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7 Tips for the Travel Preparation

7 Tips for the Travel Preparation

JalanJalanMen! - In general, planning is half the battle. And so it is with traveling around the world. I'll just take you with me in this article and show you how I go about planning my trip. Because no matter how experienced I am in travelling, I prepare myself extensively before each trip. I will give you tips on which information is important for every trip, where you can find it and how you can prepare yourself individually for a travel destination. Of course, I'll also tell you which apps I can't and wouldn't do without when I travel.

In the following I will give you general and basic information and tips for planning your trip. You can apply this to any type of travel. If you, like me, love exploring a country by road trip, then my blog post with recommendations for planning a road trip  is a perfect complement to this article. Since I pay attention to sustainability when I travel, I attach great importance to traveling with as little paper (printing out) as possible when planning my trip, and then later when traveling itself. Does that sound interesting to you too?

I start my travel planning by gathering all possible information about my travel destination. And that in these two possible ways: online and offline. Of course, the Internet plays a bigger role in this case and to be honest, you could easily do the entire travel preparation online, but I'm also a child of the 90s and therefore the well-known and valued travel guide (in book form) should not be missing. But more on that later.

Step by step through my travel planning

I will now show you step by step how I prepare all my trips as soon as the destination has been decided. One thing in advance: this is definitely not the ultimate and only way to plan your travels. With my personal recommendations and tips, I would rather give you information and inspiration for your very own travel planning. I hope that one or the other helpful tip is also included for you.

1. Ask the Internet or Google

The Google search engine is my first port of call when I start preparing intensively for a trip. Of course, I don't enter search terms randomly, but I search very specifically with the appropriate keywords (also called keywords) for the information that I consider important and interesting. Here is an example to show you what I mean by that:

Let's take my road trip through Montenegro . I didn't know much about the Balkan country. But what I did know: I will explore the country in a car. That's enough clues to start looking for relevant information on Google. My search terms were then:

  • Montenegro tips
  • Montenegro Highlights
  • Montenegro sights
  • Montenegro road trip
  • Montenegro vacation

Countless pages on Google will then be suggested to you for the search terms. My tip here : Don't just look for suitable results on page 1, but feel free to click through to pages 4 or 5. It is not uncommon for the information you are looking for to be hidden in the search results listed a little further down. Why is this? It's simple: companies in the travel industry pay money to be displayed in one of the top positions on Google. However, my very personal opinion is that on such large sites from travel agencies, newspapers, etc., very general travel information can be found, which is also repeated on every website.But if you are looking for individual tips and are not only interested in tourist magnets, you should keep your eyes open for reports from travel bloggers when searching on Google. I don't write that because I am a travel blogger myself. I am much more convinced that we travel bloggers write authentic reports and sometimes give tips off the beaten track. And I think it is precisely these experiences of doing something in the travel destination that not everyone knows/does that allow you to perceive another culture even more intensively. And one more thing: We travel bloggers also write honestly if we didn't like something or if we can't recommend something. You seldom find this honesty on commercial websites.

2. My secret favorites Pinterest and Instagram

Can you find information for a trip on social media channels? Definitely! And I think: much better and more targeted than with Google & Co. I will now explain in detail how you can use Pinterest and/or Instagram when planning your trip. 

Pinterest

Pinterest doesn't actually fall completely into the area of ​​​​social media, but is usually mentioned - like WhatsApp - along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Snapchat. Rather, Pinterest is a tool similar to Google. A kind of search engine. And that's what makes it so interesting for travel planning. As with the usual search engines , Pinterest works via keywords . Unlike Google, however, here it is almost exclusively private individuals who have a blog who deposit their website content there. This is like a pre-filter that excludes the paid content (see my explanation under point 1). 

Since Pinterest is no longer just a portal for do-it-yourself and handicraft ideas, you can also browse a lot for tips for your travels there. You enter the search terms and Pinterest spits out all the matching blog posts. Therefore, Pinterest is the right tool for those of you who are looking for authentic and personal travel reports. 

The only catch with Pinterest is that you have to sign up for this service for free. If you don't do this, then only a small number of search suggestions are available to you. But you don't have to be an active user of Pinterest. So there's actually nothing wrong with registering with Pinterest to use this type of travel planning.

