To create a travel itinerary can be a complicated thing. Regardless of if you’re planning a week-long excursion or a simple day-trip, there’s so much to keep track of: distance, transportation, fuel, and more. What will you eat and when? Will you be spending the night and, if so, where? Do you need to bring luggage? How much money will you need? The list goes on and on.
Having a good travel itinerary can make all the difference between an enjoyable adventure and all-out disaster. After all, you can never be too well prepared, can you?
Whether you’re visiting Detroit on a business trip, enjoying a sunny family vacation in Florida, or trekking out to Wisconsin to size up Madison houses for sale, the tips below are sure to help you stay organized every step of the way.
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Start by Figuring Out a Budget
Any trip you take is going to be heavily influenced by what you can afford. Where you go, when you go, how long you stay, what you do there, and what you need to bring with you are all dependent on the budget you have. The further you plan in advance, the better things will work out to your satisfaction.
Take a look at your bank account, then consider your expected income for the foreseeable future. Subtract from that necessary expenses unrelated to your trip, such as utility bills, insurance payments, and the like. With what you have left, you can begin budgeting for your trip.
Make & Combine Multiple Lists
Many people think an itinerary is just one big list of all your travel plans, but the truth is that it’s a lot more complicated than that. Lists, however, do play a big part in the process. For example, cross referencing a list of basic transportation essentials—gas, lodging, food, etc.—with your budget can completely change your list of planned recreational activities.
A good itinerary will have a separate list for everything: clothes and toiletries you need to take with you, items you can’t bring with you but which are important enough that you’ll need to buy them when you arrive, important destinations and less important side attractions, contact information, legal documentation if you’re planning to travel abroad, etc. Some lists will likely overlap with others, but it’s better to be comprehensive than unprepared.
Map Out All Your Planned Stops
You know where you’re going, don’t you? Even still, let’s double-check everything, just to be sure. If you’re planning to use your GPS for directions, you might want to print off some actual maps anyway. You never know when your phone will stop working.
Once you have some maps and a list of addresses in front of you, it’s important to think about when you plan to visit each destination and how long you want to stay there. After all, you’re not just budgeting your money, but your time as well. Don’t forget to factor in travel time between stops, the necessity of bathroom or food breaks, traffic issues, and the need to find affordable parking.
Leave Room for Spontaneity
Last but not least, one of the most important things to keep in mind to create a travel itinerary is that it’s not set in stone. Having a meticulous, well-planned itinerary can save you a lot of headaches and disappointment in the long run, but that doesn’t mean deviation is automatically a bad thing.
Leaving yourself some wiggle room is good for multiple reasons. Allotting yourself more time or money for certain things than you actually need takes the pressure off by providing a buffer for unexpected complications or emergencies, as well as giving you some much needed downtime to recharge. Also, give yourself permission to try new things that you didn’t plan for. After all, one of the great joys of travel is making new discoveries.