How to Build an Itinerary in 6 Steps

How do you go about building an itinerary for your next big adventure?
There’s more than one way to plan (or not plan) a trip. From my experience I’ve developed the following rule of thumb: the less time you have in an area the more you will want to plan.

The travel map I have in my bedroom, with photos and postcards from my past trips, to inspire me and help me plan my next adventure.

In many shorter stays, you will wish there was more time to explore. Doing a bit of pre-planning maximizes your precious travel time by eliminating the need to research while you’re on the road. Sometimes that night market you’ve heard so much about is only happening on Saturdays or you didn’t realize the museum on your list required advanced ticketing.  If you’ve done a little research ahead of time, you can avoid these situations all together or have a list of back-up plans to avoid wandering around aimlessly through the city – though sometimes this is an enjoyable activity in itself.

Below are the six basic steps that I follow when I develop my travel agendas.

  1. Determine how when and for long I have to travel
  2. Consider travel objectives
  3. Decide where I’m going and for how long per location
  4. Conduct research
  5. Fill in the blanks
  6. Finalize and make easily accessible

You may be thinking that this sounds totally different from your process, and it may be true! But these six steps are pretty fluid and this order is just a suggestion.

When I don’t have a particular location in mind already, this is the process I use to maximize the time I have available for wandering. But often times I know where I want to go before I start planning a trip. Other times you might have clear motives for a trip abroad – a scuba diving trip requires proximity to an ocean and a scuba certification but spending a month working remotely might require internet access, changing which locations might make sense for your adventure.

While I have “conduct research” listed as step four, it may be necessary to complete this step earlier to inform when you should travel, how long you might want to spend in areas of interest, or what you might want to focus on seeing while you’re in a certain country. You get the idea…

I’ll be posting tips on how to complete each of these steps and examples of my trip itineraries in the coming weeks!

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