Step one: learn how to spell itinerary. LOL
One of the most daunting, yet exciting, parts of your trip is to plan your itinerary and what you’re going to do.
This post will look at how to plan your day-to-day itinerary, not your whole trip. For example, how to plan what you’re going to do in Paris, rather than where you’ll be going to during your European holiday.
Here is my thought process when planning an itinerary:
1. How much time do I have?
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but you will not see the whole Paris in one day. In fact, you will not see the whole Paris in a year. So, what’s my point?: Manage your expectations.
You’ll have so many hours in a day and so many days in one place. Yes, you can try to get as much out of it as humanly possible, but you don’t want to be so tired that you can’t keep your eyes open. Work out how much time you have and prioritise what you’ll be doing.
Leave enough time to sleep, to eat and to get lost – not only is it inevitable, but it is enriching and exciting.
2. How much do I want to plan?
Do you want to plan your day by the second, or do you want a vague list of things and just wing it? Either way, its cool. Do what you want. You’ll most likely get more things ticked off your list if you plan it perfectly, but that won’t leave much room for collecting random stories in little streets – the little unplanned gems that you pick up along the way.
3. What have I always dreamed of seeing?
Do what you want to do. Have you always dreamed of walking up and down 5th Avenue and browsing through easy store? Then do it. Have you always dreamed of eating pizza in Rome for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Then do it – and do it first. Plan for it and set the time aside. You don’t want to go home with an “I should have…” in your heart.
Regardless of how much you want to plan, this is something to budget time and money for. Do this first, to ensure that you still have energy, money and time to do it.
Want to do everything? Well, unfortunately you can’t. (Refer to step one). Prioritise what is most important and start with that.
When you have decided on the most important things, I’d suggest reading up on what’s going on in the place that you’re visiting. Read reviews and decided where you’d like to go.
4. What is my budget?
Note that I put this thought after thinking about my dreams. I do that, because I’m a firm believer in making things happen. Try to manage your finances in such a way that you can do what you’ve always dreamt of – even if only to an extent. Save your money for the things that are super important to you, then spend on the rest.
I budget as following:
X amount for the trip
Minus: Things I have to pay (accommodation, food allowance per day, train tickets)
Minus: Cool things that I must do/buy (eg. Louvre entry tickets, Disney entry tickets, 10 pizzas in Tuscany)
Minus: Things that will be pretty cool, but I can leave if I must.
The rest of the money I split into the amount of days, to give me spending money each day.
In this way, I ensure that I have money for what I really want to do, with a little extra. This will give you a realistic view of what you have to spend.
5. Consult a map.
Depending on what you have decided on in step 2, you’ll now start to actually plan your itinerary. Pin point where you will be staying and where the places are that you want to visit. Try to visit all the places in one area on one day/ at a time. This will save time and money spent on travelling.
NB: Check their trading hours. Won’t help you rock up on a Sunday and the place is closed.
And while we’re talking about travelling: decide on how you want to get there and around. Will you be taking the train, hiring a bike or walking? Can you Uber to the area and walk around? Is it a safe area? Is there a station around?
These are all things to consider.
The most important aspect of your itinerary planning process is to plan for what is important to YOU. Go to where YOU want to go. Don’t just go to a place because it’s famous – go because it’s amazing.
But in either case: just go. Just travel.