So, you’ve packed your bags, you’ve bought your tickets….now what? Trips can be incredibly daunting to plan, and if you don’t know how to organize properly, you could end up overwhelming yourself and missing incredible sights and adventures at your destination.
Make sure you give yourself every opportunity to have the best journey possible and plan ahead. Read on to see how you can build the ultimate trip itinerary, for the ultimate trip.
Budgeting is a vitally important part of itinerary building because it sets the structure for your entire trip. Before you can decide what you want to see and which activities to fit in, you have to know what you’re willing to spend.
Truthfully, this step can make or break a trip. Ask yourself how many nights you can afford to go out to dinner. Can you skip a few taxi rides and go on a big excursion instead? Setting a realistic budget will allow you to see and do all that you can in your chosen location, without creating unnecessary disappointment mid-trip when you’ve maxed out your credit card.
Now that you’ve set your budget, you can start deciding what you really want to prioritize. In any given destination, there will be endless things to do and see. What really excites you about the place you’re going? Why did you choose to go there? The answers to these questions will help guide you to opportunities small and large.
Use your budget and the time frame of your travels to decide which attractions take precedence, and which can wait ‘till next time. Apps like Yelp can help you virtually “tour” what your destination has to offer ahead of time and sites like Lonely Planet have catalogs of information on thousands of locations worldwide, so you’ll never run out of ideas.
Some travelers are able to jot down plans on napkins or on pieces of loose paper, others need to create spreadsheets that are color coded and alphabetized. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, when it comes to itinerary building apps, there’s something for everyone. Using an app designed to aid in itinerary construction, will undoubtedly make your planning much easier to visualize and execute.
Some of our favorites are CheckMyTrip, where you can upload all your travel details and have the app streamline them for you, and TripIt which allows you to check safety scores for destinations, as well as access maps, navigation plans, and weather info sent to you based on your travel documents.
Perhaps the most important step of the whole process is giving yourself time before, during, and after your travels. I don’t just mean take time to relax and smell the roses, I’m talking about scheduling time in your itinerary for mistakes and mishaps, because they will happen.
No traveler, experienced or not, is immune to the bumps in the road that accompany every trip and not all obstacles look like a cancelled flight or a freak storm. Some are smaller, like missing the train you needed to get to the theatre on time, or realizing the hotel you were planning on staying in is all booked up.
Make a habit before you depart of giving yourself wiggle room, so you’re leaving as little up to chance as possible. This is a multi-step process, and takes some personal adjustments in terms of allotted time measurements to get right, but it makes all the difference.
give yourself a week or two before departure for itinerary building. No matter how excited or motivated you feel, life has a habit of getting in the way. Allow yourself to spread your research and organization over a few weeks and you’ll be as prepared as possible for whatever may pop up.
schedule days within your trip to wander around and explore freely. Knowing where you’re going down to the minute can be helpful, but may eventually feel stressful, especially if your travel duration is more extensive and taxing. Getting lost (safely) is one of the best parts of traveling, and you’d be shocked what sights await you just around the corner of your map.
take time after you get home to unwind, unpack, and revel in the unforgettableness of your journey. Jumping back into your normal routine without devoting adequate time to adjusting to jet lag or getting your affairs back in order will stress you out and bring you down from the high of your trip much faster. Take a breath, take stock, and take care.
Remember, traveling is different for everyone. Preparing for traveling, is no different. Organizational habits come naturally to some, and are built over time for others, but are ultimately helpful for all. Maximize your time by building an itinerary and you will have traveling in the bag (or the suitcase, I don’t know what you pack with).
If we missed any tips that you can think of, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and as always, Travel Safe and Travel Covered!
Alexa Lieberthal is a professional actress, singer, and writer from Boston, MA. Though her passions are many, and range from fitness to Star Trek, the biggest of all is travel. Alexa is based in NYC, but has spent the past 4 years exploring and performing in places all over the world, including Western Europe, the Caribbean Islands, and the U.K. Most recently, she spent two years seeing the world by working aboard AIDA Cruises, singing and sailing and savoring the earth. The next place on her travel bucket-list is Berlin, Germany! You can follow Alexa's adventures on Instagram @ny.see and her website areneeact.com.