image 7 ways to plan your travels without stress

“I just want to be there, enjoy my time, and be the expert without putting in the work,” says everyone when they start planning their trip from scratch.
The thought of planning a Europe trip on my own seemed overwhelming; from what to see, where to stay, and what to eat…there’s a lot going on. There’s a reason why travel agents exist, but it wasn’t in my budget when planning this trip and it isn’t something I plan on using in the future. Instead I got advice from friends who previously visited Italy and while they told me some great stories, I still didn’t learn how to plan my trip. It’s like reading a self-help book in your room, but not implementing the words into action; a fun activity, but useless. It was time for me to close the book on their adventures and start planning my own. As a first-timer to Italy and Spain I didn’t want to wind up in the ghetto or overpay for a place because of lack of research. But with a little help from the internet, and avoiding traditional hotels, I was able to find large apartments that included kitchens, washing machines, free wifi, and a roof top terrace or a balcony everywhere I stayed. All while only spending 40-60$ a night.
You don’t need a travel agent, but you do need a simple structure to get you where you need to be stress-free. Here’s some tips that helped me when I planned my travel, so I hope they help you too.

1. Decide how long you’re staying


 This dictates how much money you’ll have to spend on your plane ticket. If you can take a two week vacation, then I recommend going the cheaper route with flights. This is the option I chose, which is a full day of travel on both ends (20-23 hours), but the total cost was 600$ roundtrip with travel insurance. I had a lot of fun with this route because the 9 hour layover was in Lisbon and there was so much to do (but that’s for another post). It gave me the opportunity to explore another country I wasn’t planning to see. If you’re trip is a week or less I recommend splurging on the flights so you have more time at your destination. Once you know how many days you have strictly for vacation, you should write down and prioritize what cities you want to see.

2. Make a loose itinerary


“At 10am we need to be finished with breakfast and walk fast to be at the museum by 10:15 for the guided tour. We’ll eat at 11:45 to head over to the gallery….” This happened to me once on “vacation” and it was more exhausting than relaxing. The more you cram into your vacation, the harder it is to breathe. A loose itinerary on the other hand includes: the address of where your staying, the arrival and departure of your trains, what you must see in bold, and what you want to see in italics. Instead of having an hour by hour of what you need to see, it’s more like a checklist.
Travel tip: For food, ask locals about great “hole in the walls” or use yelp. 

3. Be your own your tour guide


I’m going to assume that most people reading this have gotten out of their hometown and went on vacation at least once in their life. If so, when was the last time you went on a guided tour? Just because you travel to Europe doesn’t mean you need a tour guide to show you around. The people on a guided tours in Italy are the same people I see at home on a guided tours; they look like sheep zombies listening through their headsets to what their tour guide is telling them half asleep. You’ll pay too much money for someone to tell you when you can go to the bathroom. I suggest reading about the important paintings and sculptures before hand if you’re into the history, or paying a little more for an audio tour; that way you decide when you want to listen and when you don’t.

4. Skip hotels, book through Air Bnb


Air Bnb changed the way traveling works because it can fit within any budget. The website does it all– on the right side it has google maps where you can drag and zoom your mouse to the area you want to stay in. Then you’ll see the listings available during the days you’re visiting. Once you find a few places in your price range, you can read personal reviews about them and the hosts. Used advanced filters so you save more time when looking at listings. In Italy especially, make sure to look for places that have wifi and air conditioning or heating (depending on when you’re traveling there). If you’re confused on how to use AirBnb email me and I will help you. Even though airbnb is already budget friendly, add this code to save an extra 27$ when you book your stay:

Travel tip- If you’re in a city that has a metro or a tram book a place that has a stop nearby. This will save you money from taxi’s and you’ll get around town faster.

5. Explore more, travel in the early afternoon


This is the best time because you have the morning in one city to leave no stone unturned, and it gives you the evening to explore your new city. Keep in mind that when you get to your next destination, lunch might be closed. Grab a panini in a side stand or bring snacks so you’re not hangry.

6. Keep train travel short


I recommend no longer than 2 hours on the train because you you need to add the hour it takes to get to the train station and the hour it takes getting out the train station to find your AirBnb. It’s a maximum of 4 hours traveling, and it’s plenty. I advise you to plan your flight in a city you want to start in, and then train to other places. My boyfriend and I flew into Rome instead of Milan because it was the city we wanted to see the most, granted it was more expensive, but when you have to choose between time or money, choose time. We had to pick and choose because we wanted to spend more time vacationing than sitting on a train. When you keep your train destinations short you’re able to travel less, and enjoy more.

7. Remind yourself it’s not a “once in a lifetime” trip

Adele concert in Verona di Arena, Italy
Adele concert in Arena di Verona Italy

There’s a difference between a “once in a lifetime trip” and a “once in a lifetime experience.” Remind yourself you can always come back if you missed a landmark or a city because you ran out of time. It’s happened to me before, but it always gives me extra motivation to come back and visit again soon. On another note, make sure you take full advantage of once in a lifetime experiences. I found out Adele was touring in Italy while I was there. Her performance was Arena di Verona, a landmark in Italy that was built in the 1st century. I added it to my itinerary without question. I mean when was this going to happen again?  Understand the difference and you’ll experience your vacation without stress, or regret.

Implement this and you’ll notice a difference when you travel. What were some “once in a lifetime experiences” you had when traveling?

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One comment

  1. Great blog post! Will definitely be taking on these tips to make my next holiday as stress free as possible.


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