How to Plan a Solo Trip

TL;DR

  1. Study carefully where you are going.
  2. Give yourself freedom to do whatever you want.
  3. Always be open to meet new people.

 

Traveling solo may sound boring for some and exciting for others. Sometimes, it may even sound dangerous. There are, however, ways to enjoy it, make it exciting, and even safe. It all depends on how much you plan your solo trip before buying the tickets and how interested you are in making this an unforgettable experience. Let’s take a look at a few basic topics every solo traveler should go through.

 

Pick a Safe Destination

It wouldn’t be nice of me to say you can safely travel solo to any city in this world. We know a lot of places face social challenges and having a group to help you in unexpected situations might be a lifesaver — literally.

 

Nonetheless, there are several sources online to help you find safe destinations, especially for female solo travelers. If these lists don’t include your dream trip though, you might want to investigate deeply what are the issues involved in traveling to that country or area.

 

If you are indeed planning a solo trip to a safe destination — or at least would like to — we have another blog post to help you choose your destination based on what kinds of trip you would like to take. It goes beyond just the solo part. Check it out.

 

Watch the Budget

On a solo trip, your budget guides everything because there won’t necessarily be somebody else to help you. You are responsible for every step you take, every decision and, therefore, every penny spent on the trip.

 

Make sure you set a smart budget from the beginning and always save a fraction of your money for an eventual emergency. If you are traveling to another country, make sure you understand how the currency exchange works and what you can do if you lose your wallet, such as calling your credit card company.

 

Give Yourself Some Freedom

Despite the importance of keeping a smart budget in check, it doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself with whatever you can afford. Once you pick your destination and set the things you want to do, give yourself the freedom to change your mind or even to go beyond what you would normally go if you were traveling in a group.

 

That means having dinner at a fancy restaurant, buying yourself some nice clothes, visiting all the eccentric museums you want, crawling from pub to pub, trying a different cuisine for the first time, waking up really early to catch the sunrise, etc.

 

Traveling solo is also a great opportunity to either save money with your accommodation or choosing an interesting place to stay to enhance your experience. Have you ever thought about picking a van as your accommodation? What about a cabin in the woods?

 

Maybe this is also the chance you have to find a nice hostel and see if you can meet new people and make new friends. There’s nothing better than exchanging ideas with other solo travelers who are facing the same challenges that you are.

 

But don’t forget: You are your own boss on a solo trip and you deserve to make it special doing what you think it’s best. Just go for it.

 

How to Plan a Solo Trip

 

Finding Your Inner Peace

Some travelers might also see a solo trip as a great opportunity to find their inner peace. Meaning it’s the time they take not to necessarily focus on visiting as many spots as they can at a certain destination, but rather to visit their own thoughts and desires to learn more about themselves.

 

You can always find a peaceful location and take the time you need, with no routine, schedule or deadlines, to get your life back on track, make plans for the next years and set major smart goals for your life.

 

Going Places Alone vs Meeting People

A solo trip is a great opportunity to experience by yourself certain activities you wouldn’t on your normal routine. Going to a restaurant, a pub, or even to a movie theatre can be a surprisingly good experience if you allow yourself to enjoy the moment, rather than wondering if it would be better with this or that person.

 

However, solo travelers are naturally more open to meet new people, even if it’s just for a day. You never know when a local is going to approach you, especially in a place like a pub, where people are already predisposed to talk to strangers and meet someone new.

 

If you use common sense and stay in public areas, it is possible to make new friends, have fun, and even learn about hidden gems in the city. Stay open to new social interactions, it might enrich your trip tremendously.

 

Share Your Journey

Nobody is necessarily alone these days. If you have a social media profile, you can make the most out of your solo trip by sharing with the world a lot of what you do and see.

 

You can create some kind of journal with your expectations before the trip and impressions after it. Write down the addresses you visited and how much you spent on each place. It can become a blog later and help other future solo travelers.

 

Don’t forget to photograph everything you see. We have some tips here on how to take photos on your trip. If you share your selfies from everywhere you go, it helps your family and friends see how you are doing and what you are experiencing.

 

• • •

 

If you have a destination in mind but you can’t find the right group to join you or simply would love to experience by yourself, there are still numerous possibilities to learn, have fun, and make it unforgettable. 

 

So check your budget, buy your tickets, pack it up, and hit the road, because life won’t wait until you find the right people to visit your destination, but the right people might be waiting for you there.

 

Have a good trip!

 

• • •

 

That’s all folks! See you in our next publiCATTions!

 

Photos: unsplash.com

National Parks You Should Visit As Soon as Possible

The United States of America is worldly famous for its breathtaking parks — no, we are not talking about Six Flags or Universal, although they are also worth a visit or many.

 

We are talking about National Parks. And, guess what? This is National Park Week and we would love to inspire you to visit one of those amazing places with incredible views on your next trip. Even better: make it a road trip.

 

For starters, the National Park Service made it easier for you to check those parks via the NPS App. You will find plenty of features like interactive maps, park tours, amenities, things to do, and updates on news, alerts, and events.

 

Don’t forget to give it a download before you start your trip. For other general planning, we prepared a step-by-step guide to a perfect trip plan. You can check it out here.

 

Now, back to our topic, here are some of the coolest parks you must add to your bucket list:

 

National Parks You Should Visit As Soon as Possible

 

Yosemite National Park, California

  • Official website: yosemite.com
  • Location: in the western Sierra Nevada, California.
  • Things to do: Plenty of hiking tracks; you can take a quick climbing class and adventure yourself; there are some great tours, including seeing the park from above in a helicopter; you and your family can visit galleries, art shops, and even participate in art classes to record those beautiful views in a painting. 
  • Lodging: You can go camping for a full experience with nature or rent a cabin at the park. If you prefer a more comfortable stay, there are hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts very close to the park, and you can check them out on the park’s website too.
  • Best season to visit: According to usnewstravel.com, the best season is from May to September when it is not so crowded, and that a lot of roads and trails are closed due to snow for most of the year.

 

National Parks You Should Visit As Soon as Possible

 

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

  • Official website: grandcanyon.com
  • Location: a canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona.
  • Things to do: This park is divided into four parts: South Rim, North Rim, West Canyon, and East Canyon. Each section offers a lot of different activities, you can find that on their website. We will focus on the two main parts: the North and South Rim. For both hiking is a great option, there are also cycling tracks and a free park ranger program, besides the guided tours.
  • Lodging: The park offers camping sites, inns, and a lodge, as well as dining areas. But there are plenty of options outside the park too.
  • Best season to visit: For the South Rim, it is during Spring, Summer, and Fall. The North Rim has its facilities and lodging open from May 15th to October 15th.

 

National Parks You Should Visit As Soon as Possible

 

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho

  • Website: yellowstonepark.com
  • Location: in the northwestern corner of Wyoming and spread its grounds to Montana and Idaho.
  • Things to do: This one has activities for all seasons. Some examples are hiking, watching wildlife, riding a bike or horse, guided tours, becoming a junior ranger for kids, fishing, skiing and snowboarding, and having awesome picnics.
  • Lodging: There are lodges in the park, cabin and hotel-style; but you can also go camping even during the winter. 
  • Best season to visit: According to usnewstravel.com, the best season is from April to October, but July and August are the most popular months to visit and usually more crowded.

 

National Parks You Should Visit As Soon as Possible

 

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

  • Official website: rockymountainnationalpark.com
  • Location: in north-central Colorado.
  • Things to do: Plenty of options like hiking to a mountain lake, climbing Longs Peak, rafting a river, whitewater kayak, going mountain biking, riding a road bike over Trail Ridge Road, snowshoeing a winter trail, going backcountry skiing with alpine touring gear. On their website, you will find many more options suitable for family and solo trips too.
  • Lodging: They offer cabins, resorts, inns, and lodges.
  • Best season to visit: During the Summer and Fall, even though it can be a little crowded; from November to April it is less crowded according to Wildandtrekking.

 

National Parks You Should Visit As Soon as Possible

 

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

  • Official website: brycecanyoncountry.com
  • Location: in southwestern Utah.
  • Things to do: you can watch the stars with a breathtaking sky at night, go ATV/OHV riding, go canyoneering, go fishing, go hiking, go mountain biking, watch wildlife and take photographs, and there are also some winter activities.
  • Lodging: you can go camping, but there are also lodges, rental homes, and cabins in the area, and hotels around the park.
  • Best season to visit: According to usnewstravel.com, the best season is from May to September, but the park is open during the rest of the year and it still offers a lot of things to do, although the weather may not be as pleasant.

