A quick guide when planning an itinerary

While the world of leisure travel has paused because of the global pandemic, nothing will take the idea of travelling out of a wanderlust’s mind.

I was looking forward to two big trips in 2020. I’m filled with excitement as I know little about these destinations, giving myself less room for expectations and more space for surprises. However, none of these plans will take place now because of covid-19. Me and my husband should be in Dubai this month reuniting with my good friend who’s getting married too. We also planned to visit the historical Austria and say hello to the majestic alps in Switzerland for our anniversary. In addition to these, all my business trips have been cancelled too. Heart-breaking as it may sound, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of everyone. #StayAtHome. Travel can and shall wait.

On a brighter note, this delay gives me the luxury of time to do further research – hooray! And, I thought before doing that I’d like to share with you a quick guide for your next travel itinerary. Before we take off, please note that in this blog I will not tackle flight booking and necessary visa application tips. These subjects are better be featured separately.

BUCKLE UP, LET'S GO!
Tip #1: Make a list of the places you like to visit

First on the list is to write down all the places you want to visit – museums, restaurants, markets, parks and the like. Don’t think about order this time but make sure that you take note the following:

  • Exact address
  • Opening days/times
  • Estimated time needed to explore the place
  • Ticket cost (if any)
  • Other relevant information like dresscodes and house rules

In usual cases, you can find this information on the visitors page section of the establishment’s website.

Bonus tips:

  • Save the list on google sheets to give yourself the flexibility of accessing it through laptop or mobile phone even if you are offline. This way, you won’t miss an idea as you can update the list whenever.
  • Embrace the thrill of travelling by researching on your own. Don’t fully rely on the itinerary of your friends or a famous influencer. By all means, use theirs as a reference but I strongly recommend that you read travel books too. Lonely Planet guides are a good choice as they are a product of experienced writers who travels the world and lives in different places.
Tip #2: Get a map and choose your accommodation

Now that you have all the places it’s time to look and mark them up using a map! I will leave you with the option of using a digital or printed one. Travel book guides usually includes a complimentary map, otherwise you can always ask Mr. Google.

Familiarize yourself with the map of the city or country you are visiting. It’s a lot easier to begin by looking at the regions (e.g in Paris are arrondissements, London have zones, Manhattan have downtown, midtown, etc). It’ll save you time and money because you can schedule the places to visit according to their proximities too.

After you visualize the places in your map, it should give you an idea where is the best area for your accommodation. Pick a place that will provide convenience for the rest of your stay (and yes I hear you, within the confines of your budget too!)

Sharing from my own experience, I remember that decision-making process I had to go through when choosing where to stay in New York – so many facts to consider! It’s expensive, it’s touristy, it’s busy, it’s inconvenient. Using this strategy was my life saver. I chose Staybridge Suites in midtown Manhattan because my list showed me that I am off to an extensive exploration of the Big Apple! I needed to select a place in the middle of NYC so I can conveniently travel to the Wallstreet, Liberty Island, Brooklyn, and Central Park all the way to Harlem and much more!

Bonus tip:

Consider your chosen accommodation’s accessibility to public transportation. Pick something that is close to one. You’ll thank yourself (and hopefully me too) later.

Tip #3: Plot the actual itinerary

Let’s move on to the most exciting part of the process – a preview of your daily life while on a holiday!

You have the two most important ingredients with you by now: list of places and your accommodation coupled with either a printed or digital map.

Here’s a three-step guide:

  • Pick the list of places you would like to visit per day. Remember to consider the estimated number of hours you allocated for each
  • Create your daily schedule throughout your trip. Ensure that your day is balance. For instance, combine a museum visit with a food market stopover, or a park stroll with relaxing lunch in a cafe. It can be exhausting to visit all parks in a day and mentally draining to scour all museums within a span of 8-9 hours. You might end up feeling tired than fulfilled.
  • After the first two steps, wear your editor’s hat to ensure that you didn’t miss anything. Review your itinerary and assess if the time you allocated is realistic

Bonus tip:

When creating your daily whereabouts, factor in the transit time from point A to B. Google maps will be your best friend here, it will show you the available means to get to your destination and the time it’ll take based on what you selected – by public transportation, taxi, and by foot. You can also set the actual time and date in the app so it gives you the best estimate.

Before you go, let me give you a few more tips to a stress-free and well-planned holiday. After all, you deserve it!

Other helpful tips:

  • List down emergency contacts or details you might need such as police hotline, the nearest hospital, travel insurance details, and your country’s embassy. While many hotels will have some of this information, it’s good to proactively keep one
  • Book attraction tickets online whenever possible. Doing this will save you time from queing, and will bail you out of disappointment as some places require advance booking (I’ve been through the pain of the latter many times!)
  • When you have your itinerary completed, you can easily plan for your outfits too. Check out my earlier blog for tips to save more luggage space

I know that in view of the current situation and the impending changes in the future of travel, holiday plans might be at the bottom of your priority list. Be as it may, I encourage you not to let these uncertainties put away your desire to see the world’s beauty. After all, she is right there waiting for you to discover her wonders and uniqueness. Keep wandering fellow travellers!

Author: Anj Salvador

Travel tips and recommendations, books reviews and random reflections

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