How Do You Plan for a Long-Term Trip? Detail Oriented? Spontaneity?

I have always wondered how people plan for their trips. Do you quit your job so you can travel around the world? This could be true if the trip you plan to take is long-term where quitting your job is the only option for you? Be it three months, six months, a year or even longer.

Do you plan every day in detail or do you wing it? Do you have everything paid for before you go or do you pay as you go? Or do you pay for as much as you can before you leave for your trip? Do you budget how much you will need? Do you sell everything you own to take this trip or put money back from
your job so you can take off when you quit your job? Or is it a little of both?

I have some of the above and each time they worked for me because each trip was different from the one before it.

In travelling to Ireland years ago, I paid for as much as I could before I went over there or as much as I could pay and reserve for the trip. I chose CIE Tours and went with one of their self-drive packages. The package I chose included car rental as well as bed and breakfast vouchers. Then the only thing
I booked before I left was the accommodation in Dublin for when I flew into the city. As for the remainder of the trip, I booked the room as I not knew where I might be from day to day. Spontaneity on any trip I have taken seems to creep in whether I want it to or not. You can’t be a 100% planner because something is going to happen to make you change what your original plans may be.

For longer trips, again I paid for and reserved as much as I could before I left. I had to research and plan as much as I could when I decided to backpack through Europe for three months. Originally I had planned for six months but decided to make it three months since I was travelling on my own. I took care of some of the transportation (Busabout), reserved the first few days in London (St. Christopher’s Village), booked the roundtrip flight which I was  able to change the return date (changed my mind on when I wanted to come back home while I was in Scotland). Other than that, the trip was full of planning and being spontaneous. Planning and spontaneity can be a part of any trip as they have been for me. I knew which countries I wanted to see but I changed my mind if I ended up in one place and decided I wanted to move on earlier than expected or stay longer then I planned. So I paid for as much as I could and then paid as I went along for the hostels, food, metro and anything else that may have come up on the trip i.e. souvenirs or booking a flight from Athens to Warsaw so I could see my Uncle who lived in Poland.

As for this upcoming trip in 2013; I am paying for and reserving as much as I can before I leave. This trip will not be as spontaneous as previous trips I have taken. Each day is planned out on what we will do. I ended up only planning a few things to do each day so that my nieces are not overwhelmed with the extent of everything they will be seeing while there. This will leave time for them to see other things in the city that I didn’t include. Like walking down narrow streets and getting lost going from one end of the city to the other end. It is all about finding something new around the corner that you didn’t know was there.  I guess you could call that being spontaneous.

My post is more about booking as much as you can before you go. It can be flights, transportation while there (trains, busses) and hostels but leaving a little spontaneity on your trip. Your trip is what you make of it. It can be fun either way. Planning a full-on itinerary for each day can be fun. Spontaneity can be fun too. One thing to remember and try to do is pay for as much as you can before you leave. Budget for your trip. Allow for those extras or emergencies that may come up while you are travelling. Then all you can do when travelling is pay for those things you weren’t able to take care of before you left home.