My sister and I visited Scotland for my birthday in 2018. We enjoyed the country so much, we’re headed back in 2020.
This time instead of staying (mostly) on the mainland, we’re headed to the Outer Hebrides (or Western Isles). I do all the planning for the trips we take, so here’s an inside look into how I plan a trip:
Plan To Cash Flow Your Trip
Seriously, I cannot stress this enough: don’t go into debt for travel. What should be a joy turns into a stressed out nightmare by bringing the cost of the trip (plus interest) home with you. Just don’t do it. Cash flow your travels and the trip will be relaxing, just as it is supposed to be. (If you need help with your budget, I use and can recommend this.)
In planning this trip, we already purchased the plane tickets, one of the biggest expenses, so we have a firm number on that cost. Plus the fees for a checked bag. I ran some numbers for car rentals, the price of fuel (right now is around $7/gal), ferry fees to and from the isles, accommodations, and long-term parking fees back in the US.
Currently we’re about $1,000/person under our budget, before food, trinkets, and the exchange rate. We are actually planning on being under our total budget, but it is practical to have some contingency money. (You never know when you’ll get a flat tire or someone gets food poisoning or other issues.)
Plan To Do Research
While planning your trip, don’t forget to do your research! Google, Trip Advisor, AirBnB, etc. can be your best tools for finding out information. I found the price per gallon (with some math) for fuel by using Google. I also have an idea of how many miles we’ll be driving by using Google Maps.
A lot of the places we plan to stop and see, I find either through Trip Advisor or off of Google Maps. I do get a guide book or two of where we’re headed, so those get utilized as well. At least one of the guide books will go with us. Having a reference on the fly (with questionable cell service) isn’t bad.
Plan Your Accommodations
We used to stay in Bed and Breakfasts when traveling abroad. In 2012 we tried a rental house on a trip to Ireland since we were going to be in one area for a week.
Wow, the money we saved by staying in a rental house with laundry and cooking almost all our meals there!! Seriously, if you need a money saving idea, this is the biggest one I can give you. Skip the hotels and the B&Bs (nice as they are), and do a rental house while you explore an area.
And make sure the rental comes with laundry, so you won’t need to pack as many clothes, which saves on luggage space and weight. But don’t forget to read the reviews!
Those are my top 3 planning tips for traveling! I used these same tips for the trip we took to Nashville. What are your top three tips for planning a trip?