The Best Way To Create an Itinerary

Understanding what you want out of a trip is a vital aspect to planning and spending your money wisely. For those who are traveling in a group, planning can be a daunting task, made worse by the knowledge that lack of communication in that early stage of planning can lead to a vacation that no one ends up enjoying.

The absolute BEST way to avoid miscommunication when planning a group trip: SURVEYS!

There are lots of options out there but SurveyMonkey is my favorite.

You can craft questions that fit your group best. Give your friends or family a way to discreetly answer budget questions they may feel uncomfortable answering in person. Plus you can find out if what you think a person wants out of a vacation is really their top priority or merely what you had wrongly assumed. 

For example, if you know your group leans toward thrill seeking instead of spa treatments, it makes it a lot easier to choose which activities to book for your trip.

Likewise it can help you determine what areas you don’t mind cutting out or being frugal with in order to save the budget.

Speaking of budgets, this is the point in your trip planning where you will want to set one. Your budget should include transportation costs (both reaching your destination and traveling within your destination), accommodation costs, food costs, tours and other activities, as well as shopping for souvenirs. 

 

After determining your group’s travel priorities and budget, you can now research your desired destination with a focus on what you find most important. 

Take note that you need to check all of the new restrictions and requirements that have been added in response to Covid and adjust your plan accordingly. 

There are a variety of resources available online for planning your trip.

Pinterest offers a way to discover a variety of things to do in the city you are visiting. This is a great way to find unique or free activities that you wouldn’t otherwise realize are options. You can pin the most appealing for future information as well, which lets you organize on personalized boards for easy reference. 

For specific recommendations on whether a tour or other activity is worth visiting, TripAdvisor has a wealth of information that you can research.  

Several of the most popular and helpful sites when finding accommodations are Booking.com, HostelBookers, and AirBnB. Choosing your accommodation is dependent on many factors such as price, location, and amenities. Keep your priorities in mind when comparing options and be sure to read the reviews, especially the negative ones. This will not only help you avoid a bad situation but it also provides perspective. Reviews provide insight but they are also colored by the inherent bias and expectations of the reviewer. If you are looking for an active and social hostel, don’t be put off by a negative review by someone who complained about noisy social hostel gatherings. Recommendations are subjective so what doesn’t work for someone else, might just be perfect for you. 

Now that you have an idea of what you might want to do and where to stay while on your dream vacation, it’s time to plot out where all your activities will be located.

As we all know, money isn’t the only important factor when traveling. Time is precious too. Thus, far out activities may be cut from your itinerary to save time or you may choose to spend a bit more money to be in close proximity to all of your desired attractions.

The best way to plot out these excursions is… Google Drive’s My Maps!

 

Just search for the address or landmark and add a pin to your map. You can also organize these pins by color and into subcategories and add additional information to each pin, like the hours a museum is open or the average cost at recommended restaurants. 

This means - at a glance - you can identify food recommendations when you are out and about because Google Maps is not just amazing for planning, you can also access it on your phone even offline during your trip. No more wandering around aimlessly (unless you’re into that sort of thing) or using data!

Having a visual idea of where everything is located is particularly helpful to help you break down that long list of sights into your day by day itinerary.

To do this, zoom your map out to get an idea of what sights or restaurants are located next to one another. Now you can group those activities that are in proximity onto a list. Each neighborhood should be divided into its own day of the trip. 

At this point you should have a first draft of your itinerary. 

Creating your final itinerary will require some additional revision. You want to pack enough events into your list to make the most of your time but not so many tours and destinations that you feel run ragged. Each day should have some flexibility built in so that you can relax, wander, and discover those adventures that you just can’t plan for. You may need to cut activities or add some depending on your situation. It’s a delicate balance to be certain. 

Once you have a final itinerary, book your tours and start doing detailed logistical research. How do you plan to get around in the city you are visiting? Is there public transportation? And if so, how do you use it? 

In London, for example, you will probably take the Tube or buses and for that you will need to get an Oyster card. You should take note of the different prices for visiting various zones and get a Tube map. 

The logistics of each destination you visit will be unique, but some things you should consider looking into for almost any situation include: transportation, what clothing is considered appropriate, useful language phrases, and cultural norms like whether you should tip.

As a final step, you should plan for emergencies. Find out the regional emergency phone number because it isn’t 911 in every country you explore. You should also locate your home country’s embassy nearest to your destination and make sure someone knows where you plan to be so that you have a lifeline available just in case.  

With these things noted, your itinerary is complete and yet adaptable enough to fit your needs.  

Please let us know if you found our suggestions helpful or if you have a few tips and tricks that you use when creating your vacation itinerary.