Since this is going on the fifth time that I’ve planned my travels during my year abroad, I can say that I’m familiar with the emotional cycle of travel planning. I can also say that this will be my attempt at one of those trendy lists. Ha, kidding, I don’t sell out.
Booking the flight: excitement with no direction. You’re super excited right now because the place(s) that you’ve been dreaming of for the past week/month/year will probably become a REALITY! Your city probably has been very very loosely researched and, if studying abroad, the flight was bought more on a whim than anything else. Most likely, a friend came up to invite you to Budapest and you said yes, immediately.
Googling. Because how much do you REALLY know about a city before booking your tickets? Right now you’re probably Googling photos of the area and daydreaming of the amazing experiences you’re about to have when you go. You really have no idea what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it—let alone how much all this costs—but you don’t care! It’s finally happening!
Bucket list making phase. You want to see ALL THE THINGS. You start researching what the place is known for because up until this moment, you’ve never actually thought about particulars of a city.
Reality. You realize that for the length of your trip, it’s going to be CHAOS fitting everything you want to do in your short stay. Start making a tear-stained list without the cool places that didn’t make this list. This is also when you brace yourself and research average daily expenses. Unless you’re going to Thailand or Morocco, Western Europe is looking a lot like euro-signs right now.
Booking part 2! Yay more booking! If you’re like me, you don’t book everything at once because you hate dropping all that $$ up front. So by waiting a week and researching all your housing options, it makes the expenses less painful. But hey! This revamps the excitement! You now know where you’re staying.
Crying a little inside. You’re in that awkward spot of spending a lot of money without that much reward. Spend a little time crying and missing out on junk food because you have to save some budget for eating junk food while you’re on the road.
Begging Couchsurfers. For the cautious Couchsurfers out there, booking the hostel was only step 1 of your housing search. You like to have a backup in case things don’t pan out—but you also hate paying the last-minute fees. So now you’re on a frantic hunt for a couch to sleep on… hopefully within the last 3 days before you’re unable to cancel hostel reservations, a magical host will appear and save the day.
Figure out smaller details.
Knowing Remembering what time you’ll be arriving might be a good idea. If it’s a bit later than you like, you’ll have to prepare how you’re going to get from the airport to where you’re staying later that night. You’ll also be preparing a to-do reminder list of things that you’ll need to do immediately upon landing. Like converting your euros to moroccan dirhams.
RELAX! You’ve done everything you could before the trip. It’s time to enjoy yourself and brace for the hectic chaos that is your arrival.
Start over. After you feel like you’ve fully planned out your trip, start dreaming about more places that you could plan. Inspiration comes mostly in the form of other travel bloggers and jealousy likes on Instagram or Matador.