 

If you have crossed off all these parks from your bucket list already, here are some other names you should visit if you are truly a national park lover:

 

 

While we wait for the entire country to be properly vaccinated, you should always check these parks’ websites to see if any restrictions are still in place. When you are prepared for these situations your trip can happen smoothly and you can enjoy much more the beauty our national parks have to offer.

 

Meanwhile, you have time to plan your trip and prepare for fun times with family and friends. These parks are a great opportunity to get to know America’s beauty even better, as well as spend some time surrounded by nature. It’s great for the body, for the mind, and it helps maintain these treasures we have in our country. Happy National Park Week!

 

You can find many other tips on traveling and trip planning on our blog.

 

See you on your next trip and stay tuned for our next publiCATTions!

 

Photos: unsplash.com

Source:

  1. thrillist.com
  2. nps.gov

How We Select Our Catts

Every city has its tourist sites, traditional restaurants to eat at, and classic tourist activities, which are usually cool and also crowded. It is where everyone goes and to have a general view of the city. 

 

But no one knows the best places in town than a local. They are familiar with all the typical places to go and also the most awesome ones that you will not find in your tour guide plan. So there is no way to have a unique and killer trip plan without the suggestions from those who live and experience a particular destination every day.

 

This is one of our main inspirations. To value the most genuine characteristics of each location, its people, culture, and individuality. There is always something unique to see everywhere and we want to bring that to every traveler in the world.

 

That is why we have our Catt family, to help you create the perfect trip plan based on your interests, profile, and all that your destination has to offer. We work to empower you with the best and coolest team so you can have the best traveling experience ever.

 

But, who are these Catts and how do we select them? We took the time to sit down with our co-founder and CEO, Lizia Santos, so she can explain in her own words the process to find the perfect Catt for you.

 

Who are our Catts and how do we find them?

Catts are knowledgeable socially-validated Catts, which is a fancy way of saying that they’re locals who love posting about their cities and their trips. We have a team dedicated to search and find these amazing locals, and they do it through hashtag searches, social media engagement, and marketing campaigns.

 

We also get lots of organic signups of people who learn about being a Catt from friends, through some content they’ve seen on the web talking about us or through me when I have the opportunity to speak about Citycatt at different events. 

 

How do we choose Catts?

There are a couple of requirements for people who seek to be Catts. 

 

  1. They have to be socially validated, which means they have to be verified through a social account in which they keep active and high-engagement profiles. We currently validate Catts who have active accounts on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Blogs. 

 

  1. Our Catts also have to be considered micro-influencers, with a minimum following of 350. We analyze the engagement of profiles because it’s important that the Catt is dedicated to nurturing a community through their social profiles. This is a clear indication to us that they’re caring, engaged, and focused on providing value to their followers, all very important qualities that we want to see in them since we’re looking to provide excellent customer service and personalized experiences to all travelers. 

 

  1. We analyze the content of the accounts and expect to see a reasonable amount of posts illustrating outings in their surroundings and/or trips. We’ll never dictate or interfere in our Catt’s content, however, it’s by seeing these kinds of posts that their knowledge of their cities is validated, and travelers come to trust them. So, it’s important that there’s a consistency of posts with this kind of content.

 

How We Select Our Catts

 

How is the onboarding process?

  1. Signup on beacatt.citycatt.com.

 

  1. In 24h-48h days we give a response back letting the applicant know if they qualify.

 

  1. The Catt is invited to the onboarding class in the Catt Academy: Be a Catt 101.

 

  1. Once they complete the training, Catts participate in an online onboarding call where they meet other new Catts and are greeted by our Catt Recruitment Team.

 

  1. Catts are welcomed into our platform, private community of Catts on Instagram and start meowing everybody with their knowledge and love for their cities!

 

After the onboarding

  1. The recently launched Catt Academy will always bring learning opportunities so Catts can grow their social media accounts with amazing content, backed by the industry’s latest updates, best customer service, and community building practices, as well as exclusive knowledge brought by partners on things like professional photography and videography. 

 

  1. Catts will have the opportunity of being a part of this exclusive local community of passionate locals who are dedicated to growing sustainable tourism in their cities, strengthening local businesses, and showcasing the uniqueness of their communities. 

 

• • •

 

Now that you know how we find, select, and initiate every Catt into our family, we would like to invite you to apply and join us at Citycatt. We are constantly looking for talented passionate locals who simply can’t wait to share with travelers their favourite hidden gems.

 

If you know somebody who fits into this profile, feel free to refer them to us. You can find us on social media on social media and we will be more than happy to reply your message.

 

However, if your goal is to travel across the country, then you have a friend in us. On our website, you can access our trip planner and add all your ideas with things to do, see, eat, and experience at your next destination.

 

You can invite other family members or friends and have them include their own suggestions to enrich your itinerary and make sure everybody is on the same page with the schedule.

 

At any moment, you can hire one of your Catts — if your destination already offers one — and ask them to either create a plan from scratch for you or to tweak a little bit what you already have.

 

At the end of the day, our goal is to ensure your trip is better than the previous one and an inspiration for the next one. There are infinite combinations of activities, places to stay, and recipes to try. It is all about what your heart truly wants to do.

 

If you need more inspiration, you can check out our posts and all of our tips to have an awesome plan at How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide, as well as other ideas on our blog.

 

See you on your next trip and stay tuned for our next publiCATTions!

 

Photos: unsplash.com

How to Plan a Perfect Beach Trip (on a Budget)

TL;DR

  1. Pick the right time to travel, if possible a low season.
  2. Choose free activities and try to cook your own food.
  3. Try using local transportation or car sharing apps.

 

Spending time with family or friends at the beach always sounds like a good idea. You can never go wrong with shade, refreshments, and the sound of the sea. If this sounds like a great trip to you, we have a few tips to make your planning — and budget — much easier.

 

Timing is essential

The time of your trip will determine how enjoyable and how crowded your beach destination will be. Basically, there are two main seasons in which we seek the beach as our destination: during the heat of the summer or running from the cold of the winter. A less popular option is during the fall. Let’s talk about all of them.

 

Summer

The summer is everyone’s main vacation season, the heat arrives and there is no way we stay inside. It is time to hit the beach and enjoy the sun. One of the issues about it is the extreme heat, which can be a little exhausting and requires some extra caution about hydration and skin protection. Another is that, as it is the traditional vacation time, it is likely the beach will be very crowded, and that impacts tickets prices and accommodations. Despite the downside, it really is a great time to hit the coast and enjoy the ocean. 

 

Winter

This is the time where we are all Olaf — if you are a parent you will know — desperately in need of sunshine. It is very common for northerners to migrate south during the cold months. This is also a high season when traveling to the coast, so prices may also be a little higher than expected, but it can be less crowded as it is enjoyed mostly by the northern population.  

 

The fall is a tricky one if you are traveling nationally. You may encounter rain and strong winds during your vacation but also some sunny days. It is for sure cheaper as it is the low season for a beach trip. However, it is a great time to go to beaches such as in the Caribbean and Mexico.

 

Now, if you are willing to travel internationally, especially to the southern hemisphere, the fall is still a good option as you will not find as much rain but just a little wind. However, you have to remember that, for the most part, their summer goes from December to March with big heat waves. Although, they have pretty pleasant temperatures up to March and the rainy season will most likely start in April. 

 

Cheap accommodations for all types of trips

When traveling solo or with friends, a hostel is always a good option, just make sure to read all comments on the property before you book anything. This type of accommodation is also a good way to get to know new people. 

 

There are also hotels that fit short budgets and are good — but don’t forget to check the guests’ evaluation of the property before booking.

 

Now, if you are traveling as a family, a rental home is probably the best choice to save some money. You will save not only on the rental price but also on food, as you will be able to cook your own meals, which leads us to our next tip…

 

Go grocery shopping and picnics at the beach

There is no big secret here: if you buy your food at local markets instead of eating at restaurants, your wallet will thank you later. A lot of hotels and hostels offer a common kitchen with basic appliances for you to use, and if you choose a home rental then it is even better. Get your food and utensils and cook away, and you can get some recipe inspirations in this 25 Easy Recipes to Make in Your Vacation post.

