What to Book in Advance when Traveling Abroad

Traveling can be daunting… and stressful… and sometimes it seems like planning takes longer than the trip itself. (And trust me, I don’t like to plan) It can be tough, especially when going international. The little trick is this: you don’t have to plan every detail, in fact you shouldn’t!!

Why wouldn’t I plan every detail, you ask! When you plan out every detail, you leave yourself no time to go with the flow and explore an area. The worst thing that happens is “I wish I had had time to do xyz”, or when everyone at your hostel is talking about an incredible day excursion and you have already booked up your time. If you are doing a short trip, it may make sense to book more in advance. With a longer trip, booking an all-day beach excursion on a day that ends up being stormy could throw off your experience!

What to book in advance!

  1. Flights — this is especially important for international flights where the further out you book, the cheaper they are. A trick I follow is booking internataional as soon as I am committed to a trip. I then save my credit card and airline points for the last-minute smaller flights!
  2. Travel Insurance – book before you go
  3. First couple of nights accommodation – this is pertinent when entering some countries for visa purposes, and there is also nothing worse than arriving and being overwhelmed by a new country, culture, and language and not knowing a safe space to head to
  4. Have a loose travel itinerary – this is especially important if you will be doing a trip less than 6 months, you will want to book flights home pretty early into your adventure.
  5. Grab a visa – if countries allow online application, purchase before you go to expedite the customs process.
  6. Rental Car – I almost never rent a car due to my love for public transit, but if you are book in advance!
  7. Vaccinations
  8. Excursions or volunteering – volunteering early in your trip should be arranged prior to arrival along with any high priority excursions that you can’t live without (example: 8 day trek to machu picchu should be booked in advance whereas a normal trip to aguas calientes followed by an AM hike can be booked once you are in Cusco)

What not to book in advance!

  1. Hostel Accommodations for long term – anyone who has made the mistake of booking two weeks in a hostel only to find out that it is unsafe and uncomfortable will vouch for this. Depending where you are, hostels normally have space available, and unless you can read a billion reviews and see photos, don’t commit to too long in the unknown.
  2. Day excursions – you can normally find these cheaper in person
  3. Transit from city to city – if you plan on city hopping using buses/ferries, there normally is not much of a difference in price for booking earlier. This will keep you from regretting your decision to stay 10 days in Cancun and only 3 in Isla Holbox (once you decide you love Isla Holbox – which I can tell you why you will)!

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