How To Make A Travel Itinerary The Anal-Retentive Way:
I always make a super detailed travel itinerary for every trip I go on. One reason for safety like I explain in my safety tips for women post and the other reason is that having a plan makes me feel like I have some kind of control over the uncontrollable.
So here’s how I do it:
Step 1: Must-Visit List
Let’s say you are going to Europe. You should make a list of the countries you desperately want to see. The places that you have always wanted to go and that brings a tear to your eye when you imagine finally getting to visit. After doing this let’s say you end up with England, France, The Netherlands and Spain.
Step 2: Speed
Now that you know where you want to go you can decide how much time you want to spend in each destination. Do you want to travel slowly? Spend four, five, or six full days in one place? Or do you want to go a bit faster so that you get to every destination on your list?
There are many opinions on which way of traveling is better with most saying that you should go slower. It’s understandable why people advise travelers go slow because they will have more time to soak up the culture of a place and won’t get burnt out moving from destination to destination every other day. All I have to say is you decide which way is best for you. This is your trip and you should travel whichever way will allow you to get the most out of it.
Step 3: Must-Do List
Next, we sort out our Must-Dos. We know where we are going and how long we want to stay there. Now we need to know what we are going to do there. Head over to TripAdvisor to get started. Do you want to climb the Eiffel Tower, explore the Catacombs, tour the set of Harry Potter, see La Sagrada Familia, or go to the Van Gogh Museum? Do you want to take a day trip outside of Amsterdam?
The reason for this step is just to help you determine how much time you need to spend in one place to get to everything on this Must-Do list. There might be a whole lot more that you want to do in England than you do in Spain so fiddle with travel dates until you feel like you have the time you need for each destination.
Step 4: Research Transportation
Pull up Skyscanner. This site will root out all the cheapest flights and budget airlines. Look at the train timetable or buy a train pass that will cover your time there. Check out the bus routes or look into car rentals. Whatever mode of transportation you want to use make sure it will get you to your next destination at the right time and for the right price.
Note that I said research, not buy. We are just making a plan right now to see how all the pieces of the trip will fit together. Don’t book anything unless you know your travel dates are set in stone and you won’t be deviating from your itinerary.
Step 5: Research Accommodations
If you travel on a budget like l do then Hostelworld is your next stop. Type in your travel dates and see what is available in your destinations. You can filter by price, rating, room, etc. Narrow down what you want and then compare. Look through the ratings and make sure there aren’t any red flags.
Personally, if even one review mentions roaches then I’m out. I don’t care if there are two thousand more that don’t say anything about them. I just can’t risk it, but that’s me. A red flag for you could be comments saying the area is not so nice or not feeling safe in the neighborhood. If these places are new to you then it’s unlikely you know the areas that are on the sketchier side. If people are reviewing and saying they felt unsafe then take that into account.
Step 6: Put It All Together
Okay! We have done all the legwork and we are ready to make this itinerary! This is the easy part, we just put all the information together in a word doc. This is how mine usually look:
Arrival Date: Jan. 19th, 2000 at 3 am
Hostel: Fancy Schmancy Hostel
123 Fancy Lane
Reception Hours: 8 am- 10 pm. Only Accepts Cash (Put here any details about the hostel/hotel you want to remember.)
Room Booked: 8 Bed Female Dorm / Double Room
Departure Date: Jan. 22nd, 2000. SuperFly Airlines Flight 123 at 3:15 pm
Rinse & Repeat for every destination and your itinerary will be ready to go. You can add or subtract whatever you need to and then send it to friends and family. If there is an emergency they will be able to reach out to hostel/hotel staff or get in contact with the airline.
But all that said, you may decide to mix things up when you get on the road. You could fall in love with Spain and spend your whole trip there or maybe you decide hostels/budget hotels aren’t for you and it’s high-end hotels all the way. Just give your family and friends a heads up and keep doing you. Don’t let your itinerary restrict you. It’s simply meant to provide you with a little more security and help you keep track of flights, hostels, rooms, reception hours, etc. All the information you have to be responsible for when you travel solo. So ladies stay safe, stay organized, and have the absolute best time!