I’m freaking out and don’t know where to begin planning my trip. Before anything else, I need to plan a master route. To have a route, is to trick my brain into not feeling so overwhelmed. It needs a leash to keep it from spazzing, guidelines to follow so it won’t feel lost. So let’s start…
How to Plan your First Solo Trip
1. Create a game plan.
Arrival/ departure city: Bangkok
Duration: 2.5 weeks.
I need an outline to follow, a route. Once I arrive in Thailand, I’ll think to myself , “Oh, it’s not so scary afterall…” and I can always change my direction. But for now, I must choose … north, south, east, west?
Which brings me to…
2. Figure out the things to sightsee
Beaches, mountains, rural villages, famous landmarks?
Being raised in Hawaii, beaches are overkill for me; mountain and religious sites are attractive to me! This means northern, mountainous regions like Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai will be good.
So from Bangkok I’m heading North to …???
3. Find the city which will make the best home base.
Home base cities are the places you’ll spend the most time in and use as launch pads for your sightseeing adventures.
Cities north of Bangkok are: Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son. The most central city, with the most to see and do, seems to be Chiang Mai, although I do want to see Sukhothai (even though it’s only for the Old Sukhothai historical park).
4. Connect the dots.
Bangkok- Sukhothai- Chiang Mai- Chiang Rai- Mae Hong Son- Bangkok.
Looks good for now…
5. Determining length of stay in each city
For now, let’s just say I give each place roughly 3-4 days, with travel time included.
6. Wishing for the ‘wish list’ but discovering the reality.
- TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
When I research the above, I realize the route I have may not work with my time frame. Thailand is a medium to large country. Point-to-point travel to any of my cities- bus or train- will take anywhere from 7-10 hour…that’s almost half a day!
So maybe its just Bangkok- Sukhothai- Chiang Mai- Bangkok.
Three cities and four days allotted to each. The extra days will be for travel time and day trips.
7. Re-adjust the itinerary route.
I perform a “light number crunch” and juggle dates…
I have a vague idea of how many days I want to allot to each city. I cross out the cities, are too difficult or tricky and figure on substituting it with a day-trip city.
I utilize time-and-money saving options, like an overnight train to Chiang Mai.
8. Keep the itinerary loose, open and flexible.
Now that I have a semi-tight idea of where I’m going and how long I’m spending in each place, I loosen the reins. I must leave myself open to changes along the way, as I may want to change my route or join up with other travelers when I’m there.
9. Do not dismiss anything as “impossible”.
The cities I cut from my original wish list won’t fit for now, but it doesn’t mean that once I’m there I won’t find a way to make it work. But the fact I have these cities which were cut, means I have a backup plan! If last minute changes or fall-throughs happen to my itinerary, I may have extra days to make those cities work.
Note: Above is the ‘Before’ and here is the ‘After’. This is the actual route I made for myself when I was on my trip.
Bangkok (3 days)- Ayutthaya (day trip)- Chiang Mai (4 days)- Chiang Rai/Golden Triangle (1 day tour)- Pai (2 days) -Chiang Mai (1 day)- Sukhothai (2 days)- Bangkok (1 day).