 

But if that is not the case, you can opt for fresh raw food, which is great for the beach scenario. Stop by the grocery store and buy some fresh fruits, drinks — make sure to keep yourself hydrated during this trip —, some veggies and dips, and general snacks. Pack it all in a bag and have a gorgeous picnic at the beach to the sound of waves coming and going. And to make it easier here is a guide for the perfect beach picnic.

 

That does not mean you can’t have a nice dinner or lunch out, it is your vacation after all. You just need to balance things out to keep yourself on budget.

 

How to Plan a Perfect Beach Trip (on a Budget)

 

Seek ou free activities

Easy peasy, the beach is free! That already saves you a whole lot. But if you want to do some extra activities like scuba diving, learn to surf, or any other sort of entertainment, your best option is forming a group to do it or looking for the best price.

 

Usually, there are several companies that offer this sort of service, find the one that best fits your budget. Besides that, you can download tour guides and maps online, walk around the city and enjoy free touristic spots.

 

Use local transportation when possible or share rides

Renting a car is great since it gives you freedom and comfort, but it can be quite expensive and there is still the insurance cost. That is where public transportation is such a great choice when available.

 

It is way cheaper and you get to know the city a little better. You can always reach out to your hostel host, hotel front desk, and the internet, to find the better route for you and which kind of transportation is closer to you.

 

Another good option is to use any Car Ride App and share your ride if you are by yourself. If with friends then you can split the ride cost with them.

 

Packing wisely to avoid extra costs 

Pack light but pack all the essentials you need. Something you want to avoid is to forget a piece of clothing you will need and having to buy it at your destination — probably at a high cost. 

 

It is normal and nice to buy some souvenirs so you can remember your trip, but surprise extra costs are not very welcomed. And, keep in mind that those stores at tourist destinations are usually a bit more expensive than regular stores. 

 

General tips on planning a trip

We prepared a great post on How to Plan a Trip with all the details you need. This one will cover how you can create and manage your budget to how to choose the best activities for you and your travel buddies. 

 

Check that out and so much more on traveling on our blog.

 

See you on our next trip! Stay tuned for our next publiCATTions.

 

Photos: unsplash.com

Source: carnival.com

How to Easily Choose a Trip Destination

 

TL;DR

  1. You need to know why you want to travel. What’s your intention?
  2. You need to know when you want to travel. In which season? 
  3. You need to know for how long you want to stay away. Full vacation? Just a long weekend?

 

Vaccination is spreading its way across American and we are on the right track to achieve herd immunity, which means we can travel again! Finally! CDC released travel guidelines for domestic trips and the website is up to date about where it is safe to go internationally.

So, fellow travelers, it is time to start planning our next trip and pick where you want to go. Sounds easy, but it can be quite challenging even considering that right now our options are somehow limited. 

Lewis Carroll once wrote, “If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” Even though this quotation ignites something adventurous inside of us, let’s be real and realize that we cannot just leave and go wherever, as cool as that sounds. Usually, it requires a solid trip plan and lots of savings. 


Let’s start with the basics, how to choose your next destination. The easiest way is to narrow down your options by answering the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to travel? To relax? For adventure? To have a shopping spree? To be surrounded by nature? All of that?
  2. Do you want to have a thorough trip plan or is this going to be a spontaneous vacation?
  3. Did you save for it?
  4. How long are you planning to stay away?
  5. Do you want to travel solo or with a travel buddy or family?
  6. When do you plan to travel? In which season?

 

These questions are very important because they define your intentions, what kind of trip you are looking for, and the type of trip plan you need. Your answers will generate the following options: 

  1. Going to the beach, mountain, big city, small town, camping site, etc.
  2. A well-planned trip with lots of activities programmed vs a spontaneous trip deciding what to do as you go.
  3. Spending on comfort and luxury vs saving on luxury and investing on experiences
  4. A long vacation vs a short weekend away
  5. Planning just for yourself vs planning with others
  6. Summer/Winter trip, low or high season

 

So let’s be practical and simulate some answers and their possible destinations.

Let’s say your answers for those questions looked like these: 

 

  • I want to relax, I have been planning for a vacation for some time and saved some money too, I want to travel with my best friend next month.

Based on that, a trip to the beach or a cozy small town close to a lake would give you all the relaxing time you wished for. You could rent a homestay or stay at a cool hotel, and still enjoy the warm weather.

Some places that fit that description are Hawaii, Florida, South Lake Tahoe, in California, Grand Lake, in Colorado, Dominican Republic, or some island in the Caribbean. The United States has great lake towns all over and here is a list of 20 destinations for summertime. 

 

  • I want some adventure to let out some steam, not a big planner I just want a long weekend of fun with my friends and I am planning to use a long holiday to do that.

Here we could consider camping, a hiking weekend, a skiing/snowboarding trip, and one dedicated to extreme sports, and so on. You could camp traditionally or rent a cabin on a mountain, stay at a hostel or B&B close to your activities.

As for the season, you can enjoy this trip at any time as an adventure can be found from winter to fall. However, once you decide when you are going to travel, that season will define where you go as you cannot enjoy snowboarding during summer. But here are some destinations: Colorado, Vermont, Wyoming, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

  • I want some quiet but fun times with my family. We deserve a decent vacation with no worries about the house, and we planned for that for a year. It needs to be during the spring or summer break.

Nothing like a family trip to make new and fun memories, if this is you we also have a piece on how to plan the perfect family vacation. In this case, your best option is looking for resorts where the whole troop can enjoy while sunbathing; cruises – once they become possible again after COVID-19 – are also good as they offer activities for everybody.

Here’s a list of the best 25 resorts for families in America. And some possible destinations are Florida, Utah, Hawaii, Mexico, and Punta Cana.


Now that you know your destination, it is time to think of your trip plan – be it a super detailed or very basic one – and think of ways to make your bucket list real. Planning requires a lot of time and a detailed-oriented mind

If you are a natural planner this is going to be easy and pleasant; but if that is not your vibe, worry not that Citycatt is coming to your rescue. Actually, even those super planners can use some guidance. 

We prepared a really thorough list to help you build the perfect trip plan, from deciding your destination to how you can manage your budget. You can find details about that and much more here.

Our website offers a trip planner where your entire group can add ideas and suggestions for what to do on each day you spend at your destination. However, if you would like your trip plan to have the most genuine experiences included, you can raise your hand and ask one of our Catts to help you.

Catts are locals with a lot of experience in their town. We specifically select Instagram micro-influencers to make sure you can always count on people who are actively exploring the best-hidden gems of their city.

Whatever your next destination may be, check if your group — and especially you — is on the same page about the dates, activities, and expectations set on your trip plan. Give its planning phase as much energy as the trip itself deserves, so you can become much more confident about choosing the right place to go and make the whole experience unforgettable.

 

See you on our next trip! Stay tuned for our next publiCATTions.

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide

Let’s face it: we all love to travel. Ask anybody you know if they like traveling, they will agree: they love it. That’s because it is such a rich experience and it serves all kinds of people and purposes.

 

Even though there is no fixed way to travel, there are basic topics you have to consider when planning your trip. We prepared a simple and easy guide to help check all the boxes in your travel plan.

 

Of course, if some of this sounds overwhelming, you can always hire one of our Catts to help you with tailor-made suggestions and tips for your trip.

 

If you have already started planning, you can skip to the step you are looking for. We took some inspiration from Google’s stages of travel idea and added a few topics to help you start from any point:

 

Pick your starting point:

Dreaming Phase

  1. Ask Yourself: Why Do I Want to Travel?
  2. Get Inspiration

Planning Phase

  1. Before Choosing a Destination

Booking Phase

  1. Budget
  2. Choosing a Destination

Experiencing Phase

  1. The Five Pillars of Traveling

Sharing Phase

  1. Sharing With the World
  2. On Your Way Back Home

 

If you are at the very beginning of your plan or even if you don’t have a plan at all, you may start from the most basic question of all: Why do you want to travel?

 

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step GuideDreaming Phase

1. Ask Yourself: Why Do I Want to Travel?

Traveling is a beautiful thing. You can live some of the best moments of your life while visiting other places. But before starting your trip plan, have you asked yourself why you want to travel? Here are a few reasons that might be behind this desire.

