Despite my many years of experience, I must admit that to this day, occasionally I do not properly plan my trip’s itinerary. I enjoy being spontaneous and I must confess that sometimes I believe the magic of rainbows will bring me from one city to another, within reasonable time.
Unfortunately, since most people don’t want to use rainbows and since a trip not properly planned means it will be spent mainly in transportation, I decided to write an article to help you build a plan. I hope it will foster a pleasant experience.
Note: this article is generalized, because a series of tips could follow based on the country visited and the timing of the trip…
Don’t create limits, write down all the locations you really want to explore during your stay there. Do not use calculations or reason for this exercise, but follow your intuition.
This preference will be your starting point to build your itinerary. I suggest you pick a must per country if you are going to visit multiple countries during your trip. You can definitely have more than one “must”; it’s up to you to see afterwards if it’s realistic to visit them all during the same trip, based on the time you have.
A paper map (that you buy or print out) is ideal, because you can write on it. If you are more eco-friendly, then you can use Google Maps. Identify on your map the arriving location (by plane) and afterwards, localize your “must see”. Then, find all your other interests and mark them with a post-it, a pin or circle them.
Google holds a ton of information. Type “transportation in (country)” or “bus (country)” and you will find tips from travel bloggers or official sites for the bus lines. If you are going to Europe or North Africa, also look for trains! Once you find the official sites, look for the approximate amount of time it will take to travel from one city to the next. Are your desires for this trip’s itinerary realistic? It’s time to ask yourself that question.
Without making it official, this step will give you an idea of your dream’s feasibility. Try to determine how many days you would like to spend at each location, taking transportation into account, as well as the order in which visits would be possible. Select potential dates. Note it will always be possible to modify your itinerary until the last minute. It’s however the step that will help you…
Here, either you cut down, or as I prefer, you add parentheses, giving yourself the luxury of changing plans at the last minute and visiting locations that ultimately might be calling you more than you know.
Once the first 6 steps are completed, you are ready to make reservations for your hostels, Couchsurfing or AirBnb.
Safe travels…and happy itinerary planning!
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