An itinerary can be such a powerful tool when it comes to planning a trip. My time in a lot of destinations is short but the content that I am able to create is still plentiful. I am often asked if I use a travel agent to plan my trips. The truth is that I’ve used self-crafted itineraries to help me make the best use of my time. If you haven’t created a travel itinerary before, then it can be a bit daunting. But I’d like to share with you the method to my madness when it comes to creating my own itineraries.
1. FIGURE OUT WHAT TO SEE/DO/EXPERIENCE
Knowing what you want to see, do or experience is the most important aspect to making an itinerary. This is because you can build the rest of your trip around your main interests (once you know them). You can figure out how to get from point A to B to C in the most efficient manner, you can choose the best area to stay, whether or not you’ll need a rental car or what airport to fly in and out of.
2. CHOOSING AN AIRPORT
Some destinations have multiple airports. Even within the same country, the cost of flying can alter drastically if you fly into one airport compared to another. So, you truly do have to play around the search engines to see what works best for you. Another thing to consider is that even though one airport may be a lot cheaper than the other, it could be far from where you want to visit. Additionally, not every airport has the same passenger load. If the flying demand is smaller in one airport compared to the other, then fewer flights will occur. Thus having fewer flights often means that the cost of flying one those fewer flights will cost more.
3. AREA OF CHOICE
Once you know the kind of things you’d like to see, do or experience, then you can choose a neighborhood (or area) of stay. This should be a neighborhood that makes the most sense to stay in based on your interests. When researching neighborhoods, it is a wise idea to take note of the demographics of people that live there. Not every neighborhood fits your personality as a person. This could impact how you view a destination if you chose the wrong area to stay in. If the area you’d like to stay in is far from your points of interest, you'll now need to make an important decision. Is it worth staying far away from the things you’d like to experience just because the neighborhood suits you the best? Or would you prefer convenience?
4. SUNRISE AND SUNSET
A lot of what we do depends on the available sunlight. As most of us know, the sunlight varies depending on the time of year and where on Earth we are. It is imperative that you keep this in mind as you’re figuring out things to do. It makes no sense to jam pack your itinerary when the sun rises at 7AM and sets at 4PM. Just be mindful about that.
5. OPENING HOURS
Always make sure to research opening hours of anything that you’d like to experience. You would be surprised to know certain sites are closed on days that you wouldn’t expect. Here in North America, we are so used to every business being operational during Monday to Friday. Overseas, that may not be the case. It is very common to have some business closed midweek but open for the remaining days. So, never assume and always check just to be sure. You don’t want to choose the wrong days and base your trip around something that you won’t even get to experience.
6. MODES OF TRANSPORTATION
If you’re the type to explore cities by foot or public transit, then it is important that you assess the walkability of the destination. Some places require you to rent a car because all of the points of interest are so far apart. Other places are more condensed and only require that you’re mobile enough to walk around. This is an important factor to consider because it can have major impact on the amount of money that you spend abroad. Who doesn’t like traveling for less? If you can plan out your stay in a smart way, then those few hundred dollars that you save can go toward something else!
Planning an itinerary takes time. It takes research and many hours of thinking things through. But once you do it enough times, it becomes a game. And the winner is the one who can plan the smoothest and most efficient schedule without compromising one’s enjoyment in a destination.