 

Escape From Routine

If you would like to shake up your week and do something more exciting than what you have on your calendar, maybe what you are looking for is an escape from routine. When traveling, you can try a different cuisine for each meal, wake up early and watch the sunrise several days in a row, or even just wander at your destination and see what life will bring you around the corner. This is also a great opportunity to plan a road trip. Be open to new experiences and see what happens.

 

Seek Adventure

If your heart is telling you it is time to go far away from your comfort zone, you might want to seek some kind of adventure. You don’t want to just visit some popular destination and its main attractions.

 

Maybe what you are looking for is to try something bold, like hiking for days, climbing mountains, learning how to surf big waves, chasing tornados, these kinds of things. Include the proper precautions in your trip plan, but follow your heart to the experience you are looking for. The most challenging moments might become the greatest stories of your life.

 

Get Busy

If you feel something is missing in your life, there is a chance you need to get busy. This can be done in several different ways but what is important is to keep pushing a get-busy agenda.

 

Set challenging and smart goals for your trip plan and see what happens. That could be: visiting 15 museums in one day, try 12 different beer flavors in 12 different pubs, learn a new kind of dance in a week, drive across 20 states and take a selfie at every welcome sign, go to 8 different places suggested by 8 different locals you have never met before, and so on.

 

Make sure you have your plan with you all the time so you can have that sweet pleasure of checking everything on your list. In the end, you will feel really satisfied and proud of yourself for accomplishing your goals.

 

Find Peace

If you need a break, finding peace from the chaos around you may sound appealing. That doesn’t mean you are running away from your problems, you just need to unload the weight on your shoulders and recharge the batteries. We all do.

 

Take everything that reminds you of your restless schedule and leave them behind for a while. Include on your trip plan activities that help you focus on positive thinking, peaceful moments, relaxation, physical and mental health improvement, as well as a very precious thing: Time for yourself.

 

At the end of the day, what you want is to concentrate only on the things around you, the beauty of your destination, and the tiny — but special — moments you don’t always notice in your day.

 

Nice and easy does it.

 

Just Because

There might be other reasons why you want to travel. Maybe there is an experience you always wanted to have or have been dreaming of, you might be visiting a loved person, or simply because a friend recommended a certain place to you.

 

Whatever your reason is, make sure you keep it as the main guide behind all your decisions. Always ask yourself WHY you are doing something before you select WHAT to put on your trip plan.

 

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide

 

2. Get Inspiration

Once you know why you want to travel, it is time to get inspiration to better pick your destination. There are a few different places you can find it.

 

Books

There are several books out there not only about traveling itself but with fantastic stories about characters who have experienced dream trips.

 

If you want to find inspiration, you can start with the ultimate classic “The Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain, or “Travels with Charley: In Search of America Book” by John Steinbeck.

 

Also, if you like collecting books, the Lonely Planet collection is going to be your best travel buddy. You can find books on each country or region you dream of and these books have destination maps, historical and touristic attractions, plenty of suggestions of places to eat, things to do, and much more.

 

Make it a hobby and for each country you visit you can purchase a correlated book; even more fun is to mark each activity you have done in the book until it is complete. Those books by themselves can be your personal tour guides. 

 

Movies

Some books became movies, like the famous “Eat, Pray, Love”, written by Elizabeth Gilbert; “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”, by Cheryl Strayed; and “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories”, by Norman Maclean.

 

However, other titles were written directly for the screen, such as “Midnight in Paris”, written and directed by Woody Allen; “Easy Rider”, by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern; and “The Darjeeling Limited”, by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman.

 

If you would like to add a dose of fantasy to your inspiration, then you can just let the epic stories of titles like the oscar-winning trilogy “The Lord of the Rings”, the beautiful “Missing Link”, and the always fun “The Adventures of Tintin” guide your dreams.

 

Podcasts

Podcasts are currently one of the most popular ways to get information. Grab your headphones and check out some of these suggestions:

 

The Big Travel Podcast — Listen on these platforms

Hosted by Lisa Francesca Nand, this podcast has a variety of different guests — including athletes, authors, musicians, soldiers, and much more — sharing their adventures around the world.

 

Zero to Travel — Listen on these platforms

Jason has a lot of tips for both experienced and beginner travelers, especially those looking for a budget trip.

 

JUMP with Traveling Jackie — Listen on these platforms

Jackie is a very experienced traveler and loves to talk about hidden gems and other secrets she discovered in her adventures.

 

Instagram

Nothing like beautiful pictures to make us dream about a certain place. We’ve selected a couple of accounts that will open your eyes and your world, here they are:

 

  1. @tastemadetravel: by their own words a “Global community of explorers & adventure seekers”. You’ll find everything here, from traveling tips, great local food places suggestions, unique places to go, and much more. 
  2. @thebucketlistfamily: this is a special one for families and it can serve as an inspiration even to the kids. The Gee family sold everything they had and went backpacking around the world, they even had a third baby during that adventure. Their page comes with awesome pictures, videos of their awesome adventures, and travel tips for families.
  3. @thiagomlcorrea: this guy knows how to catch your eyes with his stunning traveling pictures. From the Maldives to the Atacama desert, you’ll find great shots that will make you want to pack right now and leave.
  4. @dontgoto.video: The irony of this page’s handle is compensated by the amazing takes they have for each place they go. The idea is that they visit a place and dare you not to go there, while they show you the most wonderful things from each destination.

 

YouTube

This one is awesome if you want to dig in a little deeper into those influencers’ experiences. 

 

  1. Tolt Around the World: even more worthy of your time than their Instagram, this is the DontGoTo.Video Youtube channel. Their videos are just stunning and to give you a quick taste, check Don’t Go to Brazil.
  2. Max & Lee: This cool couple took to the roads in a van. Such an awesome life! They comment on the places they go, as well as how it is living/traveling in a van. Pretty cool traveling tips that will help you with your trip plan in general, even if you’re not driving a van somewhere.
  3. The Bucket List Family: Here’s the full experience of their channel, you’ll watch their family swimming with whales, observing bears in the wild, and walking with penguins. Honestly, a great channel to inspire traveling and to help your kids have a more adventurous spirit.

 

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide

 

*Planning Phase*

3. Before Choosing a Destination

How Many People Are Traveling with You?

Solo Trip

Traveling solo will certainly give you more freedom. You choose where to go, where to stop and when you leave. It’s also a great way for self-discovering and to make new friends along the way. A trip plan customized to your own will and dreams sounds amazing, right? It does! 

 

But it also requires a lot of courage to brave this world alone and a lot of extra safety measures. If this kind of trip attracts you, here is a list of the safest destinations for solo travelers. There are also several safety measures, usually directed to female travelers but they can be used by anyone. You can find some of those here.

 

Couple’s Trip

Does it really matter where you go if you have the one you love by your side? Probably not, but a weekend in Aspen sounds nice, doesn’t it? This kind trip plan is usually easy to prepare, from finding tickets to accommodations and restaurant reservations, a table for two is usually available.

 

You can choose anything, it can be an all-inclusive resort at the beach or a week at the slopes sharing the coziness of winter; it doesn’t matter because you will have each other all the time. But just in case, you can find a list of the top 10 romantic places to go here.

 

Friends Trip

It is a completely different trip when the whole gang is together. However, like anything in life, you must have a plan. Discuss the main places everybody wants to visit but give freedom so your friends can also do their own things.

 

To make the plan easier for you and your group, use the Trip Planner on our website to have all your ideas in one place. It includes a chat so everybody can share their thoughts and suggestions.

 

Family Trip 

A family trip plan is probably the one that calls for thorough preparation. You need a place that fits everybody and has fun activities for each member, age, and style. That can be a tricky task, but worry not we prepared a great guide on how to plan a family trip to help you out. As for possible destinations, U.S. News Travel has a good list of possibilities for family vacations on American soil, which will give you some ideas about where to go.

 

What Do You Want to Experience?

Artsy Trip

Is art one of your passions? Are you more of a classic or modern art style kinda person? If you are the latter, there are some pretty cool options for you, for example, the Wynwood in Miami

 

Imagine a whole neighborhood not only filled with awesome graffiti but also planned in a way to exhibit them. There is something new you can add to your trip plan and you might catch artists working on their graffiti as you walk around.

