I’m a big believer in organized trips, having things planned out (to a certain extent) and being prepared for what lays ahead. And while sometimes, you just have to be spontaneous and figure things out as they come, I like to be prepared as best I can be before we travel, especially internationally. This allows us to have a less stressful trip and not have to spend so much time while on the ground figuring things out. Religiously, before a trip, I make a trip itinerary outlining everything from how we’ll be getting places, where we’ll be staying and what activities we might do on each day while away. Having an itinerary with researched information helps us get the most of out our trips and it helps to keep us organized so we have to think less while we’re on the go. I spend a lot of time on our trip itineraries in the months ahead of a trip and here today I’m sharing my secrets on how to make a trip itinerary for your next adventure.
Start your itinerary early.
I generally start an itinerary as soon as we book flights for a trip. Once we have our big flights booked to and from our destination, I start a Pages document with each day laid out in bold and then add in our flight info including confirmation numbers and such to keep track of it all in one places. Since we’re usually planning our travel months ahead of our travel dates, I start our itinerary that early. Then in the months before a trip as I have time to book more or research more, I’ll add it in to the itinerary. But doing all your research early is the key to a good itinerary – don’t wait until the last minute.
Outline each day with dates.
Make sure with each day you actually add the dates as well on your itinerary – this will help you stay on top of things when you’re booking hotels and activities and you won’t have to constantly go back and look at your calendar. I usually have something like “Monday, March 19” as my day and date on my itineraries to keep track of which days we’re traveling.
Mark things in red that you haven’t booked yet.
One of the easiest ways I can keep track of bookings on my itinerary is to write down things that I’m thinking we’ll probably book, but keep them in red if they haven’t been booked yet. Things like hotels that I want to stay at but we haven’t booked yet or flights we think would work for us but we’re waiting to book – those stay in red until they get booked so I can quickly see what I have left to book.
Research your destination and add suggestions into each day of the itinerary.
I do a lot of research before a big trip, mostly because I don’t want to have to do it while we’re traveling. I like to be aware of cultural items and how to get from place A to B so that when we’re there, we know what we’re doing and we can just enjoy the destination. Research before hand will give you all the information you need about a destination to get you going and then you can really take it all in easier when on the ground. So add suggestions in your day by day itinerary for where you might go. Sometimes for us, this changes when we’re on the ground, but it’s nice to have some semblance of a schedule going into a trip.
If you have specific time frames to stick to, add times in.
For us, we often have certain things that are at a certain time during the day that we have to stick to, and so that’s important to have in your itinerary. Things like when you have to return rental cars or when you have tickets to a show, those things are pretty stationary and must be adhered to so it’s important to put that in your itinerary to make sure you remember.
Outline each day with options and include specific information to make travel easier.
Sometimes if I’m not sure how we’ll be feeling or where we’ll exactly be a certain day, I might just make a list of options for us and then when we get to it, we can decide in the moment. This might include things for a couple options for activities for the day and then depending on how we feel that day we can decide between them. But this also might include options to get from the airport to our hotel and offer a couple ways to do that. Sometimes we might be in the mood to do public transport and save some money, but other times if we’re not feeling well or exhausted, we might just do a taxi. So it’s nice to have the different options researched and shown in the itinerary so it makes it easier for you in the moment to make a decision based on how you feel.
Print your itinerary or email yourself a PDF before your trip.
I also print a copy of our finished itinerary before a trip and usually also send it through my email as well so we have multiple copies while on the go.