Designing Your Perfect Travel Itinerary
Updated: May 30, 2020
There are two types of people in this world: those who are ready to pack their bags and go somewhere with very little knowledge of what they are about to experience and those who... well... are not. If you're reading this, I'm going to go ahead and assume you are not. People like us crave a firm understanding of the adventures we are about to embark on for several reasons. We don't want to run into any unexpected issues, we want to understand the layout of the trip's route, and we want to daydream about what we've been viewing in pictures, up until the day comes when we're standing in front of it. In order to travel to a new, unfamiliar country, while feeling confident and relaxed, I highly recommend you create an itinerary.
What is an Itinerary?
In my own words, an itinerary is an overall layout of your trip, including the route you will follow, the places you should expect to visit in each location, how to get from one place to another, the projected amount of money it will all cost, and other basic facts about the area you plan to visit.
Itineraries don't have to be written or look any specific way. Write down your information as it makes sense to you. You can include as much or as little information as you like. I promise, you will not be graded on these.
1. Creating Your Route
The best way to create your ideal route is through lots of research, so congratulations! You're on the right track. Make sure to Google routes specific to your trip. If you plan to backpack for one month in Indonesia, google "One month backpacking in Indonesia." It's that easy! There will be loads of information regarding the countries main attractions, different routes that other people took, and much more. With this information, you can personalize your own itinerary around the towns and attractions you prefer to visit, your budget, and the amount of time your have.
Most of the time you will discover that there is one dominant direction or course that most people will cover when doing a trip similar to your own. By looking through these, and becoming familiar with the layout of the country, you will have a better understanding of the route you wish to create. For example, when backpacking two weeks in Peru, you will notice that almost all routes go from either Cusco to Lima or Lima to Cusco, with many of the same destinations in between.
2. Understand What Each Location Has to Offer
Once you get an idea for which destinations you will visit on your route, do research about what there is to see and do in each location. Most places have a lot to offer and I'm sure you want to take full advantage of your time there. This will help you get an idea of
long you will want to stay in each location. Once I decide, I tend to leave a day of wiggle room in case I really end up enjoying that area and want to stay longer.
3. Getting From One Place to Another
If you are travelling to an area where there are many islands, there are hard to reach locations, or these locations are a far distance from one another, educate yourself on your transportation plans. Understand when to take a train instead of a bus, a flight instead of a ferry, or an overnight train instead of a daytime train. Weighing each transportation mode and choosing the correct one will save you loads of time and money by the end of the trip.
4. Calculate an Estimated Budget
There's no way to completely understand what your overall expenses for you're trip will be before you go, but it'll be helpful to get a rough estimate. You can do this by adding all of the estimated costs for each component of your trip. This includes:
Projected Flight Price
Average daily amount spend on Food and Housing
Estimated amount spent on Transportation
Estimated amount spent on Attractions/Excursions
Other Personal Spending