How to Make a Great Itinerary for Your Trip
Ah, vacations. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a full-blown trip to Europe, we all look forward to going somewhere – anywhere. That’s where the similarity ends, however. What constitutes a great itinerary for some people is a complete snore to others. How do you put together the right trip and decide where to go? Well, as you might expect, it takes a lot of two things: realism and preparation. The more you commit yourself to both, the more likely it will be that your vacation will be fun, relaxing, and memorable for the right reasons.
Be realistic about the amount of time and money you have
First, before you do anything else, nail down exactly how much time you have to travel and what your budget will be. There’s little point in jetting across the Pacific to Asia if you only have four days. As for your budget, how much are you reserving for your plane fare and hotel stays? Whatever is left will cover your food and entertainment, and all this can factor into where you go and what you will do when you arrive.
Understand how much time you want to spend traveling
Are you a person who likes to always be on the go when you’re on vacation? Or, do you prefer to sack out by the pool the entire time? Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle? Traveling from place to place, be it by plane, bus, train, or boat, can take a lot of energy. Also, switching destinations (for example, going from Paris to Nice) can easily eat up most, if not all, of a day. When making your itinerary, be sure that you are not on the go more often than you would like to be.
Make sure you factor in everyone’s idea of a fun trip
We all have stories about being dragged along on a deathly dull trip. We are just different – some of us love museums while others prefer art galleries. You may be a mountain person while someone else loves the beach or forest. If you will be traveling with other people, sit down with them ahead of time and talk about what makes a trip great (or not). That way, you can include activities that will please everyone, and that will go a long way towards keeping all of you happy.
Make a list of must-sees
What is it that you absolutely must do or else you will be disappointed? Just as important is understanding how long it will take to do it. Places like Petra in Jordan or Angkor Wat in Cambodia can be seen in one day, but both are so incredible that you might want to slow down and stay 2-3 days instead. Know your sightseeing-absolutes so that when you go home, you feel like you saw everything you wanted to see.
Be willing to spend some time apart from other travelers if necessary
What happens if you want to hit the Louvre and your friend wants to check out the catacombs? Well, why not split up for a few hours? If your sightseeing tastes diverge every once in a while, that’s okay. Rather than trying to force someone to do something they just don’t want to do, a recipe for disaster, it can be very good to simply do your own thing. Pick a time when you will meet up again, decide how you will keep in touch, and explore on your own. Then, when you hook up again for lunch or back at the hotel, you can exchange stories and feel good about the compromise.
Leave room for the unexpected
A plan is good, but try to leave time to be spontaneous. Instead of hitting museum after museum, one afternoon you can head down that side street and see what’s there. You can leave time for simply taking a walk in a Vancouver park and people-watch. Sometimes the best experiences happen when you put down the guidebook and let the day unfold as it will.
And really, when you get right down to it, that’s what makes an itinerary great: yes, you plan it as best as you can, but when you get to your destination, it just unfolds. You end each day feeling rejuvenated and as if you had the best day possible.