We absolutely love to travel and are so excited to get back in to travel mode in 2019. One of my favorite parts about travel in general though is planning our trips! I find the logistics and anticipation so fun. I get so many questions and comments around how we plan our trips and how it can be very overwhelming. So today I want to share with you all my tips for how to plan out the ultimate travel itinerary for your next dream vacation + show you a little sample of how to build your itinerary!
1. Make a Master List
Make a big list of places you want to see and eat for your destination. I like to use Google Sheets and add everyone that will be going on the trip with me, so they can give their input, too. About a month before the trip, I will go in to the sheet and categorize it by food, attraction, and entertainment. Then I'll sit down with my travel buddies and go through the list and mark down our must visits and take off any items that are not doable or don't have a lot of interest to everyone.
2. Use Google Calendar
I make a new Google Calendar for each trip we take and share it with whoever I'm traveling with so everyone has access to it. I will start plugging in entertainment dates and times (baseball game, attraction tours, etc). I usually do the day view in Google Calendar to better visually see length of time for each place we're going to visit. From there, I start filling in the days with the more flexible items from our Google sheet.
3. Explore 1 Area at a Time
When filling in your itinerary, stick to certain locations as much as possible. What I mean by this is if you're going to a museum on a certain day, pick a restaurant for dinner near that museum that you have on your list of places you want to eat at. That way you're not running all over the city to get from place to place and wasting a lot of time on travel. Same thing goes for dessert spots or bars. Pick things within walking distance or a couple of train stops away from your dinner spot whenever possible.
4. Don't Over Do it
Leave room for open exploring, breaks, and traffic jams. Remember that not every day is going to go according to plan, especially if you have kids! I personally like to use our first day of vacation as an explore/rest day. So if you're going on a tropical vacation, use that first day to just lay on the beach with a margarita. For other days throughout your trip, just schedule in "exploring" time. We don't always like to have something specific in every time slot. We always leave room to just explore neighborhoods and go shopping. That way if something comes up where we want to change what we're doing, we're not stuck cancelling a bunch of reservations or tours. It makes for a much more relaxing vacation. We love structure and to know where we're going, but we also really enjoy the freedom of just discovering gems on our own while we walk around while traveling. There's nothing like walking the streets of Rome and just happening upon an amazing restaurant on getting a glimpse of the Colosseum down a quiet alley way!
5. Mix it Up
Have some full days, and have some light days. Have some long meals and have some quick bites to eat. Have some nights where you grab dessert and some nights where you grab a cocktail. See where I'm going with this? I absolutely love trying all different kinds of experiences when we're in a new place from having brunch one morning to grabbing doughnuts the next. Book a spa day one day and then do surf lessons the next. The best way to immerse yourself and have the best time in a new place is to try it all! Do what you love but also get out of your comfort zone.
How to Build Your Itinerary Tutorial:
Step 1: Add the basics - Add your flight information + your hotel details
Step 2: Add it set activities - Add any shows, sporting events, tours, spa appointments, etc in to your calendar since they all have set times and places. You obviously can't change these things so they are a good place to start.
Step 3: Add in other activities - Add in your other activities that have more freedom like exploring a neighborhood, going to a museum, or shopping. Take it easy on day 1. Exploring a couple of areas is always best. Get to bed early on night 1 to recover from traveling and hit the ground running the rest of your trip.
Step 4: Add in Meals - We usually shoot for 1 hour for brunch or lunch and 2 hours for dinner. This way you can take nice breaks throughout the day to unwind and it pads time in case you need to wait for a table. We always do a pre-dinner refresh, too in case we want to take a nap, shower, or change our clothes. For quick bites to eat like getting doughnuts or sandwiches, I'll usually just do a 30 minute block. Be mindful of your set activities though with dinner! If you have somewhere to be in the evening it's best to grab a quick bite to eat like a burger near where you need to be and keep it a short and sweet. Like in my example above, I have a 1 hour block at a burger joint and the same hotel as the The Beatles: Love show is at. It's best to always make reservations if the restaurant takes them, too. This way you're never crunched for time and stressed about your schedule.
Step 5: Add in day trips - Add in any day trips that you want to take on completely open days. These kinds of things tend to take all day and require extra travel so it's best to keep meals quick and simple on these days and allow for a lot of extra time for travel.
That's all I do when planning! Start with the basics and build upon them for each day of our trip. Planning it all out is so helpful for us especially when it comes to food. We don't like to wing it too much when it comes to food because we quite literally travel for food. We want to make sure we're going to have an amazing food experience wherever we travel so we love to plan all that out. As for the exploring bits, we all have in mind what we want to see when we travel somewhere, so picking when and where you're going to go do these things helps you to know when to start your day and where you need to head to! I hope this helps all of you a little bit for planning out your trips, and as always, I'm always here to help if you ever want to reach out! You all know how much I love to plan trips ;)
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I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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