How do you plan out your itinerary whenever you schedule a trip? I'm stumped on where to even begin. Booking flights? Hotels? Tours?
Millie New Jersey, USA
Brainstorm. First things first, decide what your motive for this trip is. Sightseeing? Exploring? Hiking? Eating? A little bit of everything? Do some research, whether its online, through a guide book, or TV show, and prioritize what you absolutely must do to determine how you’ll split up your days to ensure you make the most of it.
Book smart. There are a million different places on the internet where you can book the same flight. My favorite sites for booking flights are Kayak, Skyscanner, and Orbitz; they consistently have great deals. Each site has its perks, so I usually do a search combinaion of at least two.
Kayak let's you know buyer confidence and if you should wait on buying tickets.
You can use the Flexible Dates function to compare prices for different dates and to get the cheapest flight possible on Skyscanner.
Orbitz allows free cancellations within 24 hours (not for all flights, but it's pretty common).
As for picking a hotel, do extensive research on neighborhoods, especially if you’ll be in a city. Wikitravel is a helpful and concise resource. You can find great rates at TripAdvisor or hotels.com. Determine a price point, general location, and specific amenities (air conditioning, pool, free breakfast, free wifi, etc.) and plug them into the filter for the most efficient search.
Lately, I’ve been using Airbnb instead of hotels. I’ve found that it’s easier to find lodging in central parts of down and at a fraction of hotel prices. Plus, staying in an apartment or home gives your stay a more local vibe. Utilize your host! Ask for favorite restaurants, activities, and must-try foods for an authentic experience that your guidebook may have not covered .
Choose what fits your interests best. Regarding tours, I'm a fan of day tours because you get to see the major sites and can decide which ones you’d like to go back to and not waste your time at the ones you didn’t enjoy so much. Going on an entire tour for your vacation is more restrictive if you want to explore on your own, but if you like a regimented schedule and budget, it may work for you.
Tours come in all shapes in sizes, so choose wisely. As for selecting which tour to go on, go back and think of what your main motives for the trip were. Keep those in mind when you’re researching. Typically, any of the top 10 options on Trip Advisor are safe bets. You can choose from options like biking tours, food tours, running tours, and even pub crawls, just to name a few if double decker buses and big groups aren’t your thing.
Stay organized. As for a creating the itinerary, I love using Google Docs. I can share the document with whoever is traveling with me, giving them access to view and edit. I typically make a calendar-like chart and split it up between morning, afternoon, and night. I supplement my Google Doc with marking all of the restaurants, museums, sights, and shops I want to go to on Google Maps to easily see where everything is located. You can even change the icons of the points to categorize your destinations. Best of all, you can easily access this from a phone.
Good luck and safe travels!