How to create the perfect travel itinerary
It’s every traveller’s nightmare - you’ve got your perfect holiday planned out, and then a delayed flight or an extra long queue throws everything into chaos.
Holidays are for relaxing and seeing the sights, not for rushing around or waiting in line. But when so many elements of overseas travel are out of your control, how can you make sure you fit in everything you want without spoiling the fun?
The answer is planning: a little bit of forethought goes a long way. To help you plan the best trip possible, we’ve put together this guide to making the perfect travel itinerary.
Planes, trains and automobiles
The most important part of travel planning is accurately predicting how long things will take. This includes the drive to the airport, checking in your bags, the journey through airline security, and everything else beyond.
If you get reliable information on what to expect, you can add ‘buffer time’ to allow for unpredictable delays. Does your sat nav say the drive will take 40 minutes? Why not round it up to an hour, just in case? You can spend any extra time relaxing in the terminal, enjoying a coffee, or reading up about your destination. Most of all, you’ll reduce the risk of a last minute dash, which is never the nicest way to start a holiday.
Make sure you know how you’ll get to the hotel when you arrive at your destination. If it’s a late flight, trains and taxis may be limited or expensive. To avoid confusion, you might want to book your hotel transfer in advance. Always use a recommended official service.
Lastly, it never hurts to have a Plan B in case the unexpected happens. If you arrive at your destination to find that all trains are cancelled due to engineering works, you’ll be thankful that you looked up a reliable local taxi firm in advance.
Making the most of it
The more research you do beforehand, the more time you’ll have to actually enjoy your holiday. Nobody wants to spend an hour waiting in line to see a popular attraction, or pay over the odds for an entrance fee. Looking online before your visit won’t just clue you in on what to do when, it’ll also point the way to local hidden gems you might otherwise have missed entirely.
To make sure you get to see and do everything you want, begin your planning well before you travel by writing a wish list of the most important things.
Would you be crestfallen if you had to leave Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa? Is a real Italian gelato at the Trevi fountain an essential part of your trip to Rome? Then make sure you put those things right at the top of your list, and check how much time you can realistically expect them to take.
Many busy tourist attractions advertise when their quiet periods are, or offer the chance to queue-jump by booking in advance. Some cities also have ‘free entry’ days at museums, which are great to take advantage of.
Above all, while prioritisation matters, make sure your plan is as flexible as possible. If you try and squeeze everything into the first day, you run the risk of reducing your holiday memories to a blur. Don’t pack too much in, and don’t forget to stop and soak up the atmosphere. Be open to serendipity, and enjoy exploring at your own pace. Unpredictable elements like the weather can also make key decisions for you.
It’s a good idea to take things slowly on the first day, and spend a little bit of time getting your bearings. It’ll mean you’ll spend less time with your head in a map later on, and more time enjoying the sights and sounds of your destination.
Print your itinerary now
Get our itinerary template as a PDF to print out
To make things as easy as possible, we’ve created an easy itinerary template that you can print at home. Just fill out each box as applicable for a relaxed and stress-free holiday, without missing out on any of the must-see sights:
One less thing to worry about
Savvy travellers book sooner, not later. Why not take care of one part of your holiday planning right now?
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Whether you're jetting away on a city break or following the sun to the beach get ready to travel with our expert tips and guides.
Preparing for your holiday should be exciting, not stressful.