taking in the view on Capri, Gaudi in Barcelona – whatever
it is – will start guiding you in the right direction to designing the trip of a lifetime.
Also there is magic in vision boards and mood boards. Spending time with them
everyday seems to bring you closer to your goals, faster.

another cool travel mood board, this time from Kadijah’s Blog

4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Planning An International Vacation

I was recently asked to write a series of articles about international travel, and how you go about making that dream trip actually happen. Especially if you don’t want to go on a cruise or a package tour. (I cringe at the thought of each of these – so not my type of travel!)
I thought it might be fun to share with you on my blog.

So how do you get started planning an international trip? Where on earth do you begin? Especially if you don’t have a specific destination in mind, or if you just have a big concept such as the name of the country you want to go to – like I want to go to France or I want to go to Australia.
I always am planning the next 5 (or 500) trips that I want to go on. If you are already a follower of this blog (—> sign up on the sidebar to have Corinna B’s World delivered to your inbox each day) you will know that I am obsessed with Italy, and try to go there each year. So I am perpetually figuring out the next Italian sojourn, but within Italy there is so much to see and do, which means I am always having to refine my travel plans.
I came up with these 4 questions that I ask myself at the beginning of each year when I am in the first stages of thinking up a trip:

4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Planning An International Vacation

1. What type of vacation are you thinking about? Are you dying to get to a white sand beach, soak up the sun and drink in the exotic air?

Navaggio-Beach
Navaggio Beach, Zakynthos Greece

Or maybe you want a hiking trip. Or a trip to Europe to take in some history. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to go on a safari.
The first thing to do is start identifying the type of trip you want to take.

2. When do you want to travel? Sometimes you are able to cut out and go whenever you want to, but plenty of people have to use their vacation time within certain months, such as they can only leave in February, or have to go during school holidays.
If you want a beach holiday, but have to go in February, then you should think about the southern hemisphere or the equator. If you want a ski trip but your vacation is in August, then you should look at my homeland, beautiful New Zealand.

Heli-Skiing-Queenstown-New-Zealand
heli skiing in Queenstown New Zealand

A word to the wise: avoid Europe in August! All of Europe take their vacation in August, so its the most crowded, the most expensive, and the absolute worst time to go.

3. Does language matter to you? If you really are uncomfortable going to a non-english speaking country, then your options get narrowed for you. I’m super comfortable with all the European languages, but would find traveling in some parts of Asia and the middle east quite daunting, which narrows the scope for how far off the beaten track I would venture. I am dying to experience Marakkesh, Shanghai and Dubai, but probably wouldn’t stray too far from the city when there as I can’t even figure out the alphabet. Other friends of mine are super comfortable with that and don’t think twice about it.

Travel-To-Dubai
I haven’t made it there yet, but Dubai is on my wish list every year

4. What is your budget? Don’t let money put you off exploring the world. Just have an idea of the amount of money you can put towards your trip, so that you have a place to start from. Once you have an idea of what you can spend you can start maneuvering a trip into your price range.
I do all my travels on a super tight budget. I’m a single parent and just cannot throw big money on my travels, but I am not going to let that keep me from exploring the world. My banker once got really mad at me for going to Italy for 3 weeks, thinking that I would have blown too much money. It turned out that he spent vastly more taking his wife to Vegas for a five day getaway! Another time I wanted to take my son on a beach vacation and looked at two weeks in the San Diego area, renting a beachfront apartment, but it turned out to be cheaper to go to the east coast of Sicily and rent an apartment with a giant balcony overlooking the Ionian sea. 
The key is knowing how much you can spend, and then figuring out how to travel on that amount.