Lonely Planet’s essential guide to planning and booking your dream trip
Want to see your travel dreams magically transform into a booking confirmation? The only limit is your imagination. Here are the four essential questions to ask when planning and booking the vacation of your dreams.
What is your travel dream really?
Close your eyes. Are you seeing mountaintops, temples or thundering waterfalls? Are you balancing on a surfboard, taking a cooking class, or trekking volcanoes? Be honest about what you want - don’t go hiking in the Dolomites for bragging rights if slurping fresh mozzarella in a Tuscan homestay is more your speed. Just because everyone goes to Bali doesn’t mean it’s the best trip for you. Your vacation time is your chance to be selfish, so let your imagination run wild.
Where can you fulfil your travel dream?
You might find one destination that ticks all the boxes - Costa Rica is famed for beaches as well as steamy jungles, Mexico is a must for ancient ruins and street food, and Italy - well, is there anything this destination can’t do? Where your dream destinations are a distance apart, there might be epic ways to connect them beyond a simple flight booking. The Trans Siberian railway can link up your lust for Russian spires with Beijing street food, and the mighty Ghan will take you from Australia’s glittering coast right into the Outback.
How much can you spend?
Pack half the clothes you need and twice the money - or so the wisdom goes. But if the numbers aren’t adding up, get creative. Start with location: Southeast Asia and Africa are much easier on your wallet than Scandinavia or North America. Think about where you’re staying: alternating between hotel bookings, homestays and B&Bs will slim down your costs. And booking group tours can save money by guiding you around a concentration of sights that might cost more time and money if you organized them independently.
How much time have you got?
You don’t need to choose between full time work and fulfilling your travel dreams - but you do need to plan. If vacation time is short, get creative with weekend road trips and book ahead to capitalize on public holidays. Ask your boss about carrying holiday time over to a new calendar year for a longer vacation. Booking an organized tour - think India’s Golden Triangle, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, trekking China’s Great Wall - ensures an action-packed itinerary. If time isn’t of the essence, travel slowly by booking a local homestay or minimize the costs of long-term travel by volunteering (some programs offer free accommodation and/or food) or working abroad (check visa restrictions).
So stick some pins in a globe, let your travel dreams run riot, and after all that you may not want a return ticket...