How to Plan An International Trip From Start to Finish

by | Last updated Nov 19, 2022 | Live Work Play Travel, Trip Planning

So you are planning an international trip – how exciting, yet daunting! As a constant traveller I am always planning my next trip, whether that be an international trip or a weekend getaway. Sometimes, planning your trip can be overwhelming to plan, particularly when planning it from scratch. You need to choose your destination, know specific visa requirements, know what to pack plus so much more. I have written this post in the hope it helps to make your travel planning a little easier.  I hope the following steps help how to plan an international trip from start to finish less stressful for you. Let’s start.

Step 1: Choose Your Destination


This is probably the best part, but also a stressful part as you choose your destination. You will probably have it in your mind where you want to go to, but I suggest you get yourself a map, either Google Maps or a physical printed map, sit down with a cup of coffee and look at the map. And become acquainted with your destination. From the map you can start listing the places you want to visit at your destination. Ask yourself some questions.

How much do you want or have to spend on your international trip?
How far do you want to go? A 2 hour flight or a 24 hour flight? Or how far do you want to sail?
Do you want to visit one spot or plan to do plenty of travelling around?
Am I eligible to go to my chosen destination? Remember, some countries still have covid-19 restrictions in place.
Are you travelling solo, in a couple or family? Is your destination safe?


Step 2: Start Budgeting for Your International Trip


It is great wanting to travel to places but ensure you can actually afford your international trip. This is where starting a budget comes in. I would include the following in my budget”. You can print this off and put in the amounts to give you a better idea of how much money is needed for your international trip.

Transport costs – $_____
Will this be plane, train, bus, car, etc? Or a combination of transport?

Accommodation costs – $______
Where will you be sleeping – hostels, hotels, etc. How many nights accommodation do you need

Visas costs – $______
Does your destination require you to obtain a visa for entry?

Activities – $______
What things do you want to do at your destination? Sky dive, bungee jump, water ski, snorkel, etc.

Insurance – $______
Don’t forget to budget for Insurance to cover you while on your holiday

Meals – $_______
Are meals included or will you need to buy them each day.

Spending money – $_______
Money to buy souvenirs and do incidental things.


Step 3: Requirements Needed to Enter Your Chosen Destination


You have completed step 1 and chosen your destination. Each country is different so you need to research their requirements so you can enter your chosen destination without too much difficulty. The first thing to check (at the moment) is if the country has any covid-19 restrictions and whether you need to meet them. Then find out if a visa is required to enter your destination. If so, find out what requirements are needed to apply for the visa and how much it will cost. Once again, each country has their own requirements. Some just require an empty passport book page while others want a visa stamped into your passport. I would be doing these things about 6-8 weeks before you leave in case there are any hold ups with the visa processing.


Step 4: Choose Activities and Design Your Own itinerary


Once you have chosen your destination you will be deciding on what activities you can undertake at your destination. For instance, I always like to do a Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing tour of a big city as they take me to all the places to see and do. Then I can go back to the ones of interest and spend as long as I like there. I book these through GetYourGuide. And if there are specific places I know I already want to visit, I buy an entrance ticket in advance, once again through GetYourGuide so I can jump any queues. I did this when I wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower recently – and it saved me about an hour’s wait.

Once you know places you want to see, start allocating the time for the activity. As I said I like doing the Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing bus. This usually takes about an hour, so that is my morning. Then I might have some lunch and then go back to a particular place I want to visit. For my visit to Paris, I spent the afternoon in The Louvre.


Step 5: Cultural Things Like Food to Discover


You don’t have to be a ‘foodie’ to enjoy the local foods. But trying the different foods of your international destination is a must. Why would you travel a long way and not try the local food! Paella in Spain. Pastries in France. Scorpian on a Stick in Asia. BBQ Ribs in Texas, USA. High Tea in England. I think you get the drift. Ask at your accommodation where good places are to eat. Decide also whether you will be eating out for all meals or only some. One way to save on food costs is by cooking your own while you travel.


French Pastries are a must to try when in France.

Budget for cultural experiences when planning your trip from start to finish – French Pastries a must try!


Step 6: Book Your Flight and Other Transport


You’ve got your destination, perfecto! Now it is time to book your flight ticket. Before you book, you will want to ensure you are getting a good deal on your ticket. I use a number of different websites and apps to compare prices. These include Kiwi, Google Flights and Skyscanner. I have discovered it is important to search for tickets in a new incognito table on your computer or phone each time. This is so your searches cannot be tracked and the price be bumped up each time you do a search. Sometimes, after comparing prices I go directly to the airline to see what price they are offering. Whichever flight price is best and offers me the most flexibility, I will then book my ticket.

A plane ticket is usually not the only transport I book. But it depends on what I’m doing at my destination. Sometimes I go on an organised tour while other times I travel independently and hire a car. I can book these things at my destination but I often like to have these booked. That way, when I get off the plane, my transport should be waiting for me. If you want to rent a car I highly suggest RentalCars who have a wide range of cars available.


