Packing your bag and hitting the road without a plan is one way to have an adventure. It’s also a way to miss exciting festivals, bypass beautiful landmarks, and experience frustration. If you want to squeeze the most out of every minute of your travels, it’s worth working on your itinerary planning process first. Here are seven simple steps to get your journey off on the right foot.
1. Gather Your Tools
Having the right tools is always helpful. When planning a trip, consider the following items:
- Map: Knowing how to plan a road trip on Google Maps is a big help. However, a paper map provides a complete view of the area you intend to visit, making it easier to visualize how long each leg of the journey takes.
- Calendar: Timing is everything with a good itinerary. After all, you don’t want to waste a minute.
- Pens, paper, and sticky notes: You need some way to record your half-formed thoughts and moments of inspiration.
- Travel guides: There’s no such thing as too much homework when you’re planning your dream vacation.
- Computer: Using a spreadsheet or document is a terrific way to draw up your final itinerary, and access to the Internet makes research and planning much easier. There are also many online itinerary planners and apps to help you.
2. Lock in Your Dates
How much time are you taking off work? Is it possible to get away for a month during the summer, or are you planning an off-season vacation? The time of year that you travel can influence much of what you can do while you’re away, so know the best time to go.. For example, there’s no point planning to soak up the sun on the beaches at Cape Cod during the cold season; and if you want to check out festivals and events that only happen once a year, such as the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you must plan your travel around them.
3. Research Everything
Google is your friend. Use it to discover interesting things about the places you want to go, learn about upcoming events, find the best restaurants and theaters, and determine the distance between locations on Google Maps.
Don’t miss other opportunities to widen your knowledge. Ask friends and family for recommendations on what to visit and where to eat. Why not try a celebrated James Beard Foundation restaurant winner the next time you’re in Los Angeles, Chicago, or any other metropolis? Check online streaming services for informative travel documentaries too.
4. Create Your Wish List
Your mind is buzzing with ideas after all that research. Good. Get them down on paper now. Make a complete list of the things you want to do. You may not get to do them all, but there’s plenty of time to cross things off and narrow the focus of your travels once you create the schedule. Make sure you mark those things that you consider essential so that they don’t get missed from your itinerary later on.
5. Make Your Itinerary
You know what time you have available, and you know what you want to do. Now’s the part where it all comes together:
- Create a schedule for each day of your vacation, with space for each day’s activities.
- Fill in the things you can’t possibly miss out on and those things that happen at specific times, including one-day events such as the Boston Seafood Festival,or tourist attractions that aren’t open all year.
- Fill the gaps in your schedule with optional activities for when time permits.
Remember to consider traveling time. Google Maps is useful for calculating the time it takes to reach different places, so make use of this to find time-efficient routes.
6. Add Important Contact Information
Having settled on activities and destinations, the final step is making your reservations for flights and hotels. As you make the bookings for each stage of your journey, add the important contact information to your itinerary, including booking reference numbers.
Print off (and maybe even laminate) a copy of your itinerary as well as keeping a copy on your phone and computer. It’s an important document, so make sure you have access to it at all times, whether you have Internet access, access to an electrical outlet or not.
7. Let the Adventure Begin
Adventure awaits. Now that you know how to make a travel itinerary, it’s time to get started. Visit Reservations.com to find fantastic deals that lets you travel further for less.