How To Plan An International Trip

Ieva Miltina 28 February 2022 658 views 6 min. read
travel plan
travel plan

Traveling is exciting, it just is. New landscapes, new cultures and many more unexpected turns that one might experience while on a journey to a new place. But with all the excitement and adventure there are a few prerequisites that you should make sure of to use the most of your time wherever you go. And one of the main prerequisites is planning! So travel everywhere with good plan!

Yes, some might say that letting yourself go with the flow is the best way of traveling, but nonetheless, a chance at an amazing travel experience depends on some basic elements that will need some thought ahead if you want to be efficient with your time and money. And let’s not forget the fact that it might be your only chance to see a particular place, so you would want to consider all the things you can't miss - experience and sightseeing-wise. However, I am sure that it is all in your mind already because you are here and want to know how to plan an international trip!

You might be anxious about a particular trip that is about to happen, or just a novice to the field and looking for the best advice about things that happen ahead of traveling. Either way - I will give you a list of things that will help you to go through the process more efficiently and not forget some important elements. You will find out what to bring on an international trip and what things to consider ahead, like visa service, international trip insurance, bookings, and safety measures. But let’s just cut to the chase.

What are the main steps of international travel planning?

young woman and suitcase

We will go through these steps in the following paragraphs, but in general, you can be sure that planning an international trip just means doing a lot of research and making lots of decisions about what and how you want to experience things. How long ahead should you start? It really depends on how big your plan is and how long the trip will take. Usually, it is suggested to start planning at least 6-12 months ahead if it is a bigger one, but it could also be just a month or two ahead if you want to do a weekend getaway. You will hear more about this in the paragraph about planning formalities because it greatly depends on that too! So let’s get deeper into particular phases of the process.

Figuring out the concept of the trip and the necessary resources

receptionist at counter in hotel

Every plan starts with setting your goals. First, you will decide what you want to experience. Here’s a hint - adventurous trip with friends, weekend with your special person in one of the most romantic capitals or workation in Southern Europe? Just make up your mind and have a short understanding of what you would like to do.

And the second thing you have to figure out is the financial side. You have to understand how much money would you be ready to spend for the whole trip. This number will be one of the greatest guides for the following steps of the planning as it will determine how you will travel (more convenient means or the ones that will cost you less), where you will stay (Couchsurfing, hostel, or hotel), and what you will do there (free city tour, luxury boat ride or) And let’s not forget that it will tell you what to bring on an international trip, too - how much will you be able to pack and bring with you.

After these basic elements are clear for you then you will need to decide the destination. Well, that is one way of doing things. On the other hand, it might be that you start with deciding on your destination and then figure out the rest of the details depending on that. First, you can decide by going through the steps I mentioned above (that would be the smartest way). Or you can also think about which places you have always been curious about. Or maybe you have an interest in a particular attraction that can’t be done anywhere else? The main point here is that you will have to look deeply into your own interests (or the ones of your co-travelers) and pick a place where you would like to end up.

Researching your destination and creating an itinerary


If you are not fully sure about your exact plans already when deciding on a destination then the next step would be understanding what is there to see and do, and which of these things would you want to experience (depending on your available budget). This might be a very time-consuming part, especially if you are going on a longer trip. But let me give you advice - be smart about the planning process and create an Excel sheet with all the potential options for visiting and prices. If you are serious about this then plan an international trip like a pro! Such a document will make the decision-making, the bookings and the calculations of your expenses much more convenient. And also you will save time during your trip - no need to look through countless pages and search for the information that you had already found before. For you, it just means more time for all the activities and a possibility to focus on experiencing the beauty of this destination!

Bookings and other formalities

person looking for places to stay

Whenever it is clear what you would like to do and where you can go ahead with more definite arrangements. First, find a cheap flight. You can use websites like Make My Trip international flights, or even more convenient Skyscanner search to look for flight options. But if you are not sure how to get to your desired place then check Rome2Rio - a very convenient service that will display all the travel options, also the local ones.

The next step if you plan an international trip is figuring out where you will stay. If you are not visiting someone you already know, then depending on your finances, it can be from the Hostelworld website. Or alternatively, for hotels look in, but if you are keen on having a more home-like experience then check AirBnB.

One more thing you should always consider (sometimes before, sometimes after booking the travel tickets) is the necessity of a visa. If you need a visa to enter the country then get it from an embassy or an online visa service. Additionally, check if there are any other papers or formalities that you will need (like vaccinations, for example), and make sure to arrange them! And don’t forget to get international trip insurance - more on that in a moment.

How to pack for international trip?


When I make my trip international flights are always the main travel option. It is why my international trip packing list is usually very short - to save space (and make it lighter on my back) and to save money. Avoiding checked-in luggage can save you up to 60 EUR for both legs of the trip!

But then again, it all depends on the goal and itinerary of your trip. The only advice I can give is - plan your international trip packing list, too! Consider what things you will definitely need to survive (medicines, chargers, passport, and other papers) and what will ensure your wellbeing in a foreign destination (hat and gloves for a winter destination, sunscreen for the beachy one, etc.). Additionally, remember to consider the number of clothes you will need depending on the length of the trip, and the planned activities. It means that figuring out how to pack for international trip will depend greatly on the availability of a washing machine, or alternatively - cheap shopping options locally.

One more detail that I would consider putting in this category is cash. While doing your research, find out if you will need to exchange money, and whether it should be done in your own country or upon arrival. If it is the former version then pack the cash safely for the whole duration of your trip and bring it with you.

Considering safety at all stages of the planning and travel itself

first aid kit

Another important aspect you should keep in mind both when planning trips and traveling, too, is safety. First, get international trip insurance that will cover all the potential risks in your destination country. And while carrying out your research of the place you are traveling to, find the information that will allow you to make sure that you have everything you need to keep yourself safe on multiple levels. Starting with vaccinations, medications, sunscreen, and mosquito repellents. One more dear suggestion - always do your homework and make sure if there are activities or places in your destination one might consider unsafe. Be mindful of those for your own sake! And to ensure yourself against theft or other unplanned loss of items, make sure to have a safe money pocket that is invisible, and have several copies of personal and travel documents packed.

So what have we learned here? Now you probably should know how to plan an international trip, or at least have an impression of the multitude of aspects that should be considered before you hop on a bus or plane to your very desired destination. I am sure that if you put enough research and consideration into this process then your trip will turn out just marvelous! Planning is half of the success, after all. Good luck with your travels!