Trip Planning 101

Itinerary Planning Excel

Learning through other’s mistakes is something that many of us have trouble doing. There’s something in most of us that makes us feel the need to learn the hard way, whether consciously or not. When it comes to traveling on foreign soil, ‘learning the hard way’ doesn’t sound very appealing to me – at all.  I’ve compiled a list of itinerary planning tips from the pros, so you don’t have to!

 Make an inspiration board

Don’t: Whatever you do, don’t only plan based on your current knowledge and desires. You might miss out on somewhere you really wanted to experience.

Do: Use a site like Pinterest to discover new places and get a handle on your mood for the trip. Spend several weeks just pinning and get inspired.

Minimize culture shock and keep things interesting on an around-the-world trip.

Don’t: If you live in New York, don’t start somewhere remote with a completely different culture – like Cambodia. Save that for later in the itinerary.

Do: If you live in New York, do start with a city that has a culture like yours like London or Paris.  This eases the culture shock and keeps things more exciting.

Use a map to plan your route – it will save you money.

Don’t : New Zealand -> London -> Spain -> Russia -> Croatia -> Australia

This will waste an incredible amount of money on long distance flights that are unnecessary.

Do: London -> Spain -> Croatia -> Russia -> Australia -> New Zealand

This will maximize your savings and time spent on the ground instead of in the air.

Get it down on paper and research flights.

Don’t: Keep your itinerary in your head.

Do: Get your itinerary on paper or in a spreadsheet. Research the execution of your trip.

You might discover an unavoidable layover in Switzerland for your flight from Croatia to Thailand, like I did. Now I’m incorporating 2 weeks in Switzerland since I’ll be stopping there anyway. Plus I hear that everywhere in Switzerland looks good enough to be on a post card!

 Don’t plan too much

Don’t: If you think planning every second of your trip is a good idea, think again. There’s nothing that can sour a trip faster than missing out on scheduled activities. Save yourself the money and stress.

Do: Come up with a loosely structured plan and list of places you want to see. For example, book your flight, hotel, other transportation and a main event. Have a list of places you want to see and their location handy so you can see what you feel like doing once you get there. If it’s a rainy day you might choose a museum instead of a walking tour of cheese shops. Go with the flow baby!

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