This is a guest post by Maddie Pope. Maddie Pope is a British A Level student with a thirst for travel. As one of two students having successfully obtained a travel scholarship, she has had to diligently plan every detail of an 18 day trip on which she will research Italian architectural ideals. She has recently started blogging, with a focus on Spanish and Italian culture.

  1. Establish your budget. With this, you can narrow down when and where you want to go, and can cut down on the reams of hotels when searching for somewhere to stay.
  2. Decide what type of visit you want to have. This may sound silly, but do you want a classic relax by the pool or are you looking for something more stimulating, like a tour at the UN in NYC or a visit to the Duomo in Florence?
  3. Print off a calendar, like this one and write on it where you are each day. This a good way of working out when you need to book hotels and trains. Too often I have nearly double booked nights, so this keeps me on track!
  4. Find a hotel. This can too often be incredibly overwhelming - all my friends say that they tend to end up opening way too many tabs with potential hotels and then end up closing Safari all together. Instead, use websites according to the type of place you want to stay. For example, if you are wanting a bit of unique luxury check out Small Luxury Hotels of the World; meanwhile Doris and Dicky is fabulous for boutique hotels on a budget. Hoping to hostel hop? Use Hostelworld. Oh, and you can always find exceptional deals at booking.com. If you are really trying to keep to the bare minimum, trivago.com is a great place to compare different offers - always a good place to check before booking!
  5. If you need to stick to a budget, or like having it neatly planned out, I'd advise using an Excel or Numbers spreadsheet. You can either do this by chronologically working through your holiday, inserting anything you will need to pay for or working through it categorically, e.g. hotel, travel, transfers, activities, food. If you have costs in two different currencies, don't worry - just make two different columns for each currency and convert them into the same currency later on.
  6. Like to hang onto a water bottle, but don't know where it's safe to fill it up? Invest (not very much) in a filtered water bottle like Water-to-Go's which allows you to drink any water - from a tap, river, or stream - without having to worry about getting ill.
  7. I would highly advise photocopying your passport and giving it to a trusted family member or friend who is easily contactable before you go away, as well as taking an additional copy with you. This is incase your passport is lost or stolen and will make getting home a lot easier.
  8. Planning on walking much in the heat? Grab a light coloured umbrella - this will keep you cool and protected from the sun, making your day not so tiring.
  9. If you're planning on moving around a lot, I'd highly recommend Rome2Rio. It helps you estimate how long you will spend physically travelling and also how much it will cost to do so in a range of ways - by boat, plane, taxi and bus.
  10. Currency can be expensive. To get the best deals, head to the Money Saving Expert's Travel Money site. It helps you to work out where you are protected if the bureau de change/bank goes pop whilst they are processing your order.
  11. Split your money up. Certain cities across the world are infamous for their pick-pocketing, so it's always good to go prepared. It's a good idea to keep some money with you in your bag but also in your safe/locker in your accommodation - the chances of both being stolen or going missing is unlikely, so either way you will have a spare bit of cash to help you out. 
  12. Check out the culture of the country you are visiting, so you don't get too much of a surprise when you get there! Additionally, double check if there are any sites you want to visit which have a specific dress code - for example, in St Peter's Basilica (Rome) men have to cover their legs, whilst women have to hide their shoulders or knees.
  13. Find out the emergency numbers of the country you are staying in. This could help enormous amounts if you get into a sticky situation.
  14. Another practical tip is to bring a list of phone numbers - your parents', key friends and also the number of your countries embassy (in the country you are travelling), incase you lose your phone, need help and can't remember the numbers off the top of your head.
  15. Have fun and look forward to your trip! Live in the moment and embrace another part of the world - even if it scary sometimes. I promise!