If you didn't know, I'm studying abroad this summer in London for fashion! Before and after the program, I'm going to tour around Europe. I planned the ENTIRE thing by myself, with a little help and recommendations along the way. I am so proud to have the entire thing set up already, with all my documents in order of when I'll need them, and all addresses, times, and ticket details written out in a dedicated travel notebook.
So I was thinking, maybe this applies to anything in life - from planning weddings, to PLANNING BUSINESSES!!! It was kind of like a sudoku puzzle where one decision depends on another. So I decided to write everything out in steps of how I did it all - hopefully this ends up being a guideline for planning things in the future.
1. Jot down what you know already. At the beginning, I knew which dates I'd be there (I had already bought my plane ticket), which days I have class, and where in Europe I've always wanted to go to. I also wrote down my budget, and split that by however many days so I can budget per day. So important things here: dates, ideal locations, and budget. Simply, this is to compare what you want, and what you can have.
2. Research. I went online and looked at pictures of the places I wanted to go, as well as where people recommended I'd go. I also asked my friends on Facebook for recommendations. Using this information, I changed and narrowed down my options of cities. I decided to travel every other day at the most, so I'd spend at least 2 nights in each city.
3. Actually planning it. I then printed a map of Europe, and a calendar of the dates I'd be there for, and I planned my "ideal" scenario - which cities I'd travel through in which dates. I literally drew arrows on my map as if I was solving one of those maze puzzles. I wrote all this down in pencil.
4. Make sure it's all possible and realistic. This is when I began to look at possible Airbnb's, as well as transportation. I looked through both, while mentally keeping track of my daily budget. I wrote down all the transportation options for the date of travel and the price. I made any changes necessary before finalizing my plans.
5. Start paying for it. Once I knew there were lots of options for both, I began by first booking my Airbnb's (and trying to choose ones with relaxed cancellation policies). Transportation was kind of tricky for me - I had to choose between getting a EU rail pass or buying train tickets individually. I made a comparison chart and figured out that it would be around the same price for my amount of train travel, so I decided to buy them individually. I also had a hard time finding a travel method from France to Italy, so I had to buy a plane ticket for a weird time. I learned that it's easy to travel by train within a country, but more difficult between. Also, once I paid for something, I wrote it in with pen on my calendar.
6. Keep working on it. After I booked my Airbnb's and transportation, I decided to buy tickets in advance to events that fit into my schedule. So far, I bought a ticket to the Anne Frank museum, and I booked a tour to the lavender fields in Provence. There's obviously tons more I want to do, and I need to now read about the history about each city and look at guide books. It's so much work, but I think it's all worth it! I don't feel fully prepared yet, but is there ever a point where you feel fully prepared for a trip? I guess we'll find out.