There is something to be said for aimlessly roaming the streets of an energetic city popping into quaint cafes and talking to the locals, not knowing what you will find.
Though when there’s a limited amount of time, I also don’t want to leave seeing something perfect for the bucket list totally by chance. What if I missed the Skyline Trail hike along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia? Or the stunning Piaynemo view in Raja Ampat?
I always create a travel itinerary.
In order to make sure I don’t miss any amazing bucket list experiences while exploring a new destination, I always create a loose itinerary that leaves room for unexpected opportunity, like exploring the alleyways along the backstreets of Tokyo.
When I make my travel itinerary strict, it causes me anxiety, but it also can waste precious time when you don’t have a plan. I never want to be spending hours in my hotel room trying to figure out what to do for the day, when I can actually be out there doing it!
Here’s how I organize an itinerary:
How to Store your Travel Itinerary
In the beginning of my travel career, I spent a couple months creating a London itinerary, not wanting to miss a thing. I purchased an expensive map and spent hours putting little numbered stickies on all the places to be visited. These numbers coordinated with an Excel spreadsheet that listed the attractions by name along with other essential information.
It was foolproof-so I thought.
On day one, while walking to Abbey Road, the map fell out of my purse and was gone. Countless hours of planning were down the drain in a matter of minutes. Since then I have never bought a paper map, (especially since almost every airport and hotel has a free one you can pick up when you arrive).
Instead, I create and store all my itineraries with the Evernote app. The app can keep maps, photos and links to important websites that can be accessed on any of my devices. You can also set up an offline notebook in order to see your notes without Internet access, but keep in mind that you will need Wi-Fi to access any links.
You could also use the Notes app on Apple products (though it does not have as many bells & whistles as Evernote) or Microsoft OneNote, which is Evernote’s main competitor.(Video) How to make your own travel itinerary | Best tips for making a trip plan
Do Your Research
If you want to get the most out of your experience, you need to know what you want to do and what will make the ultimate travel venture for you. Are you fascinated by a town’s history, culture or food? Do you want your trip to just be about crazy adventures and a city’s vibrant nightlife? Answering these questions means that you need to do some research for the area you are visiting.
Prior to traveling anywhere I do an online search of “unique things to do in XYZ”, “traditional foods of XYZ” and “best restaurant in XYZ”. I then scroll through dozens of the result sites quickly, making a list in Evernote of all the things that even slightly interest me. It is important to get past the first few pages of the Google results to find more personal stories and blogs, instead of large generic sites that can give you only a touristy perspective.
If the city or country’s Tourism Board website does not come up within the search results, I always check their site for recommendations. I may also see if Netflix has any documentaries on the destination that can be rented, plus browse a few travel guides at the bookstore.
Another good idea is to search a tour website, like Get Your Guide for what sorts of experiences they offer in your travel destination.
After there is a rough list, more elaborate research is done on each attraction and restaurant to determine what will be kept on the itinerary versus what will be deleted. Keep in mind that you can’t see and do it all, so put an asterisk by the items that are absolute must-dos.
Divide a City into Sections
Many large cities will be split up in districts, like Paris with its arrondissements or the London boroughs. Look at an online map and determine the sections of a city you are traveling to. Create a header in Evernote for each district; if a town doesn’t have sections, it can be zoned into four quadrants (NE, NW, SE, SW). If your travels will be through several small villages, your headers can just be the name of the village.
Start taking the items from your master list and placing them in the sections that they are located in. This will make planning your day easier when you know what area you will be headed to and all the things you can do there.
***Tip: You can create a Google Map with pins in all the locations you want to visit for the day, then add it to your Evernote file.
Create a Calendar
Make a calendar for each day of your vacation. You can either do this in a simple list format or create a table. Take a look at your “things to do” list, there are bound to be certain attractions/events that have to be done on specific days due to limited open hours or reservation availability, so put those on the calendar first under the appropriate day and time.
If there are free hours on that specific date, then add anything that is in that same district to it, starting with the important items that have an asterisk next to them. Don’t put specific times on these other entries just squeeze as many as you can in before or after you scheduled event. This way you will have plenty of options on what to in the district that you will be in without having to be strict about the time.
