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One of the most asked questions is how we plan out travel, so I wanted to share an in-depth “travel planning” series. Before I did travel blogging, I was a travel consultant and really loved the planning process. It’s really helped me figure out how to best book trips and create itineraries that don’t feel overwhelming.

Travel Planning Part 1: How I Find My Inspiration

The first part I wanted to cover is how I find my inspiration for trips as this is always the first step in the process. Of course the travel inspiration step is the most exciting — it’s the time to dream big, make bucket lists, and for me, start pinning away!

As part of this series I want to talk about the 5 steps in travel planning from starting with how I find my inspiration, to deciding where to go, the planning and booking process, and tips for once you’re on ground.

Here’s step one..

*p.s You can find the full travel planning series here:

Part 1: How I find My Inspiration
Part 2: How I Decide Where to Travel to
Part 3: Planning the Itinerary
Part 4: When to Book What
Part 5: Tips for on Ground

Travel Planning Part 1: How I Find My Inspiration

Make a dream list.

At the beginning of each year, I always take some time to write down a few places that have been top of mind. For this year, it’s been countries like Slovenia, Croatia, and Oman. It’s usually places I’ve stumbled across in magazines, perhaps on social media or heard via word of mouth. I go all out here — I find myself writing down things-anywhere from a remote Airbnb to gorilla trekking in Africa. I really believe in putting your dreams out into the universe, no matter how big or how small.

The New York Times 52 Places Article is everything.

If there’s one article I look forward to each year, it’s this one by New York Times. Every year they release a list called 52 places to go, and it’s brilliant. They find destinations that I often don’t even consider and share a compelling story about why you should go. I love how the article highlights remote areas all the way to up and coming cities in the states.

Travel Planning Part 1: How I Find My Inspiration

I create a “future trips” collection in Instagram.

This may be one of my favorite ways to gather inspiration. I follow a handful of other travelers who I resonate with and anytime they’re somewhere that catches my eye, I save the post into this collection. It’s a great frame of reference when I go to look around for future travel.

Travel Planning Part 1: How I Find My Inspiration

I subscribe to Condé Nast Traveler Magazine.

I’m a sucker for a well written story and beautiful imagery, and no one does it like CNT. I find myself tearing pages out of the magazine each month, bookmarking hotels and restaurants constantly. Their tips and advise are from true travel experts, people who know the destination and I’ve yet to have a bad experience from one of their recommendations. Oh and I live for the “Letter from the Editor” by Pilar Guzmán each magazine.

Travel Planning Part 1: How I Find My Inspiration

Pinterest is a great way to discover new places.

I often will bounce through Pinterest as a search engine, typing in things like “remote places in Croatia.” It’s really easy to discover blog posts and articles that surface places I’ve never even heard of. When something looks interesting, I’ll save it to a board for later.

Save this post for later on Pinterest:

Travel Planning Part 1: How I Find My Inspiration

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


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