How to plan your travel itinerary
Although many people love to travel, not that many are keen to plan the itinerary. Because of the hassle involved, some say they that they prefer the serendipity of discovering things as they appear. That's fine and well, if there is nothing specific you are planning to see.
On the other hand, if your purpose of travel is to visit specific places and there is a list of sights you intend to see, planning your itinerary helps you make the most of your time while helping you reduce the hassle and expense involved.
If you travel frequently, you should make planning the travel itinerary a habit. Once it's second nature to you, you are able to do it with less stress and effort. The first thing to remember is to go systematically. That way, you are less likely to overlook things.
Components of the itinerary
Every itinerary starts with a blank sheet into which you add the details and activity.
- Arrival date & time
- Departure date & time
- Destinations (if there's more than one)
Step-by-step Guide to Creating Your Itinerary
In the example below, Larry and Becky are planning their vacation to Bali. It is their first time to this destination and they want to make sure they get to visit all the major sights.
When planning your itinerary, it may be more useful to simply list out the sights you intend to visit for each day, rather than to describe them in prose. This allows you to view at a glance all the sights for the day, and adjust your time accordingly.
- Step One: Add the title. Number the days.
A short itinerary can be done within a single page. A complex itinerary of over a week should require more than one page.
- Step Two: Add arrival/departure times, accommodation, transport.
Your arrival and departure time give you an idea how much time you have on your first and last days, whether it is possible to fit an activity into these days. You should seek accommodation and pre-book them before arrival. Otherwise this will eat into your precious vacation time, add to your hassle and give you unnecessary stress. Vacations should be stress-free.
- Step Two: Add sights and activities.
This is the body of your itinerary. When adding sights, allocate sufficient time for your journey from one to another. Try to group sights according to their geographical location. Allow time for relaxing on the penultimate day of your trip, as you prepare for your journey home.
Specific performances or dinner shows should be booked well in advance, to ensure you get your tickets. You usually get to enjoy the best price for items booked well ahead of time.
- 4-Day Trip to London
In the sample below, Dr Jack Graham is going to London to attend a medical seminar. Although a bit rushed, he plans some time out for sightseeing and shopping.
- 10-Day Tour of Vietnam
Bill is planning a 10-day backpacking trip through Vietnam. We can see from his itinerary that it provides a rough idea of the things he intends to do, places he intends to visit, with room for last-minute changes.
More Travelers' Tools
Here's a whole list of tools to help you prepare for your trip.
- Tips to become a smart traveler: Useful tips to remember, to get the best out of your travels.
- Preparing for a Trip: Systematic approach to help you prepare for your trip.
- How to plan your travel itinerary: Step-by-step guide to creating the itinerary for your trip.
- Find and compare hotel room rates: View room rates from all the different booking sites.
- How to compare hotel room rates: Step-by-step guide on finding the lowest rates every time.
- When NOT to go where: List of seasons to avoid when traveling the globe.
- How to do your travel homework: Systematic approach in making preparations for your trip.
- How to pack your luggage: Useful steps to take when packing your luggage.
- Packing List (PDF): Print out this free packing list to make sure you don't forget anything for your trip.
- Voltage, Frequency, Plugs & Sockets of the World: Learn about the mains electricity supply in the world.
- Travelers' List of Plugs and Sockets (PDF): Easy-to-use list of electricity and plugs for all countries.
- Airport User Guide: User information for arriving at various airports in the world.
- Making International Direct Dail Calls: Learn to make IDD calls from anywhere in the world.
- IDD Call Prefixes & Country Codes (PDF): Listing of Call Prefixes and Country Codes on one page for you to bring on your trip.
- Safety Tips When Traveling Alone: Useful advice for when you travel on your own.
- Guide to Health Matters related to Travel: Comprehensive coverage of different issues related to your health when traveling.
- Getting Travel Insurance for your trip: Benefits of travel insurance, and advise on when you should signing up for one.
- Improve your travel photography: Tips to improve your photography skills, especially when traveling.
- Guide to Traveling Around the World: Useful tips for encircling the globe.
- English Made Simple: Improve your English for your travel.