We’ve all been there: traveling to a new destination without a plan or travel itinerary. Some of us believe that going to another country without a plan is the best way to experience your trip. After all, everything you will find there will come as a surprise, which increases the chances of having fun. While that might work for some people, many travelers prefer traveling with an itinerary plan leaving nothing to chance!
So, if you’re not down to “live by the seat of your pants” or “throw caution to the wind”, creating a travel itinerary or solid travel plan that you can use each day while on your trip will ensure you get to see what you want when you want, while on budget.
What is a Travel Plan Itinerary?
A travel plan or travel itinerary is a list or schedule of the plans you have for your trip, including the times of your flights and arrivals, the arrangements you have made for airport transfers and hotels, and the order in which you intend to visit critical places on the trip, and any other important information.
Having a traveling itinerary is vital to any traveler. And, if you’re like me where you always traveled by the seat of your pants, a travel plan or travel itinerary is a game-changer.
First, a traveling itinerary allows you to maximize your time and manage it according to your specifications. The travel itinerary will include the times you want to visit specific locations in the country. With the list, you can be flexible and adjust your plans if unforeseen circumstances arise. For example, suppose the weather is bad in one location. In that case, you can decide to visit the location next in line and come back later to the original position.
Secondly, a trip itinerary will help you manage your expenditures. With a solid travel plan, you can estimate the amount of money you are likely to use beforehand. When you know the trip’s costs, it becomes easier to make a budget.
Additionally, concrete travel itineraries help you decide the order to follow in the places to visit. It is impossible to see all of the attractions in just a few days, particularly in nations where there are a great number of attractions. Creating an itinerary will assist you in prioritizing the attractions, ensuring that you do not miss out on seeing the most important things to you.
Finally, a travel itinerary ensures that necessities for the trip are not forgotten. An itinerary for travel should always include all of the necessary items that will be required during the trip. When planning a trip that will take you to more than one location, you need to include information about what to pack, what to wear, what medicines you need to have on hand, and the contact information for places like hospitals, embassies, and police stations.
How to Plan a Travel Itinerary
Itinerary planning is not always as easy as it might sound. It is easy to forget vital things while planning, only to forget them when you have already traveled. Here are a few things you should remember when planning your itinerary.
Start by asking yourself important questions.
You need to ask yourself some questions when planning your itinerary. Some of the questions you must ask yourself include:
Where do I want to travel to?
When choosing the country to visit, think about timing; make sure that you visit the country at the best time to travel. It is also wise to consider the people you will be traveling with when choosing the country.
You can also get recommendations from some of your well-traveled friends to help you choose a country that will give you all an unforgettable experience.
With social media, there’s no shortage of travel inspiration accounts out there. Also, websites like Skyscanner.com have a feature that, if you are undecided on where to travel to, you can select “Can’t Decide Where?” and they will list every possible destination and the cost to get there from your home airport.
What is my travel budget?
Whether you will stay in dingy dormitories, budget-friendly BNBs, or 5-star all-inclusive hotels, determining how much money you are willing or able to spend can help you maintain financial control.
Considering your budget will also help you choose areas you can afford to visit and modes of transportation to get there.
Create a reasonable budget. Some locations are more expensive than others, and if you plan accordingly, you can prevent unpleasant surprises.
It is usually advisable to budget extra money, as unanticipated circumstances (err, lost your passport will in another country?) may arise. Having a reasonable plan can prevent arguing with your partner over overspending because both of you will be aware of the financial limit.
This does not mean you cannot make a spur-of-the-moment decision to spend extra and engage in crazy activities. After all, you are all there to enjoy yourselves.
Still, keeping your day-to-day spending in check is helpful in avoiding tension and disagreements with your travel companions.
What documentation will I need to travel to this destination?
The travel documents you will need to get to your destination will mainly depend on your destination. In most cases, you will require a passport, travel visa, ID card, and Covid-19 travel documents, depending on the country, medicals, required vaccinations, and other necessary documents.
How much time do I have to travel?
On average, vacations typically last 8 days. However, it does not mean your trip has to be eight days. It could depend more or less on the amount of money you are willing to spend and your schedule back at home. Just like mapping out your finances, understanding exactly how much time you have to travel is a critical piece of the travel itinerary process.
Who am I traveling with?
You should also consider your traveling companion’s best interests when planning your trip. Include them in your budget and consider the things they want to see when you plan an itinerary. That way, it will be a happy trip for everyone, which should be the goal.
After you create your travel plan or travel itinerary, share it with your group to ensure everyone is in agreement. Having a second (or third, or fourth) set of eyes on your plan may help uncover issues or holes.
