Flexible Planning: How to Create a Good Travel Itinerary

Posted on September 25, 2011


Some travelers love to be spontaneous, while others need more organization in order to enjoy their travel. Here’s some advice on how to map out a trip without sacrificing the benefits of leaving room for flexibility and free time.

By Kristen Sandstrom

Making an itinerary is right for some people, while others choose a different route. Some of the most rewarding trips begin by closing your eyes. Point to a random place on a map and a train ticket later, you are in a new place with the world at your fingertips. Although some people are able to travel without doing much planning at all, others need some sort of direction when mapping out a trip.

Flexibility is the cornerstone of a good itinerary. Leaving plenty of room for free time is important because a jam-packed schedule risks missing out on the unique cultural experiences that require “going with the flow.”  Strict itineraries don’t account for weather conditions, national emergencies or other unforeseen events. If you’re vacationing in Sicily and reserve an entire day for visiting museums, you might miss out on gorgeous weather better suited for the beach in Cefalu. If you meet someone cool at your hostel and have an non-negotiable list of sites to visit, you might miss out on some great experiences.

Of course logistics are always important and you should make sure you have easy access to plane and train schedules. However, you might have a better idea of what you want to do once you arrive. Here are some helpful tips to help you plan for your first excursions:

  • Prioritize. Choose 2-3 absolute “must sees” that you would be disappointed if you missed. Time is of the essence when traveling and you may not get the opportunity to go back. Designate a few days that visiting your ‘must sees’ would be a possibility and do it. Leave room for free time, which you will fill itself in quickly.
  • Research. Before you pack your bags and catch your flight, it’s important to know your options regarding train and plane times as well as gather information about the country from a variety of sources. Google searches work wonders to find most of the information you need. Talk to friends or family who have traveled there before, look at different books and magazines and know the gems that your city has to offer.
  • Slow Down. Take time to enjoy your surroundings. Discovering a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or making a friend native to the country your visiting truly makes the experience your own. You’ll gain new perspectives while having fun and enjoying good food and drinks.
  • Itinerary Templates. Microsoft Word provides itinerary templates under “Schedules.” Below are links to websites that assist the user in making or downloading itineraries. Just remember to be flexible and leave room for free time!
  • Free Travel Information. Globetrotters offers students dozens of free downloadable Transportation Guides and DIY Guides for cities all over the world. We include the best things to do, see and eat in each city, the best places to stay, and tons of money saving tips and advice. We even tell you how to get there and how much you can expect to spend for a weekend trip in each city. Check them out here.
  • Keep a Balance. It’s important to have a broad idea of tourist sites you want to see on your visit, but it’s equally important to create a unique experience for yourself.  If you ask questions, talk to locals and think outside the box, opportunities to learn and grow will find you.
  • Advertisements
    Posted in: Other