Before you start to plan an international trip it’s helpful to know what you really want from the experience. So often we jump into researching and booking without thinking about our motivations and desired outcomes. When we take the time to intentionally design our trips, we create more unique and fulfilling experiences! It also saves a ton of planning and research time because we’re clear on what we’re looking for so it’s easier to make decisions along the way.
There are five simple questions that will help you get clear on exactly what you’re looking for. In this article, we’re going to walk through each of these questions so you can easily build the foundation that all the other elements of your trip will build upon. Your answers will likely change from one trip to the next so save this article for reference the next time you want to plan an international trip!
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5 Questions That Will Help You Plan An International Trip
What is the purpose of this trip?
What do I want to get out of this experience?
How do I imagine spending my days?
What environment is best for the experience I want?
How quickly do I want to move from place to place?
Question #1 to Plan an International Trip: What is the purpose of this trip?
There’s a motivator for every trip and it’s time to find yours. Take a moment to think about what’s motivating you to take this trip. What is it that you’re looking for as you plan this international trip? Relaxation? Adventure? Solitude? Connection?When you understand your desire, it’s much easier to create! This information also helps you narrow down your choices. If you’re looking for tranquility and relaxation, you’re probably not going to choose a big, bustling city for your destination. If you want solitude, staying in a hostel dorm isn’t going to give you what you want. You deserve to have the experience you’ll enjoy most so take the time to figure out what that is!
Question #2 to Plan an International Trip: What do I want to get out of this experience?
Once you know what’s motivating you to take this trip, it’s time to figure out what you’re hoping to take away from the experience. Are you craving new connections and friendships? Do you want to learn a new skill? Maybe you’re looking to immerse yourself in a culture that sparked your curiosity. Simply wanting to have fun, party, and laugh your ass off is a good enough reason to plan an international trip too! Placing too many expectations on your travels can be a recipe for disappointment so hold this idea lightly.
There’s no wrong answer to this question. For us thoughtful humans, it’s easy to tell ourselves there has to be a deeply transformational element or the experience isn’t worth having. I want to remind you that craving fun, excitement, and memorable moments of wonder is reason enough to plan an international trip. It’s okay to keep things light and fun!
Question #3 to Plan an International Trip: How do you imagine spending your days?
Now that you’re clear on why you want to plan an international trip and what you’d like to get from the experience, think about the activities that will help you find what you’re looking for. If you’re craving relaxation and peace, what does that look like for you? What brings you peace may be completely different than what is peaceful for me.
When you close your eyes and think about this trip, what do you see? How do you imagine spending your days? Are you wandering aimlessly through winding alleys or a dense forest trail? Are you relaxing in a cafe watching the world go by or next to a beach watching the waves crash along the shore? Take the time to daydream about the trip and see what comes up! These images are going to be essential to answering the next question.
Question #4 to Plan an International Trip: What environment is best for the experience I want?
After you have a picture of how you’d like to spend your days, think about the types of environments that support those activities and desires. Is it a bustling city? A quiet cabin in the forest? Maybe a small town that has a bit of both? Having an idea of the types of places you're drawn to for this trip will save a massive amount of time in choosing your destination(s).
Here’s an example for you -- when I was planning an international trip for my fortieth birthday, I was really struggling to figure out where I wanted to go. Taking the time to think through these questions helped me narrow my choice to the Balkans -- it has laid back cities for some vibrance and exploration, tons of nature that I love (both forest and beaches), incredible food, and a relaxed pace of life that would provide the opportunity to unwind after being cooped up for nearly two years! I also had the chance to revisit one of my absolute favorite places, Sarajevo, along the way. It was the perfect mix of fun, relaxation, nature, solitude, connection, along with both new and familiar places!
Question #5 to Plan an International Trip: How quickly do I want to move from place to place?
It’s incredibly tempting to pack your itinerary, trying to see as much as possible when you plan an international trip. I know, I’ve done it on many occasions only to wish I’d slowed down and had more time in the places I visited. If you’re looking for excitement and adventure you’ll probably want to be on the move more than if you’re craving rest and relaxation. Let your desired experience be your guide!Before you start planning an itinerary, think about how quickly you want to move from place to place, if you’re considering a trip with multiple stops. If you’re traveling for more than a of couple weeks, I highly recommend building in “rest days” where you have nothing on the agenda. Keeping in mind all the answers you’ve come up with so far, give yourself the space to really enjoy the things you want from this experience instead of being on the run the whole time!
There is absolutely no one “right” way to travel or to plan an international trip. The whole point of indie travel is that you have the freedom and flexibility to create whatever experience makes you happiest! Simply taking the time to get clear on what that is will make the entire process more fun and much easier.
Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to choose a destination for your adventure! It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of crowdsourcing ideas or endlessly scrolling through social media for inspiration. Keeping your desired experience in mind will help you sort through the noise.
It takes time and energy to plan an international trip that you’ll love. That doesn’t mean it has to be overwhelming! I’ve created resources to help you get started so you don’t have to spend hours scouring the internet for information. There’s always more coming so check back often!
Additional resources to help you plan an international trip:
There are more articles about travel planning on the site and if you’re planning a trip to Europe, here’s a complete step-by-step guide. If you’d like to talk to a real human or get a little help putting the pieces together, check out these travel consulting services designed specifically for indie travelers. When we work together, you still have all the freedom but will set out with more confidence and peace of mind knowing you’ve got all the best information at hand!
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Now get out there. The world is waiting for you.
What other questions do you ask yourself when planning an international trip? How have they helped you create awesome experiences?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
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