What are our common travel interests?
It is crucial to ensure that you and your travel companions have the same interests. The trip is for all of you, so you must ensure that everyone’s best interests are considered while planning for the trip.
Will you be staying in multiple cities?
If your trip takes you to multiple cities, you should consider booking staying places. If you are staying in major cities, make sure to plan for places that are within your budget.
Start with Brainstorming Your Travel Itinerary
Having a picture in mind of the travel destination is okay; you can only have that through brainstorming and research.
Sometimes, simply sketching out your plans on a piece of paper is a great way to start planning your itinerary.
When it comes to planning each day, I’ll even print out a monthly calendar and right each day’s events on a specific day. You should even include days that you’ll be in transit (to and from airports or train stations), and times of arrival and departure.
Research Your Travel Destination
One of the key reasons you should research your travel location before departure is to familiarize yourself with the available activities in the country. This will help you appropriately organize your journey. Spend some time exploring online sources. You will encounter specialized websites that feature activities at your destination.
While there are likely a few main attractions you plan to visit during your stay, research will allow you to uncover places that you might not have considered.
What Travel Locations or Points-of-Interest are Most Important for Your Trip
Most countries have plenty of tourist attractions, and while you might want to visit them all, it might not be possible due to time or budget constraints. For that reason, point out the travel locations that mean the most to you and your travel companions. The best way to identify these places is by making a wish list and crossing the places that mean the most to you.
Must-See Travel Points-of-Interest
Start with the places in the country that every visitor must-see. For example, if you are visiting France, the Effie Tower should be on the list of the must-see destinations in France. If you’re in New York, Times Square might be on your must-see list, and if you’re in Miami, a trip to South Beach is critical to your trip. You get the idea!
Would Like to See
Then, make a list of the things you would like to see. Suppose you are traveling to Kenya, for example. In that case, Maasai Mara could be on the list of the things you must see, while Hell’s Gate National Park might find its way to the list of the things you would like to see in Kenya. These are places that would be great to visit on your trip but are not the main reason you’re going to the location.
Nice to See
The third category will include a list of places you would like to see, but you will still be okay even if you don’t see them. If time and money allow, you could visit these places. Still, you will be okay if you don’t visit the destinations.
Finally, you can list places you don’t have to visit in the country.
With all locations and attractions, compare your list with others in your group. While some of you really need to visit the Eifel Tower while in Paris, others may have seen it already and it’s just not that important to them on this trip.
Planning on Getting to and From the Airports, Train Stations, etc.
Find out how you can travel from the airport to the places on your list. In most cases, you can use cabs or public transport. However, you could still hire a car and travel with your family.
Depending on your location and flight times, it may take hours to get to the airport and/or get through security. For example, let’s say your flight is at 6:00 AM local time, but you’re an hour away from the airport at your hotel.
Is there a checkout procedure that needs to be followed at your hotel or BNB?
- Do you have a car rental to drop off?
- Should you expect traffic at this time of day?
- How much time do you need to check-in and get through security?
- During arrival, will you need a car service? Are taxis and ground transportation readily available?
- If renting a car, is the car rental desk on-site or will you need to take a shuttle to the car rental location?
These (and more!) are critical questions you need to be asking yourself as you plan to get to and from the airport.
What is the Customs Process at Each Location?
Each location has its custom process. Familiarize yourself with this due process to make it easy for you and your traveling companions.
Map Out Travel Stops to Get Closer to a Formal Itinerary
In your itinerary plan, make sure to factor in where you will stop and rest while traveling through the country. After all, you can’t be traveling day and night.
Tools to Help Create a Travel Itinerary
To plan your travel itinerary, you will need to use a few tools, including:
- Google Maps
- Printable Maps
- Printable Calendar
- Calendar Apps (Google and Apple)
- Travel blogs
- Google docs to help make a list.
When traveling, it is paramount to pack everything you need. Don’t pack too much, especially if you’ll be traveling by plane but don’t under-pack. Ideally, consider packing the most important things to you, such as lip balm, headphones, travel blankets, etc. Add a few clothes in your packaging too. You can buy extra clothes in your travel destination if your budget allows.
It’s Okay to Be Flexible and Spontaneous
You can’t possibly plan for a trip with everything. Therefore, feel free to be spontaneous at times. Do things, not in your plan for the sole reason they feel good.
If All Else Fails, Skip the Planning and Opt for a Tour Company
Creating a travel itinerary is not at all simple. Suppose you are a busy person or don’t feel like making an itinerary for yourself. In that case, you can always get help from a tour company.