Instagram

Instagram is similar to Pinterest. Here you just don't search for keywords, but for hashtags and/or location information. And instead of blog posts, you'll see photos and videos as search results. But since pictures are known to speak louder than words, Instagram is a great additional way to get an impression of the travel destination. I've often discovered places/sights via Instagram that I couldn't find any information about either on Google or Pinterest. Instagram works best on a smartphone, but Instagram can also be used on a laptop/PC. However, the full range of functions is not available to you in the desktop version. Instagram was primarily designed as an app for mobile devices.

Be inspired by pictures

Instagram is an excellent tool to get a visual impression of the travel destination. That's why I even turn to Instagram when I can't decide where to go next. But since this article is about how I use Instagram to plan an upcoming trip, here are my tips & tricks on how you can easily find the right information for your vacation.

Searching for hashtags

Hashtags (the ones with the # in front of the word) are equivalent to keywords on Google or Pinterest. This type of search can best be explained using a few examples:

1. You can search for specific cities, countries, locations. To do this, enter the appropriate search term in the search area, which you can reach via the magnifying glass symbol. It is best to choose in advance that you only want to search for hashtags. This works if you select the hash (#) in advance.

Let's stay with the example of my road trip through Montenegro that I used above. In this case, I entered hashtags, such as #montenegro #visitmontenegro #montenegrowildbeauty, into the search. 

After advanced research, I also knew places that I really wanted to visit. In the second step, I searched for these specifically using hashtags (#kotor, #lovcennationalpark, #durmitor).

2. When it comes to specific places, you can search for specific places on Instagram in addition to the corresponding hashtags. Because the photos that are uploaded to Instagram can be provided with location information. To search for a specific location on Instagram, first select the location icon (inverted drop) in the search area (magnifying glass). This type of search will only show you the photos that have been tagged with that location. 

In my opinion, a plus of using Instagram when planning a trip is that you can use photos to get an idea of ​​what the place looks like and whether you like the country or the place/sight at all. This also avoids wasting time unnecessarily on a trip if a place is not personally interesting to you, even though it is advertised as a highlight on websites. This is only a small digression from my personal experiences. 

Here are a few examples that I first found on Instagram and then visited during my travels and absolutely loved it. 

3. The Old School Guide Book

After so much input on travel planning via the internet or smartphone, we now come to my next step: preparing for the trip with the help of a travel guide. Yes, you read that right. I actually buy a travel guide in book form for every trip I take. Of course, I could also download it as a digital copy onto my tablet or smartphone, but I'm old-fashioned at this point. I still buy books in printed form. I tried to read books digitally but couldn't find access to it. For this reason, and also because I like to have some information about the travel destination "offline" in my backpack, I also use travel guides when planning my trip .

Rarely do you get all the important basic information for a travel destination as compactly as on the pages of the travel guide. Here I mean, for example, cultural characteristics, entry regulations or customs regulations. You rarely find this information bundled on a website that you visit when doing your research on the Internet. We travel bloggers are more concerned with the highlights and sights than with this factual information, which is nevertheless important for a trip. 

Travel guide from Reise Know-How Verlag

There are a variety of publishers that offer travel guides. On my shelf in the living room there are some from Lonely Planet, Marco Polo, Dumont or Reise Know-How Verlag. As you can see, I have already tested all well-known travel guide publishers. But I always come back to a publisher from whom I take the right travel guides with me on my travels. And by that I mean Reise Know-How Verlag.

Through my many years of travel experience and extensive testing of the various travel guide offers, I have found that the travel guides from Reise Know-How Verlag best suit me and my needs and interests. I always get extensive and detailed information, regardless of whether it's a country or city travel guide. The authors always report in great detail. Something I miss from Lonely Planet travel guides as they tend to cater more to backpacking travelers. But if you, like me, would like to be out and about on your own and from time to time off the well-known tourist routes in a country, then I can only recommend the travel guides from Reise Know-How Verlag to you.As the publisher's name suggests, you will be given the right and important know-how for a travel destination.

