When it comes to how to plan a trip, there are plenty of ways to go about it. Do you choose a destination or pick travel dates first? Or maybe the destination comes from a really cool hotel or home rental you found.
Whether you’re planning to backpack solo across Europe or take a group vacation with your friends to South America, there are 5 simple steps that will help you plan any kind of trip.
How to plan a trip:
- Grab your buddies (or go solo)
- Decide on a destination
- Choose dates
- Pick where to stay
- Nail down activities, restaurants, and all the fun details
Planning solo travel is certainly a great deal simpler than planning a trip as a group. In fact, we suggest not planning as much of your solo travels as you feel comfortable with. Open-ended solo travels are a great way to extend stays in places you fall in love with or deviate from your original plans to join new friends on their planned adventures.
Group trips are a different story. Group trips typically require many individuals to coordinate travel dates and make many decisions on where to go, where to stay, and what to do. This frequently results in endless text/email threads at best and, at worst, the trip never coming together at all.
This group trip-planning checklist is an even more in-depth guide specifically for group travel planning, including essential items to consider before you leave.
How to plan a trip
1. Grab your buddies
If you know you’re wanting to make the trip into a group vacation, now is the time to decide who is coming so they can take part in the decision making. You can always add more travel buddies as the trip takes shape, but now is the time to throw out the invitation. If you’re using Troupe’s group travel planner, create your trip and send the link out to anyone you want to invite. Even if everyone doesn’t join now, you can “save a seat” for them by adding plus ones and additional travelers within the app.
(Skip this step if you know you’re going solo.)
2. Pick a destination
Why is the destination so important when you start to plan a trip? It’s because the “where” of travel sets the stage for everything else. This is what gets you excited about committing to the trip and picking accommodations and activities, whether you’re traveling solo or with friends or family.
Once you decide on a destination, the trip becomes real. So how do you choose a destination? Decide if you want your trip to have some kind of “theme”. Maybe you’re traveling alone and want to be able to visit some cool breweries or bars. Or perhaps your group of friends is all into hiking. You might even plan a trip around a gaming convention, camping festival, or concert.
If you’re on a budget, one of the best ways to choose a destination is by using Skyscanner or Google Flights to search from your home airport to “Everywhere” (or “Europe”, “South America”, etc.).
Can’t get your travel buddies to agree? Troupe makes it easy to let everyone vote on their favorite destinations. Simply add all your trip members to the trip on Troupe and once everyone’s voted, Troupe will let you know the most popular choice.
Important points to choosing a destination:
- Consider both costs of flights to a destination and the cost of living once there
- It helps to narrow down destinations based on trip type. (Resort vs. hiking vs. SCUBA diving, etc.)
- If traveling alone (especially solo female travelers) make sure you choose a destination you’ll feel comfortable exploring on your own
3. Choose your travel dates
If choosing the destination is what gets you excited for a trip, then choosing your travel dates is what makes it real. This is what allows you to take the time off work, book flights, and start a mental countdown to your departure. Now the clock is ticking and you get to start figuring out the rest of how to plan your trip. Now its time to figure out where to stay and what to do.
Just like voting on a destination, Troupe also allows group travelers to vote on the travel dates that work best for them. This is one of the greatest advantages to using Troupe’s group travel planner app. It’s always a struggle to choose dates, knowing that one or two people won’t be able to make it. But when everyone can vote, you get to see which weekend works the best for the greatest number of trip members. Voila, no more hurt feelings.
Important points about travel dates:
- Confirm with trip members how long you want the trip to be
- Consider saving yourself a day at home to recoup from travel before returning to work
- Remember that holiday weekends will see higher flight and hotel prices and larger crowds
4. Pick where to stay
Once you know where you’re going and when you’ll travel, it’s time to decide where to stay. Pick between home rentals, hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and more.
If you’re traveling by yourself, hostels make a great choice to meet other travelers and save money on accommodations. Choose between shared dormitories or a private room.
If you’re traveling as a group, let trip members vote on their favorite accommodations using Troupe. All trip members will be able to see an overview of different Vrbo/Airbnb and hotel options including cost, rooms, occupancy, etc. and they can vote on their favorites.
Important points to choosing accommodations:
- Discuss budget per person
- Consider the additional cost of food staying at a hotel vs. the ability to buy groceries and cook in a home rental
- Remember hostels frequently have private rooms for solo travelers who don’t want to stay in a dorm
5. Activities, restaurants, and more
When it comes to vacation planning, the fun is in the details. Let all group members suggest activities to do at your destination, share restaurant suggestions, and suggest different itinerary items. This is where it’s fun to let everyone get involved.
Important points to itinerary planning:
- Not everyone has to participate in every activity (it’s okay to split the group)
- If you really want to do something or eat somewhere and no one wants to join, do it by yourself!
- Don’t plan the trip to the minute. Save room for spontaneous adventures, especially if you’re alone
Now that you know how to plan a trip, head over to Troupe to simplify the travel planning.
Ready to start packing? Check these out: