This post is sponsored by Delta Air Lines.
I remember the first trip I ever planned on my own. I was so nervous and kept looking over maps to be sure of location, proximity to the airport, and arranging other transportation. I didn’t even pre-book my rental car, eek! It was such a daunting and messy process for me, as I’m sure it can be for everyone at times. Fast forward to today, where my travel planning skills are like a well-oiled machine and I rarely stress about my next trip. For my most recent trip to Venice Beach I partnered with Delta Air Lines to share my travel process, from start to finish, to hopefully help and inspire you to plan that next trip!
1. Decide what kind of trip you’ll take.
In this first initial step I do a lot of browsing, the hardest part seems to be deciding where to go. Things to consider are travel dates, popularity, budget, travel time, and what type of trip you’re going on. Is it business or personal? Are you traveling with adults or children? Alone? Will it be relaxing or adventurous? All of this will help you come to your final decision. I like to browse Pinterest (I actually keep a visual wish list of sorts on my Wanderlust Board) to find inspiration of beautiful places I might like to visit. I decide who is going with me, then plan loose dates around our availability.
2. Choose travel dates.
Choosing travel dates can be such a hard thing to nail down. I decide what time of year I’d like to go based on who is going with me, and popularity. I try to avoid high season as that is when prices are highest and places are at max capacity. It helps to use fare calculators with adjustable days and interactive route maps like this one. The duration of the trip is important too. If there is a lot you’d like to see and do or a longer amount of travel time, try to plan for a longer trip. For quick weekend getaways with only an hour flight like my trip to Venice Beach, we only stayed a couple of nights.
3. Book air or any major travel first.
I prefer to book my major travel first (see also: most expensive), it’s less stressful to spend less as time goes on. For me, it is usually air that comes first, followed by hotel and such.
4. Find a place to stay.
When it comes to finding a place to stay, I have to admit that I will spend weeks looking for the perfect place. I browse online, look at other blogs or pinterest, and even google “hotel” in certain areas that I know I want to stay in. It’s kind of crazy, but it works. One easy money-saving tip I use is to search online for the hotel name once I finally make a decision, then book the cheapest rate I find!
5. Plan meals & activities.
I like to keep my schedule pretty open, with a casual list of things I’d like to do, eat, see, or shop while on a trip. For my trip to Venice Beach, I didn’t book any activities ahead of time, but there also weren’t any I was super interested in that required it. If I stayed in Los Angeles instead, a pre-booking for the rain room at LACMA would have been in order. For our recent trip to Iceland, the only activity I booked ahead was our 1-hour puffin tour in Reykjavik. That said, I prefer not to book more than a couple activities ahead of time. I research and keep a separate list of places to eat, as it makes life easier when you don’t have to figure out where to grab a bite. I never know what time meals will be, so I also avoid places (unless they’re really amazing) that require a reservation weeks in advance.
6. Pack your bags.
I think everyone who reads my blog should know by now this is my favorite part! I only pack a carry-on, and follow my travel light method every single time I pack. I know I might be partial, but I can’t say enough about how it allows me to pack only a carry-on bag while also putting thought to how I will dress each day, without actually wasting time during my trip. For Venice Beach I packed a few extra outfits with the intention of taking more outfit photos while I was there.
7. Pack your in-flight bag.
I pack this bag after I pack my carry-on suitcase. My in-flight bag is my personal item, carry-on aside. I prefer to use a large bag or tote so that it will fit my laptop and large camera inside, along with other goodies for the trip. In my in-flight bag is: liquids bag (moved to luggage after security), wallet, keys, sunglasses, laptop, camera, cleansing towelettes, lip balm, boarding passes, headphones, phone charger, external battery (usb charger), water bottle, snacks (no peanuts!), and my wrap or scarf, depending on the climate.
8. Pre-flight and check-in.
After packing those bags, I get into airport mode. I like to wear something simple and comfortable for the flight, like this travel outfit. I double check that I have my wallet, ID, money, and that I’m not carrying any items that are prohibited on the flight. I feel like this is a very obvious item to note, but it’s also a very important one. Since I never check bags, I like to use the automated check-in kiosks, or use the airlines handy app (Delta has one!) to check-in ahead of time. When going through security I always remove my shoes, sweater, watch, large camera, laptop (out of case), and anything else required. I leave my wedding ring on, as well as any other small jewelry.
9. Enjoy your flight!
It’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight. Delta now offers Free In-Flight Entertainment*, whether your plane has a screen or not! When we flew to Iceland and back we enjoyed the entertainment (flew Delta then too!), and the flight to Venice Beach was no different. Although the plane did not have screens in the seat backs, I used the GoGo Entertainment app (free) to find all of the in-flight entertainment, right on my phone (also works on tablet, and laptop). There are convenient USB charging ports, and plugs in case you need a charge while on the go.
10. Enjoy your trip!
Once you land and make your way to your destination, enjoy your trip! Remember to save yourself some down time to be able to enjoy the area at leisure.
11. Pack for the return flight.
Packing for the return flight for me is usually more stressful than packing at the start of the trip. I spent a lot of time shopping in Venice Beach (Hello, Abbot Kinney Blvd!), so I needed to squeeze some extras in my suitcase for the flight home. I used these tips to make extra room in my suitcase, and all was well.
12. Arrive home safe and sound.
The check-in process is the same for my flight home as it was on the way there, often smoother. Lucky for me because I’m usually excited to head home and see my little ones after a trip.
Do you follow the same type of routine every time you travel? What is yours like?
This post and my flight were sponsored by Delta Air Lines, a company I’ve used for years for our travels here and there. As always, all thoughts and images are my own. Thank you so much for being supportive of the sponsors I choose to share on Hej Doll.
Photos of myself by Kate Skogen.