 

Another city with art all around is Barcelona where you can walk uphill until you reach the beauty that is Park Güell. If you prefer to admire art inside walls, there are cities filled with museums, Paris, Athens, New York City, Montreal, and Tokyo are a few to list here.

 

Most of these cities have special deals for art lovers, such as a day-pass to visit every museum you want, special days with half-price or free entrance, and exclusive exhibitions.

 

Beach Trip

Does the sound of waves give you butterflies in your belly? What about that comforting sensation of sand beneath your bare feet? Add to that fresh coconut water and some delicious tropical food, and that’s it! The perfect beach trip!

 

No doubt that the ocean has a calming and soothing effect on our souls, maybe because of that when someone thinks of vacation, they often think of the days at the beach. For this one, the trip plan can include “enjoy a relaxing day while sunbathing” and you will be good for it.

 

It’s an ideal trip to pack light summer clothes and as long as you are close to the water any accommodation will be great, so it’s just a matter of knowing how you will get there and how much you are willing to spend. And to inspire you, here is a list from the U.S. News Travel of the 15 best beaches in the world.

 

Adventure Trip

If you’re looking for that extra adrenaline in your veins or just a casual challenge, you’re most likely in need of an adventure. Lucky for you, we live on a vast and cool planet with a variety of options.

 

Start by thinking about what kind of scenarios, or even weather, inspire you more to a challenge. Once you get that done, there is no limit to your trip plan. You can go surfing in Australia, go on an expedition in Antarctica, take on the many snow slopes in Canada or go hiking in Peru. There are several options out there for mountain climbing, skydiving, desert expeditions, and safaris. The list is endless. 

 

Foodie Trip

Let’s be honest, isn’t every trip a foodie trip? We think so too but you can definitely travel with only this goal in mind and taste all the amazing food from your destination in a couple of days.

 

Every place has its unique and diverse cuisine, so why not put our taste buds to the test?! It is really common to find food tours today, which means that you will pay a certain amount and a guide — usually locals — will take you to the best spots to try the best local food; that amount you’d pay often includes some meals or drinks.

 

Here are some examples of those delicious tours: Montreal food tours, New Orleans food tours, and some more options from the Forbes list.

 

History Trip

Fond of driving down history lane? The question here is how far back you want to go. A history trip plan is really exciting and often filled with cool discoveries about humanity. Now, if you want to learn more about America’s history, here’s a list of the top 10 historical destinations you could consider.

 

From walking where Paul Revere walked to visiting the sites of the Civil War, at the very least you will come back with cool souvenirs and as a history expert. But if you really want to dive into the beginning of civilization, you will need to catch a flight. There are a lot of options, and to assist you here is a list of 15 of the most historical sites in the world

 

Road Trip

Road trips will give you full control of your trip, as far as how fast you will get to your destination, where you want to stop, eat, and so on. It is usually cheaper than flying somewhere, especially if you are traveling with family.

 

If you want to “roll your windows down and cruise”, here is an awesome way to start to plan your trip: How to plan a road trip. And if you got to be a child or teenager during the 90s, here is a fun read of the crazy adventures we survived 20 things we endured when going on road trips in the 90s.

 

Romantic Trip

Did I hear someone say “Love Shack”? Oh yeah! This can be a honeymoon, a surprise proposal trip, a babymoon, a regular vacation between you two — because heck yeah! You both deserve it. So many options! 

 

For this one what is important is to go somewhere you both enjoy. You’ll find some activity suggestions here. But remember these as just ideas in the air, it’s all up to you and how you want to impress your partner.

 

Where Are You Going?

Local Trip

Perfect for a quick weekend vacation out or a short drive. This option is certainly the cheapest and easier to plan, plus it gives you the chance to better know your own state, support local businesses, and have a great time.

 

National Trip

America is such a big and diverse country, getting to know the wonderful places we can find here is a bliss. It is still a good option for a road trip and also flying; you might need to be an extra light packer for the flights, as the regulations have reduced the weight for luggage, but it is worth it. 

 

International Trip

Oh, the wonders of traveling around the world. This one needs a little more planning. Make sure your passport is ok, that you apply for necessary visas or permits, and pay attention to currency change.

 

For international trips, it’s always a good idea to start your trip plan at least one year in advance, which will give you the chance to find good flight tickets, check the best season to be at your destination, and do general research on the area.

 

How Much Time Do You Have?

Short Trip

How long do you want to stay away? A weekend, 3 to 5 days or 1 week. For a short trip plan, the best is not to waste too much time with transportation, so you can enjoy your destination the most. So focus on places you can reach with a short drive or flight.

 

Long Trip

Are you ready to spend that vacation bank you have been saving for forever? This is it! Check your budget and make sure you are ok for the long stay. Spending too much time on a plane or car isn’t a problem here as you will have enough time to enjoy your vacation. Plus, you will have enough space to fit all of those bucket list things you want to.

 

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide

 

 

*Booking Phase*

4. Budget — Your Best Friend

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

On a Budget Trip

A tight budget may cut you short on the luxury but never in the experience. There are plenty of ways to save some money when traveling:

  • When traveling solo, you can stay at hostels.
  • Buying flight tickets at least one year in advance.
  • Traveling during the destination’s low season.
  • Enjoying the local street food, which can be much better than a fina restaurant sometimes.
  • Using public transportation at your destination.
  • Researching free attractions.

It is very important to plan a daily cost and keep track of that, you can use a spreadsheet or a budget app to help you.

 

It’s All About the Benjamins

You only live once. It’s cliché but it’s true. If you have the dough to spend as much as you want, then go for it and make it unforgettable. Are you accepting guests? Asking for a friend.

 

Mind Your Wallet

The second most important question on a trip is: How much can I spend on this trip? Be honest with yourself. If you are going overseas, make sure you check carefully what is the currency abroad and how that is going to impact your budget.

 

Spreadsheet

Create a spreadsheet and add all the numbers you either already know or you think might pop up on your trip, including an extra amount for emergencies. When traveling, one can never be too careful.

 

Notify Your Bank

Let your bank know you are going on a trip so they understand your credit card might show a different spending pattern. Also check with the instructions on how to cancel your credit card in case of theft, especially if you are overseas.

 

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide

 

5. Choosing a Destination

Once you pick your destination, it is time to go through the Five Pillars of Traveling. However, before you do that, just keep in mind a few things.

 

Language

If you are planning a trip to a country that speaks another language, you want to learn a few basic things before departing. Words like “food”, “bus”, “washroom”, and “exit” can save your life. You can also download an app to help you with translation.

 

If you are staying in a hostel or hotel, check if they have a business card by the front desk. When taking a cab back home, you can just show the card to the driver and they will know the address.

 

Culture Clash

People are different everywhere. Inside your country, it might be easier, but when traveling abroad you are more likely to face cultural values a bit different from yours. To make your trip plan easier, find out the basics about how people eat, talk, dress, and behave at your destination. It is okay to make mistakes if you are a tourist but you need to respect the local culture as if it was yours.

 

Risks and Insurance

Keep Your Documents and Money Safe

Especially when traveling abroad, always keep in mind your documents and credit cards are the most important things you carry with you; you can use a money belt to keep everything safe.

 

Bring with you a photocopy of your ID and passport in case you lose them and have the local embassy’s address with you — preferably printed — so you can contact them if any problem arises.

 

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is recommended and it can save your life. Ask your travel agent about it but also message your friends to see if there are other companies with better packages.

 

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide

 

*Experiencing Phase*

6. The Five Pillars of Traveling

1 — How to Get There

There are a few different ways for you to get to your destination. The most common types of trip plans usually include either a flight ticket or the traveler’s car. However, depending on how adventurous you are feeling, you may want to check if catching a train or even a cruise — once they are back in business — can be a nice addition to your trip.

 

Once you select your method of transportation, always check how to get to the place you are staying before departing. Some cities include a light train or subway from the airport to downtown. You also want to avoid large avenues during rush hour. Keep everything in your plan and make the first day at your destination as smooth as possible.

 

2 — Accommodation

Your accommodation is as important as your destination. If you are traveling solo or with friends, finding a hostel can help you save money and meet new people. When on a trip with a partner, a B&B or a resort should give you the privacy you need.

