A quick & dirty guide for planning a BADASS trip (by a world nomad…)

Whether it’s international travel, backpacking the CDT, a weekend camping trip, or a day hike… 

It all starts with an idea.

From that idea, grows a plan.

A lot of people get lost in the planning process or don’t even know where to start.

There’s definitely an art to it, and once you get down to the basics, you can use the building blocks to plan and execute any trip, anywhere in the world, with the necessary modifications, of course. 

Use my experiences to help with the daunting task of planning out a trip, then take the leap and have the experience of a lifetime, over and over. 

Read on for tips and tricks to formulate a plan for an epic experience. 

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WHERE do I want to go & WHY?

Obviously, the first thing you want to figure out is WHERE you want to go. 

This often goes hand in hand with WHY?

Do you want to go to Thailand to rock climb? (Check out this link if you do! 😉 ) 

Do you want to go to France for the culture?

Sequoia for hiking among the Giants?

Utah to climb?

The Artic, just because!?

This is the brainstorming phase, the vision board if you will. Don’t let silly things like what you think is *realistic* limit you. It’s amazing what is possible, so let your ideas run wild. 

Sometimes, it’s just a place you heard of once and thought it sounded cool. It draws you to it and that’s your starting block. Figure out the why later. 

Maybe you are a hiking enthusiast, mountaineer, foodie, or aficionado and want to go to a location that suits your interests.

The point is, to choose a place that speaks to you, interests you, or draws you.

And figure out what you want to do there, and what you want to get out of this trip. 

Boom, step one: complete. Let’s make those dreams a reality.

A budget-friendly boat in the water next to a stunning rock formation in thailand.

WHO is going?

Is this going to be a solo adventure or are you bringing people along?

Find your people. Hit up your friends, family, or fellow adventures, and get that trip out of the group chat!

A good idea is to make sure the people you want to travel with have similar interests or travel styles so that you can plan a cohesive trip. If one person is all about relaxing on a beach of a 5-star resort, and the other is down to dirt-bag through the desert finding crags to scale, things might not turn out how you’d like. 

Keep in mind, traveling together is the best way to get to know somebody, and if you travel well together, can be the start of a beautiful thing. There’s nothing like having those friends you can call and say “Hey, you wanna go to *insert country name*” and get a resounding “YES”. 

If schedules don’t match up, people have responsibilities, jobs, etc., don’t let the possibility of going solo deter you. Either way, it’s going to be amazing.

In my experience, solo travel is one of the most freeing, liberating feelings. I believe everyone should solo travel at least once in their lives. When you get out of your comfort zone, leave behind the job and expectations, the preconceived notions, you really get down to the truest form of YOU. Solo travel allows you to be 100% your authentic self. OR, it allows you to be who you’ve always wanted to be. 

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WHEN is the best time to go?

Depending on WHERE you are going, WHEN can make a huge difference.

Different environments, countries, latitudes, and hemispheres… take all of these into account when planning when you want to go.

A location’s weather, vibe, crowds, festivals, accessibility, and prices all vary based on when you are going. 

Flights, hotels, or hostels are often cheaper in off- season or shoulder season.

Holidays can impact travel times, prices, crowds, etc.

Research, Research, Research

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Research your location online for the weather during the time frame you are looking at. Is it peak season and everything is more expensive and crowded? Rainy season? Will there be huge fluctuations in temperature? Are there holidays or events you want to attend? What do the prices look like if you’re booking a flight?

All of these can impact when might be the best time for you to book your trip. 

For example, if you’re planning to hike the Appalachian Trail, you need to decide when to start and which direction you’re going based on the season and how long it might take you.

If you’re wanting to hike up a mountain, will it snow? Do you have weather-appropriate gear?

Is it 104* in the shade in the summer in Moab? You want to make sure you are prepared fir whatever situation you are getting yourself into.

These are all things to take into consideration.

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Things you need to take into consideration while planning an adventure:

  • Location
  • The vibe
  • Safety (Safety of location and personal safety)
  • Weather & Seasons
  • Packing (equipment, space, carry ons, etc)
  • Prices (travel prices, currency conversion, saving)
  • Travel times and modes of transport
  • Epic MUST Dos
  • Things you are ok with missing out on
  • BACKUP PLANS & emergency situations

HOW am I going to make it happen?

How do you do it? Is a question I get often. 

The simple answer is: I make it work. 

The longer explanation is: I’ve worked really hard for a long time and make choices that allow myself to get to travel or be out in nature and go on adventures as often as I can.

I choose to spend my weekends or off days roaming around the mountains near my house. I choose to do travel nursing so that I can take time off between contracts. 

I tend to take inexpensive travel with long layovers (hello new country to explore for 12 hours). 

I eat local foods and drink where the locals drink. 

I only travel with carry on.

I will drive to neighboring states to see National Parks, go camping and hiking, or visit new places. I’ve driven across the country more times that I can count. 

I enjoy hobbies that put me in the way of beauty in the natural world. 

I have multi-purpose, reliable gear that I can use often in various situations. 

My choice is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable so I can experience as much as I can.I want to go as far as I can for as long as I can. 

A comparison I like to make as an American, land of consumerism, is that a round trip ticket to Europe or Asia, is typically less than the newest version of the Iphone.  

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Ways to add adventure to your life, on a budget

  • Camping – dispersed, public lands, national parks
  • Make it a road trip
  • Research & compare to find the best deals on flights, gear, excursions, etc 
  • Carry on only
  • Multiuse and reliable gear
  • Packing/ Cooking foods instead of eating out
  • Bring friends and split costs
  • Budget 
  • Make friends with similar interests, you’ll open up a world of possibilities 
  • Say yes to opportunities and embrace the unexpected 
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Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons. Its up to you to decide what you are comfortable doing, what you can afford, and ultimately what you want your life to look and feel like. 

There’s always trade off for a lifestyle. I traded stability for freedom.

You of course don’t have to go to that extreme, but making space in your life for beautiful things and new experiences once in a while is a perfect first step.

You are always one decision away from a totally different life.  

The choice is yours. 

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WHAT am I doing?

If you have the time and the means to travel or go on new adventures, I say go for it. 

There might never be a *perfect* time to go on an adventure, it’s life after all and there is always something happening. 

Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you have it all figured out or are flying by the seat of your pants. Sometimes the best trips are spontaneous or really just winging it! 

If you are a planner and feel most comfortable having everything planned out to the T, then get to work. Enjoy the process. 

Just don’t forget to leave space for the magic.

Let the spontaneity happen. Embrace meeting new people, changing plans, and going with the flow. The beauty of travel and adventure is you never really know what exactly is going to happen. When you meet your new best friends by stumbling into the wrong pub, or come around the corner to find the most amazing view that you never expected.

That’s where it happens. Those in-between moments where you look around and think, wow this is the best day of my life. 

Then you wake up and do it all again the next day. 

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

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