Step 7: Book Your Accommodation


You now have your destination chosen, booked your ticket and transport, and now you need to work out where to stay. The three questions about your accommodation is to ask yourself where to stay, what services do you need it to provide and how much it will cost. 

  1. Where to Stay – Try to stay in a safe part of town and a place that is close to all the attractions you want to see.
  2. What Services do I want – Do you want a single room or don’t mind sharing? Do you need access to a kitchen and or free Wifi so you can work online or post to your socials?
  3. The cost – What is your budget? Do you want a budget hostel or hotel, a mid-range room or splurge on a bit of luxury? Add it to your budget in Step 2. For great deals on hostels check out HostelWorld and for the other types of accommodation, is my go-to. 


Step 8: Get Packed


What you need to pack for your international holiday will depend on which country or countries you are visiting and what time of year. You will need different things for a summer holiday than you do for a winter holiday. Plus you need to consider cultural things like females need to cover your head with a scarf when entering mosques – therefore, pack a scarf. I have a written a few packing lists here. Once again, do a list of the things to pack. Then question yourself why you would need each item. Once you have all your items you will need to pack in appropriate luggage. So consider what type of travelling you will be doing. If going on a two-week beach resort holiday a suitcase on wheels will be fine. While a backpack is far easier to carry around if you will be travelling every couple of days.


Step 9: Cover Yourself for Mishaps and Accidents with Travel Insurance


Lastly, take out travel insurance. You just never know what might happen on your holiday. It could be lost luggage, you could slip over in wet weather or have a serious car accident. I know travel insurance is an extra expense, but it could just save you from losing thousands in other ways. There are many travel insurance companies offering travel insurance, so I suggest you shop around and find insurance that suits your travels. Ensure the policy covers you for what travel you are doing. So if going on a working holiday, be covered for that. If doing lots of activities like skiing, be covered for that. My go to travel insurance companies are World Nomads for general travel insurance and SafetyWing for longer term travel.


Are You Ready for Your International Trip?


We all travel for different reasons, but we all need to follow steps to plan an international trip from start to finish. I hope the steps I have provided have helped you plan your first international holiday from start to finish. The more you travel, the better you will become at planning your trips and soon you will be an ‘old hand’ at it. Wherever you are going on this trip, I hope you have the best time and would love to hear about it in the comments following. For more details on planning your international trip check out my ebook Ready, Set, Go – Travel.


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Trip Planning. Person With a Map Planning Their Trip from Start to Finish.

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Sharyn McCullum Travel Writer and Founder Of Live Work Play Travel, Work Abroad, Work Online, Travel Blog Enjoying At Beer At The Coldstream Brewery In The Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia.

Sharyn McCullum – Travel Writer / Blogger, Remote On-line Worker, sometime Digital Nomad and Travel, Live and Work Abroad Expert. Is a chocoholic, coffee connoisseur and lover of ’80s music. Been travelling all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. Lived in London 4 years on a working holiday. Has holidayed in Hawaii over 15 times and currently calls Melbourne, Australia home. Is inspiring others to live work play travel around the world with this blog. Read more about Sharyn here.


  1. Kirsten Smith

    These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Your very welcome – glad you liked the tips.

  2. Leslie

    Thank you for these tips. I would’ve never thought about half of these things and don’t type of that. I’m so forgetful.

  3. Mayra

    Very useful and detailed guide. I love trying local food, but you’re definitely way more adventurous than I am. I wouldn’t dare standing anywhere near the scorpion sticks, despite being fully cooked!
    I’ll stick with the pastries and the paella. 😀

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I never thought I’d be that adventurous with food either, but when in Rome!

  4. nia

    Thanks for sharing this list! I am interested in traveling internationally in the future and am nervous about planning for my own trip so thanks for sharing this resource!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      It is only natural to be nervous which is why having guides like this help you to plan. Once on the road, your nerves should reduce. Happy travels wherever you go and I’m glad I could help.


    Very helpful tips!
    Of late, I also have started to understand the importance of travel insurance.

  6. Alma

    Very handy guide to plan an international trip. When you have done it so many times you forget how daunting it can be for a newbie.

  7. Jennifer Jenkins

    Excellent advise. I’m spoiled because I usually travel for work and I don’t have to think too much about the planning part of things.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      It is probably second nature to you now so planning is natural!

  8. Geeves

    I think everyone should know where to start when planning their International trip. It can be quite extensive. Thank you for sharing all of these awesome tips. I will definitely be using them.

  9. simplyjolayne

    So many great tips. Always fun to see what other travelers suggest and focus on.

  10. Melissa

    Great informational post! There is so much that goes into travel planning! Thanks for all the helpful tips!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Your welcome. It would be nice to have a thought and just jump in a car or on a plane and travel. I find, the more preparation I have, the better the journey. That’s just me.

  11. Linda (LD Holland)

    There are some great planning tips here. People sometimes don’t realize how much time and thought goes into planning an international Trip. And each trip seems to add a little nuance to our next planning.


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