Regardless of whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, planning a travel itinerary will ensure your work trip or holiday-of-a-lifetime goes off without a hitch. From undertaking research and planning the finer details through to finalising both logistics and your budget, a little organisation can help you make the most out of your time away. Here are a few tips on planning the perfect travel itinerary.
Do Your Research
The first step in planning the perfect travel itinerary is to start with research. Are you interested in discovering more about your location’s history and culture, or are you just looking to spend a few days after an intense work conference relaxing?
Website search engines are obviously a good place to start, however scrolling even further through the listings can allow you to discover more personal reviews and blogs that will give you more of a non-touristy perspective. Tourism websites are also great sources of local knowledge, as are documentaries and travel guides.
Prepare a comprehensive list of everything you’d like to see and do from attractions and restaurants to tours and activities, then fine-tune your options by focussing on the ‘must-dos’ followed by the ‘like to dos’. Creating a spreadsheet is an ideal way of organising your travel itinerary as it allows you to consolidate all of the important information on the one document. There are also heaps of apps out there that will do a similar thing if you prefer to work digitally.
Create a Calendar
Regardless of whether you are travelling for a short work stint or a longer holiday, it’s important to consider dates and times when creating your travel itinerary. Start with activities that need to be done on specific days at specific times and note those on your calendar.
Slot in other non-bookable activities in the same location where the gaps on your calendar are and don’t worry too much about whether you’ve got an abundance of things to do, it’s all about options – you can always fine-tune things further once you get there.
Map Things Out
If you have a comprehensive spreadsheet of things you’d like to see and do in a certain city, group your options in terms of location and then order them, making sure you take note of an attraction’s opening and closing hours and when and where you’ve booked tours and events.
The next step in planning your travel itinerary to pinpoint the attractions by their location on a map. It helps if you split your destination city into sections – you can then transfer the items from your master list into the areas in which they’re located.
Google MyMaps is a popular app that can help you identify where a city’s major attractions are located and will give you a fair idea of the distances needed to travel between them. Once done, you’ll have an overall picture of their geographical location, where they are in location to each other and how much you’re going to be able to achieve in one day. At this point, you may need to delete items, transfer them to another day or book in an extra day or two in order to do everything!
If you are travelling for business, the budget may not be so much of a concern, however, if your trip away involves personal travel it will be an important factor you’ll need to consider. The first step towards creating a travel itinerary that’s budget conscious is to estimate how much you’ll be spending in one location. Add a new column to your itinerary spreadsheet and then try and estimate the costs of things like accommodation, entry fees, tours, transport as well as food.
Do this for all locations you’ll be visiting and then prepare a gross estimate. If you’re over budget, you might need to consider deleting options or considering alternatives.
Finalise and Collaborate
By now you should have a comprehensive travel itinerary spreadsheet that captures all of your activities for your entire trip away, organised in chronological order. You should also have a fair idea of your day-to-day budget and how much you’ll be spending overall on every aspect of the journey.
The final stage of planning a travel itinerary is to share it with others. One of the advantages of using a dedicated itinerary planner tool like an app is that it’s easy to share with friends, family and those you might be travelling with.
Some of these apps also enable you to share your itinerary with online communities who may be able to share valuable feedback with you regarding what you’ve planned and what else you might consider. It can also then help you fine-tune your budget, as many of these apps bring together like-minded travellers who have extensive travel experience and ‘insider’ knowledge on how to save a few dollars here and there!
Travel itinerary apps also enable you to store photos, maps and links to important websites that can be accessed via any electronic device. Apps can also let you store important information at your fingertips including flight details, hotel addresses, travel insurance details, and many of them also feature functions like currency converters, weather forecasts and travel alerts.
Leave Room for Opportunity
Probably one of the most important things to consider when creating a travel itinerary is to be flexible. Not all itineraries go to plan – venues get booked out, flights can be delayed and some attractions may not be as enticing as what they looked like online. Plus, you need to be aware of how you might feel once you’ve landed, so allow plenty of time for sleep, meals and time to get over jetlag if it happens.
And factor in the joy that comes with exploring – as many seasoned travellers can attest to, sometimes the unexpected is the most memorable part of a journey!
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