8 Tips to Travel Plan Like A Pro (even if you are an underqualified nineteen-year-old traveling alone)

As is evident from my slightly more scenic, slightly more aesthetically pleasing Instagram profile, I just returned from 2 months abroad. Being the mildly chaotic, extremely nervous, human embodiment of anxiety that I am, the weeks leading up to my Summer 2k17 Adventure (name trademarked by me) were anything but relaxing. When I wasn’t stressing about how I was going to fit 2 months worth of clothes into a 35cm x 56cm suitcase, I was stressing about how I would have enough money to comfortably (and fun-ly) travel for 2 months. And, when I sorted through those two, very real, stressors my lovely brain went full speed down a worry spiral. What if my phone breaks mid-trip (lol this actually did happen)? What if I accidentally booked a flight to Romania instead of Paris? What if…. What if…. What if….

I am happy to report that all my stressing was for naught and I ended up having the most magical and transformative 2 months of my life. Although much of my stress was due to my worry-wartness, I overcame a huge chunk of my travel unease by planning like a fiend. Here are 8 tips to travel plan like a pro (even if you are an underqualified nineteen-year-old traveling alone).

1. Make a cheat sheet

The night before I left on my trip I channeled all my nervous energy into creating a Pinterest-inspired travel cheat sheet. On this sheet, I included a monthly overview – where I would be and when, a list of all my flight times and numbers, an exchange rate guide, a budget chart and a bucket list section. I referenced this sheet a bajillion (accurate number) times during my trip and used the budget guide every day to stay on track.

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My real-life cheat sheet

2. Handwrite important info

It’s 2017, and by now we are all pretty reliant on technology. From boarding passes to maps to calendars to credit cards, our phones can easily take us anywhere. That is, until your phone breaks! Obviously, traveling without a phone is a huge risk and I would not recommend it (see tip 5) but, in the off chance that your phone breaks and you have no way of getting a backup, having your information handwritten could be a lifesaver. Write down directions to your hotel, your flight information (the flight number, ticket number and times!) and any important numbers you may need once you reach your destination.

3. Have an important docs folder

Make sure that all your essential documents (including that trusty cheat-sheet) are together in a folder. This folder will become your travel bible. Keep everything but your passport in it – flight info, rental car info, hotel confirmation, packing lists. Having this folder will make you much more organized and will ensure that you never miss a thing.

4. Set a realistic budget BEFORE you go

I am the first to admit that budgeting is not my thing… or at least it wasn’t my thing. But now, I’m a self-proclaimed budget addict. What do I mean by this? I set a strict budget for myself for the first month of my trip. At first, I was frustrated with my frugalness and annoyed that I couldn’t buy trinkets and food at every interesting place I went. But, budgeting my days became a daily ritual and a way for me to experience my travels in a new light. I felt that every experience I had was intensified by the fact that I made a conscious effort to spend my daily stipend on it. And trust me, although you may be dying for those flowy, bohemian, elephant pants in the Shuk, you’ll be way happier spending your money on good food or an experience that will create a memory that long outlives those cheaply made, glorified sweatpants.

5. Prepare for the worst and bring an extra “_____”

Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan, and sometimes it REALLY doesn’t go according to plan. For example, the morning of my departure to Paris, my phone stopped working. Completely and totally dead phone. Panicking, I ran around Tel Aviv with my broken phone begging every techie I saw to fix my phone so I wouldn’t “get murdered in Paris” (yes, I’m irrational but not having a phone is scary). No one was able to fix my phone and I was mentally preparing to travel phone-less and off the grid. Thankfully, an employee at iTech saved me. After seeing the look of utter desperation in my eyes as he handed me back my phone unfixed, he sold me a phone for only $115 and set it up for me as I waited. If I hadn’t walked into iTech and gotten a replacement phone, my experience in Paris would have been a lot different and way more stressful. So this tip I highly recommend – bring an extra phone/device that has wifi connectivity!

6. Mentally Convert Your Currency

This will be a lifesaver if you’re trying to stick to your budget. Knowing a rough estimate of how your currency compares to the currency of the place you are visiting will make it easy for you to determine what you can and can not afford while you are shopping/ looking for places to eat. For example, I knew that $5 CDN was roughly €3.25 and $10 was roughly 25nis, which made it easy for me to quickly calculate which items I could order from a menu, when I was being overcharged and when I was getting a good deal.

7. Pack Light

When packing for a vacation we all have the tendency to persuade ourselves that we will definitely wear that (insert article of clothing that you have never, ever worn in your life) and cram it into our suitcase. Here’s my tip – only pack clothes you have worn 6 times or more. If you pack articles of clothing you already know you like, you’ll always have an outfit to wear and you’ll never waste precious luggage space.

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The size of my suitcase for 2 months of traveling!

8. Don’t Stress Too Much

Remember this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and supposed to be fun! So just sit back, relax and know that you’re in for a crazy adventure!

15 Replies to “8 Tips to Travel Plan Like A Pro (even if you are an underqualified nineteen-year-old traveling alone)”

  1. Great tips and so helpful. I will think of your tips when I will prepare for our Holidays. Saved this article! Thank you!

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  2. Good Tips! I’m glad you were able to fix your phone! One thing I do when I travel overseas is take a photo of my id, passport, credit cards, and important documents and send it to someone at home just in case! 🙂

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  3. Great post title! These are great tips. I have a cheap spiral notebook in which I write down my plans. I put some things on my phone, but I also like the handwritten visual. Of course I’m 41 years old, and I am not as fluent in technology as you youngsters! 😀

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  4. Hi Jordyn ! I nominated you for a Liebster Award. You’ve been nominated for a blogging Liebster award! This award is given to new bloggers who have excellent content and a great message to share. See your nomination here: https://www.thegreendiaries.com/liebster-award-new-bloggers-award/ If you’d like to accept the award and participate, here are the next steps: 1. Write a post, thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog, telling a bit about it. 2. Upload the image or award somewhere to that post or in your sidebar via widgets. 3. Answer the questions you’ve been asked in my blog link above. 4. Nominate 5-10 newish bloggers with under 1000 followers (this is just a rough estimate… anyone kind of new is fine), linking to their sites. 5. Rewrite the five questions to ask your nominees whatever you’d like them to answer in their acceptance blog. 6. Notify the owners of the blogs you’ve nominated so they can accept the award. …
    CONGRATS!!!!

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