 

However, if you are traveling in a large group or with family, a hotel should be the easiest option. Even though not the cheapest, hotels are usually ready with rooms big enough for families, sometimes with connecting suites so you don’t have everybody in the same room.

 

It is crucial for your trip to always talk to your host/hotel in advance and explain your needs. Let them know if you are bringing a pet or if somebody in your group needs special needs. The more you tackle these issues in advance, the easier your trip will be.

 

3 — Transportation

If you are not driving to your destination, it is important to check the price for the local public transportation, as well as how much a taxi or Uber run would cost you. Here are some other tips.

Buying Tickets

Check-in in advance how much a ticket for public transportation costs, especially when traveling in a large group. You should also check if the price changes by location or if extra fees are applied when going outside the main urban area.

 

Transit Pass

Depending on what kind of trip plan you have, getting a day pass or even a monthly pass might be cheaper for you. Just do the math of how many times you are planning to take public transportation and how much each trip costs.

 

Offline Maps

Some apps offer offline maps so you can download in advance a map of your destination before your arrival. This is especially good if you have any issues with your data or if you are bringing a device (like a tablet) that doesn’t include a SIM card.

 

4 — Food

Eat What Locals Eat

If traveling is an opportunity for you to see new things, it is also a chance to try new food. Always keep in mind that you can always try at home the recipes you already know. Give yourself the chance to taste what locals love and expand your palate.

 

Try Something New

Depending on where you are traveling to, there might be a local recipe you should try. Check if there is a unique restaurant or experience involving food you can give a chance. Including these ideas in your trip plan can add an extra flavor to your day and make everything even more special.

 

Spicy Food & Allergies

Once you know where you want to eat, check if the place has its menu on their website, and anticipate if it includes ingredients you are allergic to. You may also want to contact the place first and check if the food is considered too spicy if that is something you are not into.

 

5 — Entertainment

Oh, yes, the good ol’ entertainment. After all, millions of people travel for one purpose: to have fun. To select the best options for attractions, first check with your group what they like to do, since each place is known for something different to see and do.

 

Maybe your group likes to watch live sports events, they might want to see how the local music scene is, or maybe your kids really want to visit a local park where they can see dinosaur fossils and trained animals.

 

Whatever your choice is, check in advance if the place has a website and buy the tickets before departing. It helps you save the day for that attraction and keep your trip plan more organized.

 

If you are spending a long time in one place, you want to plan all your activities around that address. Check what restaurants are around, how the traffic is, and how to go back to your hostel/hotel from there.

 

If you are looking for outdoor activities, it is also important to check the weather forecast before committing to a certain attraction.

 

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide*Sharing Phase*

7. Sharing With the World

No way you will go on vacation and won’t photograph every special moment. Even more improbable that you won’t want to share those moments with your loved ones, or that co-worker who drinks cold coffee in the office. So we prepared a list with some useful tips you can use.

 

How to Take Better Photos

Get up as early as you can

It might sound too much, but since a lot of people don’t like to wake up early when traveling, your sacrifice pays off if you want to take a selfie at a very busy or touristic place/attraction.

 

Ask the locals

People who were raised in your destination know unique places and where to photograph. Ask around or use one of our Catts to learn more about where you are going.

 

Take the road less traveled

Include in your trip plan enough freedom to change course at any moment. You never know what is going to pop up around the corner. If something looks interesting, take the shot. You never know if you ever see it again.

 

How to Photograph with Your Phone

Step 1: Clean your lens

Keeping your phone in your pocket may leave its lens dirty and it will definitely affect the quality of your photos. There are a few products you can buy to keep your gear clean. Try a before and after and you will see it makes all the difference.

 

Step 2: Turn on your camera grid

Go to your Settings app and turn on the grid for your camera app. Once you open it, you will notice four lines on your screen, crossing in four different sections. Keep the main “target” of your photo either in the very middle or place the crossing sections over your subject to create a more pleasant aesthetic in your pictures.

 

https://unsplash.com/photos/lfCoM9Rjtk4

 

Step 3: Focus

Tap on your phone screen where the main subject of your photo is. It will tell your phone to focus on that area. If your subject is close enough, your phone will blur the background and create a more professional look.

 

Step 4: Use extra lenses

There are a lot of companies out there that offer extra lenses for your phone. You can simply attach the lens on your case — if compatible — or use a clip, and take much crispier and beautiful photos.

 

You can even play with different kinds of lenses, like the classic fisheye, and challenge your creativity to take unique photos. Have fun!

 

Bonus tip: Bring a power bank

When traveling, always keep in mind your phone’s battery is limited, no matter how good or expensive it is. If you need your phone to go back to your bed & breakfast, to get an Uber, or to just simply get directions, recharge your phone when it indicates less than 20% battery.

 

To make your life easier, include a power bank on your trip plan survival checklist. You can charge it overnight and bring it with you in your backpack. It is easy to use and it might save your life. Don’t forget to match your phone charging port with your power bank and always bring your cables with you.

 

Photography Apps

Top 5 free photo editing apps:

 

  1. Snapseed — iOS & Android
  2. VSCO — iOS & Android
  3. Prisma — iOS & Android
  4. Photoshop Express — iOS & Android
  5. Foodie — iOS & Android

 

Video App: RTRO by Moment

If you would like to add a vintage look to your trip videos and have them stand out among your friends’ Instagram stories, then RTRO is for you. The app offers several different vintage filters that add a fun and analog vibe.

 

It lets you “pause” the recording, so you can add different moments to your video. In the end, it automatically compiles everything together and creates one single video to be exported to your phone. Give it a try!

 

Keep Your Trip Photos Safe Forever

Try these apps to backup your photos overnight (using Wi-Fi) and keep everything safe:

 

 

How to Plan a Trip: Easy Step by Step Guide

 

8. On Your Way Back Home

Ok, I get it, nobody wants to think about this part. When traveling, the least exciting part is the way back home. This is when you have to remind yourself about going back to the routine, unpacking, doing laundry, etc.

 

“It’s a funny thing about comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.”

— The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

 

As much as this is not as amazing and the trip itself, you can still make the best of it. First, take the time to be thankful for the trip you just had. It is really a special moment in life when you can take some time off and be anywhere you want in the world, eating, seeing, and doing anything you want.

 

Second, be thankful for those who were with you and for those you met at your destination. Traveling is a genuine human experience and, as much as it is awesome to enjoy cities and nature, each person that becomes part of your trip makes it even more special.

 

Third, go back to your trip plan and see what went right and wrong. Traveling is never perfect and it never will be. However, you can always learn from it and take notes for your next destination.

 

Go from the very beginning and see what part of your plan was flawed, what could be improved, and what you could have done differently. Not only it helps you revisit every day of your trip, but it also reinforces all the knowledge and experience you gained, so you can use it next time you travel.

 

Remember: going places is great but the genuine experiences we bring inside of us, no matter where we go. Our personal growth as humans is more important than tickets, hotel rooms, or restaurant menus. At the end of the day, it is all about the memories we carry with us in this amazing journey called life.

 

That’s all folks! Stay tuned for our next publiCATTions.

 

Images: unsplash.com

Lizia’s Experience as a Female Entrepreneur

You’ve met her before in 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started a Startup, she’s our Co-founder and CEO, a mother of three wonderful boys, a wife, and an endless fountain of creativity, determination, and love for what she does. Her name is Lizia O. Santos and I sat down with her to talk about her experience building Citycatt. 

 

Women own about 40% of businesses in the USA according to Fundera, and an effective way to increase that number and encourage more female entrepreneurship is to have female owners speaking about it. With that in mind, we hope that this interview serves as an incentive for you to start turning your ideas into reality. Enjoy!

 


 

1. How did the idea for your business come about?

I was a Citycatt growing up! My family loved hosting people and when I moved to the US, I was always hosting people and taking them to know another side of the cities I lived in. When I became a mom, planning trips became more complicated, and as I tried to search the web for unique things to do that went beyond the usual “top 10” I kept just ending up on the limited information. That’s when, as a Journalist, I realized the problem wasn’t a lack of things to do, but a lack of access to sources of information, and Citycatt’s idea came about as a way to connect travelers with reliable sources of information in their destinations so they can plan amazing and unique trips. 