Leave Room for Opportunity & Be Realistic
Even when I am in a location trying to make a tick off the bucket list I create loose itineraries, ones that leave room for unexpected opportunities, because a bucket list is just as much about the journey as it is the checkmark.
There are always times while exploring a city that something incredible sidetracks you, and if you are scheduled with events back to back you may have to miss out. Of course you’re going to want to see and do everything on your trip, but also be realistic.
Don’t expect to land in Europe, after twelve hours of travel and hit the ground running jam-packing your itinerary from sun up to down. Leave room for meals, sleep, jetlag and rest. Plus expect a few hiccups along the way; flights can be delayed, restaurants can lose reservations and an attraction may pale in comparison in person to the photographs on the Internet.
In the Bahamas our tour guide forgot to pick us up at the hotel, it rained for 24 hours straight and the buggy we rented got a flat tire in the first half hour. Yes, it changed our itinerary a bit, but instead of the original plan we met a lovely Bahamian couple that graciously drove us to the local fish fry where we ate cracked conch and drank bottles of Kalik beer.
Sometimes the unexpected is the most memorable part of the journey.
Don’t Forget the Extras
Add your flight numbers, hotel addresses, maps, etc. to your itinerary file for easy access. All my itineraries include this information, plus the currency exchange rate (so I know how much 1 US dollar is worth in the country). It is much easier to look at one file then have to scroll through dozens of emails or check different apps to find what I am looking for.
***Note: This should not be a substitute for keeping all that information stored in emails or printed copies of confirmations just in case.
This and a lot more traveling tips can be found in my book Bucket List Adventures.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosurehere.
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How do I make a perfect itinerary? ›
Make a section for each day that has a detailed outline of the schedule, including time stamps, locations, and contact details, if needed. If you're making a travel itinerary, be sure to include flight info, hotel addresses, and backup plans for specific activities.What are the 3 types of itinerary? ›
Thus, the five types of itinerary can be tourist's itinerary, tour manager's itinerary, escort or guide's itinerary, vendor's itinerary and coach driver's itinerary.Where can I create a travel itinerary? ›
- Trip Bucket.
It is the type of itinerary that works for most trips and that most of us try to achieve in our trip planning. And it's easy to see why. With a loop you never go backward, you hop from discovery to discovery, and each road you take is a new one.
A travel itinerary is a schedule of events relating to planned travel, generally including destinations to be visited at specified times and means of transportation to move between those destinations.What is an example of itinerary? ›
The definition of itinerary is a travel plan. An example of an itinerary is the list of dates and cities for a tour group. An example of an itinerary is your planned route.What is the most important element of itinerary? ›
The main and most important element of an itinerary is a tour program. The tour program consists of different activities. The programs are related to the travel or movement, stay and involve in different activities. Another major component of itinerary is the timetable of the tour program.What is the main purpose of itinerary? ›
Basically it is designed to identify the origin, destination and all the enroute stopping points along with the transportation, accommodation and other services on a travelers trip an itinerary has various portions and these portions are known as segments.Which app is best for making itinerary? ›
- Hopper – Flight & Hotel Deals.
- TripIt: Travel Planner.
- Sygic Travel Maps Trip Planner.
- Packing Pro.
- Roadtrippers: Trip Planner.
TripIt boasts nearly 20 million users, and it is easy to see why. The convenience cannot be denied. Anytime you make a reservation, you simply hit forward to firstname.lastname@example.org to automatically add it to your itinerary. Whether you are online or offline, you will be able to view your itinerary at any time.
How do I start my own travel content? ›
So, think of strategies that will make you rank higher on social media platforms as well as on Google. Prepare a budget and keep that money aside to work on your brand. Sharpen your writing skills, try to invest in a good and compact phone. Learn the basics of digital marketing to promote your travel blog/page.What is the best way to travel for you? ›
Traveling by plane is the quickest and most comfortable way to get across a country, often turning a 12+ hour bus ride into a 1-hour trip. They're all set for you, have easily trackable and distinct schedules, and are generally very reliable.What are 5 things you need to travel? ›
- First aid kit.
- Prescription medications.
- Your ID.
- Hotel reservations and itineraries.
- Electronic devices and chargers.
