Planning a trip can be pretty stressful. Where do you start? What do you do first? Will everything work out? Taking time off and traveling around the world is a big life change and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
So how do you manage to stop being so overwhelmed? How do you get over that feeling of not knowing where to begin?
It’s easy — and I’ve developed a unique four-step process to doing so (patent pending):
First, buy your plane ticket to where you want to go first.
Second, turn off the computer and stop visiting 93,754,302,948,320 websites about travel (except for mine, you should always read mine!). You’ll suffer from information overload if you don’t.
Third, go out with your friends and celebrate the start date of your trip.
There – that’s it. You bought your plane ticket. You’re going. There’s no turning back. There’s no need to worry anymore. Everything else is secondary.
I recently heard that people will look at up to twenty websites while researching their trip.
No wonder I get so many e-mails from people saying “Matt, I feel like I’m in over my head.”
Information is power but in our information-overload society, we can quickly get overwhelmed.
I understand there can be a lot of anxiety planning your trip and you want to make sure it goes right. I remember what it was like when I was planning my trip. I had every guidebook under the sun in my room. I had spreadsheets. I was constantly worried about having “the perfect trip.” Who doesn’t want their trip or vacation of a lifetime to be perfect and life changing, right?
I’ve been there and I understand, but I can tell you from years of experience that the more you plan your trip, the more anxiety you will have. You’re going to overwhelm yourself with so much information that you’re going to do nothing but stress.
It’s one thing to plan your trip; it’s another thing to plan every day of it.
Overplanning will lead to stress and I can tell you from vast experience that your plans will change anyway.
Someone will tell you about a new destination and you’ll race off there instead of going to Amsterdam.
You’ll wander the streets and into unplanned restaurants.
You’ll meet a group of people who will convince you to stay on that tropical island just a little longer.
In short, plans change, so don’t go overboard. Have a general idea of what direction you want to go, plan your first few stops and then just let the wind take you.
Don’t make yourself a lengthy plan.
You won’t follow it anyway.
In 2006, my first itinerary through Europe was supposed to look like this:
Oslo –> Prague –> Milan –> Florence –> Rome –> Naples –> Corfu –> Metorea –> Athens –> Greek Islands –> Athens
But it ended up like this:
Oslo –> Prague –> Milan –> Florence –> Rome –> Venice –> Vienna –> Amsterdam –> Costa del Sol -> Barcelona -> Amsterdam –> Athens
Cooler, more interesting things and people pulled me in a different direction.
Nothing worked out as I had planned. It worked out better.
Buy a book or two to pick up some general knowledge on how to travel and prepare for your trip. Read a guidebook and get a good idea about where you’re going. Develop a general plan and then fill in the details along the way.
Everything will work itself out and you’ll wonder why you stressed so much in the beginning.