4. The all-rounder Google Maps

After I have collected all possible information on the Internet, on the various apps and in the travel guide, I first summarize it in bullet points in a document. For this I use the document tool from Google. So I can access these files on my smartphone when I'm on the go. The easiest way to do this is with the free Google Drive app. Since I, as mentioned at the very beginning, avoid printed items as much as possible when I travel, but like to have notes at hand, this is a great way to do without paper. But this tip just by the way. I actually wanted to tell you what role Google Maps plays in my travel planning .

During my research, I always come across sights, highlights or other places worth seeing in the travel destination. But just memorizing them or writing them down in a document is not enough for me. I also want to see where exactly these places are to give me a visual overview. For example, I can estimate distances better or it turns out that there are no "points of interests" in some areas of the travel destination. This is especially helpful when planning a road trip across a country.

You can "save" these interesting places on Google Maps. These markings are then made visible by small flags. At the end of my travel planning, the map section on Google Maps always looks very colorful for me. But I also really mark everything, for example also café or restaurant tips.

You can read more about which functions of Google Maps I use before and during the trip in my article on planning a road trip . There I explain step by step how you use Google Maps on both your desktop and mobile phone, synchronize them, use it for navigation and why the offline maps function is my absolute favorite function.

5. My travel planning apps

I've already mentioned a few times that my smartphone is my ultimate companion both before and during a trip. I know it, you want to reduce your cell phone usage while on vacation. That's a good thing and I'm also doing "digital detox" during this time. Yes, I can, although I use my phone for everything (tickets, booking accommodation, navigation, etc.) during a trip. 

There are simply far too many really helpful apps that make it easier to plan a trip and later on to travel. I will now list the apps that I should never be without:

  • The airline's app to be able to call up the ticket or load it onto your cell phone as a mobile ticket. You can also always check the current flight status and, if necessary, check in for the return flight while on the go.
  • Google Maps to use the "offline maps" function for navigation and to retrieve my "points of interests".
  • Lendstar to share money fairly with fellow travelers. Especially helpful if you are traveling with two or more people.
  • Booking.com to book accommodation on the go.
  • Public transport apps to get from A to B, especially on city trips, and to be able to buy tickets online.

All these apps are available for free. I would like to say that I use the apps on an iPhone and cannot comment on the range of functions on other operating systems. Of course, there are a variety of other apps that have the same benefit. I have tested the apps listed above in personal use on my own intention and found them to be good. You have to try it out for yourself to see if these are suitable for you. Ultimately, I just want to give you an idea that you can plan and carry out trips very well with the help of apps.

6. Call up country-specific information

If I did not find enough country-specific information during my general research on the Internet, then I search for it again in this step. The website of the Federal Foreign Office is always good for this . Here you will find current information on entry and customs regulations, visas, vaccinations, the current political situation and whether you should pay particular attention to anything during your trip. 

I also think it's important to find out about the payment options in the destination country . Within Europe, it is usually not a problem to pay with your EC or credit card or to withdraw money from an ATM. This can be a bit more difficult on other continents. Hence my tip: Search for this information on Google. 

But: The information on Google does not always have to be correct. I found that out during my trip to Cuba. I read in advance on various websites that you can withdraw money with Visa credit cards in particular. Mastercard, on the other hand, would not work. And what was the case on site? Exactly, I was able to withdraw money from exactly one ATM with my Visa card during the two weeks in Cuba. But that's only once. Further attempts did not work. Luckily, the friend who was traveling with me had a Mastercard and lo and behold, she was able to get money at every ATM without any problems. 

7. Check travel documents

And right at the end of my travel planning, I always check my documents . Is my passport still valid? This is particularly important if you cannot travel with your ID card but have to use your passport. Since this is generally not used that often, it can happen that the validity has expired in the meantime or will expire in less than 6 months. And since you always have to show a passport that is still valid for at least 6 months for long-distance travel, it is important to take a quick look at the date in the passport.

I also check my bookings for flights, accommodation and rental cars again.

Conclusion

With these 7 steps my travel planning is complete . I feel well prepared and from that point on I'm quite relaxed, the anticipation increases and I can thoroughly enjoy my holiday. I hope I was able to help you with my tips & tricks for planning your trip or give you some helpful information on the way.

Rudolfus Kikkert
Rudolfus Kikkert Interest In City Tourism

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