Planning any trip can be complicated, but details become even more important when trying to organize a longer (multi-week, multi-month) voyage (and doing it on the cheap!).
While this proposition can seem overwhelming at first, remember that the end result will be worth all of the work up front. It’s important to keep in mind that laying the groundwork by doing a bit of researching and planning will provide for a much more satisfying (and budget-friendly) travel experience. Use these tips to avoid becoming overwhelmed and exhausted during the planning process (after all, you’ll still need plenty of energy for the trip itself!).
Put in for your vacation time. While it’s tempting to get caught in planning what you are going to do when you actually get to your destination, it’s important to make sure your “real life” is covered. If you work full-time, find out how much vacation time or personal days you have accrued. The ideal situation is to continue to get paid while you’re globetrotting. If your workplace allows for it, save up enough vacation days to cover your long trip. Also, make sure you put in for your vacation time as soon as you establish your travel dates to make sure you actually get the time off.
Develop a plan for your home while you are away. It’s important to think about who will “hold down the fort” (water plants, feed animals, shovel your driveway, make sure your pipes don’t freeze, etc.) while you are traveling. To avoid the extra cost and nuisance of abandoned house related problems, it may be advantageous to invite a friend to come and stay at your place while you are away to make sure things go smoothly. Remember to stop your mail during the time you’ll be on vacation. You can submit this request whenever you’d like via usps.com.
Get your paperwork in order. This is especially important if you will be traveling to one or more foreign countries. At the very least, you’ll need to make sure your passport is up to date and get a new one if it’s not. If you’re planning to stay in a country for over three months, you may need to acquire a visa (information regarding these documents can be found on consulate websites). Taking care of these details sooner than later will help you avoid stress and rush processing/mailing fees later on. Also, to make sure you have access to your funds while you are abroad, make sure to inform your bank and credit card company of your impending departure. Like stopping your mail, this can be done at any time (they simply enter your travel dates into their computer).
Start researching flights early. It’s important to begin looking for flights as soon as you can. This will give you an idea of what options are available to you. Luckily, we have several suggestions for helping you find cheap flights here at Frugal Monkey. The earlier you have your flights established, the easier it will be to book your other transportation (trains, car rental, etc.).
Think creatively about accommodations. Next to airfare, accommodations are usually the most expensive part of any trip. If you’re traveling on the cheap, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to forgo a place to rest your head every night. You’ll just need to think a bit more creatively about where to stay. Check out these suggestions for how/where to inexpensive lodging while on the road.
Adopt a philosophy of frugality. This is easier said than done. Living out one’s frugal ideals while traveling is entirely possible, but it takes a bit of foresight. Take a look at these suggestions to stretch your travel dollars further.
Enjoy. You’ve worked hard to plan a fantastic trip. Now it’s time to reap the benefits. Bon voyage!