Posted by Sean Thompson

Itinerary Planning

Well laid travel plans are essential for a great vacation. The devil is always in the details. We’ve probably all had those vacations that found us so worn out when we arrived back home that we needed a couple of days to recuperate. The key to avoiding this is building a realistic itinerary.

The key mistake so many people make is trying to pack too much activity in their vacation days. The idea is to come back refreshed, not exhausted. So how do you create a functional itinerary?

Do Your Research
Research your destination thoroughly. Create a list of everything you want to see and do. After you’ve done this, place these items in order of priority. Check to see if there are festivals, special events or holidays at your destination. You may wish to build some of these local events into your itinerary. Be aware that holidays can make transportation to and from sites more challenging.

Once you’ve got your dream list of activities together, get a map out and group your activities, based on neighborhood and region. This will help you minimize travel time and maximize your sightseeing time.Estimate how long each activity will take. Build travel times into your itinerary.

Check out online trip planners. There are some great apps out there that you might find useful. Don’t forget travel forums. These can be a wealth of information. You can easily find other travellers opinions on the attractions you want to see and may want to adjust your priorities based on this information.

Build Your Daily Itinerary
Based on your research and the amount of vacation time you have, begin filling your daily itinerary. Start with your top priorities, grouped by proximity. Don’t overbook. Make sure you schedule in a couple of free days. Leave some room for spontaneity or just hanging out by the pool with a great book.

Be Realistic
Don’t book yourself on a red-eye and then schedule yourself to hit the ground with eight hours of sightseeing. You need to give yourself some time to sleep and get familiar with your new home base lodging. Sure you want to pack in as much as possible, but you also want to be rested enough to enjoy all the marvellous, and highly anticipated, excursions you’ve dreamed about.

Review Your Itinerary Carefully
While online apps can be useful for trip planning, none of them come equipped with common sense. You have to supply that. Make sure to build in rest time and unscheduled time. Adjust your itinerary if you need to. Be critical.

Be Flexible
Remember your itinerary is just a guide, not a contract. A local or fellow traveller may tell you about an attraction that you hadn’t considered but would love to go to. Ditch your planned itinerary and go with your gut. You’ll likely be happy you did. A flexible itinerary always works best.