After an entire year with little-to-no travel, if you’re like many Americans, you’re planning to go on a vacation this summer. Whether you’re taking a short road trip or a long getaway, creating a travel itinerary will help you and your family stay organized and get the most from your trip.
Use this step-by-step guide to create a travel itinerary that’s flexible and fun!
1. Choose a timeframe. Set a budget.
Two important factors will determine where and when you can travel: time and money. If you have a certain number of vacation days or a smaller budget, you’ll want to plan your trip accordingly. (The good news is that there are plenty of places for budgets of all sizes.)
2. Select your vacation spot.
Choose a place with the types of activities that you enjoy. Some people like to sightsee. Others prefer to relax on the beach. And some like to stay active, such as hiking and biking. The activities you want to do will help determine where you should go. Your vacation spot is the starting place for your travel itinerary.
3. Book your flights, transportation, and lodging.
Once you have chosen your destination, it’s time to make travel arrangements. Before booking you’ll need to make a few decisions. Will you be driving or flying? And are you staying in a hotel or renting out a location like Airbnb?
To stay organized during this step, record all of your information in one place on your computer or other device. (Microsoft Office offers free itinerary templates and so do Adobe and Google docs.) Include flight numbers, Airbnb or hotel addresses, rental vehicle information, and other confirmation numbers so you won’t have to search for them later.
Don’t forget! If you aren’t bringing your pet with you, you’ll also need to find them lodging.
4. Research the sights and activities.
This is when it gets fun! Check out the location’s history, food, family activities, and nightlife. Search for unique experiences at your destination. Involve every member of the family who is traveling with you to get their ideas. When you have your list compiled, rank your “must visit” spots and “must-do” activities.
Need help finding activities in your destination? Good sources of information include the local tourism office and online travel reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, Foursquare, Yelp, and Google.
5. Map it out.
Start with a map of your destination—either paper or online. Mark the location for each of your activities. Mark the place where you’re staying. Then, divide the map into sections. This will give you a guideline for grouping activities and help you time out your days.
6. Build the Itinerary.
Work in the same template where you recorded your flight and lodging information (in step 3). List each day that you’ll be traveling. Start with the first section of the map and assign activities to the first day. Determine how much time you will spend at each spot. Don’t forget to consider hours open, downtime between each activity, meals, and rest time. Continue through the trip timeline, and be realistic. If you’re traveling with a toddler or your pet, for example, you’ll need to be flexible.
7. Book your tickets and excursions.
Once you know where you’re going and when you can book your tickets. Keep copies of confirmations in your itinerary for easy access. Booking ahead will often save time but if you’re unsure that you’ll get to a certain activity that day, you can always make the purchase onsite.
8. Remember that less is more.
Your vacation should be relaxing, not stressful. Leave several hours free each day for interesting sidetracks or unexpected opportunities. You may find recommendations from a local that could be the highlight of your trip.
9. Plan for the unexpected.
Maybe it will rain, or you’ll miss your connecting flight. You might not have Internet access in the place you’re traveling. If any of these things happen, don’t get down and frustrated. Think ahead and have a “Plan B” in place when you are creating your itinerary. An alternate inside activity could help in inclement weather, know the steps to take if you miss a flight so you can board the next one, carry a book in case you don’t have Wi-Fi, etc. Remember this is your vacation and your attitude could affect your entire trip and those traveling with you. If something unexpected happens, go with the flow and don’t let it ruin your fun.
10. Travel safely.
Take the precautions you need to make it a safe trip. Make copies of your important documents from passport to driver’s license. Share your itinerary with a trusted family member or friend. If you’re traveling abroad, register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This will allow you to receive important information from the U.S. Embassy about the country you’re visiting.
11. Lastly, consider adding travel insurance.
Travel insurance provides a safety net in case your trip is canceled. Check to see if you need specific coverage. For example, you will want a tourist auto policy if you’re driving to Mexico and a recreational vehicle policy if you’re traveling in an RV.
A Little Help from an App
There are several websites and apps that are specially designed to create travel itineraries. These tools can be timesavers and many have free versions that you can use, including:
It’s exciting to plan a vacation, but it can also be overwhelming. Take a step back and consider why you are traveling. Then focus on the things that are important to you, such as spending time with loved ones. The rest will fall into place.
Remember life is all about the journey, not the destination. Safe travels.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.800.800.9410 or www.calcas.com.