Ever noticed how some folks make the toughest trips seem like a leisurely walk in the park? I’ll guess that nine out of 10 times, those travelers created a near-perfect itinerary before they even started packing.
Modern itinerary-making tools, from websites to mobile apps, allow travelers to build colorful trip timelines. But the ability to engineer an effective, seamless itinerary requires more than just bells and whistles — and well-laid travel plans are an integral component of any successful trip. This is where I come into play.
So what’s the secret to creating a great itinerary? Be realistic first and for-most! And plan!
Sure, you’d like to milk your trip for all it’s worth by booking a red-eye flight and then scheduling a full day’s worth of activities on day one, despite an eight-hour time difference. But by the end of the trip, you’re likely to look and feel as if you’ve spent the week in correctional boot camp.
Designing all you want to get done into a seamless schedule, especially if you’re visiting multiple cities or countries, can be a massive challenge. Make it easier by creating a list of everything you want to see or do. Then put the list in priority order. I can help estimate how long an activity will take, or how long it will take to get there. This is an essential part of planning and often underestimated.
Do check the calendar for holidays and festivals in foreign countries. There may be a nifty festival that you want to slot into your schedule, or, at the opposite extreme, you may want to avoid a certain part of town if it’s going to be crowded or blocked off. I had a client once who almost got stuck in Paris on the 14th of July, Bastille Day. The city was mobbed with parades as a result he was late getting to the airport. Thank goodness he had already checked in online. .
There’s more to consider than just time and location. How do you want to see the attractions plays a big part in the plans and finances. A private or small group guide may make the difference in learning and enjoyment to total frustration and wasted time. Do you really want to learn about a place or just see it? What is of interest to one person is not for another.
Your itinerary is not a legally binding contract. It’s more like a rough draft written in sand. Things will go wrong. Restaurants will be closed. Buses will be late. But I always recommend pre-booked lodging. There is nothing worse than getting some place with no available beds. I went with a friend one time and her job was to book a few nights. She decided we would wing it! In Ponce, Porto Rico we stayed in the owner’s private room.
Now I always have reservations prior to departure. Consider scheduling a free day or two into your itinerary. Time to just explore on your own. Or some down time to remember how fortunate we are to travel!