2. How did you come up with the name for your company?

It was my husband’s idea. In his words: “Cat is a very astute animal who knows the city very well. And a person who would guide you around the city is nothing shorter than a “cool cat”. Add a “t” to make it unique and there you have it, a community of cool City Catts!  

3. How did you raise funding in the beginning?

It was natural. As I shared the idea, it piqued interest in people around me who trusted my ability to move the idea forward and transform it into a business.

4. How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?

Citycatt’s growth so far has been organic, with people following us and joining our family of Catts because of word-of-mouth or direct contact from one of our collaborators. Moving forward, we’re kickstarting some marketing initiatives and strategic partnerships to get the word out in a big way as travel resumes after the pandemic. 

5. What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?

We’re a big and diverse family, from team members to our Catts. We embrace our diversity to the point that it is actually the core of all we do, from designing the platform to all interactions and our operations. Establishing it was very natural, as I was raised like that, learning to love and embrace all people around me, no matter how different. I was always the class leader, the friend of all. So, when founding a company, I knew from the beginning that I had to find a way to extend this across all the company, and in practice that simply meant doing to others what I’d like them to do for me, and it caught up across all stakeholders. 

6. How many hours a day do you work on average?

All-day, every day? As a mom and entrepreneur, the lines cross a lot and it’s hard to keep track of the hours of work. As a Founder and CEO I probably work an average of 7-8h/day, but some days it can be way more. And then comes the work as a mom…it never stops. It’s not a “balanced” life, but I can say that in our household we found the balance that works for us.

7. Can you describe/outline your typical day?

A typical day is a lot of my roles being intertwined. I start the day with meditation and a workout early in the morning. Sometimes I hit the gym, sometimes I bike around the neighborhood. This makes an incredible difference in my day, so I try not to miss it, but I do give myself grace when I’m too tired after working late hours the day before. Then it’s non-stop, with cooking meals for the family, work calls, emails, operational tasks, helping the kids with homework, running errands, being the driver for the boys’ activities. On any given day, I won’t stop until 11 pm. 

8. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Entrepreneurship was my calling and I didn’t realize it. When I finally found it, I found myself with it, and it made me a better mom because I was finally comfortable in my own professional skin. My family is my priority, but for me to be the best wife and mom I can be, I have to feel fulfilled myself, and pursuing my dreams and goals is a great part of it. Of course, the tasks of building a business take a toll in my days, but nothing is impossible when you match determination, discipline, and a whole lot of love. 

9. What motivates you?

My people! From my family to each team member to each Catt and then every traveler we’re able to help, it’s the people that keep me going. It might sound cliché but I really mean it. Since I was very little, being around people and advocating for others was my thing. I feel fulfilled in helping each member of our team achieve their goals and pursue their passions while we pursue a common mission of helping people and communities all around the world showcase and find what’s unique and beautiful about themselves. I love mentoring other businesswomen and being able to have my kids around me while I do all of that. It’s the smiles, the conversations, the “thank yous” that make me want to wake up and do it again. 

10. How do you generate new ideas?

I joke that it’s a disease. They won’t stop coming! Ideas come very easily for me, and they come in all different shapes and forms. The bigger challenge for me as an entrepreneur is learning to filter them and turning them into reality through measurable and attainable goals.

11. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

As a Founder, I fear losing touch with the company’s culture as I watched it happen with so many other companies. I dreamt of a global company where local culture is respected and appreciated, and where travelers are treated like family by each one of our local Catts. Reaching a point where we become an “institutionalized” emotionless company where people don’t feel like they belong is my worse nightmare and goes against everything I work so hard for. 

12. How do you define success?

To me success is millions of travelers being able to go anywhere in the world with help from local Catts, feeling safe, and having great anticipation for a trip like no other. Success is also having hundreds of thousands of Catts being able to generate extra income simply by sharing the uniqueness and beauty of their culture and ‘”Citycatt” being a synonym of uncomplicated amazing trips. It is also being able to touch every person’s life within Citycatt in tangible ways, making it possible they reach their own definition of success as well.

13. Do you believe there is some sort of formula to become a successful entrepreneur?

I don’t believe successful Entrepreneurship is Math. It’s more like History because the most successful ones are the ones that learn from their own story other people’s. Gather the lessons, apply them in today’s world, considering all circumstances and challenges people face these days and you’ll probably achieve success sooner or later. 

14. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

I was always a dreamer and very imaginative, and for a while, this was even a reason for people to make fun of me. I was also hyper and frequently this was labeled as anxious. And I couldn’t bear a day without chatting to a handful of people. Everything I’ve always been became an asset now that I’m an Entrepreneur. Now, my work is to dream things that’ll make people’s lives better and to do that I’m expected to be communicative, and being “hyper” is expected of me to do so. I love it that who I am fits perfectly into the job of Founder! 

15. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

No doubt when Citycatt became a team instead of two founders, and I watched as other people understood my vision and lived our culture. Now, on to making it even bigger!

 


 

First of all, thank you Lizia for sharing this with us and for your time and passion. We’re sure Citycatt will reach a lot of travelers and make the traveling experience even cooler. We can all agree that The Entrepreneurship isn’t an easy one to board, but as our CEO made sure to let us know, it can be very satisfying and exciting. Dividing your time between so many tasks and a family is a challenge in itself, so finding the flow that works best for you is a key point to make it easier for you. If you’re a female entrepreneur or becoming one, let’s support and encourage each other.

 

If you want to find out more about us, you can visit citycatt.com.

 

That’s all for today!

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started a Startup

To enter the world of startups is a wild ride. It requires courage, creativity, perseverance, and a pinch of craziness, or at the very least willingness to deal with the unexpected. No one fits that description better than a wife and mother of three boys, who was able to reinvent herself from a journalist to a successful entrepreneur. And that, dear travelers, is our co-founder and CEO, Lizia O. Santos. 

 

Without any business background, she decided to take the first step towards making her bright idea a reality back in 2017, even though it had already been cooking for a year at that point. Imagine learning a completely new lingo, the biz lingo, having to face investors, hiring the right people for your vision, rebranding what you had already spent so long working on… The list goes on! It was a challenge, but one that she nailed. The authentic, welcoming and happy culture that you see in Citycatt is the realization of her vision.

She spoke with us about the difficulties of beginning a startup and everything she wished she had known before. In case you’re boarding this train, here are 5 things you should know before your trip down entrepreneur lane, from our one and only Lizia.

 

#1 Monetization

Such a big word and one that we think we know what it means. As a journalist, Lizia had the same general idea a lot of us had, which is how the company makes money. To her surprise at each meeting with investors, she was asked how her company would monetize, and when she gave a structured answer of how her company worked, it wasn’t enough.

Turns out, monetization isn’t just making money, but the many ways it can make money to make it future-proof. As she explained, “You have to strategize many ways to monetize, to become future proof and scalable. Ask yourself, what else you can do with your startup:

  • Can you sell your products to other businesses?
  • Can you reach out to their clients through referrals?
  • Can you close partnerships?
  • Can you sell a subproduct?”

This will make you prepared for that killer investor meeting and will give you a broader vision of your startup’s monetization potential. 

 

#2 People

In the beginning, you may feel underprepared, learning will be part of the process but you can’t learn everything. It seems you need a lot of things and different technologies to be successful. But, instead, you need people who are capable to take on tasks and responsibilities, who are specialized in things you’re not. After trying to do it all by herself, Lizia found out that, “You can’t be everything to everyone.” 

She learned to look for “her people”, as she likes to call her team members. A group that works very well, to which she can delegate tasks, and who’s working towards the same goal and dreams she has. 

For example, if tech is not your forte, find someone who can help you with that and make your company great at it. 

 

#3 MVP 

When the abbreviations start, we know the business lingo is getting real. And learning that was a pivotal moment for our CEO. She acknowledged that had she know what MVP was, she wouldn’t have spent so much in an app that wasn’t her MVP. Because at that point she says, “I believed I had to deliver the final product.”

