How I Plan My Trips - from Backpacking through Asia to basking in Palm Springs
I’m so lucky to have had tons of opportunity to travel over the last…well really most of my life. And recently when prepping for our trip to Palm Springs trip I felt very much like I was going through the motions. I knew what resources to use, what to pack, how I was going to set up my itinerary. I realized, I had a system!
So even though it’s a little off topic with my normal blog content I’m confident it’s valuable and I’m excited to share my methods.
Booking Flights For Your Trip
Let’s start here - I’ve chosen my destination. I search around for which airport it makes the most sense to fly into, in foreign countries this isn’t always the most intuitive. Then I use a site like Kayak.com to compare flight prices. I’m usually someone who books on the cheaper end..within reason. I mean I’m not going to spend 30 hours travelling instead of 9 to save $100, it’s not worth losing a whole travelling day, but I don’t need seat selection and I’ll take the risk of a short layover. I’ve sprinted through multiple airports to catch flights, imagine a girl with a huge backpack running through the Miami airport carrying her sandals in her hand, I made it though. Sometimes I find the flight pattern and price I want through Kayak then search it up on, let’s say, WestJet to compare prices. If they are the same I’ll book through WestJet but I find that more often than not I book through a secondary company.
I’ve flown a ton with West Jet and Air Canada but recently had a great experience with Delta (all 4 flights were great!). I also flew with Flair and it was perfect, but I’m pretty low maintenance.
Okay flights are booked.
How to find accommodations when planning a trip
Air BnB - SUCH a cool business model here. I love looking through the cutely decorated apartments and houses, hello Instagram content opportunities!! I read the reviews, look for wifi and choose something central to restaurants etc.
Couch Surfing - This is probably going to be your cheapest accommodation option and it’s a really cool way to meet people. With couchsurfing.com you can essentially stay in people’s homes for free. Use the app or website to read about their place, what they are into and what they expect from guests. Some will be down to show you around, hang out, share stories etc. and some will be busy living their own life and are just happy to help out a fellow traveller. You have to be pretty open minded and flexible when you use this system but it can be a really fun way to get out of your comfort zone. Trust your gut and read reviews.
Hotels - Jared and I did stay in some hotels in Asia which we booked mostly through Booking.com but we aren’t really ones to stay in traditional hotels. We’re more of the air bnb type or we’d book something like a villa in tropical places.
Planning Your Trip Itinerary
I rely almost solely on bloggers when choosing what to see and do. I read tons of travel blogs (I want pictures people!) and look for re-occuring themes and things that jump out. Then I do my own research on the restaurant, or cafe, or tour - whatever it is, to decide if it’s a place we’d probably like! I find reviews on Yelp etc. can be a bit…skewed. People are way more likely to write a bad one than a good one, and I’m not a 63 year old named Susan who is “appalled by the waitress with a sleeve tattoo”.
I plan our trip down to the day but usually not all at once. I like to have day 1 and 2 pretty much organized before we leave and then I spend the evenings picking out a few things for us to the do the next day. If there’s anything we really want to fit in that needs tickets booked in advance we usually isolate a day for that and get it booked in advance.
I plan where we go on which day based on what’s close together and just use google maps to compare. There’s nothing worse then hopping in cabs and realizing you have to backtrack 20 minutes and $30 later just to get to the next place you want to go. It’s a good idea to write down the addresses of everywhere you are going on paper or on a note in your phone if you aren’t going to have data. There is also an app called Waze which allows you to map it out before you leave Wifi. Full disclosure, I’ve never used it.
I also JUST found out how you can add multiple pins to google maps to see how close things are together. For example I just pinned like 15 difference places we’ve heard about in Palm Springs and Palm Desert as well as the location of our accommodation and now it’s very clear what is close together! This link takes you through step by step how to add the pins.
Packing for a Trip
Clothes. I used to be a severe over-packer. Then I realized that every time I go somewhere I would end up wearing the same thing over and over. You guys know my goal is to always get ample ‘postable’ content for the gram, which means outfit switches. But even then I can keep it fairly minimal. Jacket on. Jacket off. Jacket on. Jacket off.
Now I try and take the bare minimum it’s life changing. I don’t need a curling iron and my straightener, I don’t need 3 different set of pyjamas, and as far as shoes go I pick one pair of runners, Birkenstocks and one nicer pair of shoes that can be dressed up or down. That’s it. I try to plan outfits which can be styled multiple ways. Laying all your clothes out in outfits and even trying them on is time consuming but super helpful even though it’s a bit tedious. Jacket on, jacket off.
Camera - Obvs. One of my biggest regrets from our Asia trip through Bali (blog posts here, here, and here), Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and China was not having a better camera UGHHHH. And like, I had a decent camera actually but now I have an UNREAL camera and I feel like there were so many photo opportunities lost, *sigh*. This trip we’re taking a Go Pro Hero 6, our phones, and my Canon 6D Mark II.
Hair & Skin I take a simplified version of my makeup and skin care. I’ve been using and loving the Eminence acne line. I’ll take the cleanser and hydrator along with Rose Water Toner (can’t go a day without, actually can’t go 12 hours without) and Juice Beauty smoothing eye concentrate (not pictured). Leaving behind the Eminence masque and serum. I have little re-fillable bottles for shampoo and conditioner when necessary. Pro tip: don’t cheap out and buy the Dollarama ones, they will burst in your suitcase.
Travel backpack - Osprey Aether - (left photo) I’ve taken this backpack to South America, Central America and Asia. It’s very comfortable, form fitting and super durable.
Travel Day Pack - Black Diamond Magnum16 . (middle photo) This day pack rolls up super small but holds the perfect amount and is comfy to wear (even with 10+ lbs of camera, water etc. in it).
Hard shell suitcase - Heys Revolver 30in Spinner. I felt verrrry legit which I upgraded to one of those suitcases that you can pull/push or roll. The ‘spinner’ they call it. Very fancy, very convenient.
Hard shell carry on - Heys Xtrak . I’ve never had a carry on suitcase before, I’ve always just used a backpack or duffle bag but with more short work trips coming my way and a hot boxing day sale I figured it was time to invest. This carry on is normally sold for over $300 but for some reason The Bay has it on sale like all the time, so snag it there.
Standard backpack - Hershel Supply Co. Little America Backpack . (far right photo) It has the perfect amount of pockets, a laptop section, is waterproof (rain proof) and has lasted my entire degree and beyond.
Packing cubes - I LOVE using packing cubes to pack and I’m not sure what kind of chaos my suitcase was without them. Even if I go on an overnight or weekend trip I sometimes use 1 big and 1 small one and put them in my overnight bag. You can find them on Amazon super easily.
Whew! Okay this blog post ended up a bit longer than I thought but like I said, if I’m veering off my normally posted content I want to make sure I’m giving value!
Hopefully you learned a knew trick or found a cool new product to help make your traveling experience awesome! If you’re planning your first big trip ever and want some more details (especially for backpacking trips) hit me up, I’d love to talk more!