Here is a list of resources I use and actions I do while planning all of my trips…
Instagram – Call me a basic millennial, but I get most of my travel inspiration from Instagram. Utilize the tagging feature to be able to learn the names of your favorite spots and find out where they are situated. Also, you are able to see other photos of the same location to ensure it is safe, that multiple people go there, and that you truly want to visit it. We have all been fooled by an Instagram photo before, but this feature takes the uncertainty out of finding your new favorite spots.
Atlas Obscura – Nobody wants a run of the mill trip, but also finding the hidden toilet of Benjamin Franklin is not everyone’s cup of tea… this guide has the best of both worlds: the unique yet tame and also the very obscure. Read this for inspiration when planning a unique trip.
Lonely Planet – A classic guidebook company that has stood the test of time and provided loads of information on their easy to peruse website.
Pinterest – I have organized my entire life on this website, including other site’s guides to specific places, the best Kodak moment spots, what to wear, and local tips. The best part is it is all in one place!
Favorite travel blogs – My favorites include The Blonde Abroad, Passion Passport (which admittedly is more of a community of storytellers), and the Polkadot Passport.
Ask around – You will be surprised how many people you know have relevant stories, advice, and knowledge on your prospective destinations. Always ask around. Connecting with people in the process is half of the fun.
Know how to make an itinerary – I think one of the purest joys in life is making Google docs. This is also a safety precaution. Share this with a family member or friend and travel easy knowing someone knows where you are.
Make a list – Nothing gets me excited for a trip like a nice clean list of all of the things I want to do while traveling. I am the type of person that needs a purpose to every day of my life, and this task makes me feel like I am accomplishing something during planning, and will accomplish something on my trip.
Check it twice – So many times I have had a unique or obscure place on my list that turns out to be closed or has funky hours. Research is important, if only just checking the establishment is still running or will be open during your trip.
Consolidate and categorize – You don’t need to plan out every second, but you should have clear sections of where you are staying, where you would like to eat, and what you would like to see. It’s an exciting puzzle seeing how all of those things will fit together to make each day while travelling full of adventure.
Flights – Not sure where to go? Subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights for daily deals that just might inspire you and save your wallet. You can also use the tool on Google flights where you enter a general destination such as “Europe” and a time frame (usually one week to a month) of travel, and it will show you the best deals. Momondo is also a lesser known site but it is chalk full of deals not present on larger websites such as Expedia.
Transportation – Another important point of research is finding out how you are getting around. Not everywhere has Uber, something I learned the hard way. This is extremely important in foreign countries. Don’t be like me, panicking in a Hungarian train station not knowing what the h*ll to do. Knowing how you are getting from point A to point B takes the weight off your shoulders and rids you of the fear of being lost or stranded.
Hostel – Picking a hostel is a very important part in planning a trip, as it can make or break your travel experience. In order to ensure I am staying at a reputable, clean, and hip hostel, I always book with Hostelworld online. I use the compare tool and always read the reviews. The most important factor I consider is proximity to all of the attractions I would like to visit and the neighborhood in which the hostel is.
Pick out your soundtrack – I have a habit of downloading a new album or playlist for each trip I go on. Psychologically, this helps you remember your trip better since emotions and music are associated with it. I am now able to look back with amazing memories that have their own soundtrack.