Sure, you can take a spontaneous trip somewhere and have a great time at your destination. But if you can make the most of your trip with a simple itinerary, why wouldn’t you?

I’m a strong believer in optimizing each travel experience with a loose itinerary.  You don’t need to plan out every hour of your trip by any means, but there are advantages of doing some research on how you’ll get around during your trip:

  • Make each day of your trip more efficient by cutting travel time between attractions and activities 
  • Set reservations for activities and restaurants in advance to prevent spots from running out
  • Keep track of your reservations and travel arrangements in one go-to document

Here are some steps you can follow to create a successful itinerary for your next trip.

STEP 1: DO YOUR RESEARCH

To begin creating your itinerary, you should research “things to do” at your destination. This task always take a bit of time since there are so many different sources you can use.  Thrillist, TripAdvisor, and Expedia are helpful places to start your research. There are often local government/tourism websites you can visit which has more detailed information on activities, neighborhoods, and logistics.  Throughout your research, jot down a list of activities and must-see attractions that you want to include on your trip. Here is an example:

Iceland: Things to Do

  • Reykjavik
  • Blue Lagoon
  • Snaefellsnes Peninsula
  • Golden Circle
  • Southern Coast 
  • Horseback Riding
  • Northern Lights Tour
  • Ice Cave Excursions

I’ll use this example in the next steps below to show you my process for creating itineraries.

STEP 2: PRIORITIZE YOUR ACTIVITIES

After doing your research and knowing what your options are, you can then prioritize your activities based on the length of your trip and the travel time required for each activity.

In this Iceland example, many activities require the time commitment of at least a couple of hours, if not an entire day.  If I am taking a 5 day trip to Iceland, I would prioritize the activities with the time given as such:

  1. Reykjavik
    • Visit the Hallsgrimskirkja church for its unique architecture and see the city view from the top of the tower
    • Shopping, restaurants and bars on Laugavegur 
    • Get a beautiful view of the city from the Perlan
    • Visit the Harpa concert hall and catch a show if there is enough time
  2. Blue Lagoon
    • This is a close drive between the airport and Reykjavik
  3. Golden Circle
    • This route will take a full day to complete
  4. Horseback Riding
    • There are horseback riding tours available just outside of Reykjavik
  5. Northern Lights Tour
    • Night activity, depends on which season you travel to Iceland

STEP 3: MATCH YOUR TRAVEL PLANS WITH ACTIVITIES

One tip that has helped me in my past trips is to wait to book your lodging until you’ve done your research on your destination.  You can look into lodging locations based on where your activities are generally located to minimize your travel time.

It’s important to know how you will get around once you reach your trip destination. If you are going to a more metropolitan destination like London, you can easily get around by public transportation or cabs/Uber.  The proximity of your activities from where you are staying during your trip is a crucial factor to consider since that will more or less control your schedule each day.

STEP 4: BREAK DOWN YOUR ITINERARY BY DAY

By this step, you can plan out each day of your trip with the activities indicated for each day.  This is helpful to know just how many activities you can fit into your trip.

Here’s an example of one day in Iceland:

November 1, 2017 

Travel: 

  • WOW126:
    • Depart from Boston (BOS) at 7:00pm on 10/31/2017
    • Arrive at Keflavik Airport (KEF) at 4:35am 

Accommodation: 

  • Ódinsvé Hotel Apartments: Skólavördustígur 7, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
    • Check in at 3:00pm 

Things to Do: 

  • Blue Lagoon
  • Explore Reykjavik
    • Hallsgrimskirkja
    • Laugavegur 
    • Perlan
    • Harpa

 

Food Options: 

  • Lunch: 
    • LAVA Restaurant at Blue Lagoon
  • Dinner: 
    • Sushisamba
    • Sjavargrillid 
    • Resto
  • Bars:
    • Lebowski Bar
    • Kaffibarinn

STEP 5: FILL IN THE DETAILS

The last step is to fill in any detail that you wish to keep track of.  This can include anything you’d like, here are some ideas:

  • Specific reservation confirmations
  • Opening hours
  • Addresses and phone numbers
  • Events in the area
  • Souvenirs you want to pick up

 

You can make your itinerary as detailed or generic as you want – either way, I highly recommend you have one to prevent any feeling of anxiety or last minute scrambling. Hope this post helped you get started!

 

One thought on “How to: Create a Trip Itinerary

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