So, what is this three-letter abbreviation? Minimum Viable Product. And that’s what you have to present at first. According to Lizia, here’s a good process to think of an MVP:

 

  • Have an idea
  • Refine this idea
  • Prepare as much as you can
  • Create the beta version of it — this is your MVP
  • Deliver it and lay down the expectation that it’s a beta, it can become much more
  • Receive feedback and use it
  • Based on the feedback and how it’s received, make it better

 

#4 Culture

Lizia’s is very engaged with Citycatt, when she speaks about culture and the effect it has on her company you can see how passionate she is about it. Inspired by this enthusiasm, she shared a few words:

“Direct your focus to product and culture. Usually, you only think about culture until you have already lots of people, and then because you didn’t think this through before you have to pay this huge price, because by then you have attracted the wrong people to work in the company and you have to let them go, or clean their mess up.”

If you as a founder don’t think through the kind of company you want, the kind of culture you want to lay down, the kind of people you want, the things that are not acceptable within your company, and also the things you expect to skill in your company; then, later you’ll have a huge headache. Because if you don’t have the kind of people you need to help build up your culture, you’ll have to stop everything to rebuild your culture in the future.”

When talking about Citycatt, these were the principles and values she determined as essential to her startup:

 

  • Authenticity
  • Diversity
  • Kindness
  • Scrappy Company
  • Love Community

 

“The culture is the foundation and the product is a consequence, if everyone is living the culture then everybody will help me build the product that I dreamt of.”

 

#5 Projects

She explains that this one is “sort of a combination of everything before”. In short, she says that “if you work on attracting the right people through the right culture and learn to delegate, what you do is, now you have the workforce, this team, and then you can work through projects and processes.” 

Lizia emphasized that if you’re not doing this, it means you’re doing it all by yourself and it can become quite “hectic” as well as very hard to tackle projects. 

She adds, “You can establish clear pathways for everybody in your team to achieve those goals, and when you have those goals being broken down into tasks that involve everyone in your team within their skillset, then the projects will get done and get done with excellence.”

 

In a nutshell…

From the wise words of our CEO: “If you really want to grow a company, stop doing everything yourself, attract the right team through the right culture, establish projects, procedures, and processes and then, set clear goals and turn those goals into processes where everybody knows their tasks and then can achieve the goal together and in the best possible way.”  

You can find more about the journey of startup entrepreneurship here:
5 things you’ll stumble upon in your Startup Journey

Co-founding a Business and a Home

 

See you on our next trip! Stay tuned for our next publiCATTions.

10 Awesome American Bookstores You Should Visit

TL;DR

1. Today the world celebrates Tolkien Reading Day.

2. Check out these awesome bookstores across the country.

3. Add them to your bucket list next time you plan your trip.

 

Today, the 25th of March, fantasy fans around the world celebrate Tolkien Reading Day. A special holiday created to honor the legacy of South African author J. R. R. Tolkien, who presented us with some of the most epic stories ever told.

We decided to hop on this journey and bring you a list of awesome American Bookstores you should visit as soon as traveling takes off again. Check it out.

 

1. Powell’s City of Books — Portland, OR

Address: 1005 W Burnside St

 

They are the most iconic place for book lovers in the city but, if you ask them, they will say they are also the world’s largest independent bookstore. That’s because this is where you go not only to fulfill your bucket list of books but also find those forgotten titles online stores don’t sell anymore.

 

2. Faulkner House — New Orleans, LA

Address: 624 Pirates Alley

 

This tiny yet charming bookstore got its name from the great William Faulkner, author of iconic titles, such as “The Sound and the Fury” and “As I Lay Dying.” The store is located in what used to be Mr. Faulkner’s home at the beginning of the last century. That’s also the place where he wrote “Soldiers Play”, making Faulkner House a sanctuary for literature lovers.

 

 

3. Explore Booksellers — Aspen, CO

Address: 221 E Main St

 

The Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado may be known for its beautiful mountains and winter tourisms, but it is also home to this wonderful bookstore that has been around for almost half a century.

It’s a great place for children too since they have an entire room dedicated to them. Once you have purchased all your titles, don’t forget to swing by the Pyramid Bistro on the second floor of this Victorian house.

 

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

— J. R. R. Tolkien

 

4. John K. King Used & Rare Books — Detroit, MI

Address: 901 W. Lafayette Blvd

 

When John K. King purchased an abandoned factory building in 1983, he already knew what his passion was: buying and selling used books, as well as antiques. What started in high school became a serious job and, since then, a very well-established business and name in the city of Detroit. Books lovers can spend hours going over one million titles in this four-story bookstore. If you love reading, this palace is a palace and John is its king.

 

5. Antigone Books — Tucson, AZ

Address: 411 N 4th Ave

 

Inspired by Sophocles’ play of the same name, Antigone Books is a name that has built a reputation in Arizona that goes back to 1973, when it was founded by Kate Randall and Trudy Mills.

Located at the city’s unique Fourth Avenue shopping district, this independent bookstore was voted the best in town by the Tucson Valley and became the first in the country to generate 100% of its energy from solar panels. 

A powerful name in the book business and a must stop for any local or tourist.

 

 

6. Prairie Lights — Iowa City, IA

Address: 15 S Dubuque St

 

In the spring of 1978, this historic place for book lovers saw the daylight for the first time when it was still a tiny bookstore. Four years later, they had the chance to bring all their selection to a much bigger space, located in the same building where names like Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, Sherwood Anderson, Langston Hughes, and E. E. Cummings would meet as form the city’s literary society.

A magical place any fan of literature would love to spend time at, walking around its three and a half floors filled with a lot of stories and history.

 

Courage is found in unlikely places.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

 

7. Taylor Books — Charleston, WV

Address: 226 Capitol St

 

You don’t have to be just a book lover to visit this place. Once you go through its red front doors, you are in for a treat at a bookstore that values different forms of art, as much as its own community.

At this must-visit location, you can put your phone aside while you enjoy contemporary art and handmade crafts at their Annex Studios. Depending on when you swing by you can even check out live music and even improv groups.

However, as in any iconic bookstore, the cozy atmosphere and the pleasure of sitting down to enjoy a scone or a cup of coffee already make anybody’s day.

 

8. Books & Books — Coral Gables, FL

Address: 265 Aragon Ave

 

Books, books, and more books. If the architecture of its 1927 building wasn’t attractive enough, its history adds even more importance to its name. Founded in 1982, the company has expanded to seven different addresses and became a must-stop not only for literature fans but also for any writers signing books across the country, who can participate in one of its 60 author monthly events.

Books & Books is also known for its monthly art exhibit that started in 1985 and for attracting visitors from all over the world.

 

 

9. Left Bank Books — St. Louis, Missouri

Address: 399 N Euclid Ave

 

In the year where the entire nation witnessed a giant leap for mankind, Left Bank Books took its first small step when graduate students from Washington University shared their desire to create a place for all kinds of books.

Since then, the name has skyrocketed to what has become the oldest and largest independently-owned full-line bookstore in the city, with a selection that includes new and used books, gifts, magazines, cards, and even toys.

If you ever pay a visit to somebody who lives in Missouri and is a book lover, just message them: Meet me in St. Louis!

 

Little by little, one travels far.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

 

10. Parnassus Books — Nashville, TN

Address: 3900 Hillsboro Pike #14

 

According to Greek mythology, Mount Parnassus, a mountain in Delphi, Greece, was not only the land of the Muses, but also the home of literature, poetry, learning, and music.

Inspired by this story, bestselling author Ann Patchett and publishing veteran Karen Hayes founded Parnassus Books in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee.

The city has seen locals and tourists visit this beautiful book store for over ten years, who enjoy other forms or art way beyond its iconic country music scene.

Grabbing a title from a local writer at Parnassus Books is a must-have on your bucket list, before visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame.

 

• • •

 

Once you are ready for another adventure across the country, you can stop by one of these amazing bookstores and feel again the atmosphere of being surrounded by great titles you are yet to read.

 

That’s all folks! Stay tuned for our next publiCATTions.

 

Images: unsplash.com

Sources: matadornetwork.com, afar.com, theculturetrip.com, huffpost.com

 

How to Plan a Family Trip Without Hesitations: A Checklist

TL;DR

  1. Save for it! As soon as you start thinking about traveling, start saving too.
  2. Think about how you want to get there, if you need to buy flight/bus tickets then the earlier the buy the cheaper you’ll pay. 
  3. Pack light, you don’t need your full wardrobe during vacation.

Continue reading “How to Plan a Family Trip Without Hesitations: A Checklist”