Planning, Preparing, Packing! Here's Our Process

Planning, Preparing, Packing! Here's Our Process


For me, planning a trip is almost as exciting as actually taking the trip. I have a set process for planning a trip and follow it numerous times per year. I recently received an ace Travel Journal from Marco Polo which I have used to plan our upcoming trip to Madrid. It has loads of pages to fill with information about what to see and do! Perfect for someone like me who finds it difficult to be spontaneous!

Planning my next trip to Madrid with Marco Polo Guides

Planning my next trip to Madrid with Marco Polo Guides

Decide where you want to go – sometimes I have set ideas about where I would like to go and carry out research purely on that place. Other times I scour the internet to see where is cheap/good value for money i.e. £14 return flights from Stansted to Gothenburg earlier this year swayed our decision to visit.
Decide how long you want to go for – as a part time traveller with a set annual leave entitlement, I do not have the luxury of spending as much time as I’d like in places. I must allocate a timescale, for me an ideal length of time for a European mini break is three nights. For an international trip then a minimum of seven nights.
Decide on a budget – If like me, you don’t have a money tree growing at the bottom of your garden, it is important to decide early on in the planning process what your budget is. This means taking into account flights/other transportation, accommodation, food, drinks, sightseeing. Even though flights are cheap it may be expensive to eat and drink as it was in Gothenburg.
Save the cash – this may seem like an obvious one as nothing in life comes for free (not even for travel bloggers – time is money after all). Travel is a luxury not essential (although I could argue against this case). Therefore sometimes I need to tighten the purse strings prior to taking a trip – taking a packed lunch to work/ not buying drinks from coffee shops/staying in on a Saturday night etc.
Book flights, accommodation and activities –

  • Flights – I always use Skyscanner to search for flights. It searches the internet and shows you all the flights available, making it extremely easy to find the right one for you.
  • Accommodation – For accommodation I usually use as the majority of hotels/apartments/B&Bs are pay on arrival, meaning I get extra time to save my pennies.
  • Activities – after researching the top things to do I always try to book as many tours/tickets/events as possible before I visit anywhere for fear of it selling out or eating into my spending money.


So your flights and accommodation are booked, that means you are definitely taking the trip (yeah!) although it also means there is plenty of preparation to be done before you get to kick back and enjoy yourself :-

Packing your luggage ready for your trip!

Packing your luggage ready for your trip!

Buy Travel Insurance – I’m sure we’d all like to think every trip we take will be smooth sailing. However, sometimes things do go wrong – you could lose a bag or need medical assistance. If like us, you take multiple trips per year, check out annual policies meaning you only have the hassle of sorting it out once a year.
Buy stuff – this my favourite part of preparing for a trip – SHOPPING! I usually make a list of the things I need for any given trip and happily set about buying what I need from sun screen and flip flops to snow boots and wooly jumpers. I always try not to buy too much, however usually fail – one day I’ll learn to pack light.
Let your bank know you are out of the country – having been caught out a couple of times ourselves – once in Thailand and once in Las Vegas, we always call our banks before we take any trip to let them know that we will be using our cards in another country and which country it is. No one wants to be stuck with no cash abroad!
Check out if you need a visa – this is important as without a visa you may not be allowed entrance into some countries. Check out if you need to apply for a visa before you fly (from the UK) i.e. United States of America or whether  you can be issued on upon arrival (from the UK) i.e. Bali. I certainly don’t want to take a flight, especially a long one, to be turned around at the other end. Check it out with the embassy for the country you are visiting.
Check out if you need vaccinations – no one likes being ill on holiday, especially if it can be prevented. Therefore, check if you need vaccinations for the country you are visiting and also check that your standard vaccinations are up to date as well. It is important to have your shots in plenty of time before your trip to give them chance to kick in (usually around 8 weeks).


I am not the most organised or motivated when it comes to packing and quite often leave it until the night before a journey. However, as I usually take a trip at least once a month I seem to have the process down to under 10 minutes and never (touch wood) have I forgotten anything important.

Pack and enjoy your trip!

Pack and enjoy your trip!

  1. Open suitcase/backpack/rucksack
  2. Throw your stuff in
  3. ENJOY YOUR TRIP!!! – don’t forget your journal so you can make notes along the way!

Giveaway (UK Entrants Only)

Now here’s your chance to win one of five Marco Polo Travel Journals for yourself. Simply click below to enter.
Closing Date: NOW CLOSED


Win your own Marco Polo Travel Journal!

Win your own Marco Polo Travel Journal!

Giveaway Terms & Conditions 
1. The promotion is open To everyone aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
2. To enter, simply enter via link in post – Rafflecopter
3. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
4. The Prizes:  5 x prize winners will receive a Travel Journal
5. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
6. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
7. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
8. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
9. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
10. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control.

Sharing is caring:


  1. August 3, 2016 / 8:33 am

    I too like to know that everything is booked beforehand, to save time on holiday and guarantee that it will be available – your planning process is very similar to mine in every way, except the packing bit. I am highly organised, keeping a generic packing list on my PC. For each trip, I just remove the items I don’t need for that trip (winter stuff to the Caribbean for instance) before printing it off. This list has been built up from years of travelling – it started life as a hand written entry in a Filofax (remember those?) back in the 1980s, and if we come across something we wished we’d brought when we’re away, it gets added to the list.
    Having said all that, I still managed to forget to pack any spare bras on a week’s holiday a few years back. Ooops!

  2. August 3, 2016 / 9:04 am

    I love the set up of this new post 🙂 it’s so informative and easy to read- and that’s important for us as travel bloggers! I’m really interested to know how you were “sponsored” (if you were) but the travel journal company! Love the post- thank you for sharing!

    • August 3, 2016 / 9:08 am

      Hi Brooke, thanks for your lovely comments. Not a sponsored post, just information regarding the process we use on a regular basis. Marco Polo reached out to offer the prize but did not specify in any way how they were won. I just thought the prize fitted nicely with the way we Plan, Prepare and Pack!

  3. Anisa
    August 3, 2016 / 11:36 am

    I totally agree planning is fun and essential. And it seems like you can never get started too early. You guys do a great job of planning far ahead. I need to catchup! I am still working on Scotland trip end of this month! Some things like vaccines may need to be done months in advance. Which reminds me if you are planning on going to Alcatraz during your California trip (which I recommend) that sells out way in advance. Same with Statue of Liberty.

    • debbie smith
      August 12, 2016 / 1:25 pm

      very informative post and very easy to follow thankyou x

      • August 15, 2016 / 11:49 am

        Thank you for your kind comment Debbie 🙂

  4. Pingback: How Organised Are You When It Comes To Travel? Is It Written In The Stars?