A travel itinerary refers to a schedule of events and activities that relate to your travel. It generally includes destinations that you intend to visit at specific times as well as the transportation means to get you to those places.What is preparing an itinerary? ›
A travel itinerary outlines all elements of a trip, from hotel stops to destinations. It can be indispensable, whether you're planning a weekend vacation or an extended road trip. A good itinerary gives a trip structure, and maximizes the amount you'll be able to see and do.How do you write itinerary in a sentence? ›
Examples of itinerary in a Sentence
We planned a detailed itinerary. Our itinerary included stops at several famous cathedrals. I'll mail you a copy of my itinerary so you'll know where to reach me.
- Duration of tour: While preparing itinerary one must consider the allocation of time and duration. ...
- Interest: ...
- Season: ...
- Budget: ...
- Alternatives and sequences: ...
- 4 As : ...
- Possible to express in monetary term: ...
- Possible to fulfill:
- Google Maps + My Maps. Price: Free. Link: Google Maps. Best For: Map Creator, Navigation. What is this? ...
- Roadtrippers App. Price: Free. Link: Roadtrippers. Best For: Planner, Maps, Navigation.
My number one go-to travel app is Google Maps. On the ground, it shows you where you are and how to get to where you need to go, whether by foot, public transit, car, or bicycle. Google Maps is equally helpful when you want to explore what's around, including hotels, restaurants, and gas stations.Does Google have an itinerary template? ›
Plan trips using an intuitive itinerary template with a built-in dynamic Google Map. Export to Google My Maps, organize to-do's, track costs, collaborate with friends, and more!
Is there a website to plan a trip? ›
Tripit for me is the ultimate in trip planning websites. It keeps all your planned trips in one place, either online or on the free App.What is a travel content creator? ›
Travel content creators — whether travel writers, social media influencers, photographers, videographers, or some combination of all of these — are an essential link between consumers/potential travelers and the places they travel. If you are a content creator, realize that you stand on the brink of a pivotal moment.What are the 8 easy steps to start a travel agency? ›
- Choose your niche. ...
- Find some great partners. ...
- Build your Marketplace. ...
- Add a touch of personality. ...
- Adapt to your target market. ...
- Shout louder than the competition. ...
- Don't let your customers down. ...
- Harness your customers' positivity.
- Make an itinerary bucket list for the entire world.
- Pick a direction around the world.
- Find creative overland routes.
- Research festivals in your favored locations.
- Play Tetris with locations to fit your travel budget.
- Plan around weather trends.
Elements Of Itinerary
- Tour Program. The main and most important element of an itinerary is a tour program. ...
- Timetable. Another major component of itinerary is the timetable of the tour program. ...
- Duration. Tangible goods are measured in weight, length etc. ...
- Destination. ...
- 4 As.
If you want to avoid Midway, Atlanta or another of the busy hubs, or simply want to take a different route to our destination, you can design your own airline itinerary. You will spend extra time, money or both, but if you're willing to sacrifice them, the choice of stops on the flight is yours.What is itinerary example? ›
The definition of itinerary is a travel plan. An example of an itinerary is the list of dates and cities for a tour group. An example of an itinerary is your planned route.Why it is important to prepare an itinerary during a trip? ›
By ensuring all the important details are included in the itinerary, there'll be no time wasted travelling between places, activities, or accommodations. You can manage clients' expectations with a more realistic view of how much can fit into each day. 2) Clients can better estimate the cost of their trip.What are the 5 most important things you should do before traveling? ›
- Research the Destination. Before travelling, do a little research about the places you'll be visiting. ...
- Plan Ahead. Don't leave your travel plans up to chance. ...
- Don't Leave Home Without Your Identification Card. ...
- Research more about your Destination. ...
- Learn The Lingo. ...
- Summing Up.
- Choosing Your Destinations.
- Researching & Picking Your Trip Destinations.
- Save Money & Get Rewards w/ Travel Credit Cards.
- Plan Your Itinerary Ahead of Time.
- Leverage Layovers.
How do you make a simple trip? ›
- Get travel insurance.
- Get lounge access.
- Make a list of what you need to pack.
- Research your destination before you go.
- Book your flight and hotel as early as possible.
- Pack light.
- Bring an extra credit card.
- Download offline maps of the area you're visiting.