If you just happened to stumble across this post, subscribe, because I am doing a 4-part series of my recent trip to Barcelona. In this post, I am going to tell you about my planning process.
Besides knowing where you want to go, you have to know when you want to visit another country. It is important to understand the climate of a country at any particular time. It would be awful to pack shorts and tank tops, only to get to a country during their winter months. And it is pretty easy to find out this information, just Google “best months to visit _______.”
Once I knew I wanted to visit Barcelona in May — when it was not too hot or too cold — I needed to find the most affordable way to get there. I found this this app called “hopper,” which is available for Android and Apple phones. I suggest using this app for your next trip, because it does all the work for you. Just input pertinent information — like when, where, and how long — and it will notify you when you should book your ticket.
For my trip, I had to fly on a budget airline called TAP Portugal. The reviews for the airline were toward the unsatisfactory side, but it mostly involved spacing and luggage. However, I had the most amazing experience when I flew with them. Anyways, in order for budget airlines to afford selling cheap seats, they will enforce strict luggage rules to “recoup” their losses. I suggest understanding the airline’s luggage rules, to avoid having to pay to check your luggage. After I learned about the luggage rules for TAP Portugual, I did a lot of research on the best carry-on bags. I ended up selecting on an Osprey book bag, which I will review in a later post.
Side note: It is recommended by many frequent travelers (and myself) to use a carry-on bag versus checking-in your luggage when traveling internationally.
There is a high chance that your luggage could get lost when transferring between different airports and airlines. Additionally, the last thing you want to do is haul a 50+ lb. suitcase around a city, marking you as a target for thieves. So not only does packing a carry-on bag decrease your chances of lost luggage, but it also helps to avoid over-packing.
Now that you have a way to get to your destination, you kind of need a place to stay. Sure you can stay at a hotel in the middle of the city, but this will consume most (if not all) of your budget. Consider if it is worth it to spend $100+ each night for a room you will be in for a couple of hours each day. For me, I prefer to find accommodations through AirBnB. I have been able to score great deals on rooms and whole apartments with AirBnB, allowing me to stay on budget. More importantly, by not staying in hotels, I have the freedom to mingle with the locals and enjoy everything in their neighborhood.
When finding a place to stay on AirBnB, I cannot stress how essential it is to read the reviews. No offense to the new AirBnB hosts, but I feel more comfortable staying at a place with a larger number of (positive) reviews. Get a sense of the place you might select, by looking at it on a map. Find out where the closest public transportation station or grocery store is located in the neighborhood. Choose places with plenty of picutres over 1-2 pictures. And if you have any questions, contact the host. To help you get started, click on this link to get a $40 credit towards your next trip.
THINGS TO DO
As I mentioned in the preview, you want to find a balance when planning things to do on your trip. If you plan every second of every day, you will miss out on unexpected discoveries. In Barcelona, I found there were many side streets that hid hipster stores and amazing cafes. Have a general plan of what you want to do, but be flexible. Since I knew I wanted to partake in all of the cuisines of Barcelona, I searched Pinterest for the best restaurants…and I was not disappointed. I also wanted to do touristy things like visit La Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell, and I received great tips from travel blogs. Lastly, AirBnB recently rolled out a new feature called “Experiences.” As a traveler who loves to immerse myeslf in the local culture, I was really excited about this new feature. I found restaurants to try, parks to visit, and I even booked a picture tour through AirBnB.
I believe this post has given you some fundamental tips to help you plan your next trip. If you have any questions, please comment below. Stay tuned for my next Barcelona post, where I share with you my itinerary. As always, thanks for reading!